eyeliner on a cat

eyeliner on a cat
beauty, scent & style scrutinized for pleasure

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Weekly Scent Round-up [April 24-30]

This past week, all I have been able to think about are iris. The scent, the flowers, root, even bulbs. Its presence in perfumery is that of a shapeshifter, playing a role as an actor would. Maybe it's more of a split-personality disorder. Are you earthy and complex, are you spicy or delicate? I will continue to chase iris around and around, until I've dismantled its mysteries- one petal (or dirty bulb) at a time.

Victoria at EauMG tells us about National Sense of Smell Day (which I didn't even know existed until recently) and shares with us some of her experiences growing up, and as a speech therapist for children, many of whom have sensory integration disorders.

There is a lovely review of Andy Tauer's Zeta at Scent Less Sensibilities, and there's a giveaway for a sample, too!

Birgit at Olfactoria's Travels reviews Chanel Coromandel, a fragrance I've been wanting to try for some time. I believe she's lit a fire under my rear-end.

Persolaise tells us about his experience at the new Dior Maison de Parfum at Selfridge's. The impressive service seems to be worth the trip alone.

Undina takes a look at a few Hermes fragrances in the Garden Series on Undina's Looking Glass, including one I've been wanting to try: Jean-Claude Ellena's Un Jardin Sur le Toit.

This coming week, I hope to write a lot and sniff a lot, not necessarily in that order.

[iris drawing from graphitegoddess.com]

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fifi Awards Consumer's Choice Voting Now Open, and a brief review of Aftelier Honey Blossom

The Fragrance Foundation 2011 Fifi Awards are now accepting online ballots for the Consumer's Choice Award. You have until Midnight on May 12th to cast your ballot. The awards are for your favorite Women's and Men's Fragrances, and will be announced on May 25th in NYC at the FiFi Awards Ceremony and online at the Fragrance Foundation's website.

This year, the amazing Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes is honored with three (count 'em, three!) nominations for her Honey Blossom, Candide and Lumiere fragrances. I believe that this signals a very important shift in consumer perception of natural fragrances. Natural fine fragrance exists, and perfumers like Mandy have set the bar very high.

I've had the pleasure of testing Honey Blossom (and have saved what I have left in my vial specifically for Spring), and that is the fragrance that got my vote this year. It is a linden-based honeyed perfume shot through with orange blossom and mimosa, anchored with a touch of ambergris and benzoin. It is the ONLY perfume aiming for honey that I've ever tried that does not turn sour or dusty on my skin. It is a revelation in rays of sunlight, the finest ingredients nature has to offer manipulated for one single goal: to create happiness.

While I would encourage anyone to support true artistry in natural fragrance and cast a vote for Aftelier Perfume Honey Blossom, the most important thing is that people vote. As a perfume-obsessed individual, I am happy to have a place to go where my vote is needed to let the best of the best shine.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Weekly Scent Round-up [April 16-23]

This Chick is Judging You

As I prepare for my Easter taco dinner (with  Peeps for dessert), I leave you with some great reading courtesy of a few fellow bloggers:

EauMG  reviews Aftelier's Rain Bath Oil, and I'm now coveting it to use in an oil burner (no baths are taken here).

Tarleisio at Scent Less Sensibilities espouses the joys of her dearly departed Black Candy, Yohji Homme. I'm on a mission to help her locate a bottle of it if I can.

Birgit over at Olfactoria's Travels conducts an interesting little experiment at home and also reviews Honore des Pres Love, Coco.

At Beauty on the Outside, Dee discusses Hermes Un Jardin Sur le Toit, Jean-Claude Ellena's "electric green" scent with a bit of "oddness". Color me intrigued.

Persolaise reviews L'Artisan's Coeur de Vetiver Sacre, and exchanges a few revealing words with Francis Kurkdjian.

Ines at All I Am- a Redhead gives us her criteria for how she chooses to buy a bottle or decant of a perfume. It's inspired me to want to join in the fun, I may post my own criteria soon!

Right here on eyeliner on a cat, I share my enthusiasm for my new favorite candle brand, Aura Candles. I love it when small businesses really get it right. The love and attention put into these candles make for some memorable scents and a beautiful home environment.

I hope everyone has a great week ahead of them!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

High Illumination: Aura Candles

In the past few months, I've had the chance to try three different fragrances of Aura Candles, and I've got lots of observations about the line to share.

First, the scent blends are interesting, imaginative and sophisticated, yet still hit that comfort sweet spot. I've burned Obscure [black ginger, musk, white pepper], Luscious [tangerine, vanilla, sandalwood, musk, amber], and Cosmic [blood orange, vanilla bean, vanilla orchid, amber]. I would buy each of them again in a heartbeat, but my favorite is far and away Cosmic. It's beautiful and delicate, a refreshing scent that I really can't get enough of. The scent throw on all three of the candles I have is excellent.

Second, I want to address the quality of the wax and packaging. These candles use a soy blend of waxes, and they burn evenly. They are each 10oz and last for about 70 hours. For $24 each, I consider Aura Candles to be a very good value. This is one of the benefits of supporting small businesses who get it right; you don't pay through the nose, plus you get a chic, beautiful candle. The clear glass vessels are basic, but clean-looking, with the Aura logo on the front. The cardboard circular outer packaging the candle comes in is very chic, and housed in the lid is an adorable little box of Aura matches.

One caveat: I generally like to use a wick dipper to put out my candles, but when I tried it with an Aura Candle, the wick was brittle and broke off. I know the wicks are lead-free, but I'm not sure why else this might happen. My advice would be just to blow out these candles to maintain the integrity of the wick, and trim as normal.

If you decide to try Aura Candles, you'll quickly see for yourself that they've thought of everything. I can easily spend at least twice as much somewhere to get a candle of equal quality, but it's going to be hard to get me to do that anymore. There are 10 fragrance blends in all, and I've got 7 still to try. What I've learned with Aura is that even some scents I've not traditionally liked in the past very much, such as some citrus notes, can be done in a home fragrance blend that really works for me. I know that I'm picky about candles and not easy to please, which is why it's made me very happy that Aura has so easily exceeded my expectations.

Candles are available for $24 each at Aura Candles' website and Candles Off Main.

An Open Letter to the Editor of Women's Health Magazine

An open letter to the editor of Women’s Health magazine
[written by Tarleisio of Scent Less Sensibilities, supported by the perfume bloggers listed at the end, and hopefully more to come!]

An article in the Beauty section of the April edition of Women’s Health, entitled ‘Your Perfect Scent’ was brought to my attention by a friend and fellow blogger, and several statements in the article as well as the overall tone compelled me to write you.

The article attempts to categorize women in a range of ages – from their teens until ‘40+’ according to perfume category, arguing that throughout their lives, women prioritize their fragrance choices differently and gravitate towards the perfumes that reflect those priorities. It then proceeds to cite various perfumes currently available that might appeal, and this is where I feel compelled to protest – both at the underlying assumptions that teenagers want to impersonate walking cupcakes, that women in their thirties wear perfume to feel ‘sexy and secure’ and finally the statement that women in their forties wear perfume to feel ‘elegant’.

Women at any age read magazines such as yours for information and inspiration in their lifestyle choices, and few of them are entirely aware that for print media in a competitive digital age, advertising revenue takes pride of place over relevant content. As a consequence of perfume being formulated to target certain demographics and as a result of what you choose to advocate in your editorial pages, the perfumes sold in department stores and mall chain stores are all indistinguishable from one another. One sweet, fruity floral scent segues seamlessly into the next sweet, fruity floral, and only the name of the designer on the label is interchangeable. So women are shortchanged from both sides of that equation – by the major designer houses that are often the only luxury these women can afford, and by the very magazines they read for inspiration promoting only the brands they already advertise on their pages.

The problem is that neither your readers in general nor women in particular are thrilled about being defined in demographic terms, any more than teenaged girls can be lumped into cupcake fragrance categories, women in their thirties need to feel ‘sexy or ‘secure’ or ‘forty+’ women – a term I personally find more than slightly condescending - want to be considered ‘elegant’ above all other reasons for wearing perfume.

What surprises me more than any other aspect of a very important issue in general, namely the stereotyping of women in the media, is that we live in an individualistic age. As women and as individuals, the opportunity to make individual choices that reflect our unique selves has never been greater, and this includes the very subject matter of your article – perfume. What is more, as social media change how we are informed and entertained and inspired to make those choices, creating and maintaining a dialogue with your readers is a valuable tool to retain the very readership that underlies your role in that media landscape, whether on a newsstand or on the Web.

There is a rich and invaluable resource available to any journalist interested in her subject matter – perfume blogs. We would quite happily have participated and in the process been thrilled to share what we know – that you are not doomed to ‘elegance’ simply for a diminished sense of smell – a claim I find quite unsubstantiated by scientific evidence in the article or in my personal experience, nor are you compelled to waft cupcake as a teenager, simply because there’s nothing else to choose from. There’s not too much else to choose from in the mainstream market because a tiny number of companies determine what scents land on department store shelves, and if one sweet, fruity floral scent becomes a success, it must therefore follow – so dictate the laws of the marketing briefs of these companies promoting this or that ‘exclusive designer’ – that only sweet, fruity, floral perfumes will do.

Women’s Health is a magazine that has a broad scope – to promote a healthy, happy and fulfilled lifestyle for its readership that goes beyond the usual stereotypical ‘women’s magazines’. Even so, when you attempted to inform your readers about a very personal choice, you fell victim to that precise stereotyping, and ignored a perfect opportunity to elevate your editorial content a bit above the stereotypical content of any other women’s magazine currently available.

Which is why we read you, after all.

Yours sincerely,
Carrie Meredith, perfume blogger at Eyeliner on a Cat

This letter has also been published on the following participating blogs:
Scent Less Sensibilities
Bloody Frida
Olfactoria's Travels
All I am - a redhead
Beauty on the Outside
Redolent of Spices

Friday, April 15, 2011

Starting something new: Weekly Scent Round-up! [April 9-15]

I've been wanting to do this for some time, and decided today is the day I start! I'm going to follow several of my blogging friends and do a weekly round-up, specifically relating to scent. Narrowing it down to fragrance will make it seem like a little less daunting of a task to start out.

It's been Blue Week at EauMG this past week (and it's Autism Awareness Month). Head over there to read her review of a cyborg amber, Montale Blue Amber.

At Scent Less Sensibilities, Tarleisio tells a captivating tale of a Roman holiday involving Puredistance Antonia.

I lived vicariously through Olfactoria's Travels this week, as she sashayed her way through fragrant adventures in one of my favorite cities, London.

Shock and horror is beheld at Beauty on the Outside... is Miss Dior no more?

Persolaise gives us his assessment of Andy Tauer's newest fragrance, Zeta. It sounds like it might be the perfect scent for Spring.

At All I Am- a Redhead, Keiko Mecheri's Scarlett is given a second chance, and the results are worth it. Her story serves as a reminder to give our sample collections another go 'round.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Living on the Edge: Caron Tabac Blond

Long before I tried Caron Tabac Blond Pure Parfum, part of me knew it was going to mean something to me. There are those perfumes that we have hyped up so much in our minds that it's next to impossible for it to live up to our imagined standards, but sometimes, there is an instinctual patience that kicks in. It's like meeting someone that you know will be your lover at some point, it's just a matter of when. Here I am today, about a year after I decided that I needed to try Tabac Blond, in the midst of my tryst, emotionally satisfied, mentally stimulated and plotting and planning how I'll get more.

Tabac Blond starts out brusquely, with a lot of spice (garnered mainly via the stunning carnation note), linden, and a very metallic edge. The heavy dose of raw leather quickly emerges and remains throughout most of the wearing. There is a beautiful surprise here: the cool edge of iris, and it really adds sophistication to the blend. A touch of vetiver, ylang ylang and lime tree leaf round out the heart notes. This is not a perfume for good girls. This is a perfume for women who wear leather jackets with studs, are not afraid of tattoos, have a lot of expensive black eyeliners and even more expensive shit-kicking boots, but it's not quite that simple. This is an energizing fragrance that has a distinctly feminine cast to it. I think this could work for the right man, but my guess is that that is a rare occurrence. The smoky sexiness of Tabac Blond lends itself well to a woman who is confident, comfortable with her feminine wiles and doesn't shy away from masculine tactics.

Tabac Blond appears as a carnation made of caramel leather, planted in dry tobacco leaves and cedar chips. With a steadfastly rich amber, patchouli, musk and vanilla base, it lasts forever on the skin. I wish I had worn  Tabac Blond on my wedding day six and a half years ago;  in lieu of a traditional wedding dress, I wore a tailored black Ralph Lauren tuxedo suit, black leather Givenchy stilettos with white contrast stitching, winged black eyeliner and my trademark black hair with short, blunt bangs. This would have been the perfect finishing touch.

[my small decant was purchased from The Perfumed Court. I wish I knew how/where to get a bottle, anyone have any suggestions?]

Friday, April 8, 2011

Annick Goutal Mandragore Pourpre

When I ordered a sample of Annick Goutal Mandragore Pourpre, I was expecting something intensely deep and spicy, of the Oriental variety. I was initially attracted by the Mandrake note, but I confess that I hadn't smelled Mandrake to my knowledge prior to testing this perfume. What Mandragore Pourpre ended up being for me, is more of a fresh-spicy scent, heavy on the anise.

Notes list:
Bergamot, mint, star anise, rosemary from Spain, geranium, black pepper, patchouli leaf, myrtle from Morocco, incense and heliotrope

Mandragore Pourpre is akin to a walk through the depths of a dense forest on a cool day, knowing that the sun is shining above the treetops, but being unable to detect it where you tread. This fragrance is frigid in temperature, and as the dry-down approaches, starts to develop a masculine leathery quality that is really quite beautiful.

The mint is subtle, but the anise is pervasive, and stayed with me for the entire duration of wear. After the scent settled on my skin about a half an hour after application, the leather (even though it's not listed in the notes, I can smell it on me) and incense merge to create a nice salty-balsamic base that I would venture to guess might work best on men. I can also swear I detect vetiver, but again, not listed.

The overall impression of Mandragore Pourpre is that of cool earthiness, it is a strange scent and it's very pretty, but it's not quite for me. I'm looking forward to trying more Annick Goutal scents, I do have a feeling there's at least one out there for me. 

Annick Goutal Mandragore Pourpre is available at several retailers, including Saks Fifth Avenue,100ml for $115.

[sample was purchased by me]

The Winner of the Haus of Gloi draw is...


Congratulations Undina, you have been chosen at random as the winner of a 6oz jar of  Haus of Gloi Pumpkin Butter in Aether. It's unfragranced, so it won't interfere with whatever fabulous perfume you're wearing at the time. Yet another reason to love it.

Please email your mailing address to eyelineronacat at gmail dot com, and I will get it out to you very soon!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Indulgence: what does it mean to you? (and a draw)

I am  a bit of a hedonist. I like to do things that make me feel good, whether that includes fragrance, food and drink or pleasures of an artistic persuasion. I appreciate beauty, and I seek to create the feeling of beauty within myself whenever possible.

I indulge myself, because who else can do it as well as I can? I have no Catholic guilt, no major sins to atone for, no moral obligations that would prevent me from granting myself these sensory pleasures, and it's definitely not always something only a lot of money can provide.

One of my major vices and obsessions is skin care. Not much of a vice, you say? Well, I only obsess and fuss over it so much mostly due to vanity. When I look in the mirror, I want to see perfection. I know, that could not sound more shallow, but since we're being completely honest here, I have another confession. When I have a blemish or discoloration, or anything that bothers or displeases me about my skin, I feel low. Really, really low. Luckily, I have someone near to help me snap out of it quickly. And, I have several quick fixes to make myself feel good in a flash.

A favorite indulgent product I use is Haus of Gloi Pumpkin Butter (which I have reviewed before). It is an incredibly rich body cream that guarantees the softest skin, and a soothed mind if I only spend a few minutes a day using it. I have it in a few different scents, but my favorite and most often used is Aether, which is unfragranced.

Today I am giving away one 6oz jar of Haus of Gloi Aether Pumpkin Butter. I may be hedonistic, but I am no glutton. You see, my personal reserve of Pumpkin Butter is overflowing at the moment, and I want to share. You just need to leave a comment below between now and Friday, April 8th by 2pm Central time, and I will randomly draw one winner. I will ship anywhere in the world. I will announce the winner via a new blog post around 2pm Central time on Friday, April 8th, and the winner should email their shipping address to eyelineronacat at gmail dot com.

When you leave your comment, tell me what your very favorite indulgence is, or what indulgence means to you.

Good luck!

[Creme Brulee with fresh fruit]

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir

I've made my way through my Ormonde Jayne Discovery Set a few times now, and as I go back and revisit each scent, my impressions seem to change slightly every time. In the case of Orris Noir, my affinity for the fragrance has been steadily increasing.

Notes list, from the Ormonde Jayne website:
Top: Davana, pink pepper, coriander seed, bergamot
Heart: Iris, sambac absolute, pimento berries, bay
Base: Incense, myrrh, patchouli, Chinese cedar, gaiac

Orris Noir can easily be worn by women or men, like many Ormonde Jayne fragrances. Pink pepper and bergamot really set the stage for the blend, and the acidic spiciness at the outset gives way to the beautiful Iris. This perfume plays warm against cool, but they play so nicely together. I am particularly fascinated with the scent of the iris and am enjoying seeking out the note in many perfumes currently.

I have admitted in the past that I have a lot of problems with floral notes, but I'm working on it. Orris Noir is perfect for someone like me, who is a touch floral-phobic, because the spices, woods and incense notes are comfortable territory for me. This perfume is grounded in all the things I find most appealing in scent, and does not force too much of any one thing, it is extremely well-balanced. Orris Noir maintains an effortless marriage between the notes throughout the wearing, and instead of sharply going through stages, it simply lessens in intensity over time. When you find a scent you really enjoy, this is somewhat of a blessing. I don't want to let any of these notes pass through into oblivion, I want to hang on to all of them. Luckily, I am able to do just that.

After a couple of hours, there is a gentle sweetness apparent on my skin that wasn't present before. That's my signal that the end is approaching. How I've managed to get around this is by spraying on my hair and clothing as well, the intensity lasts longer. I was even lucky enough to wake up one morning to the mesmerizing scent wafting gently from my hair sprayed the night before. I cherish my sleep and resent having to wake up, but when I must, this is the way to do it. The soft remnants of Orris Noir is incredibly seductive.

Orris Noir is definitely one of my favorites of the Ormonde Jayne line (the top spot still belonging to Ormonde Woman). It is a seasonless and sophisticated, multi-faceted perfume that I think could please a wide range of people. I think it can be worn day or night, and is work-friendly. It is a bold fragrance, and while it may not exactly speak softly, it is eloquent and grounded. I will be picking up a full bottle of this eventually, that is a certainty.

Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir is available at OrmondeJayne.com, a 50ml bottle of eau de parfum is 70 GBP. Also available in the tempting Gold Creme (15ml for 58 GBP), Pure Parfum 50 ml (184 GBP), as well as bath and body products, travel sprays and candles. Sample was provided by the company for review.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Vivienne Westwood Boudoir

The last couple of weeks have been full of reminiscence for me. It started with a reminder of how I wore and loved Vivienne Westwood's Boudoir, and I was driven to locate (not without effort) and purchase a bottle. Then, yesterday, Olfactoria posted over at Perfume Smellin' Things about another long lost love of mine, Le Feu d'Issey, a spicy and captivating scent I wore when I was younger. It is a fragrance of energy and light, with a mysterious edge.

Now, my mind is searching for all sorts of memories of perfumes I have worn in the past, and I wonder where some of the long-since disappeared bottles have gone, my original Shiseido Feminite du Bois included. Could I have been dumb enough to throw them away in a move (or seven), many years ago? I hope not. I hope that I gave them to friends or donated them to Goodwill. But most of all, I wish I had them back now.

In the case of  Vivienne Westwood Boudoir (created in 1998 by Martin Gras), there has been a happy reunion. I remember the period in my life when I wore this, it was about 10 years ago, and I was between relationships (read: single and loving it). I went to a lot of metal shows, became a fixture in my favorite dive bar, had short, spiky hair, wore a lot of black winged liquid eyeliner and had more confidence than I probably should have had. Boudoir was the perfect perfume for me; it oozes sex appeal, hints at innocence but never quite realizes it, it truly personifies its name. It is something I would wear when I was alone to feel more beautiful, and I would always wear it out, because it attracted a lot of attention. 

Notes: aldehydes, bergamot, hyacinth, viburnum, marigold, orange blossom, jasmine, orris, red rose, narcissus, carnation, cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, amber, vanilla, tobacco leaves, sandalwood and patchouli

I have a lot of positive associations with Boudoir. It reminds me of feeling free and young, feeling desirable and desirous. Wearing it again all these years later has done something positive for my ego, and my mood. It is a beast of a perfume, it speaks loudly and at a fever-pitch, and it takes no prisoners. The much-talked about skank factor is still there, but does not seem as noticeable on me as it used to be. Perhaps there has been a change in formulation, or maybe it's my perception or body chemistry. Now, the sweet, heady floral punch is balanced by the perfect amount of amber. It's not the resinous, natural amber of something like Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, but more of a vintage perfume amber, something that smells aged and dusty. This is a classic, sensual floriental perfume made very, very sexy. 

Boudoir seems to have quite a polarizing effect on perfume lovers. Fans of it are very devoted, but there are not too many of us left (in fact, fewer and fewer all the time, partly due to the lack of availability in some countries). I can understand why some have deemed it cloying, some have even said it is best suited for Edwardian prostitutes. It is powerful, and if you are not in love with it, it can seem to take over your immediate space in quite an unforgiving way. 

I, for one, am so happy to have reconnected with Boudoir. My husband (and even my cat!) have responded very favorably towards it, which encourages me to use it all the more. These days, I enjoy being surrounded by a cloud of clean-but-dirty, slightly powdery, cleavage-enhancing fragrance. It is the scent equivalent of a satin chemise with opulent French lace trim in a nude-pink shade. It feels good, it smells good and it makes me smile. There's not much more one could hope for, is there? 

What I would like to know from you, readers, is what perfume do you like to wear that amps up your sex-appeal? What is it about the scent that gives it those sensual qualities?

[I found my bottle from a third-party seller on Amazon.com, a 1oz bottle for $44.95]