ماشاء الله تبارك الله ماشاء الله لاقوة الا بالله , اللهم اني اسالك الهدى والتقى والعفاف والغنى

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Saint Parfum “Tomato Vine”

By Beth

Sometimes, a little shopping excursion really pays off! October’s jaunt to Manhattan for the first ever Food Network Wine and Food Festival was a gem in and of itself, but the whole weekend was marked by many pleasures, one of the best was meeting our darling Marina for the very first time! I knew her immediately as I walked into L’Artisan on Madison and for those who haven’t had the pleasure she is indeed as elegant as she seems, European to the core and at the same time thoroughly sweet, disarming and delightful!

New York for me is a full throttle creative experience and I visit as often as I can! Cleveland is a lovely city in spite of all of its bad press, but we just don’t have the selection that this shopaholic needs to keep her happy! The parties that I was attending that particular weekend were fabulous and all had the advantage of being in the evening leaving my days free to do as I pleased. So with a delightfully full stomach, a lingering glow and a very happy heart, I hit the streets of Gotham City to worship at the feet of my muse!

Bendel’s, Ralph Lauren, Barney’s and of course Takashimaya…. all are intoxicating but having been a old fashioned luxury goods retailer I adore Bergdorf’s the most. I feel at home there in a way that a child feels at home in their mothers kitchen after a long school day. Bergdorf’s is such a successful store mostly because everything is accessible, there’s not a hands off policy in sight. The sales associates are friendly and they love to let you wander. They understand bloggers and they let me take pictures without making me feel life a thief in the night and the best part is that down in the makeup and fine fragrance department they love to talk to you and shower you with samples!

That is how I found myself talking to a most delightful gentleman, Michael Stanzoni who took at least 30 minutes of his precious time to educate me about the nuances of Serge Luten’s. After many scent strips, lots of laughter and a new bottle of Datura Noir , we began to speak of perfume Smellin Things. Michael is a interesting and very engaging man , very knowledgeable about fragrance. It’s no wonder that he now finds himself one of the champions of a fabulous new home fragrance line, Saint Parfum! Saint Parfum has the distinct honor of being the ONLY home fragrance line to be featured in this months Vogue Holiday Gift Guide as one of their favorite holiday gifts under 500.00. Saint Parfum has many wonderful scents, but the beauty of this line is in it’s custom blending program. Imagine being able to create a signature home scent or a distinctive and special scent for each beloved on your shopping list. Each order is hand packaged so beautifully that it takes your breath away. What an exquisite gift to be able to give to someone who truly loves fine fragrance.

"If there's a silver lining to the economy this year, it's that consumers are being more thoughtful with the gifts they're giving," explains Spencer Krenke -- perfumer and co-founder of Saint Parfum. "When our customers order Saint Parfum as a gift, we hand perfume, hand pour and hand package each item individually with a card detailing that the item was made just for them, very personal, very unique. Today we had a customer order twenty seven items, each one personalized to those on her list. She further explained she's spending much less this holiday, and wanted more meaningful, personalized gifts."

Michael gave me a quick wink , asked for my name and address and approximately 3 days later I was the delighted recipient of my own gift of Saint Parfum. Receiving it was a moment to be savored, the packaging was exquisitely warm licorice with accents of creamy winter white. The hand labeling was simple and indescribably gorgeous. It was numbered and said simply “Tomato Vine”. It took me many minutes to open it, mostly because I was so utterly captivated by the presentation.

Now those who know me well also know that there is nothing that I adore quite as much as sun ripened heirloom tomatoes eaten fresh from the vine, with the addition of only a bit of truffled salt for garnish. I live for the late summer when I can walk onto my patio and bury my face in their leaves. When I opened the bottle of the scented oil and placed the reeds into it I was immediately transfixed. The scent of this tomato vine is true and beautiful and this precious gift now lives in my bedroom, happily disarming all who experience it.

When I checked on the pricing I was told that it would retail for 85.00 which I felt was thoroughly reasonable for the amount of pleasure that it brought me. They also have luxurious 65 hour hand poured candles which retail for 75.00. I asked about a specific scent for the holidays and was told that the Siberian Fir Needle would evoke the spirit of the season in a most delightful way. I am sure that when I order it I will be just as delighted as I was with the Tomato Vine! And I’ll admit to it, I am contemplating a custom blended scent , because I just love the thought of it. At 175.00 (a one time cost) it seems like a wonderful luxury that would last for a very long time! Our homes are totally personal palaces of self expression and I am enchanted with the thought that I could create my own signature. The only problem is choosing from the vast array of fragrances available…did I actually just call that a problem?

Saint Parfum can be ordered online at www.saintparfum.com or enjoyed at Barneys!

Spencer Krenke is quoted from a Saint Parfum company press release/ November the 21, 2008
Photographs from www.saintparfum.com

The Green Goddess: Vacances by Jean Patou (1936) - And a Prize Draw

By Donna

Vacances was introduced in 1936 by the famous perfume and fashion house of Jean Patou, in celebration of what is now a French and indeed established worldwide tradition – the introduction of paid vacations for workers. It evokes the feeling of a fresh spring morning in the countryside as the windows are opened to the rising sun. This was the Golden Age of French perfume houses, and one of its legendary creative collaborations was between Jean Patou and his great house perfumer Henri Alméras; this fragrance is one of the crown jewels of fine French perfumery. The House of Patou was once more famous for its couture gowns coveted by wealthy society women than it was for its perfumes, but the fragrances long ago eclipsed the fashions; led by the justly iconic Joy (1930). Sadly, Jean Patou died the same year Vacances was released, though the company was carried on by his sister and remained a family enterprise until it was sold to Procter and Gamble in 2001.

Vacances is widely acknowledged by professional perfumers and expert “noses” to be the greatest Green Floral in the history of perfumery. Having tried many others of this style from the finest houses over the years, I must concur. This is a true work of art; and if I had but one perfume to choose to wear for the rest of my life this would be it. (Considering how many perfumes I have tried over the years, and what I currently own, that is high praise indeed.)

It opens with a very sharp, fresh, almost peppery green burst –not black pepper, but rather juicy cut green pepper, as in bell pepper not spice, a quality it gets from a heaping overdose of the plant gum Galbanum-accompanied by the intense freshness of stunningly heady Hyacinth, twiggy/earthy Hawthorn and deeply verdant grass notes. As the opening subsides, something else wonderful happens – the arrival of soft, wispy Mimosa and the most ethereally lovely Lilac imaginable, an eternally fresh Lilac that never fades or becomes musty. This lingers a long time as the fragrance finally dries down to subtle woody notes. The lasting power is excellent, even for the EDT. It is a relatively simple combination of accords, but elegant in its perfection. To me it is not only green but all the colors of the rainbow, the essence of Spring itself.

This is a fragrance of happiness and exuberance, but also of memory and intense longing. It has been known to elicit an unexpected emotional response when experienced for the first time. It was the first perfume that to which I ever had such a strong and visceral reaction that tears came to my eyes and I knew I had found “The One.” For one thing, it reminded me of the great hedge of purple lilacs that grew outside my childhood home. After a rain, the delicious scent would drift through the air, and I would shake the sweet drops that clung to the heavy flower heads onto my face and drink the perfumed water as though it were the nectar of the gods. That, mingled with the aroma of freshly cut grass (we never had a gas mower, so there were no fumes to ruin it), the damp earth and the rising breath of other spring plants as the sun broke through after the rain, is the soul of Vacances.

This fragrance, along with eleven other historical perfumes from the Patou line from the 1920s to the 1950s, was re-released in the 1980s to celebrate the history and success of the Patou house. The gorgeous bottles were all of a similar style but had different color themes and package designs, and each bottle contained a matching silk pocket square. The reintroduced scents, known as Ma Collection and also once available as a coffret of miniature bottles of all twelve perfumes, are sadly now all discontinued again. This is very likely the last bottle I will ever have. Its like will not be seen again. I know I said I would stop reviewing discontinued fragrances, but I must pay tribute to my most beloved perfume before it’s gone forever and only its memory remains to me. All the scents in Ma Collection are very good to great, but to my mind this is far and away the most original and beautiful of them all.

To honor this wonderful perfume, I am offering a sample of the Eau de Toilette. It was the last formulation offered when the scent was reissued; for a glorious time there was also Eau de Parfum, and a Parfum that defined the very idea of Beauty. Now they are all gone, victims of the times and the sale of the Patou company to Procter & Gamble, to my profound horror. Some of Patou’s recent offerings since this happened are nice enough, but nothing approaches their earlier releases, and the last really good ones, in my opinion, were Sublime in 1992 and Patou For Ever in 1998. If the new owners had any sense at all these classic perfumes would be brought back in all their glory along with the rest of the Patou back catalog. (You can still find them online, but bottle collectors have driven the price up to about $400 or more each and I would personally be very wary of eBay or other independent sellers claiming to have unopened bottles for sale, especially at a low price.)

If you want to be entered in the drawing, please say so in the comments, and the winner will be announced the week after this post appears.

Image credits: The beautiful Vacances bottle and box from perfumedistributor.com. Artistic rendition of the Elven Queen Galadriel (as portrayed by Cate Blanchett) from the Lord of the Rings film trilogy from calacirian.org

The winner of Kenzo Winter Flowers draw

...is Therese. Please send me your address using the contact me link on the right.
Thank you, everybody, for your kind words and for playing!

Lily Pulitzer “Wink’, Squeeze” and “Beachy”

By Beth

I wanted to hate these, I really did. When I saw them in all of their pink, blue and golden splendor, first at Saks Fifth Avenue and then at Dillard’s I was filled with the overwhelming urge to scream , run and hide. You see, I grew up in a Lily Pulitzer world and my wardrobe was filled with Lily skirts and pink and green Papagallo pumps. My personal orb in the early 70’s was one in which certain well bred young ladies went to dancing school every Friday night and learned to curtsy, while harboring secret longings to run outside, smoke the cigarettes that we had stashed in our escorts pockets, kiss them recklessly while screaming bloody murder. I had to wear pearls and white gloves. My lipstick was pink, because nude would have been far too sexy. Instead of allowing it’s natural wave to be present, I blew dry my hair to stick straightness everyday. I was forced to wear Arpege .

Thank goodness for those cigarettes, a lovely guilty pleasure that I snuck every chance I got!

Lily Pulitzer clothing was one of the “privileged “ girls favorite affectations, the preppy uniform of choice. For a girl like me who read Vogue, studied “Cosmo” passionately and adored Haute Couture, LP clothes were the equivalent of a prison uniform. Quite frankly I was always lusting jealously after Catholic schoolgirl fashion as those short plaid skirts and knee socks always seemed thoroughly naughty. Fortunately for me by 1977, the saccharine sweetness of “Lily pink and green” had given away to the sexiness of the first Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress that I ever owned which I wore to my graduation without a bra! I was working then and refused to let my mother buy my clothes for me anymore. I also stopped blowing my hair dry and spent a small fortune on Orlane makeup and Halston perfume! I was pearl scarred until at least 2 years ago, opting instead for chunky silver and turquoise.

My final act of defiance was the dress that I wore to the Assembly ball of 1978, a very sexy black Carmen Miranda number with an off the shoulder red chiffon blouson, Renee Russo hair and Mexican silver. I left my date, a very nice but totally boring boy for the opportunity to smoke hash in a conversion van with several of the wilder, cuter preppy boys . Needless to say, my date was very aggravated and I was quickly set free! That was the same poor boy that I scandalized by refusing to enter through the women’s doors of The Union Club that very same evening. Can you imagine? I hate to admit it but that entrance still exists today. Fortunately I think that Tom was secretly relieved! His father was the mayor of the very conservative town that I grew up in and I would definitely have created an image problem for that family!

Lily Pulitzer clothing never fully disappeared, but last year I was completely blown away when a Lily store opened in the fashion mall right around the corner from my apartment. I took a chance and walked in to find the same saccharine girls of my youth, but actually some very cute fashion. I will probably never be able to wear them again without coming down with a full blown case of the hives, but I’ve come to accept that she’s back in full force. However, I’m shocked to say that her perfume is actually fun to wear!

There are three Lily fragrances, “Beachy”, which comes in a lovely blue bottle, “Wink” which is of course all dressed in pink and “Squeeze” which is actually the one that I like the best and packaged in a bottle of sun drenched yellow. They are all emblazoned with little Lily ribbons, there are scented candles and hand creams to accent the very patrician image of the line. The bottles are designed to be reminiscent of sea glass. They’re really very pretty. Wait…who just said that?

I find myself amused to say that these scents are anything but patrician, they’re more than a little sexy and quite a lot of fun. “Wink” is very rosy with lots of musk and pear while “Beachy” is cheery and fresh, smelling of the Frangipani that I loved as a child and drenched with watermelon. ”Beachy” also has a lot of what I affectionately refer to as “That fake ocean smell”, but I don’t mind it , the dosage of vanilla and amber renders the marine accord inoffensive to me. “Squeeze” is my favorite and the one that I (GASP!) will probably return to buy. Lots of juicy pink grapefruit, lychee nut and a nice woody drydown laced with sexy adolescent musk make this one more than a little intriguing and nostalgic for me. I spent several spring vacations in Hawaii where the surfers were beautiful and the worlds finest marijuana was tucked amidst the pineapple plantations! Not that I ever paid too much attention to either!

Lily Pulitzer perfumes can be found in all of their bright glory at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Liz Zorn Sinti

By Tom

If you had asked me a few years ago I would have sworn up and down that I didn't like perfume oils or "natural" perfumes. I would have protested on a stack of Bibles (or perhaps better for me, a stack of Cooks Illustrateds) that they aren't well made as regular scents and make snarky remarks about "natural". As in "snake venom's natural, honey"

Of course, then I started running into people who actually make natural perfumes and perfume oils. Like Roxana Villa or Alexis Karl (whose scents I will be reviewing soon) or Vero Kern or Liz Zorn.

I'll be ordering my words for dinner, thanks. Sauteed with butter and garlic and a side of crow..

Marina loved her Grand Canyon, which reads as right up my Stetson, but roses?

Sinti is written of on her website as her most popular rose, and I can see why. It is rose, but not the rose in an English garden or the vase of cabbage roses in the library- not that there's anything wrong with that. Galbanum, clary sage and citrus at first mask, then buttress the gorgeous wild-smelling Moroccan rose. These roses smell as if no-one had ever tended them, that they've gone back to some earlier, hardier breed, more deeply scented. It stays wonderfully close to the skin in that "lean in and smell me baby" that makes one want to, well, lean in and smell. While gorgeous on a woman, the sagey-galbanum part of it keeps it butch enough that a guy could pull it off easily as well.

I can't wait to sample some of the rest of these; I have to apologize to the person who sent me the sample, I can't remember who did!

Liz Zorn's perfumes are available at her website

9th Annual Basenotes Awards...

...are open for your votes. This year, an additional home fragrance category is added to the list:

* Best new fragrance (Masculine and Feminine)
* Best overall fragrance (Masculine and Feminine)
* Best fragrance for day (Masculine and Feminine)
* Best fragrance for evening (Masculine and Feminine)
* Best fragrance packaging (Masculine and Feminine)
* Best designer, mainstream or fine fragrance (Masculine and Feminine)
* Best niche, independent, artisan or boutique fragrance (Masculine and Feminine)
* Best mass-market, drugstore, budget or direct-sell fragrance (Masculine and Feminine)
* Best celebrity fragrance (Masculine and Feminine)
* Best fragrance house
* Best home fragrance
* Best fragrance blog

To vote and win a prize, go to Basenotes.

How The Other Half Lives: Henry Dunay Sabi

By Donna

More than twenty years ago I discovered a perfume that I really loved, though I never did buy a bottle of it; maybe I thought it was out of my league. It was called Odalisque, and it was made by American fashion & jewelry designer Nettie Rosenstein, who is often given credit for inventing the concept of the “little black dress” which is now a fashion staple for stylish women everywhere. I was new to fine fragrances at that time, and Odalisque had a quality that I had never encountered before; it smelled like money. By this I mean it smelled like wealth, like what I had always imagined people who had real, serious money would smell like. (After all, everyone knows the rich are different.) Something about its restrained elegance exuded the aura of privilege. Ms. Rosenstein was a very smart woman so I am sure she knew that this fragrance would give the wearer a certain confidence, a feeling of knowing her place in the world without question. If I closed my eyes I could see the woman whose signature scent this would be – she was a society matron wearing handmade shoes and a perfectly cut Forties-style suit of the finest quality material, and a little hat with a veil. She never had to worry about where next month’s rent was going to come from. Odalisque can still be found if you look hard enough for it, and have the means to pay for a vintage bottle, as it has long been discontinued. (Not to be confused with the 1989 scent of the same name from Parfums de Nicolai, they are unrelated.)

Fast-forward to 2008, and I have discovered another fragrance that makes me feel the same way, though it is very different in character. Sabi is by another jewelry designer, Henry Dunay (his own brother, Richard Loniewski, is actually the “nose” who created it in 1998), and it is a wonderfully cool yet buoyant green floral, or floral chypre, depending on whom you ask, but with none of the astringent quality one could expect from that style of scent. Putting it on my skin for the first time, I felt as though I were getting ready to go to the opera or some other special occasion both festive and formal. I kept looking around for the ladies in ball gowns and the gentlemen in dinner jacket and the limousines whose doors would close soundlessly behind them. Mostly I wondered where all the rich people were, because it sure did make the place smell expensive all of a sudden.

This perfume contains what the ad copy calls “a blend of 250 captivating oils”, an impressive number indeed, although anything resembling the full list of notes has never been revealed as far as I know. There are some obvious ones; jasmine, rose, ylang ylang, hyacinth, lily of the valley, narcissus, white lily and galbanum. I get just a whisper of oakmoss and I would not be surprised to learn that it has stephanotis too, though it is not in the least a soapy scent. Sabi goes on rather chilly and ethereal at first, which is fine with me, but after it has been on the skin for a short time it softens and rounds somewhat, with the rose coming out a little more and some barely-there hidden spiciness emerging as well. I would say it has an almost haunting quality, as the elusive notes weave in and out of the threshold of detection, teasing the wearer and inviting yet another application of the nose to the arm to figure out just what is being smelled. Throughout the development of the scent, a sleek and penetrating greenness prevails, though it is never harsh or sharp, it just reins in the sweetness of the ylang ylang and the jasmine and keeps it from becoming overly heady. Lasting power is excellent for this style of scent and the sillage is exquisite. (It reminds me a little of the lovely Molinard de Molinard, but less herbal/green than that perfume, which is an unusual fragrance that has a “wet” and slippery quality to it while also being somewhat astringent.)

Green florals are my first loves of the perfume world, and although I now have great appreciation for many other styles, I tend to hold these to a higher standard - I really have to fall in love. I have to say that this has indeed happened with Sabi. It is exquisitely tender and feminine yet never fluffy or sweet. It is seamlessly elegant, yet it can hold its own at the most glittering party (a quality I have yet to test, actually) or corporate boardroom, or even a wedding – I think it is an ideal perfume for a bride whose style is simple and classic rather than fussy and overdone. As sophisticated as it is, it is by no means austere like some green scents, and it is neither dusty nor powdery. It is not a “sporty” green either, for those who might shy away from that label, though it is superb in hot weather, one of the best summer scents I have ever worn.

Sabi is available at Neiman-Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, both in-store and online, and at selected finer perfume boutiques. It comes in Parfum, Eau de Parfum, body lotion and body wash. Despite its being produced by a company that caters almost exclusively to very wealthy people, it is reasonably priced for its quality, topping out at $225 for the .68 ounce Parfum, and the same size of Eau de Parfum is $85. (Take that, Clive Christian. You know what I’m talkin’ about.)

Image credits: Photo actress Elizabeth Taylor with Henry Dunay’s famous “Lachrymosa” Diamond Mask from jewelrycentral.com; photo of gold band ring from the “Sabi” collection design group by Henry Dunay from 55secretstreet.typepad.com; Sabi perfume bottle from raoung.com

Perfume Review: Le Labo Poivre 23

Poivre 23 is somewhat of a standout in Le Labo line in that, unlike quite a few of their scents (looking at you first and foremost, Tubereuse 40 and Patchouli 24) it does prominently and obvisouly feature the title note declared in the name. It was created by Nathalie Lorson, who is also the author of Lalique's sublime Encre Noir, so we know that she can do wonders with earthy-balsamic notes (she is also the nose behind another of my favorites, Lancôme's dainty Peut-Être, which is...nothing at all like Poivre 23 or Encre Noir, but I digress).

The beginning of Poivre 23 is at once creamy, spicy and mentholated. The contrast of piquant coldness and sweet creaminess is incredibly attractive to me. When I smell Poivre 23 in the first stages of its development, I think of pepper ice-cream served on a sandalwood plate...with incense burning softly in the background. After the ice-cream is gone, we are left with wood and incense, and with a lingering and very pleasant peppery aftertaste. In the base of Poivre 23, patchouli is fairly pronounced, and of course patchouli goes so well with incense and pepper. I couldn't help but compare the new Le Labo to two other of my peppery favorites, Poivre Piquant and Piper Nigrum. Poivre 23 is less sweet and less creamy than Poivre Piquant and much less mentholated than Piper Nigrum. It seems more resinous and overall "darker" than both. As a fan of pepper note rendered in a non-sharp way and a fan of spicy-creamy contrast, I need all three.

Poivre 23 is Le Labo's exclusive to Liberty London. Lucky Londoners

Sweater Girl...Le Labo Musc 25

By hafa

About eight months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Fabrice Penot, one of the creators of the whole Le Labo concept. He then told me that he was working on an LA specific scent, and I contributed my two cents about things he could do to get a taste of LA. In the article in this past weekends LA Times, he mentioned attending Elton John's Oscar party as having been part of the inspiration by what he calls "angelic whiteness with a dark core of sin".

They succeeded in a way that far outstrips my hopes.

Reading the formula (aldehydes, civet, muscone) you would be forgiven for thinking that it's something along the lines of the Dallas exclusive, Aldehyde 44. Musc 25 opens if possible more sparkly and decidedly less creamy than the Dallas scent. The super-sparkly dry opening is joined by a faint rosiness, a whisper of vetiver and although it's not listed, I smell a bare touch of citrus. Angora-soft musk comes in fairly early and stays strong but sly, with enough powder to keep it on the lady-like side.

There's also what the Le Labo people call "ingredient X"- mentioned in The August Times as "a synthesized representation of human semen". I smelled the raw material and, well it does a bit. For those of you were put off by Etat Libre's godawful secretions fear not: it's a hint, and when mixed with the ambergris, smoke and a hint of eucalyptus (also not listed) becomes a "did she or didn't she" hint of sexy bare skin that's gloriously besmirched. It's an ingenue whose lipstick has been kissed off and she's reapplying, humming to herself, her Kool burning away in the ashtray.

Or is it the scent of her driving home through the canyons? I was wearing this driving along Mulholland and had the startling scent mimicry of the exact smell of the trees and the late day air coming off my arm as well as into my open window. Bravo!

While completely modern, the only image I can conjure that perfectly encapsulates it is of a young Lana Turner: Icy white-blond beauty, dark eyes and a darker heart.

Musc 25 is $260 for 50ML and $400 for 100ML. Being a 25% concentration I think that's fair. What's less fair is that it's only available at the Le Labo store on 3rd Street in Los Angeles. Luckily for me that's just a hair over a mile from my hovel, so I can drop in and spritz. If you're in LA, you should make a point of doing so too.

Charity Raffle at Bois de Jasmin

Victoria at Bois de Jasmin is holding a charity raffle for a bottle of Serge Lutens perfume. Donate to Doctors Without Borders by January 15, 2009 and be entered into this fantastic prize draw. To participate in this honorable project, please go to Bois de Jasmin.

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