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Friday, May 15, 2015

We have a winner!





Random.org has spoken, and the winner of the sample of Bruno Fazzolari Au Delà Narcisse des Montagnes is Patti Moore. Please hit the "Contact us" button on the right side of the page so we can send you your prize, and congratulations!

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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Inside the artist's studio: Bruno Fazzolari Editions perfumes (And a prize draw!)




By Donna




I had the great pleasure of meeting artist and perfumer Bruno Fazzolari when I took my first ever trip to San Francisco earlier this year. He is a low-key, thoughtful and kind person, but underneath the calm exterior lies an extraordinary talent. He began as a visual artist and later began to translate his creative ideas to the art of perfumery, and I for one am very happy that he branched out; the diversity of the offering is a testament to his willingness to take risks, and that has paid off in a big way. In the two short years since the fragrance line was launched, his work has garnered a lot of the right kind of attention, and deservedly so. (Did I mention that he also has the rare gift of synesthesia?)

One of the delightful surprises in the line is the retro chypre Au Delà, a stunner of a scent that pushes all my buttons – it has depth and mystery, a heavily animalic character and it's a real chypre, with galbanum and resins and oakmoss, so of course I fell hard for it. I am loving this trend among American indie perfumers of making the fragrances that Europe can no longer produce with the advent of the ever-tightening IFRA/EU restrictions. With such recent perfumes as Au Delà, Zelda from En Voyage Perfumes, Intimacy from JoAnne Bassett, and DSH Perfumes' Vert pour Madame, it may no longer be necessary to troll EBay for vintage – we can just order them brand new! In fact, I recently had the opportunity to sample a very rare old chypre that is impossible to find now. At first it reminded me of both Miss Dior and Rochas Femme, but as it developed on my skin and became ever more animalic and intense, I realized that it also bore a strong resemblance to the warm and vibrant Au Delà. Wear this when you mean business; it's for adults only, if you know what I mean...

I was initially reluctant to mention it because it's no longer available, but the “flanker” of Au Delà called Au Delà - Narcisse des Montagnes is one of the most astonishing perfumes I have smelled in the past few years, with the finest narcissus absolute of piercing beauty overlaid on the original perfume's structure. It adds a sublime, almost honeyed floral beauty and a green aspect as well, while still maintaining the main idea of a chypre. The key ingredient is very hard to source so this was a limited edition; if it ever comes back, grab it with no questions asked if you love narcissus, because this does that flower justice in a big way, capturing the unique fresh/sweet/chilly/loamy character of the flower. It is very unusual to come across a modern fragrance that showcases narcissus because the absolute is so precious, and there is no acceptable substitute.

In complete contrast, Lampblack has attracted a near-cult following for its fascinating take on a masculine spicy scent. What sets it apart is the confluence of bitter (grapefruit) spicy/woody (nagarmotha and black pepper) and smoky, the sensation of which comes from a “burnt” vetiver note, which has an inky aroma. Vetiver is my perfume nemesis – I like the smell out of the bottle, but on my skin, it tends to turn into something that smells like old vase water, murky and mildewed. Here, it is transformed into a roasted, tinder-dry, almost charcoal-like element that I really enjoyed, and it did not turn against me even after hours of wear. I never thought I could find a vetiver I could live with, but you never know! In this instance, going over to the dark side is exactly the right thing to do.



Some of Bruno's fragrances are not so serious. Jimmy is a real charmer; you have watch out for him, he will talk you out of your last dollar and you'll be happy to hand it it over. Jimmy is the Fred Astaire of fragrances, nimble and light on his feet, brash and breezy and without a care in the world. He makes an entrance bursting with the exuberance of lemon and geranium, but lest you think he is a little too assertive, he whisks a bouquet of pink roses, sweet violets and ylang ylang out from behind his back and presents it to you with a bow and smile. Who could resist? He won't linger for very long, but you will remember him with fondness.

If you are going to make a cologne style fragrance, the competition is fierce so you had better do it right; no problem here with Five. Clean, fizzy lemon, petitgrain and sweet orange mate well with savory rosemary and a woody/spicy base in this crisp, classic refreshment of a scent. Excellent materials and expert construction make this one stand out from the crowd. This one also has an ozonic quality, which I don't always care for, but here it is judiciously employed and does not dominate the composition.



Want even more variety? Try the flat-out gorgeous Montserrat, a romantic and genre-defying perfume with a delicious aura of ripe apricots, courtesy of the magic of osmanthus absolute, and limpid jasmine. It was the first one I wore when I started testing these; it just kept blooming and opening as time went on, becoming ever warmer and lovelier, yet there was something fresh and interesting hovering in the background that I could not figure out, but I loved it; I found out later that's it's a note based on the idea of wet plaster, the kind that is used to make artistic frescoes. Now that I know what it is, it jumps out at me, but it just makes me love Montserrat even more; it is actually named for a specific artist's paint color, Montserrat Orange which is a beautiful hue somewhere between apricot and terracotta, so it's all of a piece. Indeed, it's the perfect counterpart to the sweetness of the other notes, and I have always loved the aromas of making art, paint, plaster, varnish and all the rest. I just can't overstate how lovely and unusual this is, and it captured my heart at first sniff.

The most recent introduction to the brand is Room 237. and it's unusual to say the least. Its source of inspiration? The horror film “The Shining.” How do you make a wearable perfume based on an idea like that? If you are Bruno Fazzolari, you do something no one has done before and make it with: a shower curtain accord. I don't even begin to know how this was accomplished, but it works. In the category of “strange yet oddly compelling” Room 237 is right up there with the best of them. It's fresh and soapy with florals, green herbal notes and white musks, but first impressions can be deceiving. The smell of vinyl, clean yet somewhat claustrophobic, evokes the atmosphere of places where unspeakable things happen behind closed doors – hospitals, asylums, and yes, cursed hotels. (The smell of something that's a little too clean is always disturbing; what is it hiding?) It reminds me somewhat of one of my favorite (and sadly discontinued) Imaginary Authors fragrances, L'Orchidée Terrible, not in the way it smells, but in how the aldehydic shimmer on the surface acts with intent to deceive, since it's not in the least bit innocent despite its pretty façade; so does Room 237 present itself as a brightly scrubbed, smooth surface, until you figure out what lies beneath. That said, it's perfectly enjoyable to wear and has been such a hit that it is currently sold out, but more is on the way soon.



Now for the best part - I was so enamored of Au Delà – Narcisse des Montagnes that I bought one of the last remaining bottles, and I am offering a sample of this rarity to one lucky reader! Please leave a comment if you would like to enter to win it – please note, you must have a mailing address in the continental U.S. since I cannot ship internationally.



Image credits: Art courtesy of Bruno Fazzolari: “Lampblack”, “Nearside”, “Room 237”, and detail from the “Au Delà – Narcisse des Montagnes” poster, from brunofazzolari.com .
Disclaimer: The perfume samples I tested for this review were given to me by Bruno Fazzolari.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

And the winner is....

                                                                        


Random.org and spoken, and the winner of the boxed set of Puredistance samples is Stacey Walls! Please hit the "contact us" button on the right and send us your info so we can send you your prize!

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Going toward the light: Puredistance White (And a prize draw!)






By Donna


The sixth release from Puredistance follows the well received Black which was also authored by Antoine Lie, and White could not be more aptly named; it is very bright, dazzling even, the perfume equivalent of looking into the sun. This particular sub genre of white floral is not everyone's cup of tea, but it happens to be a style that I enjoy very much. I have fond memories of the highly pitched white florals from the Seventies and Eighties as perfumers experimented with the new aroma chemicals that were becoming available, enabling the birth of fragrances that defied gravity like nothing that had come before, such as the original Jessica McClintock, Azzaro 9 and Madeleine by Madeleine Mono. Smelling Puredistance White for the first time brought that era immediately to mind. Yet as always, the hallmarks of a Puredistance perfume are abstraction and refinement, and so it is an entirely modern creation unto itself.

The concept behind White is that smelling it should bring an immediate feeling of happiness, lightness, and freedom from everyday cares. Perfume can be a welcome escape from reality, but some have more of an effect on emotions than others; my own immediate response to smelling it was a delighted smile. The opening rides the very edge of brightness, veering perilously close to the precipice of what Luca Turin calls “overexposed white florals” but since this is Puredistance, one can be assured that it will not go over that cliff. As with the others in the line, the composition is extremely well-balanced and I never doubted it for a moment. Rose de Mai, iris, and bergamot fused with abstract white floral notes and modern musks flood the senses with their piercing beauty, and just when it seems that the effect cannot be sustained, the underpinning of sandalwood, tonka, vetiver and a whisper of patchouli appear, shoring up the lilting, feminine high notes like wedding guests carrying the bride on their shoulders. The final result is a floral perfume of impressive lasting power; after all, it a concentrated extrait formulation. It touches on some of the stylistic themes of earlier Puredistance fragrances while remaining distinctive in its own right; it is as abstract as Puredistance I if not even more so; a soft rustle of leafy green recalls Antonia; and its structure is as infallible as Opardu. Puredistance does not launch a new fragrance until it has been perfected, and White is a stellar addition to the line. As with any perfume, testing is advisable before purchasing, but for those who love White, its gorgeous alabaster flaçon will just enhance the experience.




Due to the generosity of Puredistance, I am very pleased to offer a beautifully presented boxed sample set of all six perfumes for one lucky reader: Puredistance I, Antonia, Opardu, M, Black, and White. Please leave a comment if you would like to enter to win. (The prize draw is open only to those with a mailing address in the continental U.S.A.; sorry, I am unable to ship internationally.) If you like, please let us know what your favorite Puredistance fragrance is in the comments, or which perfumes of this style you admire. The draw will remain open until Sunday April 19, 2015 at 6:00 Eastern Daylight time.



Image credits: Abstract white flowers wallpaper via freehdw.com. Puredistance White flaçon via puredistance.com.
Disclosure: I received my free sample of White from Puredistance for testing.


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Saturday, January 24, 2015

All that glitters: The Brilliant Collection by DSH Perfumes







By Donna


Once again, a collaboration between perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and the Denver Art Museum has resulted in a stunning group of fragrances. I always look forward to these art project launches from DSH Perfumes; Dawn's reservoir of creativity seems to have no limits. The Brilliant collection ties in with the DAM exhibit celebrating Cartier's storied history of jewelry making. All the more intimidating, the company also makes some very good fragrances, so this quartet had to distance itself from Cartier's own perfumes and make the fragrances all about the jewels – and what jewels they are!

Starting off with a bang, Deco Diamonds is a tour de force, a seamlessly abstract beauty that brings to mind the kind of bold statement jewelry one might wear to a Black and White Ball – the men in elegant tuxedos and the women in sleek draped gowns embellished with feathers and sequins, and dripping with diamond necklaces, bracelets and rings, maybe a headband or two. Eventually this glittering aldehydic fragrance reveals its heart of jasmine and other white flowers, reminding me of one of Dawn's early perfumes that is no longer made, the gorgeously tender jasmine and mimosa Cielle. Deco Diamonds is a perfume from another world, not tied to the earth; if Cielle was a wisp of cloud in a blue sky, this is a jet trail, soaring bright and pure and streamlined toward the sun.

In sharp contrast to Deco Diamonds, Fumée d'Or is a fantasy perfume in the sepia tones of a movie about the past, a whimsical imagining of what a goldsmith's shop in Paris might smell like; if this is the scent of such a place, I would want to live there and never leave. The overall impressions is warm and close, like entering a mysterious place on a brisk day and being enveloped in heat, the animal heft of human bodies and not-quite-familiar aromas. What is that languid, sweet smoke arising from the cauldron? Why do the dust motes dancing by the window sparkle so? What is that strange smell, like leather and metal somehow blended together? This “olde curiosity shoppe” of a fragrance will keep you guessing all day long.




Rubies are one of the most sought after of all gems, and I predict that the fragrance devoted to them, Rubis Rosé, will be equally admired. If roses that smell of raspberries are your thing, this is the one. It is rich and dense like the best of the old garden roses, such as the purple-red Bourbon 'Madame Isaac Pereire' which is justly famous for its redolent raspberry scent. I would not call this a “jammy” rose perfume, because although it is fruity, it is so in a fresh and realistic way. Anyone who is not familiar with antique roses might doubt that a living flower can smell like this, but this plush, velvety aroma is exactly what is found in such a rose, and it comes as close as anything I have smelled to the incomparable perfume of the voluptuous old roses I love best of all.




All of the perfumes in the collection are good, but one of them has captured my heart like no other – the stunning Jacinthe de Sapphir. The distinctive aroma of the hyacinth flower is one of my favorite smells in the world, but I have very rarely had the sensation of inhaling a perfume and feeling transported in time and place to a spring garden where the colorful hyacinth spikes give off their unique perfume, rich and intense yet not sweet in the way of most flowers, a green and airy scent with the chill of earth and winter still upon them. It even has that elusive, shifting character of the flower, dancing away and then coming back to tease the nose when you think it's gone for good. Of course this one is nominally in honor of precious sapphires, but it really an homage to this beloved garden bloom. This is the closest thing I have experienced to the exquisite hyacinth note in my favorite perfume of all time, Vacances by Jean Patou, and that's saying a lot coming from me. In the dead of winter, here is the ultimate breath of spring.



Image credits: Vintage Cartier diamond engagement ring via glambistro.com, original source unknown. Seventeenth century engraving of a goldsmith's shop via wikipedia.org, in the public domain. Blue hyacinth via gallery.hd.org's Multimedia Gallery, free download photo by Damon Hart-Davis, effects by Donna.
Disclosure: The samples I tested for this review were given to me by DSH Perfumes.

















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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Foodie Thursday: Chicken Soup

By Tom

Last week was one of the coldest on record in Los Angeles. Of course, it's not like there was danger of freezing, at least not in the basin on the Westside. But it was certainly cold enough to make me want to break out the chicken soup.

Chicken soup is of course almost universally loved (at least in America.)  Whether it's coming from a can or a deli, it's my personal go-to comfort dish when the temps drop or I have a cold. I will even cop to still enjoying a childhood favorite: Campbell's, preferably served with saltines.

Of course, Los Angeles has better options as well. Nate 'n Al's in Beverly Hills, Canter's and Factors in Los Angeles and Greenblatt's in West Hollywood are all noted for various variations on what is commonly referred to as "Jewish Penicillin," matzoh ball soup. Even the neighborhood's local Bristol Farms has a pretty good version in what they call their "comfort bar."

One of my favorite recipes is the slow cooker one that was developed by the America's Test Kitchen people (linked to here) but it does require that you have a slow cooker. 

If you have a recipe you's like to share, please do so in the comments..

Image: Wikipedia

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A rainbow of delights: Providence Perfume Company's new oils collection

By Donna





Anyone who is familiar with Charna Ethier's creative compositions for Providence Perfume Company will be pleased with her new collection of six all-natural oil perfumes, which are free of alcohol and very long-lasting. These came about as the result of customer requests and have been very well received. I am already a fan of her fabulous Beauty Elixir oil and other body products so I was eager to try these.

I was especially interested in Rose 802, which was inspired by the scent of wild roses and blackberries growing in the countryside of Vermont – 802 is Vermont's area code. I was born there, and I wandered its verdant woods and meadows myself, so this one had a lot to live up to. I was not disappointed; this is a beautiful rose fragrance with blackcurrant, cedar and fir, and it's magical on my skin. Myrtle leaves impart a fresh greenness and a touch of vanilla adds the warmth of summer to the blend. (This is definitely not a rose soliflore, and I have to say that if you don't like blackcurrant bud, you probably won't like this.)

Violet Beauregarde (after the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory character) fits nicely into the slot between a traditional floral perfume and a “candied violets” scent – flowers with just a touch of sweetness, and no melancholy. The violet is surrounded with jasmine, mimosa and ylang ylang, with sandalwood and vanilla providing an ideal base to showcase the florals. It is a very pretty perfume and would be perfect for a young girl's first fragrance, especially if she likes the Roald Dahl books. That said, it's also perfect for adults who appreciate a truly fine violet scent.

The first thing to keep in mind about Orange Blossom Honey is that honey is the centerpiece; orange blossom is only a supporting character. It is deliriously sweet and thick, like a drowsy August day with bees humming all around the flower garden. When I was growing up in New England, we bought our honey locally – it was clover honey, sold in big buckets, very dark in color with an intensely earthy flavor. I thought all honey was like that. Then one day my grandfather brought home something exotic from the grocery store – orange blossom honey from Florida. It was a light amber color and intensely sweet, with a beautiful perfumey aroma. Smelling this oil brings me right back to that time, and I enjoyed this immensely.

In a similar manner to Orange Blossom Honey, Sweet Jasmine Brown is anything but a straight-up jasmine perfume. I have never smelled a treatment quite like this; it brings out the delicious “banana jam” aspect of real jasmine and surrounds it with a sugary, musky warmth from vanilla, tonka bean, cocoa nibs and ambrette seed, and the inclusion of ylang ylang makes the floral character even headier. Anyone who is not used to natural fragrances should not expect to encounter the blindingly white sheen of the jasmine in department store perfumes, which is almost certainly augmented in large part by synthetics, if not entirely so. It is exactly those kinds of fragrances that makes some people think they don't like jasmine, and to them I would say, try this instead, and don't be surprised if it garners some very positive attention; this is one sexy scent!

Summer Yuzu is more than just a breezy warm weather perfume. Since it's an oil, it lasts much longer on the skin than the equivalent style scent in an alcohol-based formula would be, so it can be enjoyed all day without reapplying. Yuzu is one of the most pleasing of all citrus aromas, combining the fresh bursting quality of grapefruit with the sweetness of mandarin and the sparkle of lemon and bergamot. (The perfumer cleverly added frankincense to extend its longevity.) Tomato leaf further enhances the sunny disposition of this one, and I can't imagine anyone not liking it. It is suitable for either men or women.

Ivy Tower may be my favorite of the collection, although it would be hard to choose just one. It is indeed as green as its name, but it's a soft, deep, diffusive green with nary a sharp edge in sight. It won me over when I smelled the gorgeous narcissus, one of my favorite notes in all of perfumery; green florals were my first love and I have a weakness for this style of misty, wistful fragrance. As if that's not enough, it also features jasmine, ethereal mimosa and my beloved lily. It lasts all day on me, which is unusual for any green fragrance no matter what the formula is. Calling all green lovers, this is a must try!

These oils come in a pretty roll-on bottle and are available at the company's boutique at 301 Wickenden Street, Providence, RI 02903 or on the Providence Perfume Company Web site, and if I may suggest it, the sample set of all six scents would make a wonderful holiday gift; they are generously sized and since you don't need to apply very much at a time with perfume oils, several wearings can easily be had from one vial.



Image credit: Photo of the packaging for the roll-on perfume oils via providenceperfume.com
Disclaimer: The sample set was given to me by Providence Perfumes for testing.


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Monday, November 17, 2014

A dream of summer: Fiore di Bellagio from En Voyage Perfumes

By Donna

         
                                                                           


The first time I smelled Fiore di Bellagio I was outdoors in a garden on a warm September afternoon, which was very appropriate; this perfume is an homage to a great fragrance, Bellodgia from Caron, composed by Ernest Daltroff in 1927. Even though Bellodgia is best known as perhaps the greatest carnation fragrance of all time, the perfumer saw it not as a soliflore, but as a flower in a garden setting, surrounded and enhanced by other scents. Perfumer Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes has achieved exactly that feeling with her new floral fragrance inspired by a great classic.

The hallmark carnation is certainly present in this perfume but true to its vintage predecessor, it's far from being the whole story. It is a shifting palette of shimmering beauty, with drowsy spicy-sweet and tender blooms warmed by the sun, growing in a garden of dreams. I am first and foremost a lover of flowers and their scents, and this perfume is so evocative of an actual flower garden that if I close my eyes I can see it, the idealized setting beloved of painters and poets, and if one is lucky enough to have it, a real garden full of colorful, fragrant blossoms and overflowing with life.

The fragrance opens with the freshness of green leaves and the impossibly soft sweetness of ylang ylang, followed by the romantic floral heart of carnation, Bulgarian rose, jasmine, gardenia and more. On my skin the glorious jasmine and gardenia come to the forefront and compete with the spiciness of the carnation for my attention; if only all battles could be so lovely. The carnation itself is exceptionally true to life, not overly clove-like, hazy and warm and very floral with a touch of vanilla like my favorite old-fashioned garden pinks, which have the most delicious scent of all the carnation family. It truly feels like the finest vintage perfume in the grand style, lush and full-bodied, and though while not abstract, it is a bouquet scent in the best sense, harkening back to classic French perfumery of seamless blending, and if someone told me that this actually was a Caron I had never smelled before it would not surprise me. It has the same style of plush languor so typical of that house's feminine scents, but it's not boneless by any means; the base of sandalwood, resins, orris, musks and civet ensures excellent longevity and serves as the framework for the long-lasting heart notes without intruding on the beauty of the florals; it just makes them softer and richer. This is one of those special perfumes that I will put on and then just sit and slowly inhale as it blooms on my skin, a meditation that takes me into that perfect place, the enchanted garden of my dreams.


Image credit: “Reading In The Garden” by American Impressionist artist Richard Emil Miller (1875-1943) via artistsandart.org
Disclosure: I received a sample of Fiore di Bellagio from En Voyage Perfumes for testing.






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Thursday, November 06, 2014

The subject was roses: Natural perfumes by JoAnne Bassett







By Donna


I have to admit that that one of my earliest exposures to the work of natural perfumer JoAnne Bassett was less than ideal – back in 2011 I was one of the bloggers reviewing submissions for Monica Miller's Summer of Patchouli Love project, and JoAnne's contribution (submitted anonymously as “Number 10” and later revealed with the name Têtu) was my least favorite of the group. As a former “patch phobe” I had a hard time with her full-on interpretation of the theme. However, having tried some of her creations since that time, it's safe to say that my opinion of her work has reversed itself to the point where I would be more than happy to have her make me a custom perfume, which is one of the services she offers.

Let's begin with Intimacy, a classic chypre in a decidedly vintage style, which is right in my sweet spot perfume-wise. It's slinky, deep-voiced and really beautiful. Had I not known it was a modern fragrance I would have sworn it was the kind of classic mid-century feminine that was once the rule rather than the exception, and it's even more impressive because it's all natural. Some of its ingredients are actually vintage, and when these are aged properly, they take on a smooth and polished character that's impossible to duplicate with new “raw” materials; vintage Jasmine, Mysore sandalwood, iris (orris) root and patchouli all lend their velvety qualities. It is enriched with Bulgarian rose and Rose de Mai, and of course real oakmoss, which is one of my very favorite things in perfume. The true chypre family has a worthy modern member; pardon me while I go change into my fringed flapper dress and rim my eyes with kohl. This is the real deal.

The ridiculously pretty I Love You is a perfect marriage of rose and gardenia that showcases the best of both flowers; I could not decide if it was a deliciously buttery rose or a sweet, rosy gardenia. It is made with tender Rose de Mai and delicate Tiare (Tahitian gardenia) so it is lilting and soft while still emanating the true essence of the dominant notes. It is a fairly bright scent, but not too highly pitched, which can be an issue with synthetic floral notes, of which there are none here. A subtle base of sandalwood enhances the florals. This would be an ideal wedding fragrance, as romantic a scent as one could wish for.

Malmaison is one of a collection of JoAnne's perfumes that pay tribute to historic characters and places – of course this one is about the garden of Empress Josephine, she of the famous rose collection and even more famous husband. Roses are here but so are many other flowers, including lavender. This is more of a classic French bouquet fragrance than a rose scent, and it's easy to imagine strolling through a sunny garden smelling each flower as you pass by. It is perhaps less complex than the others I have sampled but it's very charming and easy to wear.

When a perfume is named Opulence it had better deliver on the promise, and this one does. Rich neroli and orange blossom are supported by rose otto, vintage Mysore sandalwood and real ambergris. It is rare to find a modern fragrance that contains ambergris, and what it does for a composition is hard to describe – it just makes it “more” of everything somehow, radiant even, richer and fuller. The rose in this is deep, wine-like and bold, and I picture it as being blood-red.

In sharp contrast, Camille is an oh-so-tender floral with osmanthus, iris root (orris) and mimosa, but oddly enough it is not cool and pale as one might expect; astringent and a little sharp at first, the osmanthus develops into a warm apricot that smells a bit like a fruit tart just coming out of the oven and the mimosa is lovely without the slightly chilly feeling it sometimes engenders. Even the iris root is more inviting than aloof in this composition. It lasts well considering that it's both a natural and a floral. This one can go anywhere as it is sheer and subtle and very easy to wear.




The name alone would make me want to try Sybarite, and it more than lives up to its billing. The word itself has always been a favorite of mine; for me it does not mean decadence or debauchery, but just pure pleasure in all things beautiful, and everything about Sybarite the fragrance is gorgeous. I have a weakness for this classic style of floral blend where no one thing overwhelms the composition, it all just works in harmony. Roses, orange blossom, neroli, osmanthus, frankincense, oud and musk are some of the expensive materials in this perfume, and its longevity is very good. This may be my favorite so far, although it's hard to pick just one. All of its notes are things I love and they all mesh gloriously together.

One of the most luxurious scents in the range is Luscious Roses, which is exactly that – rich, rounded, lush blooms. As with many natural rose perfumes, it takes a little while to get settled in on the skin, and was even a little sour on me at first, but once it does begin to develop, it just gets better and better. It is reminiscent of true antique garden roses with their dense, almost powdery character and voluptuous archetypal fragrance that cannot be mistaken for anything else. I would not call it “jammy” per se but there is a bit of purple fruitiness lurking about in addition to the intense damask rose character, made even more sensuous with tuberose and frankincense. JoAnne seems to have a special talent for working with various rose essences in her perfume making, and if I were lucky enough to have someone create a bespoke fragrance for me I would ask her for a rose-centered one, in one of her stunning hand blown glass amphora bottles of course– or I could just wear Luscious Roses, since it's hard to imagine how it could be improved.

All the fragrances mentioned in this review and many more, plus bath and body products and custom perfumes, are available via JoAnne Bassett's Web site.


Image credits: Pink roses wallpaper from imgarcade.com. Amphora style perfume bottles from joannebassett.com, collage mine. Disclosure: The fragrance samples for this review were sent to me by JoAnne Bassett for testing.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Summer Rerun: Perfume Slumming, or the 70's Revisited

Review by Tom

The other say, a friend of mine who lives near Pasadena invited me out to dinner at a wonderful restaurant near her in the valley. At 8. I work in downtown Los Angeles, and live in a lovely shack in what is known as the "industrial triangle" area of beautiful Beverly Hills, on the westside of LA. Dinner at 8 in Pasadena means killing a few hours- the beauty of living on the westside and commuting downtown is that you are running against prevailing traffic. It takes me about 25 minutes to get home. I know from bitter experience that it can take years to get from the westside to the valley at rush hour, since there are only three canyons that one can get through. So killing time in other people's AC was on my mind.

I ended up in a mall in Burbank. I thought that I had stumbled across the Glendale Galleria and was looking forward to a cruise through the Apple Store, a traipse through L'Occitane, sidle up to Nordstrom's and the hours would fly by. The reality was Burbank Town Center, featuring Macy's, Hooters, and Hot Dog on a Stick. Oh well, I had found a great parking space (and parking is everything in southern California), and I was here.

Macy's is of course, Macy's as I am sure that every reader of this Blog knows (haven't they swallowed up every department store in the US? I mourn Filene's, I weep for Marshall Field's, I snarl that there is not a Bullock's to be found). They have their selection of fragrances that I smugly dismiss as "trainers". I wandered further. There was a Sears. Having a weakness for electronics, I went in, and I discovered.. a perfume counter. Well, counter was putting it generously, it was a shelf. It was a shelf stocked with some of the sad remains of the past few years: Some J Lo, some other Lo's, etc. But then I spied a bottle of something that I had not even thought of since I was in junior high: Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur.

Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur was to the 70's what CK one was to the 90's. It was a fairly unisex scent in the most phallic bottle that the company could get away with picturing in the ads, which always played up the shape of the bottle. Manly, yes, but I like it too. Cardin sold this scent like hotcakes for a long time until he had so oversold his name (he licensed himself to everything from towels to telephones to tie tacks) that his cachet fell and his fragrances disappeared from department store shelves.

But what you may ask (if you’re still awake) does it smell like? Well, I could take a cheap shot and say the 70's. It certainly took me back to the time that I bought my first bottle at Steiger's in the Hampshire Mall with money I earned mowing lawns as a kid (yes, you could tell even then). Getting those memories out of the way, it's held up surprisingly well. It starts with a bracing citrus nicely complemented by lavender and basil, moves through leather, sandalwood and geranium before settling into a powdery amber with leather. Objectively, it's a nice, somewhat simple scent that deserves better than being relegated to the dustbins of drugstores and discounters. Subjectively, I think I could never wear it myself. I'm not the kid who rode his bike to Steiger's anymore: it's so intrinsically tied to my young yoof that I just cannot bring myself to go there again. That particular veil has been drawn.

Pour Monsieur by Pierre Cardin is available various places like drugstores and warehouses, as well as on the Internet such as 99perfume.com for as little as $15 for a 4 oz splash. If you have a kid on a bike that's getting interested in scent of either sex, you could do far worse than starting him or her on this one..

Originally published in September of 2006