11 June 2010

i think i need to start this blog again. :)

12 July 2008

Apologies abound

So sorry for my long absense. I'm a bit of a "bright shiny objects" type of person as well as a perfectionist. Keeping up this blog was becoming time consuming. I think I'm going to focus on shorter reviews instead of feeling like I have to write a novel each time I post! Stay tuned... (if you're still out there!)

20 April 2008

On the mend! Still working on the Internet connection...

I'm feeling better, thank goodness, but haven't been able to access Internet until today, and only by the window again. Our neighbor has talked about setting up a wireless system but it hasn't happened yet. After 5 days sick at home with no Internet, I'm starting to go through withdrawl! If she doesn't do it this week, we're going to sign up for it ourselves and split the cost with her. I don't have any reviews today as I haven't been able to smell much lately! Stay tuned...

17 April 2008


I'm sick with a cold, and only able to capture a random wifi signal by balancing my laptop on a chair that is tipped toward the sliding glass window, facing east. Thank you, "Joe & Maria" for sending me a little Internet today. No review, as I can barely smell anything. I will give a shout out to Philosophy's Kiss Me lipbalm in Red- I've had a small pot of this slick lip balm for a few years. It smells so nice- like orange- and hydrates my lips like nobody's business, especially when I'm sick and turn into a mouth-breather.

PS: I hope to post more photos when we're back in the black with Internet ...

15 April 2008

Caudalie Soin des Levres (Lip Conditioner)

This lip balm is terrific. I bought in Paris last fall (I’ve seen it in the states, too) at a tiny pharmacy near my hotel in the 6th arrondisement. I love how there are little, independent pharmacies on every street in France. Each one is full of new treasures—soaps and lotions and brands I’ve never heard of. Anyway, on my last trip to Paris I only brought a carry-on backpack, and I was wicked concerned with the whole “liquids on the plane” deal. I had my little Ziploc baggie FULL with shampoo and lotion and sunscreen and didn’t bring along a chapstick or lip balm. (Half the fun of traveling is buying little things like that anyway!) I didn't think I'd need any as I had two tubes of lipgloss. After a few days of walking in the sun, though, my lips were parched! Lip Conditioner was a lifesaver. I got it in “sensitive” so it wouldn’t have any extra fragrance. It’s a treat! It’s a lip balm but shaped like a lipstick. Super fancy. It smells like marshmallows. Its non-scent sends me straight back to Paris. This balm sinks in pretty fast so I do need to reapply occasionally. But it goes on clear. I paid about 6 euros for it. Photo to follow, once I get Internet back at home!

stay tuned...

I just lost Internet chez moi. Working to get my house back online. Stay tuned...

10 April 2008

Penhaligon's Violetta eau de toilette

Penhaligon’s Violetta starts out like death by violets. But unlike Le Dix, the violets in Violetta are only slightly powdery, and way, way more crisp and green. The tiny powder note almost completely fades after the initial drydown, and the greens emerge: think leafy greens as opposed to stemmy. Violetta smells like after a rain shower (similar in many aspects to Guerlain’s Apres l’Ondee, although I haven't spent much time with that one). It reminds me of a fresh spring day after it rains, when the earth is steaming and you can still hear the water dripping from the leaves high up in the trees. To me, it smells watery without the dreaded marine note. Rather, it reminds me of a watercolor painting. It’s very cool, light and delicate, and doesn’t have much sillage. It stays close to my skin and ends up just smelling good. From time to time, I get the smallest hint of pine and woods. It’s a soliflore and was created in 1976, the year of my birth. It was meant to be! It’s tough reviewing a perfume I really love. After a while, I can’t analyze it anymore. It just smells like me, like something comforting, and carries with it all my past associations of it.

I visited Penhaligon’s on a whim while in Edinburgh in 2005. I saw it on my way to Jo Malone, and only stopped in because I’d read about Bluebell being Prince Charles’ and Kate Moss’ favorite scent. I was on a Jo Malone mission—-funny--now it would be the total opposite. I loved the Jo Malone experience, but made an unfortunate impromptu purchase. I'm sorry I didn't spend more time at Penhaligon's.

I didn't buy anything that day- it wasn't until a random stop in Glasgow where I bought the little tin of samples and asked them for a sample of Violetta. The first time I got around to try it was the summer of 2006. At the time I was living in a terribly uninsulated upstairs apartment and it was really, really hot. I fell in love with Violetta's cool freshness. It ended up being the first bottle of perfume I ordered online (save an inexpensive bottle of Fiorucci that I bought years ago from Sephora, unsniffed, because I love the store in Verona, Italy, so much. Thank god I liked it! A fizzy, fruity floral, nothing I would normally wear, but yummy indeed). With Violetta, I felt like I’d arrived. I was officially a perfumista. I’ve never looked back!

08 April 2008

Balenciaga Le Dix, eau de toilette

Le Dix starts out very powdery and full of violets. I tend to reach for it in the spring because of its violets, but it could be worn any time of year. Those who don’t like powdery scents may not care much for Le Dix; there are moments when it’s just a huge (wonderful) powder bomb. Then again, it’s super classy, and the powder is more violet-toned than baby powder, so you might give it a shot.

Anyway, it’s a burst of powdery violets at first which slowly melts into smooth, creamy violets. A few hours later and for the remainder of the day, it smells wonderfully fresh and nice and very comforting, like a warm mom or favorite auntie. It’s all at once floral and indefinable. It smells very French, and very old-school. Le Dix is quite aldehydic, which contributes to its vintage qualities. Aldehydes are hard to define. They're synthetic molecules that not only enhance other scents in a perfume, but also carry their own powdery and sharp odor, which, unfortunately, gives perfume a perfume-y or “old lady smell.”

I wish there was another title than "old lady." Perhaps instead we could call a perfume a generational smell, and refer to it as something so unmistakably between the two World Wars. I think "oldy lady" perfume got its name because so many classic, older perfumes contain aldeydes (Chanel No. 5, launched in 1921, was the first perfume to use them) and that older women, then in their youth, discovered these scents when they first came into fashion and quickly made them their own. And they still love them. I do, too!

Aldehydic scents are quite civilized, I think. I’d much rather have that “old lady smell” than the generic, watery, ozonic fruity floral that my generation will surely be remembered by (ahem, Calvin Klein, I’m talking to you). I think, too, that perhaps older people lose their sense of smell and therefore really pile on the perfume. Again, though, loads of Chanel No. 5 vs. Eternity is fine by me.

Some great suggestions for other aldehydic fragrances can be found here, and an excellent review about Le Dix can be found here.

I read that Le Dix is named for Balenciaga’s address on 10, avenue George V, in Paris. *le sigh*

I bought my tiny little 10 mL bottle (the perfect size, in my opinion) for $11.99 at Imagination Perfumery. I think I must have bought the last bottle, but they do still have bigger sizes available for decent prices.

06 April 2008

Michael Kors Island Capri eau de toilette; Tocca Touch eau de parfum; Kenzo Flower eau de parfum

Today’s review is of three samples I received in my last Sephora order: Island Capri by Michael Kors; Tocca Touch; and Flower by Kenzo.

Michael Kors Island Capri. On the card it says “The Ultimate Vacation in a Bottle.” Right. Could my vacation be away from this perfume? I don’t even want to touch it to my skin. It smells like watery mangoes and Windex, an instant, clanging headache. It’s like an electric blue raspberry, emerging from the ocean. A teenager would love it. It fades into generic nothing. Help, get this off my arm. Oh wait, it’s gone. Faded. Nothing. Did I even put this on?

Tocca Touch. I’ve heard a lot about this perfume, and always see it at Anthropologie. It comes in a pretty little feminine bottle and the juice is pink. The card proclaims “The freshness of gardenia and Tahitian tiare flower, the succulence of pomegranate and the warmth of Egyptian balsam evoke the refined essence of Tocca.” First impression: cinnamon-scented dryer sheets. Then: Clark’s Teaberry gum and cloves. I smell a little ylang-ylang, a lot of vanilla, and tons of potpourri. It has this strange gum thing going on. It’s a clean gourmand. Not for me but not a total scrubber, either. It’s overpowering the Island Capri on my arm, so that’s good. Something about it reminds me of my aunt Lorraine’s house in New Hampshire, which is kind of neat. Her house always smells clean. The juice settles in nicely but takes over in a pushy potpourri kind of way.

Flower by Kenzo. I remember this being very popular in France when I lived there. My memory of it was that it was too powdery. Here’s what the card says: “Floral Energy—wild hawthorne, Bulgarian rose, cassie flower, Parma violet. Powder Power—Bourbon vanilla, oppoponax, white musk. Urban Energy—cyclosal, hedoine. Ok, what are cyclosal and hedoine? And I’m not sure what oppoponax is, either. This perfume takes me right back to France. It’s almost … minty, like when you smell someone’s breath after they brush their teeth. It’s peppery baby powder, slightly floral, a hint of vanilla. My memory was correct: this is all powder on me. Overpowering, dusty talc. Whew! Babies! After a few minutes, the powder teases me with violets. But overall, there’s something reminiscent about Comet.

Overall, if I had to choose, I’d go with Touch. Update, 8 hours later: The violet in Kenzo flower finally reveals itself. Too little, too late. It's very pretty, but not me.

04 April 2008

Annick Goutal Neroli, eau de toilette

All week long I’ve been reaching for Neroli. It’s a lovely, fresh scent for spring. When I first smelled it, I wrote it off as a one-sided one-note juice that faded too fast. I’ve struggled with Annick Goutal fragrances. To my nose, they all carry a similar thread of something that smells watery and ozonic. I love Eau d’Hadrian when it’s sprayed in the air, or on other people, but not on me. My dad gave me his half-used bottle, and on him it’s all lemon zest; on me it’s all chemical lemon cleaner. I like Violette … but not enough to buy it. Too powdery. Le Chevrefeuille is nice and light, but a little too airy for me, and combined with that weird ozonic note that I keep smelling (am I the only one?), it’s just too much.

As much as the ozonic smell kept turning me away from Annick Goutal, there was something that kept drawing me back, too. I think I fell under the spell of AG’s pretty little bottles and the brand's niche status. My local Nordstrom's AG section is alluring: all those cream boxes and bottles with gauze bows. I nearly smelled all of them, and the only one I liked was Neroli. I debated buying it. I’m glad I did!Wearing it all this week, I’ve discovered that it’s not only green and stemmy-- really perfect for spring, but it’s also a quiet, subtle floral, and not too sweet. It smells like when you hold a ripe, unpeeled orange up to your nose. A little juicy but not orange juice. No Minute Maid here. It’s slightly powdery but very, very soft.

I tend to apply it liberally, almost more like a splash. It has almost no sillage, yet I can still detect it hours later if I bury my nose into my forearm. There are random moments when I get that ozonic odor, and something like bad breath, but those moments fade into the softest orange blossom loveliness. While it’s certainly too expensive to treat like a true splash, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s ok if I actually finish up a bottle of perfume. I’d rather apply liberally and enjoy it than have it go bad. I’d love to try to matching shower gel … but my Cattier orange blossom suits me just fine (and is waaaay less expensive than the AG shower gel!)

03 April 2008

Product Body Road Wash

I won this a few weeks ago in a contest! It’s Product Body Road Wash, a hand (or body) soap that’s halfway between solid and liquid. Product Body is based in Florida and run by a sweet woman named Joanna, who regularly blogs about the day-to-day doings at her company. I entered a giveaway contest, and actually won! Holy moly! I never win anything! So anyway, back to Road Wash. It’s actually not the first time I’ve used it. Last year I ordered some Whipped Shea Butter from Product Body (review to follow) and Joanna graciously included a small sample of grapefruit Road Wash. It was heavenly and smelled wonderful and fresh, but wasn’t overly scented. Just enough scent—perfect, really. I hate when soaps and lotions go overboard with scents; they either conflict with my perfume or give me a headache. The prize (pictured above) is scented with yuzu, aka ugli fruit, a citrus fruit that smells like a combination of lemon, grapefruit, orange and a little verbena.

It’s terrific! I use it all day at work, and it’s certainly much nicer than the pump soap in the bathrooms at the office. Just a tiny scoop creates loads of suds. It cleans my hands well and rinses clean, too. Pushing paper all day wreaks havoc on my poor hands; Road Wash is very softening. And it smells divine! So citrusy and yum. Not only was it awesome to win a contest (and get a little package in the mail at the end of a crappy week at work), but it’s also awesome winning something that I already loved! Hooray!

You can find the link to the Product Body website here, and Joanna’s blog here.

Here’s what’s nuts: I won another giveaway earlier this week from the perfume blog Sweet Diva! I have no idea what is going on with the universe, but the stars have aligned to my favor. The scent gods are smiling my way. Lucky me! Sweet Diva was cleaning out her numerous samples and will send me a little packet of them soon. Her blog is pretty terrific. She gives excellent reviews seems to like white florals a lot, which is helpful because I do, too. Sweet Diva can be read here.

To rebalance the karma, I finally bought a bunch of tiny, empty perfume vials to make samples for my friends and family. I love reading perfume and beauty blogs, but know how much work they take to maintain. I’m thinking these two random wins are big signs to me to get back into posting regularly on this blog. Stay tuned!

21 March 2008

Roger & Gallet Shiso soap

Ugh-- I've been home sick with a stomach bug for the past few days. I've been catching up on tv watching and that's about it. A hot shower when sick, though, is an excellent remedy to feel better. My dear friend Nicole in France mailed me a beauty product care package about a month ago, and in it was this lovely Roger & Gallet Shiso soap. Their packaging is so pretty, I can't bear to recycle it. The empty box is now in my linen closet, scenting the shelves.

I'm not sure what shiso is, or what the notes in the soap actually are. I detect a lot of green, and that makes me happy. The best way I can describe it is that it smells like a bouquet of fresh wildflowers, with a couple of pink roses, too. It's not sweet, or anything like tuberose or jasmine, but more like fresh cut grass and hay and fresh air. Surprisingly, it's reminiscent of Chanel No. 19 lotion- a lotion I bought on a whim last year because I liked how fresh it smelled. (Unfortunately, I didn't wait long enough for the lotioin to settle into my skin the day I bought it. It smells so fresh at first, but later falls flat.) The soap, on the other hand, retains its freshness. It's a good thing to smell in the shower.

Roger & Gallet soaps are luscious and long lasting. They retain their shape throughout. It took me three months to get through the Citron bar and the one I used after that, the heavenly and simple Oatmeal Milk. Roger & Gallet soaps are my favorite. They're a little spendy at $6, but $6 for 3 months is completely worth it.

06 March 2008

Guerlain's L'Heure Bleu parfum on my left, Miss Dior EDT on my right (before I wash my hands)

I sought out some classics tonight; L'Heure Bleu parfum by Guerlain and Miss Dior EDT by Dior. I wanted to smell the parfum of Miss Dior but Saks didn't have a tester.

L'Heure Bleu has been reviewed a bunch, and I don't think I have much to add to what I've already read. Somewhere I read that it smells like Playdoh; I'm sorry to say that's exactly what I smell. Sharp, peppery, powdery Playdoh. I do like it, but it's not for me. It's very, very different than anything else on the market right now, which I can appreciate. I'm always a little relieved when I'm not hot on a perfume; it means I won't have to buy it!

Miss Dior, on the other hand (literally) started out super earthy and dirty green, then turned grassy, and finally settled into this lush, rich, comforting patchouli on me. It's warm and round and encapsulating. It feels familiar, but I don't know anyone close to me who wears it regularly. It's utterly classic and sophisticated, like the kind of scent you'd smell on someone once and instantly recognize if you smelled it again. It's a close, skin scent on me ... and yet I feel like I'm not wearing Miss Dior, but rather Miss Dior is wearing me. Quite lovely, though! It's a chypre, which I love. It smells like a heavier, oilier Chanel 19. Nothing wrong with that!

13 February 2008

apologies abound

I do apologize for the lack of posts- first it was the holidays, then the january blahs, then health issues, then book reviews and book club books, and finally a general lack of enthusiasm for sitting back down at a computer after being at one all day at work. more reviews to come, I promise!

22 December 2007

Serge Lutens Bois de Violette eau de parfum

I first smelled Bois de Violette in 2005 on a perfume tour in Paris. My guide took me to Serge Lutens, a house I'd never heard of, on the first stop on the tour. I remember thinking, huh, nice perfume tour, why aren't we going to Jean Patou? Or Chanel? If only I knew then what I know now ... Bois de Violette would have been mine much sooner.

The sales associate at Serge Lutens sized me up and down and suggested I sample Un Lys. She put a drop on my arm and then had me compare it against each other fragrance I tested. Un Lys: so pretty and fresh! Next up was something or other-- Douce Amere, maybe; I liked Un Lys better. Then, Bois de Fruits; which did I like better? Un Lys. Next: Bois de Violette-- which did I prefer? I smelled both arms again and again and couldn't decide. Un Lys was gorgeous on me: all white lillies and dainty flower petals. Bois de Violette, however, was just as pretty, but in a darker, woodsier way. I smelled tones of vanilla and sweet wood, hints of violets and forest floor. Ultimately, I prefered Un Lys, but it didn't matter because in the end, I didn't buy either one. I told my guide, I don't want to blow my wad now when there's two more houses to visit (Guerlain and Montale). I left Serge Lutens with a small wax sample booklet and beautifully scented arms.

What a bust! Guerlain didn't do anything for me (although my aunt fell hopelessly in love with Mitsouko parfum) and neither did Montale (I did meet Monsieur Montale, who gave me a decant of Crystal Flowers in exchange for a kiss -- story to follow in a future post). I didn't buy anything at either house. I went back to Serge Lutens the next day while on a walk with my dad but they were closed. I did manage to get a small sample of A La Nuit from Sephora, but aside from that, I left France with no Serge Lutens.

Flash forward a year later to me unearthing that wax sample booklet. I retried Un Lys and found it way too heady and airy. Bois de Violette, however, was just like I remembered it: all cedar and violets swirling around in competition with each other. I couldn't wait to get to Serge Lutens on my next visit to Paris.

I bought it on the last day of my visit. I saved it for last because it was the biggest, most fragile bottle, and I didn't want it to break in my backpack while traveling. It's a bell jar and has no spritzer. It was wildly expensive, but worth it. Paris is the only place it's available. It felt so luxurious walking through the arcades and gardens afterwards with a tiny Serge Lutens bag on that sunny fall day. When I got it home, I decanted it to a small spritzer and gave myself a spray. I couldn't wait to bask in the glory of violets. I'd waited so long-- two years!

I didn't like it.

It wasn't how I remembered it. It was so ... unusual. The cedar just took over. I couldn't detect any violets. It turned strangely smoky on my skin after 10 minutes. It had a sweetness I couldn't place - not a candied violet sweetness, but a more vanilla smoky tea sweetness. I didn't wear it for weeks, months. The little spritzer on my dresser taunted me. Occasionally I'd give it a spray but it made me feel claustrophobic. It was simply too much.

Eventually, I decided not to spray it, but rather spray a cotton ball and dab it lightly on my wrist. I had to give it another go, especially in this cold weather. It's much more an autumn/winter scent to me. It works much better on my skin now that I'm dabbing it. A little goes a long way on me. I think when I sprayed, too much came out and it was overpowering.

I've been wearing Bois de Violette all week and it keeps intriguing me each time I wear it. To my nose, the first few notes are soda-like; cream soda, ginger ale, vanilla. It smells like a smooth cedar plank. It's so warm. The violet comes out on my skin after about 25 minutes. I get impatient sometimes waiting for it, but the warm woodsy cedar keeps me smelling. I still don't know if I'm in love with it or not; but for that reason, I think I must be. It's limitless on my skin. It keeps me on my toes. It's soothing and comforting. It's something I reach for when I want to feel warm. It's like a cashmere sweater. It's quite possibly the most intersting perfume I've ever smelled.