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Roses Volume I

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Guys, I’ve made a sort of New Year’s promise to myself (not resolution – because I always break my resolutions): this is the year when I am going to plow through that large stack of samples I have lying around the house. The rose perfume stack is especially high, so I’m going to write a series of Rose Volumes until all the samples are gone and I have a better idea of which ones make my top ten wish list, and which do not.

Lipstick Rose by Frederic Malle

Lipstick Girls

A beautiful swirl of jammy violet ionones, rose, and iris whipped up into the classic scent of a high-end waxy lipstick – what’s not to like? It aims for a lighthearted cheerfulness and stays there, not changing or progressing much in its lifetime on the skin, save for a brief flash of sharp, soapy grapefruit that (mercifully) drops back once the topnotes have dissipated. KEEP ON READING

Rania J. Oud Assam – Excellent Starter Indian Oud

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Oud Assam smells (to me) like real Indian oud oil tinctured in perfumer’s alcohol, bracketed by a simple bitter orange note on top and a fresh, mossy note on the bottom. This pared-back approach allows all the complexities of the Indian oud used to come out and show themselves – the leather, the woods, the funk, the cheese, the rot, and the sour tang of moldy earth. It’s pretty close to being an oudiflore.

The extent to which you’ll find the oud in Oud Assam dirty depends on your level of experience with real oud. If you’re used to the Montale type of oud (plasticky, band-aid-y, rubbery, or even paint-thinner-ish), then Rania J.’s version might have you running for the hills screaming “Cow dung! Blue cheese!” If you’re coming at this from the perspective of Oud Palao, Leather Oud, and Oud Ispahan, which are all based on the aroma of smoking oud wood chips (rather than the oil), then this will also be quite a departure. But if you’ve smelled real oud oil, and especially Indian (Hindi) oud, then you’ll sniff Oud Assam and say to yourself, “Damn, but they sure put the real stuff in here.” KEEP ON READING

My favorite cinnamon-laced offerings of the season

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Food & Drink
Download x768 cinnamon, sticks, crumbs, tubules HD background image

For the past four months or so, I have had a love affair with the note of cinnamon. Right around this time of the year, it’s unmistakably EVERYWHERE, but I still yearn to smell it at home, on my person, in the car, on the next person, etc. I guess I have been in preparation mode for holiday season  all along—I would not mind a stack of cinnamon sticks with string threaded through them in my stocking.*winks* No need for that, when I have fragrances to fill the void, so here are my favorite cinnamon heavy offerings, which I am somehow, completely enamored with this festive time of the year. KEEP ON READING

Molinard Habanita: A Giant in a Field of Gnats

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Science & Technology
Guy Smoking A Cigarette

Habanita is a giant in a field of gnats.

But man, it took me ages to understand it, let alone enjoy it. At first, I was repulsed. It smelled harsh to me. Indistinct and muddy – like a fistful of wet, mulched leaves. There was a sticky grey -brown cast to it that lent it a slightly glum feel. Who the hell wants to smell like this, I thought to myself.

But something kept making me want to wear it, and now, with time, I’ve come to love it. And I don’t mean love it from a distance. No, I actually wear Habanita once a week. Coming from a gal with as many perfumes as I have, that should tell you something. KEEP ON READING

Honey Aoud- Cinnahoneyoud

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I am not usually enthralled easily when it come to new and random sniffs, but this here Honey Aoud has me all kinds of wound up. When does a house (Montale) take your three favorite notes and then buries a free kick that defies the laws of psychics- for the win? Never. Whenever I see three of my favorite notes in a pyramid, it’s never a home run, game-winning shot or anything to marvel at. Well, enough negativity,

What has recently arrived on my desk in my trans-Atlantic bag of goodies is Montale’s Honey Aoud. One of Montale’s 2,500 offerings.. I kid, what are we on 110? This is the first one I’ve taken to like a mosquito at a picnic. KEEP ON READING

Oud Satin Mood by Maison Francis Kurkdijan: A Middle Eastern Sweet

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White rose esti- / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Oud Satin Mood by Maison Francis Kurkdijan is a big, fat Middle Eastern sweet, the kind that is doused in rose syrup, thickened with salep, aromatized with mastic, sprinkled with rosewater and pistachios, and then, finally, dusted with a thick layer or five of powdered sugar so thick your teeth leaves indents in it.

Which means, of course, that I love it.

How could I not? I live in a country so thoroughly marked by a Turkish occupation in the late 1500s that every second word in the food vocabulary is Turkish. And since Turkish cuisine is influenced also by high Persian cuisine, we have quite a few Persian woods for food too. Lokum (Turkish delight), halva, tulumba (fried cakes doused in honey syrup), baklava, sutlias (rice pudding) and many, many others – well, you get the picture. KEEP ON READING

34 Boulevard St. Germain by Diptyque: Easy Parisian Chic

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Off the Boulevard Shawn Clover / Foter / CC BY-NC

34 Boulevard St. Germain by Diptyque is one of the reasons I am glad I don’t have access to many new perfumes where I live. It was greeted with such dismissal in the blogosphere – a collective sneer or a collective yawn depending on which blog you read – that it might well have colored my judgment had I been able to test it there and then. Instead, as always, I came to this perfume several years after it was released and with absolutely no expectations one way or another.

I first smelled it in a department store in Dublin in August 2013, heavily pregnant and making a mad dash around the shops to collect “essentials” before my two-year-old son awoke from his nap. We had left him in the car with his grandmother, whom I absolutely insist volunteered for the job (no matter what she says). It was my first real crack at a well-stocked perfume department in years, because, as I think I’ve mentioned, I live in Montenegro, which is about ten thousand kilometers away from the nearest niche perfumery. KEEP ON READING

Maison Francis Kurkdijan Oud Cashmere Mood: Post-Apocalyptic Oud

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Going from Maison Francis Kurkdijan’s Oud to his Oud Cashmere Mood is a bit of a shock. For one thing, whereas Oud is soft and subtle, Oud Cashmere Mood has the volume turned up 150% and must be dabbed on with extreme caution unless you want your whole house fumigated. But more surprising is Oud Mood Cashmere’s complete departure from the sedate prettiness I experienced in the original Oud. This is one Kurkdijan fragrance that’s not afraid to come out of the bottle all ugly and beaten up. It’s Charles Bronson to Oud’s Leslie Howard. KEEP ON READING

Maison Francis Kurkdijan Oud: SmoOooooouuuud

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I admit to feeling slightly aggrieved. How is it possible that nobody told me about this wonderful perfume before? Or, as is more likely, did someone tell me and did I immediately file it away under the general category of Just Another Oud?

I’m used to the full range of synthetic oud accords used in most Western style perfumery, including the medicinal, alcoholic burps of oud used by Montale, the smoked wood feel of the stuff used in the Dior Privee and Guerlain Deserts lines, and the sometimes oily, acrid approximations used by everyone else from Mancera to Tiziana Terenzi. I enjoy and own a number of these renditions. But I admit that I do have to be in the mood for the coarse honk of synthetic oud. It is a particularly brutalizing kind of note. KEEP ON READING

Black, Blue, Brown, Red and White: The United Colors of Montale

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There are 104 Montale fragrances registered in the Fragrantica database, all of which were released in the last eight years. It is impossible to keep up, so I am just going to give a brief rundown of some of the most popular ones (well, the only ones I’ve tried outside of Aoud Cuir d’Arabie, that is, but I  refuse to talk about that one).

Blue Amber: Ambers, and especially vanillic ambers, are the comfort blankets of the perfume world for me, so I have to constantly be on guard against my Pavlovian response to them (basically, sit, roll over, and present tummy for rubbing), otherwise I’d end up with ten bottles of minute variations on the same theme. My response to Blue Amber’s big, dopey play-dough amber is initially the predictable one – I want to roll around in it. Done in the Montale style – rich, slightly synthetic, and none too subtle – it has the potential to be someone’s baby bear porridge of the amber category. Weight-wise, it sits between the sheer woody-rose amber of Histories de Parfums’ Ambre 114 and the heavier, more aromatic Ambre Precieux by MPG. Blue Amber is nicely balanced – its toffee and whiskey opening is cut with a huge dose of that icy bergamot oil Montale uses in their aoud compositions, and a big saltmarsh vetiver note in the base adds a pleasing shot of brine. Salt and lemon are very effective palate cleansers. Still, my wallet is safe. It is very nice but, in the end, nothing exceptional. Ambre 114 satisfies me on the sheer amber side, and Ambre Russe is my heavy hitter for winter. Having established – after much trial and error – my North and my South of the amber territory, I am finding it easier to dismiss contenders that fall in the middle. KEEP ON READING

Parfumerie Generale Coze: Finger Licking Good

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Today is the birthday of Pierre Guillaume (he of Parfumerie Generale fame), and I would just like to say two things. First of all, joyeaux anniversaire! And also, thank you so much for making Coze.

Coze smells like someone picked up the nicest smelling things in the world – coffee, pepper, dark chocolate, hash resin, patchouli – and shoved them into a perfume. Well, that’s not entirely true, because that implies that this perfume was a happy accident, whereas, in truth, Coze is a great example of a perfume that pulls off a complicated balancing act without alerting the wearer to its complex underpinnings. In other words, it’s a smart, quasi-gourmand whose genius occurs to you when you choose to look at it closely. KEEP ON READING

Sweet like Chocolate: All Things Brown and Fudgy

in Reviews/Thoughts by

So, chocolate-themed fragrances. I am more of a fan of animalic chypres and orientals myself. There are times, though, when I do get a craving for a perfume that smells just like chocolate. It is very low-brow of me, I know. But what can I say – the desire exists, so I frequently (more frequently than I would like to admit) order samples of fragrances with chocolate notes. Here are a few of my recent explorations into this particular note.

Chocolate Greedy by Montale

I am not too sure if I am attracted to, or repulsed by Montale’s Chocolate Greedy. Perhaps it is the fact that, on me, Chocolate Greedy is as much about the smell of wheat as it is about the chocolate. Specifically, Chocolate Greedy opens on an orange-chocolate-wheat note that is strongly reminiscent of a brand of low-fat chocolate digestive cookies marketed to women, called Wellness. These cookies have a thin scraping of (low quality) baking chocolate, a hint of orange, and a flat, dry biscuit with a very leaden, ‘wheaten’ texture. These cookies are cynically marketed as the type of product women can scoff down with no feelings of guilt while trying to ‘reduce’. All utter bollocks, of course, because they contain something like 150 calories each, and when women do this to themselves, it morphs from cynical misogynism into willful masochism. Anyway, the opening is kind of wheat-y in a way that instills shame and self-loathing in me, no Wellness biscuits required. KEEP ON READING

Rose Gold Oudh: Standing Out in a Crowded Field

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I’m just going to come out and say it: of all the rose-oud combinations that currently exist (and it is a very crowded field), Rose Gold Oudh by Tiziana Terenzi is by far the best. It is one of those fragrances that is so blindingly good that it makes you want to throw about a dozen bottles out of your collection and start again from scratch. It makes me regret the lesser versions of this genre that I’ve settled for over the last few years. But it also gets me excited about a style (rose-oud-patchouli combinations) that I thought had no gas left in the tank. KEEP ON READING

How to Smell Like a Manly Man: Ron Burgundy Fragrances

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Ok, ok, so the title is firmly tongue-in-cheek. I am a firm believer in the concept of wearing what you like regardless of the gender designation of said fragrance. And men should of course wear what they like. I wear some masculines myself, among them Dior Homme Intense and Caron’s Third Man, and applaud any man who breaks out of the generic masculine mold to wear florals and gourmands.

But let’s say, hypothetically speaking, you want to deliberately project a certain type of Alpha Maleness to your immediate surroundings – well, you’d need a fragrance so incontrovertibly male that wimmenfolk would instinctively shrink away and lesser men would sniff the air around you and immediately hit the ground in a submissive position. Here is a list of fragrances that would do the job just fine. KEEP ON READING

Dior Homme Parfum: French with an Arab Accent

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Full disclosure: I love Dior Homme Intense. It’s one of my favorite perfumes ever, not just my favorite masculine. So when I learned that Francois Demarchy, Dior’s in-house perfumer and the man behind Eau Sauvage Parfum (2012) and Fahrenheit Le Parfum (2014), was going to turn possibly the most beloved of Dior men’s fragrances into a pure parfum, I was both worried and excited.

On the one hand, Demarchy has met a gap in the men’s market for pure parfum versions of classic scents, and has done so competently and to general critical acclaim. On the other hand, when perfumers take on the task of working backwards and producing a pure parfum version of an original EDT or EDP (when it was traditionally the other way around), it must be as difficult as taking an orphaned baby, extracting it’s DNA, and extrapolating backwards to arrive at a picture of its mother that will seem convincing to everyone. It’s a journey that’s fraught with difficulties. KEEP ON READING

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