London Pepper (Perfume Thoughts: Apuldre, Molton Brown)

26132557-5353London has been on my mind lately. I just bought my plane tickets for my yearly big vacation, and it looks like I will be passing by London again this year, in July.  So today I wore Apuldre, by Molton Brown.  This brand makes Black Pepper shower gel, and it is my favorite shower gel of all time.  Years ago, I was in London and the brand was launching a line of fragrances, called ‘Navigations Through Scents,’ which is a series of perfumes that represent different parts of the world. One of them spoke to me instantly: Apuldre.  And big surprise why it did – first of all, it is the one that represented London, and secondly, this is the scent that most resembled the black pepper shower gel (In fact, they layer marvelously together)

Apuldre is peppery vetiver.  Meant to evoke the British countryside, the notes say juniper berrys, dried leaves, and gin and tonic, among other things. But all you need to know is that it is the smell of green leaves with pepper. I know that on paper it does not sound like the most appealing fragrance on earth, but I swear once you sniff it, you will be hooked. If you like pepper on your fragrances, you will be hooked at first sniff. It was a hot day at the desert today, and even though you would think this is the last fragrance to put on, I found its warmness a perfect antidote to indoor air conditioning. My only complaint is that the scent does not last, but overspray and you will be fine.

I remember buying this in London at the Molton Brown store near Oxford Street, and I am suddenly excited about what scent will represent my 2017 trip.

Jasmine Sport (Perfume Thoughts: Indian Night Jasmine, The Body Shop)

Indian_edtI am a jasmine-oholic.  Whenever I chance upon a jasmine scent, i always at least sample it. A while back, I got The Body Shop’s Indian Night Jasmine Eau de Toilette when they had it on a clearance rack, and I quickly filed it, never used it, never even sniffed it. And yesterday, while looking through my bottles, saw it, and spritzed it for the day.  According to their website blurb, this fragrance was “inspired by a moonlit night in a Mughal garden,” and how exotic does that sound, right?  Since this is, in reality, a ‘cheapie,’ I wasn’t expecting much. But shouldn’t I? I mean, Diane Von Furstenberg’s ‘Tatiana’ is a wonderful drug store scent, although I really I have not sniffed the current reformulation of it.

But this one, though – it’s just bad. The initial burst is jasmine-ish, but more on the chemical cheap kind. It very quickly dissolves into the base – and what is it – a generic sandalwood base musk, not unlike a men’s departments store ‘sport’ cologne. I have seen a lot of people complain about the longevity of this, but let me tell you, it’s been hours and I still smell this generic base. You would never have thought this was a floral scent. So, essentially, FAIL!

The Scent Of Going Away From Me (Perfume Thoughts, Superstitious, Frédéric Malle x Alber Elbaz)

alber-e2The idea of Frédéric Malle x Alber Elbaz is so wonderful – “a grand aldehydic floral” – that I wanted to sample it just as I finished reading that description. Even its name is alluring: Superstitious. The notes, as described are as follows: Turkish rose, Egyptian jasmine, peach, apricot skin, labdanum resinoid, sandalwood, Haitian vetiver, patchouli, mask.

That’s a lot right there, and when you first spritz Sueperstitious, you kind of smell all of them right away. My skin always skews sweeter, so I got a little more peach and ‘apricot skin,’ which, I am guessing, is its rind? It’s not too sweet on me, and I particular like its dryness. But maybe because I am in a dry climate area that the aldehydes – here it is fizzy and soapy – came out so strong that it  smelled way too clean on me – and you know I don’t like clean. Even Louise, my Malle Sales assistant, said “this is turning a little more soapy on you.’ And yes, she is right, I was laughing with her because on me, it smelled like I bathed in Dial Soap – the orange one – and my skin smelled freshly-soaped as if I just stepped out of the shower. I thought, well yes, that’s an interesting idea, but is this idea worth its price point. Honestly, I gave up and put it on my ‘close, but no cigar list.’

Then I got home, and I started smelling it on me again. And the long dry down (about a couple of hours later) proved to be much more appealing. Yes the clean aldehyde apricot Dial soap accord is still there but there was also something that jolted me – a cold incense note that is quite wonderful, smoky sweet and quite unique. And my heart started to palpitate – wow that Dominique Ropion is a genius Elbaz himself described the perfume as such: “the perfume of a dress, the silhouette that lingers after it has left a room,” and I get what he is saying (it’s not just flowery press release after all)

Superstitious is a great gauzy soapy scent that maybe too much when it is there, but is haunting when it starts to leave. And I am madly in love again.

 

Pretty Petals (Perfume Thoughts: Star Magnolia, Jo Malone)

o.46764Jo Malone is known for their simple, minimalist packaging so when my SA sent me a picture of their new limited edition release, I was gladly impressed because the bottle for Star Magnolia had – wait for this – petals!  Look at the picture on the right  – isn’t it just magnificent? I am such a sucker for marketing and packaging, I admit.

Thank God the juice is as magnificent. I have always been a fan of the magnolia flower note and Anna Flipo delivers a big beautiful magnolia here. It is an interesting magnolia too – in the beginning you get a lemon citrus blast with it, and then it dries down to a nice dewy magnolia. In the desert where I live it is proving to be most welcome. I know that the drydown has sandalwood to round the note, but I don’t even smell it on me, as I only get the magnolia and some laundry musks. There is a lot of ‘fabric softener’ in the end, to be honest, but I can easily accept it.

This is yet another winner for Jo Malone, which is really on a streak lately.

In The Bloom Of The Night (Perfume Review: Alexander McQueen Eau De Parfum)

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Sarah Burton released her first perfume for Alexander McQueen last year, and surprise of all surprises, I just sniffed it recently. and I think it was because the earlier pure parfum version was priced at four hundred dollars (The Sales Associate at Saks corrected me: “It’s actually three hundred ninety five”) and I told myself, there was no way I was going to pay that kind of money, so why bother sampling. But now she has come up with a ‘lighter’ Eau de Parfum version, with affordable price points, and of course I happily tested the scent.

First of all, this isn’t the Alexander McQueen’s brand anymore, and it reflects. This isn’t Kingdom by McQueen at all, and I don’t know if Alexander McQueen would have released this kind of perfume. Like Burton’s design, the perfume still feels couture, but it’s streamlined and not nearly as out there as Alexander’s designs. That said, I truly loved this, because it is a beautiful big white floral perfume that’s well-balanced, and really refined and classy.

Alexander McQueen Eau de Parfum has notes of three night-blooming flowers – Sambac Jasmine, Tuberose, and Ylang Ylang. And that really is it. On my skin, it starts ff with those notes but with just a bit of citrus to freshen the top notes. Then the flowers bloom, and on me the jasmine is front and center. This is a very refined Jasmine – nothing indolic here – but it isn’t a shy one – this one is in full bloom. It is a beautiful jasmine – one you can out on Sarah Burton’s gown – it’s controlled and everything is blended so only the beauty comes out. The tuberose is also rich, and there are sniffs when you get a hint of it – slightly coconuty. The ylang ylang provides just the right greeness to edge it out. This is a beautiful floral perfume – not as loud as Fracas, a little more ordinary than Carnal Flower. As I said, I loved it instantly and as I walked around wearing it, the perfume made me feel like I was wearing something beautiful and couture. It’s not screechy enough that it could actually be very office friendly, and I bet people will say wow that’s a rich perfume you are wearing.

Many reviews have likened it to Madonna’s Truth Or Dare, and that could be true, although I trust McQueen would have better material. If you have Madonna’s and you love it, this will feel like an upgrade, but then again test this and you may feel like that will suit you enough (especially if big white florals scare you, and that is understandable) For me, though, this is a wonderful big white floral that is accessible enough, and expensive-smelling enough. It’s not quite as unique, but still decadent and expensive-smelling. I do admit that the EDP bottle is not as beautiful as the Parfum bottle with its gold-plated leaf, but this will more than suffice.

Black Cherry (Perfume Thoughts: La Petite Robe Noire, Guerlain)

233638I have a small (50 ml) bottle of La Petite Robe Noire in my wardrobe and I don’t know where it came from. I mean, I know I probably bought it somewhere, surely when it first came out, but I have been jotting my memory and I really cannot remember anything. And the scent has languished in the back of my neglected bottles, so it must not have mad a strong impression with me when I first got it. So today, on Black Saturday, I might as well write about Guerlain’s olfactory version of the little black dress.

The main thing I smell here is cherry – cherry, cherry, and more cherry. That is the first burst I get, along with something a little boozy. I know it develops to something woodsy after – maybe the generic amber and clean patchouli, but still the cherry lingers. And then it’s gone. This is one of those fragrances that my skin just eats up. Here I am around three hours after I spritz it, and I cannot smell anything at all. Maybe that’s why it didn’t make any impression on me the first time ’round?

But I guess more than anything, I was disappointed because this was Guerlain, after all. They made Mitsouko. They made Apres L’ondee. I know that with this release they are trying to reach the younger generation but to me, as a perfume, it is so dumbed down. But then maybe the joke is on me – this is proven to be a world wide best seller.  It just seems like a missed opportunity for me – the concept is ripe for greatness. I just think, in my mind, what Chanel would have done with the same idea. But then again….

Coasting for Mandarin (Perfume Thoughts, Mandarino di Amalfi, Tom Ford Private Collection)

tomford_mandarinodiamalfi002One of my favorite places in the world is the Amalfi Coast.   Those winding roads, the gorgeous sunsets, the limoncellos everywhere – they all make an unforgettable experience. And there are a lot of colognes that have been inspired by that region. One of my favorite niche brands, Carthusia, is based there. So even though Tom Ford’s ‘Mandarino di Amalfi’ promises mandarins in the title, I thought it would also evoke limoncellos, the citrus most associated with the regions.

But ‘Mandarino di Amalfi’ is mandarins through and through. It is basically a cologne, but this is quality cologne, and heavier and richer. Calice Becker is the nose for this scent, and she never does anything small – the orange blossom here is sweet and she even fills it up with basil and mint. It is nice and it smells expensive. But at Tom Ford’s prices, you ask yourself if it is worth it. You can get Dior’s Eau Savage and more or less get the same effect – although with grapefruit as the star note. I didn’t buy my bottle of Mandarino di Amalfi. I got it as a gift and honestly, if I were to buy something from Tom Ford’s Private Collection, I don’t think I would ever have chosen this. But I appreciate it, and on a hot summer day, this would be fantastic.