Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review: Bleu de Chanel by Chanel

Waiting for the launch of Bleu de Chanel was tough, like a boy standing outside a candy shop sans argent. Everything about this fragrance visually is right up my alley. The bottle is square, sleek, masculine and heavy with a magnetic bottle cap, and blue is my favourite colour. I badly wanted the fragrance to blow me away, just like how Egoiste did, and Bleu de Chanel was almost there in packaging  ... the final answer lies with the first spritz.

I realised how ridiculously tough Jacques Polge's job is/was. You have the world waiting and hoping for you to create another shocking masterpiece (to add on to your resume of many) but at the same time, you have these sweet guidelines from the lovely people at IFRA, and more importantly, the executives at work hounding you everyday to make sure you create a commercial success while spending as little as possible. Of course, this is pretty much the situation for most perfumers, but when you are working for a legend of a company like Chanel, the hard becomes harder.

The final answer? This is a commercially safe fragrance and should satisfy the monetary expectations of a business, but it's not one to be remembered. It's not a scent that I'd ever crave for, but it's also a scent I'm happy to wear to the office on an unassuming day. Bleu de Chanel follows the masculine 'blue' trend with woody aromatic structure, a proven winning formula as seen in Versace pour Homme and the recent toxic spray can flanker Boss Bottled Night. In a way, it is a crucial strategy to gain dominance of the men's market.

The fragrance is very smooth and well-blended, opening with sharp citruses and pink peppers, into a synthetic cocktail of virginia cedarwood, sandalwood, jasmine and incense, that extends to the base supported by labdanum, coumarin and oakmoss. The overall effect is clean, fresh, masculine and sleek. It is neither original nor revolutionary, but just another conventional men's fragrance from a luxury house tailored to sell.

Rating: ***

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Very Orange Triple Bill


Possibly the most recognised fruit in the world, our little citrus friend has claimed its place in the kitchen, especially during breakfast, formed a strong partnership (and very delicious one too) with duck, and is to perfumers what rice is to the Chinese. The humble orange, thought to be the love child of pomelo and mandarin, plays such an important role in perfumes that I feel it is only fair to give it a mention. This cheap and widely available material is not only versatile, but indispensable in this delicate art of mix and smell.

Act 1 - Les Nuit d'Hadrien by Annick Goutal

Sitting under a cypress tree at night in Tuscany and inhaling the Mediterranean air is what Les Nuit d'Hadrien purport to express. This is a timeless story of indulging in the simple desires nature has to offer. There is no extravagance here, just a basic need to be comfortable.

Les Nuit d'Hadrien is charming and lightly European. She blooms with green citruses accompanied by spices and a teaspoon of brown sugar. This bitter-sweet ensemble transform into a cool temperate forest with wild cypress, basil and juniper before settling down to a gentle base of amber and vanilla. This sensual arrangement makes Les Nuit d'Hadrien a perfume you can wear forever, if you can only choose one. ****1/2

Act 2 - Solo Pop by Loewe

Recently introduced Solo Pop is a new generation flanker of the Loewe Solo family. Inspired by the pop-art movement and Andy Warhol, Solo Pop represents the modern man in his pursuit to balance work and pleasure. 

As I am typing this, I cannot help noticing how my writing style changes with each perfume I smell. With Solo Pop, I just want to get it over and done with. Solo Pop opens with citrus notes that in my opinion, smells bizarre. After pondering, my still-useful brain came up with an apt description - orange-scented air con cleaner. The aromatic heart notes featuring thyme, coriander, verbena, lavender and rosemary did nothing to make it smell less synthetic. Instead, the air con cleaner is smelling more like expensive Lysol. 

Matching the scent to the concept, I think Solo Pop is quite a synthetic success. Orange from a spray can. **

Finale - Little Italy by Bond No. 9

A neighbourhood area in lower Manhattan thriving with tourists and dozens of Italian restaurants and shops, Little Italy once housed a large population of Italians. I believe the general consensus is Italians are loud and passionate people. 

Bond No. 9's Little Italy certainly did not shy away from that. This is one loud and proud orange, and even more in your face than the juice-squirting Sunkist ad. Forget about top, middle and base notes. Little Italy is an epic linear orange story. Peel 100 oranges till your hands wrinkle, and smell them and you smell Little Italy. From the zest, to rind to juice, this perfume is a full tribute to our very humble orange. Do not be mistaken and think this smells like orange essential oil. It does not. The essential oil is too gentle and soft to be Italian. This is concentrated orange powered with a good dose of hair spray. Haute couture orange. ****

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Review: High Line by Bond No. 9

If there's ever industrial art in a bottle, it has to be High Line. Making scents out of logical places like world famous cities, historical locations and beaches make sense and from a marketing pov, sells. Making scents out of a place described on wikipedia.org as 'The High Line is a 1.45-mile (2.33 km) New York City park built on a section of the former elevated freight railroad of the West Side Line, along the lower west side of Manhattan, which has been redesigned and planted as an aerial greenway' makes you lift an eyebrow. I did, when I caught wind that Bond No. 9 was to put the park in the bottle. 

Being a non-New Yorker, I googled and first reaction was: rust and grass?oh dear! I've never really taken much notice to the smell around our local rail tracks and to be honest, I was a little tempted to go on my knees, crawl and attempt to sniff. Fortunately, Bond No. 9 is not one to take it literally as evident in their past creations. 

High Line is a clever composition featuring notes of nature found along the tracks such as purple love grass, Indian rhubarb, red leaf rose, tulips, grape hyacinth, sea moss, teak, bur oak and musk. Might be a good thing there is no notes of rust, smoke, tar, grease, insects. Compared to the other Bonds, High Line is delicate and soft. The opening is ozonic and green, but not chopped grass. It is the beautiful cool morning breeze passing through fluttering grass, evapourating the sweetened morning dew infused with the scent of delicate freshly bloomed flowers. Towards the heart, it becomes interestingly even more aquatic and floral before settling into a light woody trail. 

I consider this an amazing creation because High Line is very wearable with fantasy notes that do not feel a bit synthetic so kudos to perfumer Laurent LeGuernec. For you bottle lovers, you will be pleased to know that the 'High Line' on the bottle is an actual metal cut-out that is glued to the bottle!

Rating: *****

Monday, July 5, 2010

Review: L'EAU by Serge Lutens

Honestly, I do not know where to start with this review. L'EAU is a fairly recent offering by Serge Lutens and is supposedly an 'anti-perfume' for the days you want to stay away from the roses, civet and patchouli. Shocking? No. This is not the first time we are hearing 'anti-perfume' as it has been marketed over and over again by CdG, Escentric Molecules was in my opinion along the same line and not forgetting CB I Hate Perfume. How about clean, linen-inspired scents? Original? No. Niche brand CLEAN has been doing it for years, and so has Demeter. Scent wise, this fragrance is hardly shocking nor original, but coming from Serge Lutens, it is both shocking and original. Thinking of analogies, perhaps an equally scary one is trying to imagine Christian Lacroix selling soft, clean, white, cotton t-shirts. Horror.

Marketing aside, the scent is more than detergent. It is lemon-scented starch spray. L'EAU smells like a spanking new luxury hotel room in all white; it smells like freshly pressed $500 shirt; it smells like you have a lot of money to spare. Compared to the harsh and sharp quality of CLEAN's scent, L'EAU is actually rather charming and refine. The clever combination of citruses, aldehydes, clary sage and magnolia smells naturally clean and the slightly salty ozonic and musk notes evokes purity and comfort.

The longevity however is a nightmare leaving me scentless in under an hour. Maybe that is the concept of the 'anti-perfume'. Regardless, I still do think this is a charming scent and it makes a perfect room spray for my clean white bedroom walls.

Rating: ***

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Interview with RJ Ledesma

"Smells like DOM spirit: Author RJ Ledesma and perfume expert Eugene He (his name, not the pronoun) investigate the olfactory connection."

Finally, the very humourous interview with RJ Ledesma of The Philippine Star is out at  Smell My Wrath. Be sure to check it out!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Review: Bel Ami by Hermes

Bel Ami has got no connection to the famous porn production house but was inspired by the 1885 French novel of the same name. One can possibly argue that Bel Ami the novel in its time was as good as porn literature. Scandals upon scandals, how did this 'beautiful friend' become an inspiration for a fragrance? Beats me, but I'm glad it happened and Bel Ami the fragrance was created.

I obtained the original juice five years ago and it was out of this world beautiful, at least in my opinion. The first whiff transported me to a library in the 19th century - leather book bindings, old newspaper, acidic ink, leather upholstery, dust, fire place, tobacco and unwashed homosapiens. Never mind it broke me in rashes; I'd wear it even if my skin blisters. 

That bottle was precious, and the greatest irony of all happened: I lost it. Yes, I somehow stupidly misplaced a treasure. Fast-forward, I finally bought a new bottle today and what's better to celebrate this reunion than a well-deserved review? Sadly, the new formulation (I am pretty sure it was tweaked since I don't break into a rash anymore) 'cleaned' up Bel Ami. The scent and idea is still there, but it's lacking the depth and raunch of the original. The citrus notes are much cleaner, leather less castorum-like, and oakmoss is seriously diluted.

Bel Ami kicks off with well blended aromatic cocktail of citruses. The heart is carnation and orris, scandaled by dirty, smoky woods, and bound together by a handsome base of leather, oakmoss,vanilla and vetiver. It's truly complex and to quote Beauty and the Beast - 'bitter sweet and strange, finding you can change, learning you were wrong'. Ahhh ... scandals.

Rating: ***** (original)
           ****1/2 (new)


Monday, June 7, 2010

Review: Tom Ford For Men Extreme

Not many fragrances tempt me the way Tom Ford's does. If you have read my previous review on Tom Ford for Men, you will understand why I rushed home every night hoping to see the parcel. It was a very blind-buy as I refused to read any reviews nor articles before I bought it as I really needed a blind date.

The bottle is over the top sexy featuring amber glass contrasted with gold making it ostentatiously retro, luxurious and desirable. First spritz and I was glad I didn't have any preconceived idea of what this would smell like. It is nothing like Tom Ford For Men, not even a stronger more intense version.

This is literally a rich man's bonfire. Over a small fire, sprinkle some exotic spices, stick in a bunch of cistus and throw in a few leaves of basil. Inhale. It is rooty and spicy at the same time. Next, aggravate the fire with some cedarwood and while it's burning red hot, go generous with saffron and violet leaves. It's a good time to roast some plums while the fire is at it's peak. Now it's time to go all out and create trouble. Throw in your wife's Birkin and that ball of black truffle you've been saving for this big day. Pick your finest rum and douse the fire with it. Inhale. This is Tom Ford for Men Extreme.

Rating: *****

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Smell of Manila

I was recently interviewd by RJ Ledesma of the Philippine Star and UNO magazine and having read this blog, he was curious to know my 'scentscription' of Makati in Manila. Here's a sneak preview before the actual article:

'Makati’s air is an industrial cocktail of tarty sweetness and hot cement. Green mango scented bricks maybe?'

I'm back, and this time with a new lover

Apologies for my disappearance.

It's been a crazy month with lots of travelling and launches that distracted me from writing but I'm back now with more delicious and sinister reviews. I am fortunate to have met some really interesting people from the industry and across the continents and sniffed crazy creations, and some subdued ones, including the yet to be named 'Rihanna'.

To welcome the writings again, I thought I'd write something decadent, something American.


So New York represents the common love of New Yorkers - espresso and chocolate. I say it represents the common love of anyone destined to work in an office. I'm allergic to coffee and too much chocolate gives me palpitations but sniffing it keeps me happy. Coffee and chocolate are not uncommon themes used in perfumes and they do appear from time to time - CSP's Amour de Cacao, Thierry Mugler's A*Men Pure Coffee and Givenchy's Play to name a few. Sure, I love my coffee and chocolate, but I also do not wish to end up smelling like a confectionary, or worse, like tiramisu. A good fragrance should be one that evokes emotions utilising the publicised notes, and be good enough to be worn daily without making you feel sick or diabetic.

I crossed my fingers when I took a sniff as I really needed to find a gourmand I can wear with a suit without ending up like Willy Wonka. Opening is sparkling and fresh (yes, fresh) with very delightful slight hint of oak and spices. It is important to note at this point that this fragrance is very linear after the top notes wear out. The heart and base contains the stars of this scent - espresso with a dollop of warm milk and unsweetened dark chocolate with a dried plum for effect. Yes it is slightly sweet, but it's rightly sweet. Overall, this is a decadent scent with sophistication that is genderless. It doesn't remind me of food, nor places food comes from, but it does evoke emotions and memories of being in a lovely cafe on a Sunday. If it does remind you of the actual coffee and chocolate, then they better be Godiva.

Rating: ****1/2

Friday, April 9, 2010

To look out for in April - Versus & Acqua Colonia

This is an exciting month for new fragrances in Singapore with two launches I am looking forward to. The first is Versus by Versace which will be available all over town end of this month.

Versus is a re-introduction of the 90s fragrance of the same name but with a totally different scent. This is now bolder, more playful and more seductive to suit the modern day women. Like the ad visual featuring the very stunning Lara Stone, Versus expresses the playfulness and strong femininity while playing with strong contrasts in characters.

The box is striking with a deep blue labyrinth against metallic silver background. Again, we are seeing cyber-age colours contrasting with a traditional symbol resulting in a packaging that is timeless. The bottle is in a lovely purple shade with gold logos - feminine but not girly.

Versus features notes of kumquat, lemon, star apple, orange flower, stephanotis, rose, musk, patchouli and ambrette. The result is a refreshing floral and fruity chypre that works very well with our tropical heat. It is so realistically fruity it smells like an expensive tropical cocktail made from the freshest ingredients.

The other launch that will happen end of this month features not a contrast, but an evolution or rebirth of a very old and traditional brand. If 4711 sounds familiar to you, you'd be in for a treat. Created in 1792, 4711's Original Eau de Cologne is the grandfather of all colognes and was an indispensible fragrance for perfuming, de-odourising, and headaches. In recent years, the original formulation was updated with mass-market flankers featuring the word 'Ice' to make it more appealing. Now, 4711 is back again with a new direction.

4711 reinvents itself with a new identity 'Acqua Colonia' and pays homage to nature with a range of eau de colognes featuring natural ingredients. There's Melissa & Verbena, Vetyver & Bergamot, Lavender & Thyme and Royal Riesling. The bottles retained their traditional shape but now jazzed up with luxury crystal cuttings. It comes with a removable screw on atomizer so you can use it as a splash or spray.

Lemon & Ginger is ultra refreshing and reminds me of the complimentary hot towels on a plane, thus evoking the holiday spirit. Vetyver & Bergamot is masculine and woody without being too overly earthy and muddy. Royal Riesling is semi-sweet and light with hints of fresh grapes in the summer sun. This perfume as reported by them supposedly has got mood therapeutics effect. My initial fear was for this range to smell like a cheap haphazardly cologne made with rough smelling essential oils and fortunately, I was wrong. They are delicate and are modern adaptions of the colognes of yesterday.

With this new look and image, 4711 puts itself up there along the likes of Guerlain's Aqua Allergoria, Hermessence and Roger&Gallet while retaining its affordable down to earth price.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Do we have a smell?

My apologies for the lack of posts for the last few days for I was enjoying good food and to-die-for massages at the Land of Smiles. Each time I travel, I get reminded that I've never really associated Singapore with a smell, apart from the smell of my bedroom. Sydney has a distinctively nice smell, thanks to the high concentration of eucalyptol in the air and its close proximity to the ocean. On a nice sunny winter morning, the air is crisp and fresh like calone + mint. Summer in Sydney smells just like the favourite Aussie past-time - barbecues + sunscreen. In fact, an Eau de Sydney will probably be like this:

Top Notes(Winter): Calone, Eucalyptus
Heart Notes (Spring/Autumn): Waratah, Bluebell, Golden wattle, Lemon Myrtle
Base Notes (Summer): Burnt leaves accord, Coconut

Bangkok on the other hand has a distinct smell that stays all year round. It's a potent concotion of petrol, smog, the polluted stench of Chao Phraya river, spices and incense. No need to create a perfume for Bangkok though, it has already been done. It's called Kouros.

Unfortunately, Singapore is a plain Jane in this area. Apart from the asthma-causing seasonal haze, I cannot find a scent strong enough to associate Singapore with. Perhaps it is how sanitized we are, or perhaps our humidity is so high that it's almost like trying to smell under water. Maybe Singapore smells like an upmarket shopping mall: Leather + perfumes.

What does your city smell of? I'd love to know.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rose, you're a man.

I assure you this is not a post about drag queens and transgenders, although it might inspire you to be more tolerant and open-minded. Associating objects with a gender drives me crazy, unless it is for the obvious. Bra for women, condoms for men. I accept that, but please don't tell me pink is for girls, eyeliner for women, and flowers for ladies. If not for the inconvenience with removing eyeliner every night, I'd gladly wear it (it's a godsend for Asian eyes). As for flowers, they should be appreciated and adored by both men and women.

The rose is perhaps the most understood of all flowers for it is a symbol of love and beauty and mentioned in the world's library of proses, poems, folklore and history. It is used in art, perfumery, beauty, medicine and is also an indispensible material in fragrances for men. As you might have already guessed, this post is an introduction to the world of roses for men.


Egoiste by Chanel is spicy and woody with a mysterious carnation and bulgarian rose heart. This is the playboy's rose.

Charriol Men by Charriol - sweet and distinguished, this features rose among green grass and amber. A rose for the heir born with a silver-spoon.

Dreamer by Versace is a mesmerizing fragrance that is almost too hard to describe with words. It sits up there in my top 10 and features rose infused in gin and herbs. A rose for the hopelessly romantic romeo.

Rose 31 by Le Labo is a cardboard rose with hints of spices and coconut. It smells so clean yet dirty at the same time. Perfect rose for a surgeon.

Black XS by Paco Robanne - Froot Loops for a big man. Juicy, succulent fruit platter decorated with devilish black roses, this is emo-rose.

Calamity J by Juliette had a Gun is so masculine that Romeo decides he should wear it instead. This is serious rose dealing with musks and woods so forget anything fruity and loopy. Calamity J is rose for a male rebel.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Scenter's First Giveaway!

As promised, the first 'The Scenter Giveaway' is here and one lucky reader will receive a bottle of Morgan's Light My Heart. This is a musky, floral woody fragrance featuring passionfruit, grapefruit, water lily, amber, patchouli, musk and sandalwood.

To qualify for the draw, simply fulfill these criterias between now till 10th April 2010:

1) Follow 'The Scenter' on Facebook, Twitter or Google.
2) Post at least 1 comment on 2 separate posts from now till 10th April 2010.

That's it! The lucky reader will be announced on 11th April so keep those comments coming!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Review: Ume by Keiko Mecheri

The perfumes of Keiko Mecheri come in such stunning bottles I'd love to collect for asthetic sake. Ume is an olfactory journey to the era of Art Deco in Tokyo where the stagnant traditions of the time were uplifted by glamour, fun and fantasy. Details to interior design, extravagant costumes, works in ceramic and lacquer promoted the national identity and meaning.

Ume is a fruity floral chypre that is hardly conventional. Having lived in Art Deco apartments, this fragrance is a spot on expression of the mood in one. It opens with bright citruses, a sharp lacquer note not unlike persimmon, balanced by the sweet-salty roundness of ume (Japanese plum). The heart is a bouquet of delightful oriental florals such as wisteria, jasmine, osmanthus and sasanka that is more fresh than narcotic. Supporting this is a blend of handsome hinoki, mahagony, suede and incense.

I think this is a fantastic perfume despite a few strange notes here and there. Think a Kabuki performance in French. There is something uniquely Japanese about this fragrance, like the scent coming out of an exquisite Japanese incense box. This is not for a teenage girl (or any ladies trying too hard to be cute) and you do need to be a woman of substance and respect to carry this off. You need to have the poise, grace and decorum of a geisha.

Rating: ****1/2

It's good to have you again, Tom Ford.

I probably have enough perfumes to last me a lifetime and at the rate I'm cycling through them, it will take a good few years before I actually finish a full bottle of any perfume. The first bottle I ever finished was Tom Ford for Men and I guess that says a lot about it. Unfortunately, moving back to Singapore means cutting off my supply of this gem and I've been going through chronic Tom Ford withdrawal since. I made a short trip out of town yesterday to meet a fellow perfume enthusiast and did my usual duty-free smell marathon at Singapore Changi Airport. I love checking perfumes at airports because I don't get bothered by any sales assistants and they usually stock some hard to get fragrances. I headed straight to the niche walls where you can find Bond No. 9, Amouage and Rance and pretty much had a religious experience. When I turned around to catch my plane, there it was, standing proudly on a gondola and calling out to me. It was Tom Ford for Men!


Needless to say, it became mine. So my original plan was to write a review, but I don't think I should since it will come out totally biased. I love everything about this perfume - from the box design, which screams luxury, to the insanely orgasmic phallus shaped ribbed bottle design, the masculine citrus woody spicy juice, to the almost-porn press ads. This is not only fragrance, it is a damn sexy lifestyle.

Picture by Thomas

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Review: Andy Warhol Silver Factory by Bond No. 9

Bond No. 9 is perhaps the Louis Vuitton of niche perfumery for her speed in churning out concoctions after concoctions while keeping their statuses sky high. For a 7 year old perfumery, Bond No. 9 has accumulated more than 40 fragrances, each with such a luxurious price tag you'd need to sell your car to buy the entire collection. She is a homage to New York and her fragrances are named after locations and icons of the area.

It was a chore trying to decide which of the Bonds I should do a review on first but since I adore Andy Warhol and I love soup, it's gonna be Andy Warhol Silver Factory.

Inspired by Andy Warhol's famous Campbell soup silkscreens and his silver-walled studio, Silver Factory is the 'liquid aura' of this great icon. One would expect a loud, in your face fragrance with metallic notes contrasting against monster florals. One would be wrong. Silver Factory is no party monster but it doesn't take the fun out of this bottle for you'll spend hours smelling to find the connection between this scent and the great man.

I'm not going to bother starting the review with the usual top, middle and base notes descriptions since this fragrance is pretty linear. Like Warhol's works, you 'get it' with one look (in this case- smell). It is neither progressive nor regressive, it is all about getting it in the moment. What is in this moment? It is frankincense. Silver Factory is top grade clean burning refined frankincense sweetened with amber accessorised with subtle violet and jamine for extra dimension and colour. If this is the 'aura' of Andy Warhol, then it definitely isn't what he radiates in Studio 54, but the 'aura' of his artistic nirvana. 

On skin, Silver Factory is pure magic, like an invisible cloak that gives you comfort and power. This is religion in a bottle.

Rating: *****

Silver Factory can be found in Singapore at Sephora.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Right to Smell

Bianca Solorzano reported on "The Early Show" that city employee Susan McBride complained she was "chemically sensitive" and a co-worker's perfume and room deodorizer made it difficult for her to breathe and do her job -- so much so that she suffered migraines, nausea and coughing.
Ann Curry Thompson, McBride's attorney, told CBS News, "You can't come into a workplace loaded in one of these so-called designer perfumes that broadcasts itself across the room."
McBride won a $100,000 settlement. Detroit city employees in the three buildings where McBride works are now being warned not to wear scented products, including colognes, aftershave, perfumes, and deodorants, or even use candles and air fresheners...
source: CBS News - The Early Show
I find this case truly ridiculous. It is very debatable whether the use of personal fragrances is a personal right but to totally eliminate the use of personal products, whether for vanity or hygiene, for the sake of one person, whose claim in the first place is not very justifiable, in three buildings, is absurd. We are social creatures who will accommodate for our community, but only to a certain extent. Let me highlight a few points:

1. There are other objects in the office that may trigger sensitivities. The photocopier is a big contributor of chemicals and cations to the office air. Not forgetting the 'sick building' syndrome, recycled office air is a contributor too. The chronic exposure to such conditions for someone who is sensitive results in a constant inflammatory state that anything could be a trigger for her symptoms. We cannot remove the photocopier from the office and definitely not the air, so perhaps she should remove herself from the office and work in an environment that is better for her?

2. The excessive and wrong use of fragrances is an irritation and this I agree, but the lack of deodorizing gives me a bigger headache. Many people use fragrances not to smell good, but to not smell bad. I certainly cannot stay focused in an environment where people start to emit excessive personal odour after the afternoon sun. Maybe she should come here and take the MRT at 6pm and then tell us if it gives her a bigger headache.

3. Perhaps the man sitting next to Ms McBride in the office suffers from trimethylaminuria and the only fragrance that is able hide his fishy odour is A*Men and now that he can no longer wear any scent, he suffers from daily embarrassment and faces the possibility of a dismissal.

4. You don't ask for trees and plants to be removed just because you suffer from debilitating hayfever. You wear a mask, stay indoors and take vitamin C.

I'd like to know what you think about this case so please comment.

Review: Warm Cotton by CLEAN

I love the smell of laundromats. There is something really comfortable and cosy about the scent of freshly laundered fabrics and you don't need the most expensive of floral essences to feel that way. A clever combination of cheap synthetic musks is enough for you to feel good. My first laudromat inspired fragrance was Synthetic Series Six Dry Clean by Comme des Garcons and while it did provide the olfactory image of 'dry-cleaning', it was too sharp and 'plasticky' and definitely not a comfort smell.

CLEAN by Randi Shinder was inspired by soap and is supposed to make you smell like you've just stepped out from the shower. I found it a little hard to position this brand since they don't exactly fit into the mould of a niche perfumery but yet what they produce is rather niche and at the same time functional. 'Functional niche perfumery' might describe them best.

Warm Cotton by CLEAN

This is the first of the CLEAN range I tried and I picked this first because it is supposed to smell like and capture the feeling of a warm fluffy towel just out from the dryer. It opened with strong hesperidic notes and the immediate impression was lemon scented detergent. It was not as synthetic smelling as I thought it would be and you'd be able to catch whiffs of 'natural' notes such as lemon verbena and lilac. The combination of citruses provided a solar effect that did not last very long as the scent progressed to its salty marine white floral heart. The base is musky (of course) and ambery.  

This review was done on a blotter and the result was a rather disappointing one since I was really looking forward to the snuggly feeling of warm cotton but instead, it smelled more like wet laundry. What happened the next day saved this review. I wore Warm Cotton out and the effect was totally different on skin. The warmth of skin radiated the fragrance and as it diffused through my shirt, it enveloped me in soft cotton-y love. I met a friend half an hour later and she complimented on how fresh and nice I smell. This perfume works great at freshening up your bed too. The sillage and longevity is enormous so go gentle with the spritzing. 

Rating: ****

CLEAN can be found in Singapore at Sephora and Takashimaya.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review: Aire Loco by Loewe

Known by many as a serious leather and fashion house, Loewe is undoubtedly also a serious perfume house. Like Chanel and Hermes, Loewe's appointment of an in-house perfumer, Emilio Valeros, certainly paid off big time. I personally enjoy most of their fragrances, as I usually do if they come packaged with a strong concept. The Aire family started with Aire Loewe, the classic green chypre, in 1985, which is still my favourite of the Loewe lot.

Aire Loco is the newest lady to join the Aire family and she is your modern survivor with unspeakable secrets. She is a seductress and a voyeur. She is the inner thoughts of your wives and girlfriends. It was only after reading the press release that the advertorial campaigns made sense. Even if they didn't, they were still provocatively enticing.

Aire Loco opens with a platter of fresh and energetic citrus peels that are clean, tarty, and mildy peppered. The heart is almost edible with passionfruit and sambac jasmine. It is quite a challenge to feature fruity and floral notes together without them working against each other but I think the perfumers have done a wonderful job with Aire Loco. The fruitiness and florals are so interdependant that you'd think they come from the same tree. The base is woody and spicy with notes of cardamon, patchouli and cedarwood. 

What do I think of this? I love it, because a fresh, fruity fragrance that when worn will make others still take you seriously is hard to come by. Despite the campaigns, I find this perfume very unisex. The twisted bottle and akwardly off-centered cap are symbolic of  the craziness of today's women. I agree. lol.

The perfumers of Aire Loewe are Yves Cassar and Carlos Benaim.

Rating: ****1/2

Friday, March 5, 2010

50 fragrances in a week + Review of Ambre Russe by Parfum d'Empire

It's been a real hectic week with a lot of smelling and evaluation (over 50) and it is very frustrating that I am unable to make any descriptive mention of them on this blog until the green light but nevertheless, the line up of new fragrances for this year is rather exciting. Keep your eyes (and nose) open for Voyage d'Hermes and Versus. Meanwhile, I received a request to do a review of Parfum d'Empire's Ambre Russe so here it is.

Like the other perfumes of Parfum d'Empire, Ambre Russe is an oriental olfactory time-machine back to Tsaric Russia. The opening reminds me of those whisky filled dark chocolates you buy at airports. It's a strong 'alcoholic' opening that leaves you a bit tipsy, and just as you think that's all, you get slapped face on by a thick cloud of frankincense and dark tea. You'll recognise the amber accord, but before you think - oh amber .. warm, fuzzy, snuggly, comfy, you are wrong. This is serious amber, R(21) amber rated for violence. The perfume remains smokey like a slow-burning cork and warm leather but there's not much going on here except the occasional coriander and cinnamon passing by so don't mind them and that pretty much sums up the fragrance. It is dark, gloomy and heavy, but strangely in a controlled fashion. I find this picture the best description of this fragrance.

This is not something anyone can pull off for you do need the thick jaws, thick wrists, fat fingers and furry chest to make this fragrance work for you, otherwise you will only end up awkwardly strange. Nevertheless, it is great art in a bottle thus is worth a keep. Ambre Russe is created by Marc-Antoine Corticchiato and features notes of rum, incense, coriander, cinnamon, vanilla, samovar tea, amber, honey and leather.

Rating: ****1/2                                                                                                                     image source: wikipedia.org

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Review: China White by Nasomatto

Nasomatto is a niche perfumery with few words to say. They do not release fragrance notes nor give a definitive picture of how their fragrance should smell. Because they do not publicize the notes of the perfume, it gives the wearer a unique olfactory experience with total freedom in interpretation. As such, I decide to approach this review in the form of a narrative.

He stopped and in front of him stood a magnificent Chinese temple with green brick walls and white porcelain roof. The door was big and heavy but he pushed hard and got in. Immediately, he was engulfed in smoke from the many joss-sticks burning out of porcelain urns and although heavy, it did not choke him. He looked around and could not help noticing how new and clean the walls were. His guess was confirmed by the smell of fresh paint lingering in the air amidst the smoke.

He walked down a corridor lined with pots of white flowers and corn mint and before he got to the other side, he saw a little animal run across the room. Curious, he investigated and found it to a rather tame civet. He followed the civet and entered a room where he saw an exquisite day bed carved out of teak and lined with well-aged leather. It was a temptation he could not resist and he laid on it. Slowly, he drifted to sleep and the temple started to disappear, and very soon he found himself sprawled in the corner of his own bedroom. Unfortunately, it was his last hit and he had no more heroin^ left for him to return to the magical temple.

Rating: ****

^China White is a slang for refined heroin.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Nose notes: Exercising with accords

Today I did an extremely fatiguing exercise by investigating accords created by combining blood orange with different aroma chemicals. The exercise is simple - one drop of blood orange essential oil on a scent strip with one drop of aroma chemical. This is a very effective way of training your nose to recognition and picking out the changes in quality when you create an accord. Let's say you decide to compare blood orange with 10 different aroma chemicals and you line them up and go through one by one, while taking short breaks in between and after you've complete all 10 and hopefully written down your olfactory notes, you repeat the exercise again, but this time using clementine essential oil, followed by tangerine, mandarin, pink grapefruit, bergamot ... ... ... and you will realise why there arn't many perfumers in the world, and why only a handful are good at what they do.

Fortunately we are blessed with the ability of deductive reasoning which means as we become familiar with the scent of certain molecules, we are able to assume the resulting scent if we combine that with another molecule we are familiar with.

eg. d-limonene smells sweet, citrus, fresh and orange
     vanillin smells sweet, creamy, phenolic, vanilla
     therefore, d-limonene + vanillin should smell sweet, orange, creamy,
     therefore, d-limonene + vanillin smells like orange ice-cream

This of course is not true all the time, as I discovered once again today when putting blood orange and heliotropin together. Heliotropin's odour description is cherry, vanilla, coconut and creamy with cinnamic nuances. Using deduction, it should smell like some orange based dessert but I was wrong and who would have guessed? Warm white pepper vegetable broth.

Introducing the world's first celebrity headspace scanner

We already have the fashion police and reporters and no celebrities can escape headlines with the smallest wardrobe malfunction or plain bad taste but I think it is also time to have a fragrance reporter at every red carpet event to find out the hottest and not so desirable scent of the night. This is not an easy task and our poor reporter might just suffer permanent nose damage after a long night of sniffing who knows what.

To fix this issue, The Scenter presents you our very own prototype of the Celebrity Headspace Scanner:


In just 2 minutes of posing time, the Celebrity Headspace Scanner can detect to canine accuracy what scent your favourite celebrity is emitting. Find out their scent of the moment, what they had for lunch, whose bed they were in ... the information is endless. 

Coming soon to a red carpet event near you.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

White Musk Midnight Iris by The Body Shop

I can't remember the last time I stepped into The Body Shop let alone recall when I last bought anything there. I do however remember that I have never purchased any of their perfumes because they were mostly dull or smell like they came out of an underground lab. Anyway, I went in there recently to check out the hype with the new Love Etc parfum and it was surprisingly pleasant. There was definitely effort in it (and undoubtfully since the nose behind it is Dominique Ropion) but still not something I'd buy and wear. As I turned to exit the store, three words caught my eye - Iris de Minuit (Midnight Iris). What is such a seductive and niche sounding name doing in The Body Shop? I picked it up and sprayed. It had such a familiar scent but my brain wasn't co-operating then so I bought it to investigate further. Yes, my first The Body Shop purchase in over 7 years.

White Musk Midnight Iris is an extension of the original White Musk and the listed notes are bergamot, water lily, muguet, clary sage, orris, musk, sandalwood and tonka bean. Reviewing this perfume was a challenge because of how fleeting the notes are. It opens with a cocktail of fresh bergamot laced with lilial and muguet aldehyde I suspect and with rubbery violet ionones. The heart is iris that is earthy with a hint of clary sage and drydown is a sweet veil of translucent iris and musk. The style of this composition has the watercolour quality as seen in many of Jean-Claude Ellena's creations but alas lacks the master's touch and longevity. This is when I remembered what was so familiar! This is the premature stillborn offspring of Lolita Lempicka without the gourmand notes. I quickly brought Lolita out for a comparison and found another similarity.

Coincidence or not, I don't know but this could have been a potentially good perfume if not for its ridiculous longevity (lack of). What a pity but at least it still cheap enough to use as a good room spray.

Rating: **1/2

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Oh Old Spice, you crack me up

The new Old Spice ads are possibly the most hilarious personal care ads this quarter. They make me laugh so hard but this one is my favourite. Absolutely GOLD!

Tilda Swinton Like This, the new fragrance by Etat Libre D'Orange

Woohoo! Tilda Swinton Like This, the latest offering by Etat Libre d'Orange will be available in a few weeks. The perfumer for Like This is Mathilde Bijaoui and will feature notes of mandarin, ginger, pumpkin, everlasting, neroli, rose, vetiver, heliotrope and musk. Tilda Swinton's inspiration behind the perfume is written to a chant and will be included with the bottle:

Like this.
What does your fragrance smell like? Like this.
What does your fragrance feel like? Like this.
What will I do with this fragrance? Like this.

It’s an idea that makes me very, very warm and happy…

Like This will come as a 50 ml eau de parfum.

source: etatlibredorange.com

More can soon smell like royalty

House of Amouage, perfumer of the Omani royal family, starts its global expansion with a store in Dubai to open end of March. Next in line is London in May. Full story here.

Happy Mardi Gras Sydney!

The time has come once again to show off those hard earned muscles and reap the rewards of your expensive solarium membership or put on a frock without your neighbours judging. This is the first time in five years I'm not in Sydney for Mardi Gras but I will be waving my party flag here for you guy and gals down under.

In spirit of the festivity, here's a list of suggestions on picking your Mardi Gras fragrance in accordance to your 'type'.

1. The Dragqueen

You want to smell delicious and sexy but don't forget it is your masculinity riding on exaggarated feminity that we love. Go for big florals with a balsamic drydown and a slight hint of manliness.

Suggestion: Kapsule Floriental by Karl Lagerfeld

2. The Bear

Yes, you're a pheromone machine but after eight hours of dancing and sweating, we reckon you'll need some assistance from a bottle to keep your friends. I'm not going to wreck my brain on this since you already have a perfume made for you.

Suggestion: Tom of Finland by Etat Libre D'Orange

3. The Dyke

The parade will not be complete without you Dykes on Bikes. This is your party, this is your day. Go all out with something deep, smoky, leathery and strong enough to match your bike grease.

 Suggestion: Ho Hang Club by Balenciaga

4. The Femme

You make up of some of the world's most beautiful women and we'd love to smell what you have on. Be gorgeous with powdery florals and musk and you won't go wrong.

Suggestion: Parisienne by Yves Saint Laurent

5. The Twink

You have the perfect hair, perfect skin (+bronzer overdose), most up to date fashion, and have the ability to show up at after parties and more after parties without any signs of wear and tear (or at least where we can't see). Go for something fresh and fruity to match your bubbly exterior.

Suggestion: Lolita Lempicka Au Masculin Fraicheur

6. The Hunk

Who needs clothes when you look like that so it's better
to keep them off and save the money for more fragrances. You'll drive more men and women crazy with a beautiful citrus head and strong woody bottom.

Suggestion: Tom Ford for Men by Tom Ford

Happy partying!

Image credits: Man and flag (http://montrealsimon.blogspot.com/); Dragqueen (flickr.com); Bear (flickr.com by sscup); dyke on bike (wikipedia.org by David Shankbone); Portia di Rossi (Michael Buckner/Getty Images North America); Twink (flickr.com by mercury2001); Hunk (flickr.com by zacvtorb)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Mensonge by Fragonard

Unless you are a fragrance enthusiast or you've taken one of those perfume tours in France, you may not have heard of Fragonard and you'll probably be surprised at how old this perfumery is. Fragonard was opened in 1926 as a tourist perfumery in Grasse and was named after famous Grasse painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard as a tribute to the town and its art. Visitors to Grasse today can do a tour featuring the Fragonard perfume museum and factory. 

Mensonge (Lie) is part of the Confidentiel line created by Givaudan for Fragonard. Fresh opening of citrus notes with well-balanced introduction of cardamon and ginger, (ginger tends to make me gag a little but it is good to note the ginger here is light and refreshing) the heart is a spicy infusion of rose water supported by a woody-lavender base.  Mensonge is the well-behaved mature but watered-down cousin of Polo Sport Extreme and the alikeness is uncanny. Don't let the name fool you for there's nothing secretive or deceitful about it. It is a safe masculine fragrance so don't expect the girls to go crazy unless you are George Clooney. Sillage is weak and it doesn't last a mile which makes this perfect to use it in place of your Brut or Old Spice aftershave or as a quick refresher after a workout at the gym.

Rating: *** 

The Fragonard range is available in Singapore at Senteurs de Provence. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Citizen Queen by Juliette Has a Gun

Romano Ricci created the niche perfumery Juliette Has a Gun and definitely had a tough act to follow, especially since his great-grandmother is Nina Ricci and his grandfather Robert Ricci created the timeless classic L'aire du Temps. Fortunately (and a very smart move indeed) he enlisted the help of perfumery boy wonder Francis Kurkdjian of Le Male fame to create his first two fragrances - Miss Charming and Lady Vengeance. Ricci then got himself into the 'big shoes to fill' situation again by deciding to create Citizen Queen on his own.

If Chanel No. 5 is Grace Kelly doing a photo shoot in a rose and jasmine garden, then Citizen Queen is Uma Thurman (in leather bikini) sunning her hair in a stylish balcony garden of an upmarket designer loft. Classically beautiful, yet raw and edgy at the same time, Citizen Queen opens radiantly with the unmistakable C10,C11,C12 aldehydes made popular in Chanel No. 5 and Johnson&Johnson baby shampoo. The nail polish grassiness of benzyl acetate mingled and transformed the roses and violets into an arcylic bouquet, showing off the modern twist of these classic florals. Comparatively, the base notes are heaps softer, humming in supporting notes of ambery labdanum, musk and leather. There's a slight animalic note, but nothing too ferocious. In this case perhaps a fluffy purring kitten. 

Citizen Queen is a fine modern composition of the textbook chypre without much shocking modifications. A fragrance for sexy, confident women (and men) wanting to show off sophistication without compromising on edginess.

Rating: ****

Juliette Has a Gun can be found in Singapore at Sephora, Takashimaya SC and Black Market.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ginestet now available in Singapore

Ginestet, the century-old Bordeaux winery introduced a line of three fragrances inspired by fine wine. The eau de toilettes created by Florescence are based on the primary aroma-molecules of wine as discovered by the Bordeaux Oenology facility.
 Le Boisé

They are now available in Singapore at Scenteur de Provence at 9 Raffles Boulevard, #01-77 Millenia Walk. Reviews coming up soon.
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