Saturday, November 17, 2018

Cheap As Chips: Roberto Cavalli EDP

Have you ever heard the phrase, "Cheap as Chips"? I first heard it when I started dating my future husband who was Australian. I put it down to other funny words and phrases he used, like jumper (sweater or sweatshirt), carpark (parking lot), bogan (trashy people), chook (chicken), dummy (pacifier), fringe (bangs), torch (flashlight), well, you get the idea. I think many of these phrases have British roots and Cheap as chips is a phrase I heard used a lot in Australia. There is even a chain of stores with this name, akin to what we call the Dollar Store in my area of the USA. It's a phrase I've adopted for its succinct descriptiveness and the ease with which it rolls off the tongue. It occurred to me recently that the vast majority of scents, mostly niche, that I write about are very expensive and I am verging on becoming a scent snob, so I decided to start a series on inexpensive scents that are fun to wear. This new series will be called Cheap As Chips, and the fragrances I talk about will be under $100 and usually readily available for far less at the discount sellers.

Roberto Cavalli is an Italian fashion designer best known for his proclivity in using animal prints in his designs, and as the creator of sandblasted jeans. He is the grandson of a well known Italian painter, Giuseppe Rossi. Today in addition to his designer line he has a men's line and the brand Just Cavalli, aimed at the youth market. His signature, though, is the animal print design and in particular, leopard prints. One of his quotes on his use of animal prints: "I copy the dress of an animal because I love to copy God. I think God is the most fantastic designer." 

A Cavalli design

Cavalli sold his perfume line to Coty sometime around 2012 and Roberto Cavalli EDP was one of the first releases. The box gives a nod to Cavalli's leopard print style.  It is sometimes referred to as Roberto Cavalli Signature, to distinguish it from the many other perfumes that now bear his name. I came across an old sample of Roberto Cavalli eau de parfum while cleaning out my boxes of perfume samples and decided to give it a try.

I sprayed the sample which is goodness knows how many years old with zero expectations, and for a moment I thought my low expectations would be met. Not much happened. But then in just a minute a lovely syrupy African Orange Flower note began to unfold, and cocooned in a soft cushiony amber-like blanket.  My first thought was did this resemble Elie Saab perfume which is an orange blossom powerhouse, but when I sprayed them side by side they are quite different. Elie Saab features the radiance of the orange blossom while Roberto Cavalli EDP uses it as part of recipe for an Oriental-style perfume. Benzoin, vanilla, and tonka are used to create this balsamic amber effect. As I've stated before in reviews, the vanilla and tonka combination can be absolutely beautiful but too much is like eating cotton candy with a bad tooth. Here in Roberto Cavalli EDP  I think the perfumer, Louise Turner, got it right. I love big scents so for me this is a softer oriental which I would be as comfortable wearing during the day as at night, but I can imagine that those used to frequenting lighter scents could find this titanic. I find it to be a cozy scent  but at the same time throwing off some sex appeal. It think it does a pretty good job of alluding to the leopard print wear for which Cavalli is famed. It is a warming scent but alluring and to me it seems to cast a golden glow. I think it is scent where you get a lot of bang for the bucks. Have you tried any of the Roberto Cavalli scents?

Eartha Kitt

Top photo of Joan Collins a Google image. Perfume sample my own.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

By Kilian Woman In Gold and Gold Knight and Paris Atelier des Lumieres Exhibit

There is an immersion exhibit of painter Gustav Klimt's art in Paris at the Atelier des Lumieres, and when I was in Paris this summer it was on my "must do" list. I read the book The Lady In Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Anne Marie O'Connor when it came out a few years ago, and I really enjoyed the story of the origin of the painting, how it was stolen in the war years, and its eventual return. I am interested in books about World War II and this book was especially fascinating as it used the story of the Bloch-Bauer family's stolen art as a way to tell about the Nazi invasion of Austria.

Before the book and movie about his portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Klimt was probably best known for his painting The Kiss. It was also painted during Klimt's "Golden Period". These paintings were influenced by the art nouveau movement and additions of gold leaf and gilt were a defining element. The early 20th century was a time of wealth and culture for the Viennese Jewish community before it all went horribly wrong with the Nazi invasion, and these paintings capture some of the palatial style and grandeur of the era.

Klimt's art works are sumptuous, luxurious, and quite daring for the time, and it was bliss being surrounded by the various paintings, and small elements from the painting blown up to a giant size as they appeared on the huge walls, then melted into a kaleidoscope of shapes and colors, only to rush back like water falls of pattern and color, all to a background of Viennese waltz music. Eventually we just sat on the floor and let the art surround us, but when you first enter there is the sensation of swimming in the paintings. The exhibition was originally set to run from April 13 through November 11 ending this weekend, but due to its success it has been extended through January 6 so if you're anywhere near, go!

The perfume choice to wear to this exhibit was obvious, my sample vial of Woman In Gold by  Kilian which I had brought with me on the trip. Kilian Hennessy and perfumer Calice Becker sought to introduce a perfume which portrayed the gold leaf in the painting and the interplay between light and shadow in the artwork. Do you get an impression of color when you apply perfume? I sometimes do, and when I sprayed Woman In Gold I saw a luxurious purple, not gold. The scent gives the feeling of lavishness as the notes all smell rich and full, lending an air of opulence.

Woman In Gold opens with bergamot and mandarin orange notes but these don't come across as citrus, instead they are deep and oily like you are smelling a purer, richer version of the oil. Then you get a bit of aldehydes which gives the fragrance some lift. Heart notes of rose, vanilla, and tonka lend a rich almost syrupy sweetness. The rose note is definitely there but not in the way you would say, "Oh, a rose scent." It is used to add fullness and is well blended with the vanilla and tonka. For me the richness of the scent references the wealth and luxury of Klimt's patrons during the time frame the portrait would have been painted. Eventually base notes of patchouli and Akigalawood lend further depth. Akigalawood is a Givaudan trademark, and is a patchouli derivative with peppery notes and aspects of agarwood.

Overall, though I didn't see gold when I sprayed the scent, it does give a resplendent aura of wealth, culture, and luxury that defined early  20 century Vienna in the time period between the two great wars. This is initially a very strong scent so spray with care. I enjoyed wearing Woman In Gold, and I really can't imagine wearing it except in cooler weather as I feel it would radiate too strongly in heat. Me and tonka have a touchy relationship and a little goes a long way with me. There were times when I was wearing Woman In Gold that I was ready to say goodbye to the tonka scent, but when I awoke the next day there was still a reasonable trail of beautiful scent emitting from the skin on my wrist where I had sprayed, and it smelled really good on Day 2! The enamel box that comes with Woman In Gold is an homage to Klimt's style during his golden period, beautiful stuff if you can afford it. In researching this perfume, many people compared it to Tocade by Rochas which is a much cheaper alternative but I wasn't able to get my hands on any of this in time to do a direct comparison.

Gold Knight is the companion scent meant for the male market and it definitely does engender golden images due to the extremely heavy use of the honey note. I like the bergamot opening which is very different from its counterpart the Woman in Gold. It is brighter, fresher, and more light and sunny. It starts to become aromatic and then about ten minutes in the honey note starts coming on. Wow, the honey comes on thick and fast, picture a river of honey flowing toward you, enveloping everything in its sticky path. This is a woody vanilla scent with a patchouli base but for me, the honey dominates totally and it pretty quickly becomes a honey bomb on me. Yes, there is definitely the idea of a shimmering gold so perfumer Pascal Gaurin succeeded in that regard, but I am distracted by the edible factor in Gold Knight; it is almost too life like for me. However, if you have been searching for a perfume with a dominant honey note, welcome to your holy grail.

And finally, if you want to experience art in a new fantastical way, or if you are just an admirer of Klimt's work, get yourself to this exhibit before it closes at the beginning of 2019!

Photos and perfumes my own.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Happy Diwali! Celebrating With Jo Malone Jasmine Sambac and Marigold & Honeysuckle and Davana

Deepavali, or Diwali, depending on where you are, was always my favorite holiday in Singapore, and there they celebrated pretty much everything. I loved the colorful lights, I loved the warm and spicy Indian food--delicious and cheap as chips in Singapore's Little India community. As my husband and I moved from Singapore late last year, this will be the first time in fifteen years I've missed the lights and the celebration.

A couple of years ago I wrote My Marigold Scented Deepavali Perfumes: Profumum Roma Tagete and En Voyage Perfumes Tagetes Femme to commemorate this event.This year I'm doing something similar but surprisingly I am featuring reviews of the veddy veddy British Jo Malone, two of which inspire with references to India and the scents I encountered there years ago.

Is Jo Malone having a bit of an India moment or what? Romancing the memory of the British Raj era? For Jo Malone Jasmin Sambac and Marigold, a new addition to the Cologne Intense line, the perfume was actually inspired by the jasmine fields of south India. Jo Malone's Head of Fragrance Development (best job ever?), Celine Roux, and Master Perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui visited south India in 2016 and were inspired by the beautiful scent of the sambac jasmine and its use as an adornment for hair and as temple offerings. They also noticed the colorful orange and yellow marigolds that have great significance in Hindu worship. When I lived in India I always found it interesting how reverentially people treated the marigold, which is not really used in floral arrangements in the Western world.

I have always admired how Jo Malone fragrances sometimes twin two disparate notes, like hitting a discordant tune on a piano that somehow makes music. In the case of Jasmine Sambac and Marigold I think it works well. The first time I tried this perfume the marigold was very evident and really reminded me of scents in India. It added that slightly discordant note which makes the perfume more interesting and not just another jasmine, albeit a very lovely one. As for the jasmine, Ms. Bijaoui said her intention was to make that note as realistic as possible, and she added orange blossom and honey to achieve this luxuriant freshness and opulence of the jasmine petals. To bring warmth to the mix, in addition to the marigold she added vanilla, ylang ylang and benzoin. When the jasmine eventually loses some steam, these are the notes that keep the scent warmly generating a lovely scent for many more hours. Jasmine Sambac and Marigold is one of the more interesting from the line that I've tried in a while, but if you don't like jasmine I can't see this swaying you to buy.

When Honeysuckle and Davana Cologne was released earlier this year I was eager to try it because I love honeysuckle scents! (Go here and here to read more about that). The reason I thought to put this perfume, which Jo Malone markets as the quintessential English countryside fragrance, in a post on India and Diwali, is the addition of Davana to the perfume. 

The davana plant is native to southern India, the same place that had the fields of jasmine sambac that inspired Ms. Bijaoui and Ms. Roux. The davana flower and the oil that is gathered from the plant are known for a sweet and boozy odor, but it can show other aspects such as herbaceous, balsamic, woody and bittersweet. It is the bittersweet that interests me the most because that is the sensation I got when I first sprayed the cologne, along with the herbaceous note. It gives an interesting twist to the otherwise virginal honeysuckle note. When the honeysuckle appears it is very sweet, delicate and appealing. Jo Malone calls it a "sunny" fragrance and I would agree with that. Ultimately is goes to a mossy base note and on my skin becomes a bit muddled and indistinct at this point.

I enjoyed both of these perfumes and I have been known to be critical of Jo Malone, as some of their offerings I simply struggle to smell anything. Bear in mind that I am a huge white flower lover and factor that into my affection I'm showing to these two new offerings from the house of Jo Malone. Nevertheless I am encouraged that I have positive feelings and it makes me look forward to see what next they will produce.

Happy Diwali or Deepavali to those who celebrate and apologies for my lateness in posting, as the holiday is about to draw to a close.

Top photo Bottom photo Google image. Perfume sample my own.