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.


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 (; Dragqueen (; Bear ( by sscup); dyke on bike ( by David Shankbone); Portia di Rossi (Michael Buckner/Getty Images North America); Twink ( by mercury2001); Hunk ( 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.

Encre Noire EDT by Lalique

 Encre Noire is an award-winning creation by Nathalie Lorson and in my opinion a masterpiece. With the introduction of ball-point pens, typewriters, printers, computers, email, sms, photoshop, facebook and twitter, black inkpots have disappeared from mainstream communication. I remembered preparing ink using an inkstick for calligraphy and being fascinated by its intense darkness and rich earthy aroma but I never mastered calligraphy for I was never the patient one. Possessing this handsome heavy bottle is a reminder of the black-ink days.

Encre Noire captured the essence of zen calligraphy. It is a soft, airy, meditative stroke of a brush dipped in vetiver, cypress, grapefruit, musk and cashmeran. The top note reveals a quiet cypress forest at dawn sweetened by morning dew leading to a well executed vetiver heart that is linear, leathery, smoky and earthy without excessive nuttiness. The clean dirt note in patchouli contributes to the realistic ink accord. Drydown is musky with cashmeran (IFF) and sweet with amber, and woody like oud.

This is a very personal fragrance as its sillage is not roaring but it envelopes the wearer in an aura of unassuming elegance. Apart from wearing it, I also find this most appropriate for scenting writing paper.

Rating: *****

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Green Cousins

Here I present you two fragrances by very different companies, in very different packaging, with very different stories, but similar in story and perfume structure.



A Taste of Heaven by Kilian                                                                                                                                                                     Eau de Gloire by Parfum D'Empire

I have a thing for fragrances in green and I think that's because it gives it a potion-like appeal. I once described to a friend what I do for a living and he quickly replied 'you're a witch!'. Perhaps that is why I fell in love with A Taste of Heaven. Created by the very talented Calice Becker, it was 'inspired by Absinthe, bittersweet nectar of poets.' A Taste of Heaven opens with an intoxicating dance of green bergamot and absinthe, followed with a candied lavender solo, supported by a warm bitter-sweet ensemble of amber, oakmoss and vanilla. It is as mesmerizing as the green fairy can get and this is one mysterious oriental-fougere for the modern witch with a fat wallet.

When I sampled Eau de Gloire, I knew I had to do a comparison with A Taste of Heaven. Eau de Gloire was created by Marc-Antoine Corticchiato, founder of Parfum D'Empire, and was his homage to the olfactory experiences in a day in the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. It opens citrusy and aromatic with bergamot, lemon, orange, rosemary and lavender, not unlike Guerlain's Eau de Cologne Imperiale. The heart is sweet with aniseed and tea, bearing a little resemblance to A Taste of Heaven and drydown threads lightly with tobacco, incense and oakmoss. The journey of Eau de Gloire is documented well by it's well defined exposition, climax and dénouement and is a modern take retaining characteristics of the classic colognes.


A Taste of Heaven ****1/2
Eau de Gloire ****

Ceci n'est pas une pipe

I'm a fan of René Magritte's La trahison des images, the painting of a tobacco pipe with 'Ceci n'est pas une pipe' written below it. It's a simple work, but very thought-provoking nevertheless as it explores the paradox of realism-art. 'The Magic Paintbrush' is only fiction and no matter how accurate an image is, it is but only an image. Likewise in perfumery, we can come close but we will never have the perfect rose.

I based my latest project on this painting, hoping to capture the essence of paradox in fragrance but it was more challenging than I'd expected since initially I thought all I had to do was to create a hyper realistic wood pipe accord. I began to question whether the pipe is new or old, and clean or dirty as that will change the olfactory image. I decided on a clean cherry wood pipe, pressed with fresh unburnt tobacco. The questions were never-ending and I pondered on the type of tobacco, or whether the pipe is lacquered, or what material would the mouthpiece be. It all got a little confusing at that point I began to wonder if the paradox was on me.

This is still a work in progress and I will update the progress.

Sécrétions Magnifiques by Etat Libre d'Orange

With a name like that, I knew I had to get it, even if it means buying it blind. Etat Libre d'Orange (Free State of Orange) is a niche perfumery founded by the suave Etienne de Swardt who brought pop art, bold language and fragrance together. According to ELdO, Sécrétions Magnifiques contains accords of iodine, adrenaline, blood, milk, iris, coconut, sandalwood and opoponax. It's no rocket science that this perfume intends to shock (or educate) and buying it blindly certainly added more suspense.

My first spray shouted 'chemical cocktail!'. It was a very haute couture type of opening. Unexpected, a little strange, slightly familiar yet distant and definitely not a everyday prêt-à-porter. The top starts sharp, astringent, oily, aldehylic, metallic, greenish-mushroom and a little aquatic. It was a little hard to describe the metallic notes, but I can paint you the perfect sensation. Stick a spoon into your mouth and let it touch the metal amalgam and stick your tongue there. You get this metallic twang and it makes your mouth waters. That's how it feels and if you still can tolerate this, what you will find next is more agreeable as it unfolds and reveals the milk and floral. Still, it's not your usual creamy goodness or rose garden, but more like milk with iron powder and anodized iris. Once you get the top notes out of the way, it is actually rather pleasant when the lactonic notes dominate and the sandalwood and opoponax performs. 

This is definitely not something for the first date, job interview, or any occasion that requires you to leave a safe impression. It is wearable and non-offensive, but only if there's at least an hour gap between time of spraying to first contact with other persons. The sillage and tenacity is monstrous so less is more and I cap it at 2 sprays max.

Rating: ***

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A*Men Pure Malt, Thierry Mugler

I have to be honest here. When I first heard that Thierry Mugler was launching another A*Men flanker called Pure Malt, I was hyper excited. Why? I adore the smell of Horlicks and am one of those who wouldn't mind smelling like milk and cereal. I can definitely bathe myself in 2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline and homofuronol and be a happy man. Alas, when I found out there is not going to be any cereal, I was devastated, but only for a moment. I happen to love whisky and the smell of aged oak casks.

Pure Malt starts out sweet and diffusive and reminds me of this Asian malt candy that is mainly maltose. The first time I tried it, I didn't wait for the alcohol to evaporate and what I got was an ethereal sting up my nose. Perhaps this is why many people find the top note very boozy. As it settles, patchouli and coffee becomes very evident. I do enjoy how the cedarwood note performs in this fragrance tucking nicely between patchouli and the sweet notes. I also get a bit of tobacco which is most suitable.

This is not a complicated fragrance at all so don't expect it to change dramatically over time. It will only get softer and earthier and that's when you can find the vetiver. The sillage and tenacity is nothing compared to A*Men which is not a bad thing considering you'd be able to wear this daily without choking anyone in the elevators. It is presented in a black rubber flask with the star in transparent glass and comes in a lovely black and gold box which is, well, very limited edition looking.

Rating: ****

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Kim Kardashian to launch new fragrance with Reggie Bush?

'Kim Kardashian wants to release a new fragrance with her boyfriend Reggie Bush. Kim — who recently debuted her first perfume at Sephora in Century City Mall in Los Angeles — has hinted that the New Orleans footballer may be joining her in bringing out a range of “unisex” perfume. “Reggie and I have talked about doing a fragrance together — something that is kind of unisex,” she said. However, Kardashian admitted that her boyfriend prefers her natural look. “He just likes my natural sexiness,” she said. “He likes my natural scent.”' (source: Showbizspy)

Okay, what's next? Paris Hilton to launch new fragrance with Tinkerbell? While I'm not a huge fan of celebrities wanting their own juice, I can understand from the business and ego point of view. Per purchase royalty is definitely higher in perfumes than CDs and there is no better publicity than having your name and face plastered all over Sephora. The art of perfumery to me is almost sacred, but alas, I have to accept that consumerism is bigger than art and I have learnt to accept, accommodate and review the latest celeb frag. But I do not understand the idea of launching a fragrance with your celebrity partner. It's just too personal. Unless you have a sex tape.

No. 1

I've been meaning to write about fragrances for years. This is probably the longest I've procrastinated with something but I'm not exactly sure why. Perhaps it is a fear of lack of knowledge. So tonight, after running out of ethyl alcohol and glassware, I decided to birth this page.

How long I'll last? We'll see.

For now, to grace this page, I present you my maiden review.

Hermèssence Vétiver Tonka by Hermès

I've had the Hermèssence range for almost 3 years now. I fell in love with Brin de Réglisse and was very partial to Rose Ikebana, Ambre Narguilé and Osmanthe Yunnan but Vétiver Tonka missed my attention. It was always the inconspicuous one. Yesterday, I decided to revisit the range and thought I'd give VT another go.

VT was created by Jean Claude Ellena and is true to his minimalistic, translucent style in the Hermèssence collection. Indubitably the work of a master, Ellena was able to create simplicity in complexity and contrasts. VT is fresh but warm, juicy but dry, smoky but clean. It opens with fresh bergamot and green tea and the top is light and aquatic. Vetiver and dried fruits enter next and bring in depth and roundness. The hay-like tonka and tobacco accord supports the composition with broom flower peeking in and out. The fragrance is sweet but its neither heavy nor excessive, but instead, very well-balanced.

This is definitely a morning fragrance for the cool but sunny days. Summer fragrances have a tendency to smell cheap and/or one dimensional so if you are looking for a little more sophistication and don't mind the extra dollars, VT should go on the shopping list. Considering this is not a perfume with expensive florals and coumarin is cheap as, you are really paying the extras for skills and of course, the brand. 

Rating: ***1/2
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