Smelly Metal (Perfume Thoughts: Metallique, Tom Ford)

tf-metalThere’s  certain metallic note that I loathe – the one in Secretes Magnifique makes me hurl – so I was scared to try Tom Ford Metallique.  but this is Tom Ford, so I know that the scent will be beautiful – his perfumes never cross the line to weird, or quirky. Metallique’s ‘metal’ note comes from a major dosage of aldehydes and upon first spray that is what you get. The notes say you will also get Peruvian bergamot and pink pepper but it’s all packaged in a cold sequined dress, so it reads more glamour and couture. The heart of the perfume is gorgeous, concentrated on a white floral bouquet that pretty (lily of the valley and heliotrope) I can see a woman wearing this on her wedding day and it will fully complement the occasion and proceedings. At the same token, I also think a man can wear this with a tuxedo and it would be just as fitting. At some point, I feel that the perfume is turning sour on me, but it is not ‘turning bad’ sour, but more like a flower blooming under lights. And you know what? I like it. It may be the ambrette (musk mallow) or the non-gourmand vanilla that is doing this.  Metallique is definitely an interesting scent – it’s definitely unlike anything that’s out there in the market, and above all, it smells fantastic. I want a full bottle.

Smell Da Bomb (Perfume Thoughts: Pipe Bomb Intense, Blackbird)

pipe_bomb_intense_blackbird_edp_1024x1024Sometimes, in life, there are things you want but maybe you shouldn’t have because you know that you might regret t later on.  When I was in New York City, I wanted to make ti a point to visit my favorite perfume place there, Aedes des Venustas. I knew them when they were at their old location in Christopher Street in the West Village, but they have now moved to the Lower East Side by Chinatown. The place is just as marvelous – once you step in, you will feel like you wandered into a store in the Left Bank of Paris – all opulence, all ornate antique, there is a giant peacock figure in the middle of the store. While it felt completely in place with the Bohemian lavishness of the Village, now its richness feels even more pronounced, and in a way heightened. Right at the corner you have a fish market, and six stores down you have this store, all chi chi, selling the bells jars of Serge Lutens. I don’t know if I can love it even more. I was speaking to Karl Bradl and he said that when they first opened the store in the Village in 1995 it wasn’t as populated as it is now, and he feels quite at home in the quaintness of the LES. I agree.

I wanted to sample scents that are exclusively theirs, and while I think a lot of the new releases they have there are interesting, I was drawn to this new line called Blackbird. They have very interesting aesthetic. They are based in Seattle and is very progressive, emphasizing earth and nature and climate change, among other things. They also like to push the envelope, and you can see that from the first scent I tried from their line, called Pipe Bomb. loom at its description: the scent of lightning as it pummels the earth, the scent of metal heated and electrified, the scent of water as it sparks and bubbles its energy. And the notes: saltwater smoke, amber, and oud.

It’s all a bit much and intricate and complex, and you can smell that from the first spray. For a while, it felt like there was too much going on. There is that gunmetal note that I normally dislike, there is a lot of woodsy incense, and it is very rich, and this is definitely on the smoky side. It was a warmish high 70s day, and it felt…hot. But as it settled down, the dry down was a rich incense-y oud, and it is glorious. It was on the strong side, but it felt and smelled good on me. For the rest of the day, I found myself wanting to smell it over and over again. I decided it was going to be a keeper.

But then I woke up, as if from a dream? Will this work for me in Los Angeles,where it is nice and airy and spacious? In the confines of the grit of new York City, it felt at home, but probably not as I walk through gardens as I walk to work. And that is when I realized it may be fine there, but it doesn’t fit my life anymore.

Or should just rebel and follow my heart anyway?

Why Don’t We Try A Slow Dance (Perfume Thoughts: Slow Dance, Byredo)

slowdThere is a Barry Manilow song that I love called ‘Why Don’t We Try A Slow Dance,’ and I think it is most romantic. I think of it as a moment when you have just met someone, ad you go to the dance floor and have danced a couple of fast songs. And after getting a slow song comes on and you look at each other and say, ‘you wanna try this one?’  It comes at a moment when a flirtation levels up to something a little more, and there’s that exhilarating possibility of…something. That song captures that moment, and when I saw that ‘Slow Dance’ was the title of the new Byredo scent, I wondered if the perfume will capture that as well.

Jerome Epinette is the nose for this perfume and the inspiration is from ‘a high school dance, a heady collision of innocence and experience, of knowing and not knowing.’  Well, I don’t know about that. The scent feels pretty mature to me, and is quite sophisticated smelling. The top notes are supposedly opoponax and cognac, hardly stuff at the school gym. I get some kind of berries that dominate (well, maybe that’s the punch at the gym) and some vanilla. But this doesn’t go gourmand – there’s geranium here, and some sweet violets. It’s all very transparent, too, but not fleeting. The one spritz I had on my arm lasted a very long time, and I found myself wanting to sniff it over and over. Yes, I kind of fell for this – it’s hefty enough for colder weather days, but feels gauzy and clear. I thought it kind of smelled a little incense-y or woodsy but not overly so. It smells very Byredo-ish, and fits perfectly with their aesthetic. And above all, it smells heavenly.

A Barley Bouquet (Perfume Thoughts: Poppy & Barley, Jo Malone)

375x500.56152Jo Malone’s new release ‘Poppy & Barley,’ sounded familiar. And sure enough, it is a from an earlier limited edition collection (English Fields) I thought that maybe I had it already, but I don’t – it’s from the collection that came out when I was in the middle of my ‘big move,’ so I had a lot in my mind then and couldn’t pay attention.

Apparently poppies do not have a smell, so Mathilde Bijaoui, who signed this, created an accord of ‘green notes and red roses’ to express the colors of the flower. My first impression is that this is very unlike the aesthetic of the brand. It smells like perfume – a little on the potent and heavy side compared to the mostly light Jo Malone offerings. It is richly floral – the rose is there and well blended with some violets. There are some figs and black currants that makes it slightly juicy and tart but it’s all well blended – they do not stand out unless you look for them. As I mentioned earlier, there is some heft to this scent, and that’s part of the reason why I like it. It smells like a perfume with a capital P.  It has some personality and I bet it blends well with Southern California weather.

Weather Leather (Perfume Thoughts: Bel Ami Vetiver, Hermes)

375x500.22616Is there such a thing as ‘old man’ fragrance, akin to when someone describes a woman’s fragrance as old-ladyish. If so, Hermes’ original Bel Ami probably fits that bill. I love the original’s leather richness, with just the right amount of dirtiness to make it rugged and earthy. But I bet it doesn’t really have a lot of fans beyond the die-hard users and perfumistas. So voila, Jean Claude Ellena was tasked to do a more modern interpretation of this in 2013, and he added a note that would make it instantly wearable for today’s standards: vetiver.

And I have to say that it works. The sparkling effervescent note is just the thing that makes this a lot more accessible. The leather is still there, tan and masculine as it always has been, and the spice is a little bit toned down – the cumin is faint though the civet still lingers. Still, this is perfect for someone like me who lives in Southern California – there’s enough classic fragrance here with just the dash of modern element.

A Pause For La Pausa (Perfume Thoughts: 28 La Pausa, Les Exclusifs de Chanel)

375x500.7131There I was a time I was obsessing over Chanel’s Les Exclusifs Collection, and some of them interested me more than others. I do have samples of most of them, and I found them the other day so I am re-testing.

28 La Pausa is named after Coco Chanel’s French Riviera Estate. She spent her vacations there, and the grounds were full of iris flowers. So yes, this is an iris-centric perfume. It is not the rooty or paper-y kind, though. This is a very refined iris, reminiscent of the flower on a summer’s day – it is bright and cheery, more natural but not earthy. You can tell its ingredients are tops, and it smells ‘expensive,’ if there is such a thing.

It’s also kind of boring, and no wonder it did not make an impression on me then as full bottle worthy. Add to that, it’s very faint. I almost finished my generous sample and an hour later, I can barely smell it. I get a whiff every now and then, but perfume wise, I like to smell what I am wearing.

Chanel Classic (Perfume Thoughts: 31 Rue Cambon, Les Exclusifs de Chanel)

375x500.4178531 Rue Cambon is the boutique where Coco Chanel started the House of Chanel, and to this day her legacy stands there. So of course the perfume that would be named for that address has to be grand. And yes, 31 Rue Cambon is. When someone says a perfume smells French, this is what I envision that perfume to smell. It is a modern chypre, without the oakmoss, but you do not miss it. Jacques Polge, who signs this perfume, has crafted a modern perfume that feels and more importantly, smells like a classic.

It starts with a floral bouquet of iris, jasmine, ylang ylang, rose, and is fuzzed out by Chanel’s trademark aldehydes. It smells very Chanel, and at times, I feel like I am sniffing Chanel no 5. In my younger years, I probably would have called this very ‘old lady’ like, but now that I am older, I cherish it because it smells like a perfume you would wear when you want to wear perfume. It is a little ‘formal,’ I think, and I don’t know if it fits me wearing it while I buy groceries at Trader Joe. But with a nice cashmere sweater, this more than fits.