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:

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.
© Copyright 2010 Eugene He. All rights reserved.