Thursday, May 18, 2017

Foxy by DSH Perfumes


Foxy is one of the newest scents by the amazingly prolific Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes. Dawn says she was inspired by the movie version of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox which she watched with her young son during the cold winter months of a Boulder, Colorado winter. I am not familiar with this story but evidently various note components were drawn from the everyday life of Mr. Fox.

The perfume's opening features an apple whiskey note referencing the favoured drink of the story's Farmer Bean. This note is round, rich and fruity. It is joined by a gingersnap note, reminiscent of Mrs. Bean's "famous apple gingersnap". I could swear I smell a cinnamon note but perhaps this is just a part of the whiskey/gingersnap mix as it is not listed. Amber and ambergris are the dominate notes and miraculously the combination of these two does make one picture a rusty red color such as the fur on a fox.

I am a big fan of DSH's other "fur" scent, Chinchilla, which I described as "a slightly animalic musk with faint wisps of crushed flower petals and thick golden honey". For me Chinchilla is cozy and the animal note very tame, so I wondered, would she "go there" with Foxy? I put my wrist to my nose and inhale deeply and the answer is yes, DSH did include "go there"! There is a faint but undeniable feral aspect to this perfume not present in Chinchilla. Don't worry, it doesn't overwhelm and you have to be really looking for it. I am assuming this was in part created by the use of two different kinds of jasmine, as well as castoreum, costus, sable fur accord and fossilized amber resin. In addition to conjuring the red fur of the creature DSH has created a fox we can imagine in a wild habitat, a little less cleanly washed than the Chinchilla perfumed creation. This is an aspect of vintage perfume that is often missing in the modern perfumes of today, and DSH is an expert at referencing this era and those notes.

Despite what I've said about the animalistic notes, after it's opening Foxy settles into a warm amber perfume with contained sillage but rather excellent longevity. This is a vintage vibe perfume that is not too overpowering for those afraid of this genre.  And as a credit to Dawn's artistry, I can indeed picture a cute red fox when I'm wearing this perfume!

Stella McCartney with  Callie, a tame fox, wearing faux fur in Vogue February 2017.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Foolproof Perfume Picks for Mother's Day

For those of us who love perfume the next best thing to buying perfumes for ourselves is buying it for someone else, so Mother's Day provides the perfect shopping opportunity. Yet all too often gifted bottles languish on the shelf unused. Some moms are easy. They have a signature scent you can replenish each year. But if you've no idea what your Mom might like but really want to share your love of scent with her, here is a semi-serious guide of what to buy your Mom depending on her likes and style. The secret in each case is to buy a fairly transparent scent that doesn't make too much of a statement, so that the odds of Mom liking it increase exponentially. 

The Classic Mom

Jackie Kennedy with her children.
The classic Mom is polished and cool. She probably set dinner tables with sterling silver cutlery and crystal dishes if she could afford it. Her manner of dress is polished, neatly styled and always totally appropriate. She made sure you visited the occasional museum in addition to Saturday matinees. Manners and respect were important in your household growing up. She gravitates toward old style classics so for her Chanel No 5 L'Eau is the perfect pick. The beautiful fizzy opening is still there but without the sharp astringency of the original. It's a lighter fresher take on the original but maintains the beautiful heart of rose and jasmine and still exudes that timeless elegance.

The Sporty Mom

Candace Parker, basketball player, Olympian.

Maybe your Mom plays tennis or golf. Maybe she's a runner or surfer. Maybe yoga is her thing, but whatever sport it is, it's a huge part of who she is. For sporty Moms I'm going to suggest something I just reviewed, MFK Aqua Celesia. This scent won't distract them from their game; it's very quiet. It's almost a skin scent but it has some tart notes of lime, mint and blackcurrant to keep it fresh.  I have a totally unproven theory that musk scents, which Aqua Celesia is, smell better and more personal when mixed with a little of your sweat. If so, then it's perfect for the active mom who glows with exertion. Regardless, it's a beautiful scent to keep her feeling fresh no matter what.

The Do-Gooder Mom

Angelina Jolie , actor and humanitarian, with her brood.

Your Mom is the first one with her hand up. School PTA president, check. Girl Scout leader, check. Local women's shelter volunteer, check. She's a rebel with a cause and the only thing that makes her happier than working is working for change. So how perfect that by wearing a perfume she can contribute in a small way to the welfare of farmers in war torn countries or one's recovering from strife. Fair trade essential oils are sourced from places like Afghanistan and Rwanda. The company behind these good deeds? The 7 Virtues. You could pick the original scent, Afghanistan Orange Blossom with uplifting notes of orange blossom, jasmine, and freesia. Farmers who used to grow poppies for the drug industry now can make more by farming neroli oil. You can also pick from Noble Rose of  Afghanistan, Middle East Peace, Patchouli of Rwanda, Vetiver of Haiti, Middle East Peace, and the new Lisa Ray Jasmine of India. The florals are realistic and pretty but these wear close to the skin. The fragrances can be ordered from the website and are also available at Lord & Taylor in the USA.

The Hip Mom

Kate Hudson, actress, fitness clothing entrepreneur.

All your friends think your Mom is cool, whether she's 40 or 80. Her manner of dress is maybe more youthful or edgy than other Moms but she always looks fabulous. She keeps up with current trends but is not afraid to follow her own style. She's open minded, embraces life,  and loves to have fun, especially with you. This Mom is not afraid to try something a little different with a slight edge. The trick is to buy something with that unique feel, but not something too extreme or out there. I have the perfect answer. It's Dame Perfumery Mate, Heliotrope & Patchouli. This perfume opens with a light mate tea note. The heliotrope gives a slight sweet touch and the patchouli is green and clean. It's my favorite "your skin but better scent". Click on the link above to read my full review. This one's a beauty.

The Trendy Mom

Victoria Beckham and brood.
Your Mom is always on point with trends. She may think she's too old to wear some of the latest style interpretations but you can be sure she knows about them. She is au courant about the latest movies, politics of the day, and the Pantone color of the year. She loves the latest thing and that's why the newest Jo Malone perfume may be the perfect gift for her. Every season Jo Malone is coming out with limited editions and new scents. The most recent release is Jo Malone Star Magnolia. Like most of Jo Malone's recent introductions, on my skin it's pretty, light, and fairly fleeting. Star Magnolia opens with a lemon and ginger note, then rapidly transitions to the magnolia and neroli. Both notes are light and come across as a white clean fragrance. While I don't love it, it's hard to imagine anyone taking offense to it. Even more interesting are the seasonal limited edition sets. They are always an interesting concept: last year it was the Herb Garden collection and this spring it is the five scents in the Bloomsbury Set. I haven't smelled any of them but I have no doubt they are charming and will fade away within an hour. Nevertheless I still can't help but be intrigued and would love it if someone gave them to me.

The Foodie Mom

Giada De Laurentiis, celebrity chef
Everyone wanted to hang out at your house because they knew there would be great food. Whether it was nourishing dinners or homemade snacks, your Mom likes to show her love through food. Her favorite program may be The Great British Baking Show. She knows the newest restaurant in town getting rave reviews and would rather walk through Williams & Sonoma than Barneys. Here are a few light and intriguing flavorful scents. Berdoues Grand Cru Vanira Moorea is a cologne strength vanilla and orange creamsicle; droolingly yummy but not too sweet. By the same company but totally different is Berdoues Grand Cru Assam of India. Pungent black Assam tea, sharp lemon, and a to-die-for bottle with colorful mini elephants make this a distinctive winner. Prada Infusion d'Amande has a creamy but transparent almond note that will have Mom sniffing her wrist non-stop.

The Traditional Mom

Florence Henderson as Carol Brady in the iconic tv show, The Brady Bunch.

Your Mom considered her primary job to be raising you and your siblings, despite everything else she might have had going on. She wants nothing but the best for you; your achievements are her successes. She loves you to bits and nothing makes her day more than hearing from you. For your special mom, treat her to the newly reintroduced Prada Les Infusions Rose. Like all the scents in Prada's Les Infusions line, it has a watercolor transparency. It is a pale pink rose scent, sprinkled with notes of mandarin, neroli, and galbanum. Sparkling and translucent, it's the perfect rose for the rose in your life.

I hope you've enjoyed my Mother's Day picks and found something worth considering.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Aqua Celestia by Maison Francis Kurkdjian


The newest addition to the house of  Maison Francis Kurkdjian is Aqua Celestia, the third in the Aqua series started in 2009 with the release of Aqua Universalis, followed in 2013 by Aqua Vitae. In this newest rendering of the aqua theme Kukdjian takes the series to new heights, literally. The first two versions were rooted more firmly to the earth with their citrus and floral notes, but Aqua Celestia does seem to float, float, float up into the heavens with its ethereal air.

Kurkdjian himself describes the fragrance : "Aqua Celestia forms a seamless bond between the blue of the sky and the blue of the sea, forging a path toward absolute serenity." I find Aqua Celestia even more gentle than the other two in the series. Once the scent settles into your skin it's like breathing rarified air, an Evian version of oxygen if you will. It does indeed smell a bit heavenly.

The perfume opens with lime and mint notes. The lime here doesn't have the zing that lemons and oranges can impart in perfumery. It is a very muted citrus with just enough tart sparkle to add a gentle fizzy zest in the opening, emphasis on gentle fizz. The mint note is next to emerge but it is also contained so it feels like a suggestion of mint, just adding to the light freshness. These notes are pretty and playful but unless I sniff my arm I would have trouble identifying them, they are so tame. The white musk accord begins to creep into the freshness of these two notes, further muting their impact. A note of blackcurrant bud adds a bit of tartness, so along with the mint and lime you get a light lift and liveliness to make the musk a little more transparent.  Eventually notes of mimosa join the musk. I'm not sure I could have identified the mimosa as on my skin it merges with the musk, only occasionally peeping through to shine on its own. Although the musk begins to dominate I still catch glimpses of the mint and blackcurrant notes throughout the hours of wear.

I have never been a lover of watery scents or "clean" scents reminiscent of fresh laundry through their use of white musk. This scent however has made me reconsider these prejudices. It would be the perfect scent for someone who doesn't want to have to think about scent; who doesn't want to draw attention or make a statement with their choice of perfume but merely wants to smell nice. And more specifically to smell fresh and cleanly turned out. This perfume performs that service but has enough extra interest with its tart notes to still be interesting. Admittedly, if I was purchasing for myself and wanted a lighter scent I would gravitate more toward MFK Petit Matin (reviewed here) with its hint of luminescent pink and gold-tinged dawn skies. However, if someone were to gift me with Aqua Celestia I would be more than pleased and would wear it with abandon. I find it a very worthy addition to one of the more interesting perfume houses out there and I am sure it will find a legion of admirers.

Photo from Etsy. Perfume sample provided by Neiman Marcus.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Interview with Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian: Talking About LVMH, New Perfumes and Looking Forward



Neiman Marcus in Fort Worth, Texas, just opened the new and updated store and they've been having a flurry of special events. Recently Francis Kurkdjian, perfumer extraordinaire, came to Neimans to talk about his line and sign bottles. Kurkdjian is such a prolific perfumer that it would take up a whole post just listing the fragrances he has created, and this was before he launched his own company, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris in 2009. His first great success was Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male launched in 1995 when he was only 26. He has amassed a large portfolio working for such fragrance houses as Burberry, Elie Saab, Indult, Narcisco Rodriguez; the list goes on and on. He has created one of my favorites of the house MDCI Parfums, Rose de Siwa reviewed here. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris has a portfolio of twenty perfumes, and I've reviewed a couple of favorites, Grand Soir and Petit Matin here.

When I set off for Neimans to meet Kurkdjian I explained to my husband who I would be interviewing and made the comparison he was a sort of Sting of the perfume world. I love so many of his scents and am a huge fan. When I arrived at Neimans the message that I wanted an interview had not reached Kurkdjian, but he couldn't have been more gracious about spending fifteen minutes  with me and letting me ask whatever I wanted. He was so easy to talk to and absolutely open. Top on my mind was the recent March announcement of French luxury brand LVMH acquiring a majority stake in Maison Francis Kurdjian, as they continue to expand in niche luxury brand fragrance.

Q: I'm interested in the recent news of the sale of a portion of your company.
A: Yes, we sold a majority of the company and my business partner, who is a co-founder and myself we have the rest of the company and we're still on board . We're still very active....I'm here.
Q: So your role is not really changing?
A; Not at all. It's a move that we would have done, that we would have to do, not maybe this year but within the next four years. There are not that many independent companies anymore and when you live in the retail environment you have to have the power, you have to be backed up by a powerhouse to be capable to get good spots, good point of sales, and at some point to grow. You have a level where you're too big to be small and you're not big enough to be big. And there is an awkward situation where I needed to do something. I believe because we were seeing a very good financial increase, I believe it was the right timing to give away part of the company. To negotiate it is always better if you are strong than if you are weak. We lost the majority but we are on the board. I keep my hands on the creative part. From the front nothing is going to change.
Q: I read in Persolaise blog that you had a really big increase in sales.
A: Yes, in two or three years.
Q: What do you credit that to?
A: Because you need your name to get out. It takes time. We're very young. We'll be only eight years old this fall and it takes time. I believe also that the portfolio is the right size now because we have about 20 perfumes, so you have enough proposal for the customer. If you launch with only two to four scents you might miss many people, because if someone wants vanilla, if someone wants wood; now the portfolio is quite structured. And you need to have a decent retail size so you can become profitable. Also the Baccarat fragrance (Baccarat Rouge 540)  helped a lot. It's very popular; right now it's our best seller. It's always the case when you launch a new perfume, the new perfume always takes over. This is how it works.
Q: Today I'm getting the Grand Soir. It works better on my skin than the Baccarat Rouge.
A: It might  be a bit acidic.on your skin.
Q: It's more of a winter scent for me because Singapore is hot and humid all the time. I was kind of leaning toward the Petit Matin but I really love that one so I think that's going to be it.
A: It's nice, I like that one. I like them all! I've never launched a scent that I don't like. It's hard for me to make the choice.
Q: You're still a perfumer that goes out of house too?
A: I'm releasing a scent from Burberrry in about ten days. I'm releasing something new for Elie Saab. Many things are in the works.
Q: I really like Ellie Saab. It seems like you have a really good feel for orange blossom perfumes, which I love.
A: With orange blossom? It was the brief. The brief for Ellie Saab was not about orange blossom. The brief  was to create a scent that would convey the idea of the Middle East without being woodsy or based on oud, so I thought that orange blossom was a nice twist. I like rose as well. I'm not familiar with jasmine. I put a little bit in some fragrances. I use jasmine as a booster but, I don't know why, I've never tried to create something big around jasmine.
Q: Is there any note or fragrance family that you feel you really have something left you want to say?
A: There are some, the only thing is you have to be careful when you launch them. Some themes are very trendy at some point and you might give the impression that you want to follow the trend. I've been working on  the leather accord for many years now because the first time I worked it was for my cousin, to create for her. Usually the perfume I'm launching has been created before for someone, most of the time. She had a small men's clothing shop in Paris next to mine, nearby the Ritz, and she wanted me to create a mens cologne for her, for the shop. And that leather note has been in her shop for a few years now. She doesn't sell it. She sprays only the clothing and it as if the man has just left the shop. I wanted to redistribute but now there is the big trend on leather. Everybody is launching a leather note so I am delaying it. I'm going to wait two or three years before we launch it. Now I am working on many. I have decided I want to launch a new couple. It's a long time since I have launched two partners.  I have to deliver things by August and I have no idea yet, so I'm trying to find inspiration where I can! I know I want something white but it doesn't mean anything so far. I don't know why I want something white ...
Q: White flowers you mean?
A: No. White something. White ambiance. I have no idea where it's going to lead me. I just know that white could be an option.
Q: So when you're not creating perfumes what do you do for happiness?
A: It a 24/7 life.  I play the piano. I love cooking. I love to host. I'm away very often. Two thirds of my time is out of Paris. Every time I come back to Paris, my home, my first thing is to call my friends, to see who is in town and host a dinner for 10 or 12 people. I love doing that. I go to the opera. I go to the museum. I have a passionate life. I know that I am blessed. That I know. There is not a day that looks alike. I don't feel I'm working, in a way.

There is another five minutes of interview, but it devolved into travel story comparisons and my asking advice for a summer trip to Europe. As I said, Mr. Kurkdjian is extremely easy to talk to!

Two things of personal note: I did get a photo with FK which he graciously posed for. I really try hard to conquer vanity but this photo was so horrendous (me, not him!) it will never see the light of day. And secondly, I really appreciate the time and kindness shown to me and cooperating with my ambush interview. It is so refreshing to meet someone who is such a success in their world but still comes across as gracious, humble, and grateful. Thank you, Francis Kurkdjain, and I can't wait to see what else you have in store for the perfume universe!

Top photo from www.theladylovescouture.com. Thank you to Neiman Marcus for providing this opportunity.

Friday, April 21, 2017

DSH Perfumes Gekkou Hanami


I went into testing DSH Perfumes Gekkou Hanami thinking I already had it figured out. It would be light and ethereal and pink. I was sort of right about the first two. On first application Gekkou Hanami has a moment of watery freshness, then citrus notes bring everything into soft focus. The citrus used is yuzu, a sort of Japanese grapefruit, and this citrus note in Hanami has a very definite Oriental feel to it. Unlike the brightness and zestiness of some citrus notes in perfume, this yuzu has a contained feel like the muted light shining from a Japanese paper lantern. Sake notes also add to this Japanese aura, contributing a very light fruity note as well as the creaminess of the rice used to make the sake.

Now that Hanami has set the stage -- I picture the delicate beauty of geishas gracefully teetering on wooden getas as seen in Japanese woodblock prints -- we begin to smell the florals. Our geishas are transported to a path lined with sakura trees exploding with blossoms,  some of which fall then float in a nearby pond. The opening scent of yuzu has receded and now I smell light watery florals. The watery aspect makes it seem as scent caught on the breeze, airy and floating. In all honesty I've never smelled cherry blossoms, only some of the imitations with their candy pink juice. There was a Jo Malone version a few years ago years ago which failed to move me, and as much as I enjoy some L'Occitane scents, their cherry blossom perfume just smells like pink nothing to me.

Photo from etsy shop JapanLovelyCrafts

Dawn adds a mixture of florals, the dominant notes being sakura blossom and neroli. I think that maybe rosewater and waterlily are the notes giving me the "floating on water" effect which can also be translated as breezy notes. This soft floral is not at all sweet on me and imparts the feel of scent on a spring breeze. The florals hum quietly for quite some time, then eventually base notes of cedar and frankincense provide a soft landing for this gentle scent. The base notes are also very soft and mellow, continuing the air-like quality of Hanami.

On the DSH Perfumes site, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz describes the creation of Gekkou Hanami, which translates as "Sakura Gazing in the Moonlight", in this way.  "Hanami is the Japanese pastime of picnicking below the Sakura cherry trees while in blossom. The act of gazing at the blossoms as they fall like snow is an essential moment of beauty, and death. It is an integral experience for the Japanese culture."

If you are looking for a one note cherry blossom fragrance then you may be surprised by Gekkou Hanami. What I think Dawn has done is encapsulate the entire hanami experience: the sun fading into moonlight, the cherry blossoms scent on the breeze, perhaps a sip of sake, watery florals, and the gentle wood notes from the surrounding forest. Gekkou Hanami is a very pretty and somewhat contemplative scent to welcome spring, and beyond.

Top photo: Sakura Fubuki, Shower of Cherry Blossoms, 1940's woodblock print. My sample was kindly provided by DSH Perfumes.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Spring Perfumes Reminiscent of Planting A Garden


I love the smell of cool damp dirt that has been slumbering all winter; digging a shovel in and turning out a dark crumbling lump of rich black soil as if awakening it from a sleep. Preparing the ground, pulling small weeds that may have sprung up, raking up the last of the fallen leaves, all to have a good base to plant seeds, baby plants, and especially my herbs, which I like to get in the ground as soon as the risk of frost has passed. These perfumes listed below in no particular order remind me of this spring ritual and the wonderful smell of dirt, herbs, and green leaves in my early garden, before the flowers have started to bloom.

Herb Man by Dame Perfumery Cologne
Jeffrey Dame prides himself on making colognes and perfumes that are easy to wear and smell great, rather than trying to present the wearer with a challenge. Herb man is the perfect example of this art. It opens with notes of  petit grain, lemon and bergamot which make it sound like a typical citrus cologne but the herbal notes come in rather quickly and let you know this cologne is about herbs, with notes of lavender, sage, and possibly rosemary. The lavender doesn't stand out as much as the sage, but all the notes are a well blended brew. There is a slight dustiness that may be from either the note of geranium or artemisia (wormwood) and to me this gives a slight "in the garden" vibe. I could almost think there is a very mild vetiver note here but perhaps it is the wood notes. I enjoy this scent. It starts out with a zingy rush from the citrus but quickly evolves into warm herbal overtones. It wears clean, slightly green, and not at all boring or common. This is marketed as a men's cologne but is unisex and something I would enjoy wearing. I would call this a casual cologne yet it's polished enough to feel at home in the board room.

Allegria by Rouge Bunny Rouge
Mint so fresh you want to break out the rum for mojitos. Bergamot, sour orange and grapefruit give a tart and crisp opening. Passion fruit adds a tart fruitiness. Intensely bright green notes dance around the citrus notes. Black currant leaf, Basil and Eucalyptus contribute to this green leafy feel. Buchu is a South African plant whose leaves have an intense aroma pungent of peppermint. With mint, eucalyptus and bucha you might think that this is an extreme mint perfume but the overall effect is a fresh and lively green. Other notes include mimosa absolute in the heart, and base notes of cedar, dry amber, moss, musk, hawthorn, and tonka bean. I feel that the cedar, hawthorn and moss are the most identifiable of these and make for an interesting ride.

The brand's own copy describes Allegria: "Fueled by lush greenery, this ecstatic aroma transforms all that was once black and white into vivid color." The perfume does have a feel of vegetation gone wild and there is a bit of sour bitterness hiding in the background that some might find challenging. I thought this made it more interesting and probably like no other perfume in your collection. It is fun and a bit zany, and my first thought was, "the perfumer (Sonia Constant) must have had a lot of fun making this." It's very creative and different and will definitely bring on a mood of "spring is here" or perhaps good to wear in winter when it seems spring may never appear.

Herba Fresca by Guerlain Acqua Allegoria
This perfume advertises itself as "the spirit of fresh cut grass and a note of green tea." This opens very watery than almost immediately fresh sparkling herbs make their way into the picture. A mint note is prominent, and it is spearmint; yes, the varieties smell differently. I grow mint in my garden for my obligatory ice tea, and it is amazing what a different taste and smell each variety of mint has. Spearmint has a bit sweeter note than peppermint and reminds me of the old Wrigley's spearmint and doublemint gum commercials. (Don't worry if this means nothing to you. It just means you're not as old as me.) I admire Herba Fresca for its lively notes and the feeling that you really have trampled through a field of herbs, crushing the mint leaves beneath your feet and releasing their pungent odor. The fragrance was meant to create the feeling of walking in a garden after the rain and the bright, clean freshness does give this impression of freshly watered and washed plant life. I mainly smell the clover and mint, although the green tea may be providing a fairly neutral background note.

This perfume was created in 1999 by perfumers Jean-Paul Guerlain and Mathilde Laurent. It is one of the few Aqua Allegoria perfumes by Guerlain that has managed to stay in fairly constant production, I would assume because of popularity.


Un Jardin Sur Le Toit by Hermes
This was the fourth in Hermes garden-inspired themed perfumes and they kept it close to home, this particular "garden on the roof" being based on the rooftop garden of Hermes headquarters at 24 Rue Faubourg Saint-Honore in Paris. Previous additions all had foreign locales: Un Jardin En Mediterrannee (Mediterranean), Un Jardin Sur Le Nil (Egypt), and Un Jardin Apres la Mousson (India).  This 2011 creation by Jean-Claude Ellena keeps it light and simple.

Ellena scupted Un Jardin Sur Le Toit as a fun, light, and lively perfume, uncomplicated and easy to wear. On first application I get a creamy grassy green note. It is light and stays close to the skin. Eventually slightly sweet notes join, meant to represent the apple, pear, and magnolia trees of this secret garden. There are occasional flashes of herbs, rosemary and basil, to represent the green notes of the perfume. I will confess this one is a little light for me in both projection and sillage but I do find it very pretty and perfect for those who enjoy "keeping it close".

Le Jardin Vert by DSH Perfumes
Rich, verdant soil, dark wet and crumbly. Perhaps a little mushroom compost is in there to amp up its organic richness. Tender plant roots, exposed to the soil as you dig your shovel in and turn the dirt to prepare it for the spring garden. The perfume is meant to represent the atmosphere of a garden: the rich soil, plants, and trees, but not flowers. It creates the smell of moss and woods, and uses mineral notes to give an impression of damp and green. To me this perfume smells like that fertile moment of joy and hope when preparing your spring garden after a winter's slumber. It is that feeling of earth, enriched by crumbling leaves and tree bark, ready to welcome fledgling plants and tender seeds. Totally unique, see my more extensive review here

There is only one other perfume I know of that comes close to this feeling of cool dirt in your hands that Le Jardin Vert give and that is Diptyque L'Ombre Dans Le Eau, which I reviewed in last year's five top picks for spring and you can read about here. Are there any perfumes that remind you of a garden in the spring?

Top photo by SusanTuttlePhotography. Other photos, www.rougebunnyrouge.com and www.hermes.com. All samples my own.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Guerlain Mon Guerlain


My first attempt at wearing Guerlain's new introduction, Mon Guerlain Eau de Parfum, was not a success. I don't know if it was the fact that it was the end of a warm day and I needed a shower, but the notes just turned into a sweet generic perfume such as can be found on numerous department store perfume counters produced by less illustrious brands. Fast forward to the next day, I sprayed Mon Guerlain again and this time my reaction was much more favorable. Perfumer Thierry Wasser along with Delphine Jelk have created a perfume featuring notes of lavender and vanilla. Lavender doesn't seem to be used a lot these days and has a reputation with some as being fusty or medicinal. I've always loved lavender; to me it smells fresh and invigorating. The challenge for Guerlain was to introduce lavender in a way that would not put off the masses. In my opinion they achieved this by taking a bow to today's mass market desire for sweet or gourmand perfumes.

As I said above, my first experience with the perfume was too much sugary sweetness, but now I think warm skin and  a warm day amplified this effect. One can't ever discount how skin chemistry can shift and how climate can affect the appropriateness of a scent. I suspect this might be more of a cool weather scent for me as in the heat my skin turned it into a sugar bomb with nary a touch of lavender in sight. That's hard for me to believe as now, on my third wearing of Mon Guerlain on this temperate day the lavender is very much present, although surrounded prettily by vanilla and tonka. The perfume ultimately smells like dainty lavender macarons to my nose.

Guerlain classifies Mon Guerlain as a "fresh oriental." I suppose to someone unexposed to oriental perfumes a case could be made but to me it is just too fresh and too clean to be a true oriental. Orientals tend to make me feel like I'm languishing on colorful Persian carpets with hookah pipes and spicy dishes but this brings more to mind skipping through a field of lavender sprinkling sugar crystals among the stalks. The lavender used in Mon Guerlain is a special breed: Carla lavender, which was also used in 2015's Mon Exclusif and Chanel's Jersey. Many reviewers have commented that they don't even get any lavender and I think this is because it's cushioned by the soft sweeter notes of the vanilla and tonka, along with iris which pairs beautifully with the lavender. At times I smell a dry almond note which could be from the coumarin. There are notes of jasmine to add a sweet floral touch. Wassler has a nice touch with jasmine and created one of my favorite jasmine perfumes for Guerlain, Aqua Allegoria Jasminora, sadly no longer available. A sandalwood note in the drydown adds to the creamy texture and as time wears on the perfume becomes like a blurry white musk.

I'm sure there is a market for those who want a gourmand perfume with the refinement of a Guerlain, which tips to the sweet side but doesn't take it too far . It remains to be seen if the lavender note will be liked or if it will be off-putting to consumers. As for the tie in with Angelina Jolie as spokeswoman, I am indifferent to celebrity ties in with products. I neither like or dislike her; I just don't care and to me the endorsement seems a terrific waste of money. I'm sure that Guerlain has a marketing team a whole lot smarter than me about these things who have figured that the celebrity exposure will pay off in the long run. What are your feelings about celebrities fronting perfume campaigns? Yay or nay?

Ultimately I like Mon Guerlain well enough, even though this category of perfumes is not one I normally seek out. The slight touch of lavender makes it more interesting to me, but if you aren't a lavender lover I would still give it a try as others have said the note doesn't stand out on their skin.


Photo and great recipe can be found at www.hintofvanillablog.com. Perfume sample from Saks Fifth Avenue.