I'm having a bit of dental work done so I am going to take a couple weeks off from reviewing. I hope to be back in two weeks. Best to you all.
I'm having a bit of dental work done so I am going to take a couple weeks off from reviewing. I hope to be back in two weeks. Best to you all.
Longtime readers of this blog know that we are big fans of the scents created by Annick Goutal. As a matter of fact, for me Goutal introduced the idea of "niche" when Sables first hit the shelves at Berdorfs those many years ago. In the interim I fell for many more.
But not Petit Cherie.
I want to love it; I love the idea of her creating a scent for her daughter Camille, who is now carrying on with the company and creating her own unforgettable scents. I even love the name "little dear." But I am afraid the scent really, really doesn't love me. The fruits in the opening that start out so soft and innocently sensual start to get raucous and raspy on my skin, going from tender caress to temper tantrum. Then a crazily huge cucumber note comes in, then it's time to wash..
Petite Cherie is available at the usual suspects, including Nordstrom, Neimans and Berdorfs in various sizes and compositions, My sample was in a ScentBar giftbag I received at their Valentines Day event. If Petit Cherie works for you, please feel free to sing it's praises in the comments..
Labels: Annick Goutal
“A gourmand leather and tobacco fragrance so good it belongs to a rare scent category for me: perfume so good I want to drink it. Dark vanilla and creamy white florals voluptuously bloom as leather, tobacco and civet rise up. Peach and plum add some bruised sweetness.”
-excerpt from the description of Lanvin's Rumeur (1934) in
Scent & Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume
by Barbara Herman
As regular readers of this blog know by now, I have a serious ongoing love affair with vintage perfume. Most books about perfume seem to about the inner workings of the industry (Chandler Burr's The Perfect Scent) or reviews of currently available fragrances (Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez). There are also books about the history of perfume, or how fragrances are made, filled with pictures of Bulgarian rose fields and Middle Eastern spice markets. I enjoy reading all kinds of books about fragrance, but there has always been something missing. At last, now there is a book that celebrates the perfumes of the past and really tells us what they smell like: Scent & Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume by Barbara Herman. Many of you may also be readers of Ms. Herman's delightful blog, Yesterday's Perfume. The logical next step from writing reviews and giving us fascinating historical tidbits about vintage scents was writing a book, and I am so very glad that she did.
The book takes us on a decade-by-decade journey from the origins of modern perfumery up to the end of the twentieth century. Iconic fragrances such as Houbigant's Fougère Royale (1882) and Guerlain's Jicky (1889) were revolutionary in their time, marking the beginning of the era when synthetic materials were first used in perfumery; this advance made it possible for an explosion of creativity that continues today as perfumers use everything in their arsenals to make interesting, unusual and yes, provocative fragrances instead of the simple floral waters that were popular before that time. The “subversion” part comes from the hidden language of perfumes; the animalic and indolic essences used to compose them can speak louder than words and express the intentions of the wearer with no verbal explanation needed. This was also a time when women were finding ways to express themselves beyond the boundaries of hearth and home, and perfumery reflected this seismic cultural shift. Caron's fiercely feral Tabac Blond (1919) was made for covering up the smell of cigarette smoke, which was still a shocking habit for women at the time. Lanvin's My Sin (1924) is nominally a floral, but oh, what a floral it is, narcotically sweet, redolent, mesmerizing, with animal base notes that virtually growl. It is also one of my own favorite examples of what the now-banned nitro musks contributed to perfumery. Ms. Herman aptly compares their use in fragrances to the way foods taste and feel with and without butter, a perfect analogy; today's perfumes just can't capture that feeling.
The book is seductive in its own right – I could not put it down as I eagerly devoured every page. After an introduction that details the author's own developing fascination “real” perfume, the heart of her book is an overview of a broad spectrum of famous (and not so famous) perfumes through the years. Where possible, the main fragrance notes are also listed along with her own impressions. Many of the fragrances are those that I also know and love, and as I got into the later chapters I found “vintage” perfumes that I remember from before they were vintage, being a lady of a certain age myself. The author's descriptions made me look at them with new eyes, and now I want to rediscover such once-common gems as Revlon's Intimate (1955) and Moon Drops (1970) all over again. It is made even more enticing by the impressive array of vintage print perfume ads on almost every page, many of which I had never seen before and some of which are hilariously retro, and little-known historical details and fun facts about the perfume houses and perfumers that will be like so much catnip to avid readers.
What I found most engaging in this book is the unabashed love and enthusiasm it projects – this is not an “expert's” careful dissection of notes or a scientific treatise on perfume making. It's an extended fan letter written by a true amateur, someone very much like me, like us, like so many perfume fanatics who fall into the perfume world and get hopelessly pulled in by the romance, the history, the glamour, the personalities, and the sheer beauty of the perfumes themselves.
The book's third act is a bit of a surprise – it has a section that tells how modern perfumery is rising to the challenge of making perfumes that are neither bland nor boring, but continuing the heritage of the greats of the past, including Christopher Brosius of CB I Hate Perfume and Antoine Lie, the perfumer for the avant-garde house of Etat Libre d'Orange, known for its sometimes shocking fragrances and packaging. It is reassuring to know that today's niche and artisan perfumers are turning their backs on the corporate mainstream and its increasingly restrictive rules and making perfume that speaks from the heart. It ends with a very informative “Perfume 101” section on how to learn about perfume, how to start a vintage fragrance collection, a glossary, and a list of recommended reading. I predict with confidence that this book will be on everyone else's list of recommended reading from now on – it's indispensable, and more fun than should be legal. What are you waiting for, go get your copy!
Image credit: the cover of Scent and Subversion via barnesandnoble.com
Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book.
By Beth Schreibman Gehring
Before you read this, I must let you know upfront that I generally hate Patchouli based fragrances. Quite frankly they've all smell mildewy and dank to me. I've never met one that I liked or that I felt smelled delicious on my skin at all.
A few weeks ago I came home to find a wonderful package from Roxana Villa of Roxana Illuminated Perfumes. Intrigued , I ripped it open and discovered several samples of her perfume Figure 1: Noir and a beautiful postcard with an elegant description of the fragrance. I am always prepared to love anything of Roxana's because in my mind she is one of the greatest of the alchemists working in the realm of botanical perfumery. I have seen first hand the care with which she creates her accords and her perfumes and have experienced her exquisite attention to detail many times. She is one of the only perfumers that I've had the pleasure of working with who is able to create remarkable tensions and relationships between raw materials, oils and accords; almost like a beautiful symphony that begins as a quiet thought and emerges as a full-blown musical love affair and finishes leaving the listener (or the wearer) with a subtle yet passionate whisper of the opening movement yet promising ever so much more.
When I discovered that Figure 1: Noir was a patchouli based scent I was truly terrified , but I completely trust Roxana and her sensibilities. My fear vanished instantly as I spread the luscious solid perfume over my wrists and throat and then I sprayed the sample of the liquid fragrance through my hair. I took a deep sniff…I was amazed and my feelings about patchouli in perfume simply evaporated in an instant.
Frankly , Figure 1: Noir is a patchouli that I like to flatter myself was made just for me. It's earthy and green and it's full of a remarkable freshness that I don't normally associate with a fragrance like this; yet I don't mean to imply that this is a joyous , 60's sort of patchouli as thank goodness it's not even close! This perfume is subtly musky and I'm fascinated by that because Roxana is adamant in her use of only botanicals, courageously eschewing almost all forms of animal based fixatives which technically are natural, yet generally extracted in the cruelest of ways. Where that sensual undercurrent of musk came from I do not know, except if I had to guess my thought is that it may have come from the black cumin, orris root and Mysore sandalwood that are part of this bewitching brew as cumin generally turns into something of a pheromone on my skin. I do recall smelling the freshly harvested wax from a beehive once and thinking that it was one of the most feral scents that I'd ever come to know.
Roxana will use beeswax and perhaps the occasional bit of honey that she has harvested from her own hives so perhaps that's where the animalistic quality came from. Whatever , wherever though is really not the point. Figure 1: Noir is sensual and predatory in the most elegant sense of the word and is little black dress perfection. I would never call this perfume playful because it's really quite primal. This is truly the only Patchouli fragrance that I have ever enjoyed at all , probably because it's been created so carefully from the real thing and it's been used by one who is absolutely masterful in her ability to blend all of those notes. On a whim I grabbed another sample that I'd received from her about 6 months ago; a lovely aged, syrupy drop of her Ivy based Hedera Helix that I layered with the Figure 1: Noir. What happened after that was nothing short of alchemy and is a combination that I have returned to several times now, tempting me to say that it could easily become my signature scent. I am shamanistic and Celtic by nature and I am consistently captivated by the magic of this, often turning inward towards the mystical skeleton woman to sing over the bleached bones of the deep soul and the presence of the magical , wild nature that joyously emerges when you become aroused by all of life. Figure 1: Noir and subsequently Hedera Helix bring forth that wellspring of emotion in me that I find almost uncontainable, larger than life and yet quietly enchanting like the sound and scent of a icy forest. Both of these perfumes make me want to don my Irish wool cape and go for a walk outside in the softly falling snow because they are the sensory equivalent of a fascinating natural Haiku, all-knowing and yet not, quietly held, strength in check, sharing the same deep inhale and subsequent exhale of a sweet and prayerful winters breath that is gently turning towards the spring.
Please note that Roxana will also be a featured speaker at this years World of Aromatherapy Conference that will take place next fall in Seattle Washington. To say that I am thrilled for her is an understatement!
In her own words:
"It was a few years into my love affair with essential oils that I became aware of "aromatherapy" as a community and the various professionals within it. As an attendee of the first National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) conference in San Francisco I was in complete awe. The gala event took place in the Autumn of 1996 at the Palace Hotel. At the time I was a single mom working as a freelance illustrator with a strong interest aromatherapy. Essential oils had already become part of the holistic tool box while taking classes and teaching about the wonders of aromatics.
There are a few memories from the event that stand out like sign posts, etched into my psyche. One of them is Dr. Christoph Streicher telling his captive audience that when one decides to create a business using essential oils, you don't pick them, they pick you. The other memory is the awareness of a longing to be part of this community and one day a speaker.
With a great amount of gratitude I am happy to share that next fall, eighteen years from the first conference, I will be a presenter at the The World of Aromatherapy VII Conference in Seattle, Washington."
You'll want to be there!
Figure 1: Noir can be found in all its forms at Roxana's gorgeous new website!
I do not know if Hedera Helix is available at this time and that's the beauty of botanical perfumes, like seasonal food we must appreciate them in their time and place! I have also blended Figure 1 : Noir with Roxana's lovely chypre based "Greenwitch" and found the resulting scent to be nothing short of fascinating.
Sorry, things got away from me this week so perfume review.
I did have a friend ask me out to dinner, naming several places in the area. I chose a place in the Beverly Center I could walk to and met my friend. The restaurant is one of the many in the area that specializes in beef (It's interesting that considering the California reputation for eating tofu and air and Hollywood's reputation for saying "hold the tofu" that there would be so many of these places clustered within or just outside of Beverly Hills, but there you go, another myth shattered.)
It was restaurant week in Los Angeles, and this place had an inexpensive Prix Fixe deal on a small filet mignon. Now, I don't eat meat very often- it's usually served at some event honoring someone or another that I get an invitation to as everybody's back-up husband (I'm not complaining.) I know it's not the best thing in the world for you so I don't order it often.
But oh was this good: done the way I love it seared on the outside and almost raw on the inside. Since it was only about 3 or 4 inches in diameter, I didn't even feel the meat coma I sometimes do after a big helping of it.
Do you eat meat? What's your favorite? Or do you not indulge? Feel that it's morally wrong? Don't like it? So let me know in the comments.
Since Donna got to try the new formulation of master perfumer Vero Kern's scents, I thought I'd repost my take on the original perfume strength formulas.
As you know from last weeks post, lovely and generous Gaia, the Non-Blonde sent me a sampler of Vero Perfumes wares. I've already covered onda, this week the two others in the line.
Lavender is an accord in perfumes that is second only to Rose in it's beauty when done well, and utter horrific trashiness when done ill: for every scent like Tauer's Reverie Au Jardin or Lutens Encens et Lavande there's some godawful Love's Lavendery LustBat or worse yet, Renuzit Lavender Glade.
Thank goodness not only is the lavender in kiki not only first rate, but it's paired with a creamy sweetness that for all the world reminds me of Macarons, those fantastic French wonders made from egg whites and filled with buttercream. There's a fresh fruitiness to it as well, that makes me think of ripe mango, but never gets even slightly overpowering. At the base of it is that tanned-flesh sort of musk that I am hopelessly in thrall to, not only because the only tan I can ever achieve still falls under the heading "ghostly pale" (those of you who've seen me: that's 20 years in LA, mostly without sunblock). All of this reads as horrific, and if it were put out by
98% of the companies out there that are stocking your local Sephora, it easily could be. As it is kiki is an absolute delight from beginning to end.
rubj is clearly after bigger game: white flower lovers take note. Orange blossoms open the scent, seemingly spiked with a bit of the peel. Soft jasmine and sweet tuberose join in and an earthy musk grounds it, but the whole thing never gets to that in-your-face stage that other tuberose scents can go to. There's something blameless to it thats both innocent and shockingly sensual at the same time. Fracas for instance walks right up and grabs you by the.... lapels. rubj (I am using lower-case since the packaging does) seems more content to let you come to it, and come you shall.
These are available at the Vero Perfume website
Vero herself was kind enough to write me to let me know that indeed there isn't mint in onda, even if that was the way it came out on my skin, and also to tell that her perfumes will soon be released in the US, perhaps in September. Wonderful news indeed! (Of course you know that these are available in the US at Luckyscent)
Swiss master perfumer Vero Kern releases fragrances at about the pace of a sea turtle on dry land, so when she does introduce something new, everyone pays attention. In the case of Rubj, which has been around since 2007, the recent interest was centered around the launch of a new formulation for the entire Vero Profumo line (all four of them!) called Voile d' Extrait, more intense than the Eau de Parfum but not as concentrated as the pure Parfum. I had smelled the Eau de Parfum of Rubj from a sample only a short time before I tried the Voile d' Extrait, and I was enchanted by them both. This was something really different, a white floral like no other, striking and almost angular. That is not a description that would fit most white floral fragrances, which although they may be powerful are most often pillowy, diffuse and sweet. This one is highly focused and intense in a different way.
It might seem odd to describe a white floral as “fierce” (with the possible exception of the notorious Tubéreuse Criminelle of course) but that's exactly the vibe I get from Rubj. It's haughty, poised, dramatic, a flamenco dancer swirling her skirts and stomping her feet who does not care what you think, she is going to do what she wants. The descriptions I have read speak of sweet florals, but it may be the least sweet fragrance of this style I have ever smelled, and not because it's soapy either, since it's not that way at all. One thinks of chypres as the go-to scents of intimidation and perfume “armor” but Rubj would be a perfect choice for those occasions when a brave front is required. It emanates more warmth than seems possible for a white floral, and it's not the cuddly kind. It radiates steadily, powerfully and for a very long time. I always wondered why it was given the name of a red precious stone, but now I see that it fits, because it is like a deep glowing ember throwing off a low but persistent heat, fascinating all who are within its range. It's hard to turn away from even a banked fire.
How this effect is accomplished I have no idea, but instead of the normal sweet, soapy orange blossom, it seems to be pared down to its pure essence somehow, with all the hazy romance stripped away, leaving only the sunlit brilliance, and the gorgeous Egyptian jasmine it is paired with is devoid of puffy clouds and innocence and hits mostly the lower notes, though it's not really what I would call a “dirty” jasmine, it's most certainly all grown up, and a deep hearty musk in the base bolsters that effect. The true nature of Rubj is a stealth weapon that gradually takes over until you realize that you are wearing a really big perfume, room-filling and assertive, but never, ever vulgar, quite the opposite. It is simply formidable, and it makes me want to be the kind of person who can wear it with ease and confidence. If one must be worn by one's fragrance, I can't think of a better candidate than Rubj, and I will continue to strive to be worthy of it.
Image credit: Fashion illustration by American artist Maxwell Coburn Whitmore Jr. (1913-1988) via tuttartpitturasculturapoesiamusica.com
Disclosure: Rubj Voile d'Extrait is in my personal perfume collection.
Atelier Cologne popped up a few years ago with several fragrances that I really liked, but never got around to purchasing. For a "cologne" they are rather strong and relatively long-lasting (which is in no way a negative). This one is supposed to be built around lemon and gin notes.
Now gin and lemon are something I love- in a glass filled with shaved on a hot summer day, preferably served poolside. I'm not sure that I really need to smell like gin and lemon though, if only to avoid breathalyzer tests..
However, Cédrat Envirant manages to spare me that because at least on me it smells more like grapefuit that lemon and I don't get the gin. I get a really pretty grapefruit complete with peel and pith, then the mint and bergamot come in, then the tonka and vetiver. As with other Atelier Colognes, the lasting power is very good, especially for a "cologne" and the prices are even reasonable. Will I buy? Maybe when summer comes around- I like to be wearing heavier stuff in winter, even if it's about 80º in LA today. Hey, I'm in an air conditioned office..
Notes (from LuckyScent): Moroccan cedrat, Mexican lime, Calabrian bergamot, Chinese mint, Egyptian basilica, Macedonian juniper, Brazilian tonka bean, Haitian vetiver, and Phillipine elemi.
Cédrat Envirant comes in three sizes: 30ML for $65, 100ML for $105 and the massive 200ML for $170. I assume at Neiman Marcus and Barney's as well as Aedes and LuckyScent. My sample was asked for and given at ScentBar.
Image Credit: LuckyScent
Labels: Atelier Cologne
By Beth Schreibman Gehring
Hello everyone! It's been such a long time since I've been here and I've missed you all so much! Happy New Year! 2013 is gone and I fervently hope that 2014 brings you everything that your heart desires and more. I spent the day before New Years eve in New York City, doing as I always do, wandering from store to store , sniffing away blissfully and deciding just how much to put myself into debt before I leave. I began my journey at Bergdorfs which is always a problem for my wallet! So be it….Christmas comes but once a year!
Alas, something was off that day and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was. I walked from counter to counter and was seduced by multiple ambers , ouds, figs and woods but I just couldn't commit to one of them. I even got a chance to try the almost mythological proportioned Muguet by Guerlain that comes out only once year. I loved it but still there was no spark, no instant chemistry that said, "go ahead, you know you want to!" I figured that I must be coming down with something as that could be the only excuse for my indecisiveness!
I went to find Jim who was seated in the café just waiting for me and enjoying a melon cooler. Actually he was on his third, that's how long he waited for me. He's so patient, such a good man. We had a wonderful lunch of sweet pea soup , wild mushrooms and truffles on puff pastry and a delightful crab and lobster salad. I kept smelling my arm, but I have to say that it was the first time ever that I've left Bergdorfs without a purchase. Anyone who knows me will tell you that this is almost unheard of. I was scattering my ashes on the 7th floor of Bergdorfs long before the movie of the same name was even a twinkle in the producers eye. Yes, everyone in my family knows that I'm serious and if they don't honor my wishes there will be hell to pay. I leave it to them to figure out all of the details!
We left and went to the Apple store and then we decided that Jim would wander over to Club Macanudo for a cigar and a drink , while I continued to hunt down a new perfume . We kissed and parted with a promise to meet later for a drink and off I went. I went back to Bergdorfs , still nothing. I wandered through Tiffany's and then headed to Henri Bendel. I pushed through the crowds , no easy feat that day and managed to wend my way up to the mezzanine level where I discovered that the perfume section had been completely moved since the last time I'd been there. I sniffed through all of the usual suspects and then my eyes alighted onto a bottle I'd never seen before. It was beautiful, dark black glass and Russian gilding , a very fanciful design that was seductive and whimsical at the same time. I was of course completely intrigued by the name of the fragrance which was "The Enchanted Forest", but even more so by the perfumer, a mysterious and wonderful man who called himself The Vagabond Prince.
I picked up the bottle, sprayed bit onto my arm and took a deep sniff. My head started reeling and so did my heart which I believe literally jumped and skipped a beat or two. I was breathless and instantly smitten. The Enchanted Forest is at once one of the most unexpected and extraordinary perfumes that I've ever smelled and actually I would say that it is one of the perfumes that I've always wanted to smell, that I've been waiting lifetimes to be created. I know that is quite a dramatic statement , but it's true.
From the initial blast of blast of blackcurrant to the softness of balsam and the brightness of pink pepper the whole effect is of a forest primeval; an untouched place that centuries ago would have been a home to the most lustful and pagan of gatherings or a flowery mead where unicorns and nymphs would abound. The Enchanted Forest is sexy , romantic and thoroughly elegant; although there's all of that playful juicy cassis at the opening it dries down to a sweet amber and totally sexy musk. I sprayed a little more on, grabbed a brochure and ran out the door all the way down 57th street to Park Avenue and then sprinted across to 64th street not even stopping at the Georg Jensen store…another first for me !
I ran into Club Macanudo and found Jim ensconced in a leather wing chair happily smoking a cigar and enjoying a Bloody Mary. He looked up, surprised to see me so soon and I stuck my arm under his nose. He grinned and said.."I guess you've found it…what a delicious perfume, did you buy it?" to which I replied "absolutely not…at least not until you've smelled it " , which is my secret code for "I love it and think that it would be utterly romantic if YOU bought it for me!" Some perfumes are just like that and this one is no exception.
Waiting for him to finish his cigar, I had a delightful Mojito of my own and opened the brochure. Two things popped out at me.The first was that this perfume had been created by the remarkable Bertrand Duchaufour which came as absolutely no surprise to me because I had the same emotional response to The Enchanted Forest as I had to my other favorite of his , Eau d' Italie's Jardin du Poete, both of them being fragrances that immediately grabbed me and dragged me nose first into a mythical garden from another place and time.
The second surprise was that The Vagabond Prince was the result of a long held dream by Elena and Zoran Knezevic of Fragrantica to produce a wonderful and world class perfume of their own. The artwork on the bottle and the beautiful blue, gilded box was created by Elena and the effect with the black glass flacon is absolutely magical! Brava Bellisima!
We finished our drinks and we walked arm in arm back to Bendels where he bought me the present of a bottle of this wonderful perfume. I haven't stopped wearing it since my return. You can order a sample of it at www.thevagabondprince.com but I promise that a sample will not be enough. You will fall head over heels into the glamoury that is The Enchanted Forest and you'll never want to wander out. You'll get lost in the dream, but you won't care. It's that bewitching...
Artisan perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes has presented another set of perfumes based on a collaboration with the Denver Art Museum, an artistic venture that brought us such past gems as the Secrets of Egypt fragrances and the YSL Retrospective collection. The new trio, inspired by iconic works of French art, is called the Passport to Paris collection. Each one was made to reflect the character of a particular piece, and after testing these all I can say is get me on a flight to France immediately if this is what happens when one contemplates French masterpieces.
I began with the delicately delicious Amouse Bouche, which translates (very) loosely to “there's a party in my mouth.” I only wished that I could have a real strawberry confection like this to eat instead of being tantalized by the perfume. It is a gourmand with a feather-light touch, beginning with a realistic strawberry note heightened by lemon before the florals, including rose, jasmine and ylang ylang chime in to ensure that it's more than just a novelty scent. Soon the gourmand notes of tonka bean, buttered brioche and vanilla show up, and their restrained sweetness makes this smell like a sophisticated pastry, the kind that's almost too pretty to eat. I am a huge fan of strawberry in perfume, and therefore I am very critical of it when it's done badly. This is exactly right, and as a gourmand fragrance it's just sweet enough to make you want more, as though you were looking with longing into the storefront of a patisserie that has closed for the day and you have to be satisfied with the lingering aroma in the air. Amouse Bouche was made to match the mood of Toulouse-Lautrec's “The Dunce's Cap' and it is as lighthearted as its inspiration.
Vers la Violette is entirely different, a moody green violet perfume with a refined sueded base. Its touchstone was a pastoral painting by Post-Impressionist painter Hippolyte Petitjean. I adore violets, so I was predisposed to like it, and it exceeded my expectations. Look “French perfume” up in the dictionary and you might well find a picture of this; nothing could be more Parisian than a bunch of violets, and this fragrance exudes chic right from the beginning. It is subtle but not wistful as the green notes of galbanum and oakmoss keep it away from the fainting couch; instead it strides breezily down the boulevard, cool and confident. This is the kind of violet fragrance that a man can wear with ease – notes of lemon, leather and ionone tamp down the floral sweetness. The perfumer really has a way with this fragile and temperamental floral; this is just about the polar opposite of her amazing Quinacridone Violet but no less deftly composed and it shows the range of possibilities to be discovered for the humble yet beautiful violet. It might even remind you a little of Balmain's Jolie Madame with its violets and leather, but with the chypre darkness replaced by buoyant spring green. If you can't be in Paris for the April violets, just wear Vers la Violette instead.
Passport à Paris was a real surprise; it was the last one I tested, I did not expect that it would become quite strong on my skin after the initial impression of bergamot, anise and lavender made me think it would be as delicate as the other two. It is a classic fougère with a twist; as it develops it becomes richly animalic and decadently powdery, laden with patchouli, rosewood, civet, coumarin (of course) and sandalwood and with impressive staying power. The perfumer took her inspiration from Claude Monet's “The Beach at Trouville” which is a glimpse into the life of the upper classes taking the air at a seaside resort. It owes more to iconic unisex perfumes like Guerlain's Jicky than to strait-laced English style fougères that conform to a narrow definition of what “men's colognes” should smell like. (Don't worry, it's not a huge stonking monster like Drakkar Noir either!) This juice is anything but stuffy, spicy-powdery but with a soapy back beat that is irresistible, like a really sexy man fresh out of the shower, wrapped in a towel and shaving with a creamy lather, and all you can think of is unwrapping him. I don't often wear traditional masculine fragrances myself except for a few favorites like Grey Flannel, but I would wear this one, if only to conjure up a mental image of the guy in the towel...but I digress. Passport à Paris is as good as it gets in the fougère department in my opinion, but don't take my word for it, since I am not as well versed in this genre as I could be. I can only say that both men and women should give it a try, because it's really great.
Image credit: Eiffel Tower wallpaper (the kind you can buy in a roll) from spoonflower.com.; also available as fabric. I want some!
Disclosure: the fragrance samples for this review were given to me by DSH perfumes.