How do you distinguish between friensdship and love? Not easy, potentially even a confusing question, as the two are to some extent intertwined. Still, let me try. I have a friend in Berlin whose affection I value deeply. Yet, when I don't hear from him for a while, I remain quite serene and perfectly able to get on with my daily life. I have another very dear friend, whom I met in England many years ago; he has since relocated and is now living in the US. I have recently re-met him online and the joy of receiving frequent emails was incredibly overwhelming...almost too much to bear! Now that I've heard nothing for a while I am quite beside myself, trying to fathom what could have gone wrong - unable to eat or sleep, endlessly worrying, ridiculously checking my inbox every 10 minutes, and generally making less sense than I might have done as a very insecure teenager. I wear Calèche for him - the perfume Sleeping Beauty might have worn - a white, distant, frosty, forbidding fragrance, which spans centuries of solitude and longing - secretly hiding a little hope of waking up sometime or another, possibly with a kiss (it may come as no surprise to my loyal readers to learn that my Équipage d'Hermès review is about precisely that friend).
L'Heure Attendue, like any other perfume oeuvre of iconic significance we know and love, must be seen in historical context. Jean Patou himself, having died prematurely, had long been gone when peace was declared following WWII, and his beloved national capital city, the much-oppressed Paris, finally liberated. It fell to his longtime friend and collaborator, the uniquely brilliant Henri Alrméras, to express the feelings that swept across France, indeed the entire world, at that juncture; namely, heroic determination to embrace life again, and at the same time, deep sorrow for the irreparable loss of many millions of innocent lives, tragically wasted. This is indeed the most life-enhancing perfume I know. Grand noble floral bouquet, sunny, radiant, splendid; yet intricately constructed, the beauty of the exterior hiding a deep mournful chord at the heart. Compare perfume to a Requiem mass? Impossible - still, this one comes close. Wearing this fragrance is no celebration. Quite the reverse, it is a sobering experience, a great and subtly articulated reminder that life, however difficult, however fraught with tragedy, can still be touched by the sublime. I would like to dedicate this review to the memory of my dearly beloved mother. All I can say of her is that she lived and died in beauty.
The noblest, most enigmatic, most wistful of fragrances, and the hardest to bear. A masterpiece of the art of perfumery in the sense that if a universe of gentle sadness could be captured in a bottle, that bottle would have Après L'Ondée written on it, carved in marble. So much so that if you are experiencing gentle sadness yourself for whatever reason, this is just the thing to avoid: it will plunge you straight into melancholia. The bouquet of iris, violet, heliotrope, hawthorn, carnations, is lovely; the powdery velvet depth enchanting; the anise note subtly done. However this beauty is not for the faint of heart. I shall re-visit my own bottle in the Spring. Please note: this review is of the parfum and the original eau de toilette. The new version, currently offered in the famous bee bottle, is said to be slightly different, possibly somewhat watered down. I have not personally sampled it, however, the general character of the fragrance is I believe up to the same standard.
I must preface this by saying that I generally carry off powdery scents quite well, which is as good a disclaimer as any. Infusion d'Iris is very powdery, very soapy, very dry - all excellent attributes in my book. It so happens that I've always loved Roger & Gallet Florentine Iris soaps and often wished they would introduce a scent to complement them. They never did, but this one is pretty close. It starts off transparent and impossibly lightweight, fairly nondescript to my nose, then gradually develops an opaque aspect that grows steadily more and more pronounced, like a watercolour that morphs into a remarkable gouache yet never really makes it to the oil-painting department. So much the better! That would have qualified it as a winter scent, whereas the charm of Infusion d'Iris lies primarily in its Spring/Summer vibe. It has fast become my warm-weather Holy Grail, the scent I am most likely to reach for after bathing, when I don't really want a heavy-hitter of a perfume, just something clean and natural-smelling, like a sprinkling of talc and a hint of freshly cut flowers. The floral bouquet is beautifully Mediterranean and reminds me not only of its native Italy, but also of the southern regions of France, and my own backyard - not necessarily in the same vicinity, but near enough. We have some wild irises growing here in a good year, and the real scent is ever so soft, almost indiscernible, a mere whisper of fragrance. I am glad to find it replicated in a bottle that does not overstate the case. Appropriately demure, but lasts for hours, and the matching body lotion is very nice too, even worn on its own.
Gels/Soaps -Roger & Gallet - Extra Vielle / Jean Marie Farina Soap
Meg2005 3/25/2008 3:09:00 AM
**Taps Microphone** Ladies, your attention please. I need some advice. An emergency has arisen. I have not seen my husband for a long time, but we've been corresponding regularly. He has been engaged elsewhere, however his activities must remain secret for raisons d'état. I have recently had word that he is due back home very soon. My problem is, he does not want me to wear perfume, body lotion, scented powder, nor **gulp** use soap. I love using vast quantities of all of the above, but he disapproves. I might add that he has a fearful temper and is inclined to throw terrific tantrums, whenever people do not bow and scrape to his every wish. This sadly does not exclude me. Quite the reverse. I tearfully confess that I am expected to be just as, or even more, obedient than the entire population of my country, which, God knows, has already bled half to death. It may be worth noting that I am currently on a no-buy, since my wardrobe, jewelry and perfume expenditure has been, alas, discovered, following which he refuses to pay any more bills. This is not the worst of it, ladies. Far from it. Adding insult to injury, my husband insists on wearing fragrance himself, and keeps his own flask about his person at all times, wherever he goes. He has a particular fondness for Jean-Marie Farina Eau de Cologne Éxtra-Vieillle, and uses it liberally. He has even appointed Monsieur Farina as Official Supplier of produits de toilette, by Imperial Command. I may be right in supposing that the fresh citrus, precious woods, and green herbal components, remind him of his native Corsica. It is indeed a charming scent. You will have guessed that my dilemma is the following: I am tempted to pinch some of it for my own use, upon his return. Should I do that, in your view? Mon Dieu, que ça sent bon. If I do, he will almost certainly sue for divorce. If I don't, it stands to reason that I shall be the one suing for divorce. However much I love and adore my husband, a scentless life is hardly worth living - you ladies, of all people, should understand that. Thank you in advance for any suggestions as to how to deal with this situation. I am afraid we are headed for a family crisis. Your desperate friend, online guest, and prospective new board member, Josephine
White, clean, crisp - a very modern variation on a well-known theme, that owes its very modernity to an audacious romantic flair. The brash cynicism of overbearing hi-tech notes which make a statement long before (and after) you do, is nowhere to be seen. Rather, what you get is a radiant bouquet where tonalities of white, pale pink, translucent ivory, contrive to interlace in one of the subtlest compositions I have smelled in a long time. I have never experienced the vintage Rumeur, said to be entirely different from this recent introduction by the same name, an indication of the wide margin of poetic license given the master perfumer in the case, the supremely talented Francis Kurkdjian, by the powers that be at Lanvin. I can only hope they will go on doing more of the same, and we may yet see the resurgence of such long-lost beauties as Scandal, Prétexte, Crescendo, My Sin, all carried off with aplomb by the elegant set of Paris café society in the first half of the 20th century, and immortalized by Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce, among others, as the golden era of high adventure and creative outpouring of artistic genius. The classic structure of a musky-woodsy-floral oeuvre is vaguely apparent here, still I can detect no overdose of musk, and hardly any woods. The white roses theme however is predominant on my skin, with lily of the valley and a hint of orange blossom in the background infusing it with merry defiance. I may be trying it in the wrong season, of course; this is a warm-weather scent that should blossom out to perfection in Spring or Summer. The Holiday Season is not quite over, the chill in the air is crying out loud for all the chypres and woods in my collection, and yet I keep taking this heavy glass rounded bottle out of its newly-acquired box, for reapplication, almost daily. Now why is that? The answer, in a word, is fascination.
I owe my re-introduction to this world-renowned classic entirely to the Fragrance Board. After years of trying to wear it, I had given it up for lost. Much as I loved the idea of Diorissimo, the reality of it made me feel like an unhappy soprano attempting to hit high C and ending up ruining her vocal chords; such were the metallic, piercing, screeching notes Diorissimo emitted on my skin. However, a few weeks ago a lovely MUAer posted on the board that she had had the same problem with Diorissimo as I had, but could wear it now since the new reformulated presentation was softer, more subtly interpreted than previous incarnations. I finally decided it was time to revisit and bought it unsniffed. Good news. Shocking though it may seem, reformulation is not always a wholly bad idea. Labour of love here, evidently done with much care and infinite reverence to the original. I detect muguet, fleur de lys, jasmine, sandalwood, all enveloped in a fresh delicate white/green haze that imparts a lively, untamed feeling to an otherwise very civilized bouquet. A timelss beauty, and yet another everlasting testament to the genius of Edmond Roudnitska.
Fragrances -Frederic Malle - Angeliques sous la Pluie
Meg2005 6/16/2007 1:52:00 PM
A walk through a dewy garden - early dawn in a bottle! In this day and age, when so many scents wreak havoc on our sensiblities with chemical warfare, a scent that smells like a replica of God-given good earth is to be hailed as a star among countless pebbles on the beach. Clean, refreshing, immaculate, and my favourite FM so far.
Rumour has it that Givenchy may re-introduce this wonderful classic in the original, authentic formula that made it famous throughout the latter half of the 20th century. I can only hope this is true. A staple of my mother's for many years, I was lucky enough to get some a couple of years ago, replenishing her stock before it became near-impossible to find. A lovely rosy floral, faintly sweet and deliciously powdery, with a very subtle fruity note interwoven - the distinctive strawberry/caramel accord, which originated in the 1920s with Jean Patou's first-ever perfume, Amour Amour. I have always found it lightweight and easy to wear year-round, but most suitable perhaps for Spring. Just for the sake of comparison, let me say that I located a while ago the new reformulated L'Interdit online and bought it unsniffed. It frankly astonished me that they could have thought of calling it by the same name. I saw little, if any, resemblance to the original. The pretty, powdery, feminine impression was gone. Instead what i got was an overwhelming cut-grass green shock that was too much even for me (a noted green floral fan). It might have been better judged to call the reformulated scent by a different name altogether, avoiding the inevitable comparison with its well-known predecessor, and affording the new creation a chance speak for itself, such as it was. Even so, I doubt that I would have been tempted to wear it for any length of time. I ended up giving my bottle away, heaving a long sigh of relief and crossing my fingers yet again for the re-introduction of the real thing - a timeless beauty, just like the woman it was intended and created for. The unforgettable Audrey Hepburn lives on and conquers many new fans each year, ever beguiling, a constant source of inspiration to countless young women eager to emulate her as a great, highly positive role model; courageous, compassionate, humorous, and superbly elegant, either in ball gowns or jeans. Meddling with the classic she made her own seems nothing short of sacriligeous. Let a new generation of women discover this true gem, and applause is sure to follow.
Each new discovery reaffirms my impression, possibly shared by many, that most of our beloved Caron perfumes are noted for - shall we say - CHALLENGING top notes. Pick up the gauntlet, and you're in for an interesting duel, the results to be determined by the terms of a possible truce; ignore it, and you might miss out on a potential Holy Grail that was predestined to grace your collection forever. My initial encounter with Or & Noir was no exception, and marked particularly by a blast of geranium that nearly knocked me sideways. I could smell nothing else, frowned, dug in my heels, and waited for further developments. As the heart notes were revealed, the geranium onslaught slowly retreated into the background, leaving centre stage for one of the prettiest rose bouquets ever, interlaced with lilac, carnation, and a whisper of incense. What followed was a lovely creamy rose, which in turn morphed from deep mysterious burgundy to opaque, then semi-transparent pink. Much as I love Parfum Sacré, it now seems that I prefer Or & Noir, historically its model and predecessor, finding it more perfectly rounded, gentler, easier to wear. It's a very warm, outgoing beauty, and please do not let the name throw you off track. There is nothing metallically golden about it, as in Or, nor menacingly dark, as in Noir. If I were on speaking terms with Ernest Daltroff, just a short phonecall away, I might suggest another name, such as, for instance, La Beauté de La Rose Éternelle - only because it's proving to be my all-time favourite rose. But then again, maybe not. Who says a name must be a reflection on a scent, or vice-versa? The name/scent juxtaposition in this case, incongruous though it may be, has already inspired some of your most expressive prose. To wit, see reviews below. We are all in the guessing game here, aren't we? Indeed, keeping us guessing is an aspect of the perfumer's art; certainly part of the fascination, no less than making us feel happy wearing it. Or & Noir achieves either, with flying colours.
A celebration of summer! Not my favourite season, but this somehow makes it more bearable. Composed in 1947 by the great and wonderful Germaine Cellier, it was meant as a hymn to freedom and youth, a tremendous innovation at the time in view of the fact that most perfumes worn by women were either rosy florals, or white powdery ones, other than the ambery orientals in vogue before the war. This was a break with tradition, a green, vibrant, fresh scent that was still very feminine and outstandingly alluring. Long discontinued, it was lamented by legions of admirers for many years, then finally re-introduced in 1990. The artist responsible for the reformulation was Calice Becker, and she has done, to my way of thinking, a superb job. Poetic license notwithstanding, she must have taken great liberties with the original formula; this is to all intents and purposes a new perfume, and a masterpiece in its own right. Whereas the original was a sweeping, forceful gale, a green breath of fresh air, this one is a very subtle, intricate bouquet of white, golden, green flowers, assembled with great delicacy and structured with the utmost finesse. I find the top notes bittersweet and somewhat minty, redolent of clary sage, galbanum, lime, and peach, the effect being slightly astringent and very refreshing, like a splash of icy water on my face first thing in the morning. The heart notes reveal a beautifully composed bouquet of classical grandeur, violet, iris, hyacinth, rose, muguet, orange blossom, néroli, all interlaced into a tableau of summer garden that evokes Giverny to my mind. The drydown, in turn, becomes faintly powdery, pleasantly suggesting a different shade of green, while the gossamer backdrop of vétiver and santal echo the longest lasting farewell notes, signing off a composition that is lightweight and easy to wear, yet very distinctive. It is a rare work of art that makes us feel humbled in its presence, as Angelzoe has eloquently put it; this surely is one of them, and it makes me more than ever aware of the power of perfume to convey a message in its own language, on its own terms.
The name of it sounds pretty outrageous, evocative of images of the Moulin Rouge, Les Folies Bergères, Alhambra, et al. I would have expected at least a fragrance reminscent of Toulouse-Lautrec, served with a whiff of tobacco, absinthe, and turpentine. Imagine my surprise when I actually sniffed it. This is Après L'Ondée's demure, long-lost sister, sweet, refined, powdery, very charming. I have recently had a chance to smell the original Soir de Paris (thank you Freegracer!) as well, and consider this last a third sister of the same family, each complete with a bouquet of violets, wide-brimmed hat, white gloves and parasol. Rather than French CanCan this beauty might more aptly have been named La Valse À Mille Temps; I find it faintly sweet, with a certain fin-de-siècle nostalgic aura to it. A deliciously comforting scent, ideal for summer, when you want nothing less than an impossible combination of elements, a perfume that is lightweight, gossamer and enveloping at the same time. This one, yet another inspired masterpiece by Ernest Daltroff, is all of that, and a great soul besides.
This perfume has made me ill. Seriously. I am not alone. Having read all your reviews, I have come to the conclusion that in the interest of public welfare, no bottle of this must be thrust upon an unsuspecting world without adequate warning, such as, for instance, This Substance Is Hazardous To Your Health. However as some people actually like it, I might, in fairness, also add: Proceed At Your Own Risk.
I wanted to sample this mythical perfume for the longest time, yet felt vaguely apprehensive. Everything I had read about it seemed to indicate that it would be as unlike me as any fragrance could possibly be. Well, I have now (thanks to the generosity of dear Snowywhite) sampled it at last; and, while clearly a departure from what I generally wear, it's still an unquestionably wonderful surprise! I expected a rough-and-ready tomboy, fists clenched, chin squared, shoulders good and menacing; what transpired was this remarkably ladylike sillage, very powdery, discreetly leathery, with bittersweet hints of green snowdrops, like so many wild floweres picked by a kid-gloved hand. It's still not me exactly, but I am stepping out of character, and having a whale of a time! *Happy Dance*
I have had the misfortune to try Vacances in warm weather, when it did not work for me at all. Luckily for either of us, I am very good at witholding judgement and waiting for better things, giving both parties a fair chance. Vacances has been proven well-worthy of my patience. It is now December, and while anticipating Christmas is a joy unto itself, I admit I felt a sudden longing for a burst of sunshine, just as the grey, cool, frosty air seemed too tense, alert, full of promise that is interminably long in coming. It so happened that it was only now that I took Vacances out of its famous art-déco box, and retried. What can I say, December has never looked brighter. The lilac bouquet, white, green, and vivacious, the clean, hard-milled soapy quality, the elegant, immaculate, distinguished sillage, were all there, as lively as ever, and even more beautiful and enchanting. Vacances is the very idea of spring in a bottle, an allegorical lilac-scented garden in full bloom. However, in my particular case, it seems destined to blossom in cold weather conditions only. If I ever took it into my head to go skiing in the Swiss or Austrian Alps, Vacances would be my choice. For a spring or summer vacation, on the other hand, I would opt for a lighter, airier scent. This fragrance is as heady as parfum, even in eau de toilette concentration, with a remarkable presence and outstanding lasting power. Beaucoup trop in warmer climes, pure poetry in the dead of winter.