eyeliner on a cat

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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Another Weekend Poll: what are your favorite notes in perfumery?

I've got another burning question for everyone... what are your favorite notes in perfumery? And if you're so inclined, feel free to share some of your favorite examples of those notes. List as many or as few as you'd like. To the devil with "top 3" restrictions, just for today!

Here are mine (a few of these scents could potentially be listed in more than one note category):

Iris/Orris- Guerlain Iris Ganache, Amouage Opus V, Etat Libre d'Orange Bendelirious, DSH Route d'Iris, Coty L'Origan (vintage)

Cedar- Le Labo Oud 27 (no other cedar even approaches how much I love this, it stands alone)

Leather- Caron Tabac Blond, Knize Ten, Soivohle Journeyman, DSH Cuir et Champignon, Chanel Cuir de Russie, Balmain Miss Balmain (vintage), Dior Leather Oud, Montale Oud Cuir d'Arabie

Tobacco- Aftelier Tango, Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille, Soivohle Meerschaum, Serge Lutens Chergui, L'Artisan Traversee du Bosphore

Sandalwood- Ormonde Jayne Woman, Diptyque Tam Dao, Aftelier Shiso, Odin 01 Nomad/Sunda

Incense- Comme des Garcons Zagorsk, Guerlain Bois d'Armenie, Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee, Ormonde Jayne Tolu, Barbara Bui Le Parfum, Penhaligon's Elixir, Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyante, Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque, Diptyque Eau Duelle, Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille

[sandalwood beads]

Beeswaxing Poetic: Roxana Illuminated Perfume To Bee

I have really been looking forward to trying Roxana Illuminated Perfume To Bee since I first heard about it. I love Esscentual Alchemy's For the Love of Bees and Aftelier's Honey Blossom- they are all three so wonderful and so different from one another. I guess I'm in the midst of a bee craze!

I got the sample set from Roxana's Etsy shop, which consists of a little vial of the dark greenish-brown liquid perfume and the tiny pot of honey-colored, soft textured perfume solid. I really appreciate a skillfully made natural perfume, and To Bee did not disappoint.

notes: resins, wood, spices, mimosa, sweet clover absolute, beeswax absolute (and actual beeswax from her own hives and other locally sourced hives is used to make the solid)

With both the solid and the liquid, I got an opening blast of natural fir/pine. The balsamic resinous quality is immediately noticeable. There is an intense brightness at the outset that reminds me of lemon, perhaps a facet of the pine resin or myrrh. This is a fragrance that speaks to me in colors: yellow on opening, very green at the heart, and back to a creamy, relaxed version of yellow for the drydown. I'm reminded more than once of chamomile tea, and that quality is enhanced in the solid perfume form with the soft, honeyed beeswax, culled from Roxana's own beehives.

The liquid and solid perfumes differ in fragrance somewhat to me after the first 20 minutes or so. The liquid retains more of the sharp, bright quality that I experienced with the opening for a longer period of time, and it has more of a warm, slightly vanillic ambery base with more body to it than the solid.  It reminds me of Chinese medicinal tea with natural honey.

The color of the solid perfume has the look of apple butter and is very soft in texture, it melts easily into the skin. It gives a clean, comforting impression that has a certain innocence about it. While the scent of it is essentially the same as the liquid, the solid wears differently. The solid feels more floral and lighter and has a sweeter, smoother drydown. The tea I am reminded of with the perfume solid is chamomile with honey. The solid seems fresher and sunnier on my skin, and in the end, I prefer this version. I love the inclusion of natural beeswax in the formulation, it gives it an extra touch of luxury that I really appreciate. Both versions last for several hours on the skin.

Roxana describes the scent as "emblematic of the warm, musky scent of the beehive", and it only makes me want to experience what her beehives really smell like in person. I've always had an affection for bees and find them beautiful, and I have a great amount of respect for Roxana for her efforts in holistic beekeeping. You can read the article she wrote for Etsy by clicking HERE.

To Bee is available in a few sizes in liquid and solid forms. I really like the antique solid compact sold in her Etsy shop for $28. The price is excellent and it would make such an impression as a gift. A sample set of the liquid and solid  is available for $15, or you can buy them separately. I believe Roxana is currently in the process of restocking the To Bee solid perfume at this time, so keep checking back if you are interested!
*UPDATE: as of 7/31/11- To Bee solid perfume is back in stock!*

[my sample set was purchased by me from Roxana Villa's Etsy shop for my own personal collection. Photo credits: Roxana Villa]

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Announcing my participation in the Fragrance Foundation's Indie Fragrance Committee

I'm very happy to announce today that I am a member of The Fragrance Foundation's new "Indie" Fragrance Committee. I am thrilled to be in such excellent company, and am very grateful to have the chance to make a difference in how independent perfumery is represented and celebrated, culminating in a new "Indie" Fragrance Award to be given in January at the Elements Showcase (and also at next year's FiFi Awards Ceremony).

Below is the official Fragrance Foundation press release:

 Press Contact: Lyn Leigh, lleigh@fragrance.org. Tel: 212 725 2755 ext.102

For Immediate Release

The Fragrance Foundation
Announces Formation of an
“Indie” Fragrance Committee

New York NY July 28th, 2011. The Fragrance Foundation is very pleased to announce the formation of a specialized committee dedicated to developing the recognition, understanding and appreciation of ‘Indie” fragrance brands and their creators. The “Indie” Fragrance Committee mission statement and purpose is to support the excellence, talent and artistry of ‘indie’ perfumes, celebrate their individuality and craftsmanship, give a voice to the indie brands, address any issues and concerns that are important to the group as a whole.

“While niche fragrances have always been recognized at the annual FiFi® Awards,” explains Rochelle Bloom, President of The Fragrance Foundation, “we are keen to find a way to encourage more niche/independent submissions, reaching out to the smaller, successful, entrepreneurial brands not supported by a large company.”  An “Indie” brand is defined as a brand that has been on the market for at least two years and is distributed in 1 to 25 doors.

To fulfill the mission statement, Rochelle Bloom and Foundation Vice President Mary Ellen Lapsansky reached out to a stellar group of fragrance experts to form the “Indie” committee, enlisting their collective insight, knowledge and experience of the  niche/independent fragrance culture to contribute an on-going source of advice, procedures for submissions, judging criteria, overall support, organization of The Indie FiFi® Award ceremony at the January 2012 Elements Showcase and future potential of the “Indie” category.

The Foundation is very excited to be able to encourage smaller brands that add such inventiveness, creativity and personality to the fragrance world. “Each and every committee member is absolutely in tune with this world, knows their needs and understands their dreams,” continues Mary Ellen Lapsansky. “We thank them for their support.”

The “Indie” Committee Members:
·         Mandy Aftel (Aftelier Perfumes)
·         Arnaud Adrian (Robertet)
·         Rochelle Bloom (The Fragrance Foundation)
·         Frederick Bouchardy (Joya Studio)
·         Karl Bradl (Aedes de Venustas)
·         Virginia Bonofiglio (Fashion Institute of Technology)
·         Denise Capozzalo (Barneys)
·         Victoria Frolova (Bois de Jasmin)
·         Mary Ellen Lapsansky (The Fragrance Foundation)
·         Carrie Meredith (Eyeliner on a Cat)
·         Ralf Sweiger (Mane)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Weekend Poll just for fun: 3 Scents in Heavy Rotation

Which three perfumes have you been wearing a lot lately? They can be new to you, old stand-bys, or maybe something you've given several chances to capture your heart, but it hasn't quite managed the task. Do your choices correspond with the weather in your region?


1.Odin 02 Owari has been one of my daytime staples lately. It's got a delicious, juicy and slightly bitter mandarin and grapefruit gorgeousness with a pepperiness that is hard to resist. Owari goes from top straight to bottom, skipping the heart stage, but that's fine with me. Owari is perfect as is- no-nonsense refreshment for 100 degree weather.

2. Aftelier Perfumes Tango. I cracked open my mini bottle last weekend, and I could swear that it's even more potent and rich than the sample vial that I recently drained, but I'm not sure if it's my imagination. As the level in the bottle drops steadily from using it every night, I have begun plotting for more, along with some Fig (which I've not tried yet, but everyone is telling me I HAVE to- and I believe them!). Aftelier creations are the perfumes I live in every day, like my favorite cashmere sweater or leather jacket- indispensable and timeless. Tango, in particular, has become part of me. No other perfume inspires in me so much nose-to-wrist action.

3. Soivohle Transcendental Musc is the most recent addition to my sample collection. It's being re-launched this Fall as part of Liz Zorn's new Pour Homme collection, and I predict it's going to be a smash. It smells amazing on me and my husband, who is also impressed by it. It carries that bewitching quality that seems to be unique to Liz; so many of her perfumes feel like living things to me, Mercurial in nature and unpredictable until you get to know them. Review to come during the launch.

So, spill it, guys (the beans, not your perfume)! What have you been wearing lately?

the owari satsuma mandarin- photo from davisgardenshow.com

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Winner of the Aftelier Haute Claire 5ml EDP spray is...

Thank you everyone for entering and leaving comments about what perfumes you find soothing, energizing or healing, or that just make you happy (like Haute Claire did for me).

I wish there could be more than one winner, but alas, there can only be one (just like The Highlander).

The winner chosen at random is:


Please email me at eyelineronacat at gmail dot com with your mailing address and I will forward it to Mandy Aftel. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Perfumed Panacaea: Aftelier Haute Claire [and a draw]

 In this world in which we all live, it's not always very easy to feel good- physically or emotionally. Relief, happiness and pleasure is in short supply. This is why fragrance is so important to me. It has the capability to transform: my body will feel tired or painful, my spirits low, yet I can spray myself with Mandy Aftel's newest creation, Haute Claire, and a buoyancy returns to me, along with a Mona Lisa smile.

Haute Claire was born out of a desire to experiment with two scent elements that don't traditionally go together: ylang ylang and galbanum (you can read about its creation on the blog of Nathan Branch, who also named the perfume, HERE). It was hard for me to imagine what it was going to smell like when I read the fascinating correspondence between Mandy and Liz Zorn (another spectacular independent perfumer who also participated in the galbanum/ylang experiment). Frankly, there is nothing that could have prepared me for the happy reality of inhaling Haute Claire's sweet aroma, redolent of crushed, creamy ylang petals, the light-handed touch of high-pitched galbanum, earthy but clean vetiver with the persistent low hum of top-shelf vanilla absolute. This fragrance makes me feel small and happy to be alive. It reminds me that as a human being, I should be humble in the face of what is really worthy of my awe and reverence: nature. And humble, I am.

notes: galbanum, Mexican lime, wild sweet orange, ylang ylang Co2, honeysuckle absolute, ylang ylang extra, clary sage, ethyl phenyl acetate, vetiver, vanilla absolute

Haute Claire is a revelation in gold and white, milky peach and green. It starts out with a vaguely edible quality like a fragrant tea made of herbs and dried flowers, its wild beauty gently contained within an impossibly chic floral heart. The slightly bitter galbanum is used to great effect, never coming across as pushy. What is discovered once you emerge on the other side of Haute Claire is refined, delicate and comforting, and very long lasting. The trio of ylang ylang, vetiver and vanilla stick it out together for the long haul- equal parts sweet and salty with a bit of indole for good measure, and what feels like a whisper of vegetal musk that stays close to the skin.

In the extreme drydown, I detect a hint of Madonna lily with a touch of spice. I honestly don't know where the spice would be coming from. Nothing about Haute Claire is heavy. It is a very imaginative exercise in contrasts; a demonstration of how opposites can complement and enhance one another. This is a perfume I would not hesitate in recommending to someone who thinks they don't like natural fragrances. Hours after first spraying, I'm not thinking about natural or synthetic; I'm thinking about how it smells like a sweet kiss, like laughing so hard that you start to cry. I'm thinking, there is hope and kindness inside this little vial, and I could always use more of that in my life.

I will be holding a draw for one lucky winner to receive a 5ml atomizer of Haute Claire EDP (shown below). Just leave me a comment and tell me if you have a fragrance that you love for its soothing, energizing or healing effects. Is there a scent that just makes you feel good? I will choose one winner at random this Friday afternoon at 1pm US Central time, and the winner will be announced here on this blog shortly thereafter. I will provide the winner's mailing address and name to Mandy Aftel, who will then ship the prize directly to the winner. This draw is open to anyone, anywhere in the world.

[Haute Claire is available at Aftelier.com in EDP form only. A 30ml bottle is available for $150, and samples for $6. My sample was sent to me by the perfumer for review.]

photo credits: (top) vivainstitute.com and Mandy Aftel

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Winners of Liz Zorn's Riverwalk 5ml Silver Atomizers are....

First I want to say a big hearty thank you to everyone who participated in the draw and left comments about their preferences and experiences with patchouli. It pains me that there must be only two winners, but I promise, I will host other draws in the future!

Now, on to the winners! They are:
JoannElaine & Elisa

Congratulations you two, you have been favored by the powers that be at Random.org! Email me at eyelineronacat at gmail dot com with your mailing address, and I will get your atomizers out to you next week.

*UPDATE: Both winners have now claimed their prizes, congratulations!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Two More Bohemians: Opus Oils Giggle Water and Flapper

Today, I have a fresh batch of Opus Oils samples, and two more fragrances that I'm going to review from Les Bohemes collection, which, according to Opus Oils' website, is "a throwback to the age of Speakeasies and wild abandon". I happen to love the theme of the collection. We may not be living in The Great Depression any longer, but we're still in the thick of this Recession, and we need all the decadent tools of escapism we can get.

shake it up!

Giggle Water opens with a diffusive, cheerful note of orange blossom, and I can already tell that this is going to be a perfect summer scent. This is one of the brightest, happiest renditions of an orange blossom soliflore that I've found. Never coming across as dusty or antiqued, the florals retain a slight dampness that keeps them alive until the very end. For this reason, I consider Giggle Water to be much more wearable than, say, Penhaligon's Orange Blossom. The base notes of white musk and sandalwood are subtly rendered. I think creating a good soliflore is still a very worthwhile endeavor, there are a lot of people who still love them or are discovering them for the first time, so it's nice to see that this is being released onto the market today. Part of the reason it succeeds so well is due to Kedra's special touch with musks. She has shown restraint in creating Giggle Water, and it's that restraint that provides the blend with an impressive balance between bubbly levity and fixation to the skin. If there were any more musk or ambergris, it would overpower the orange blossom. Just as it is, it's a wonderful fragrance. Later on into the drydown, Giggle Water emerges as a warm embrace of a skin scent that retains a good portion of its orange blossom character for several hours.

Giggle Water notes: Tunisian orange flower absolute, Egyptian orange flower absolute, orange flower water absolute, bitter orange flower absolute, wild orange, mandarin, peach, honey, gardenia, beach found ambergris, white musk, sandalwood

fashionable friends

Flapper opens with a sparkling citrus sweetness that does not veer too much into fruitiness, but gently gives way to the intoxicating scent of datura and jasmine. The florals give the impression of being crystallized with sugar, and the fragrance progresses much in the same way as Giggle Water. The deliciously soft base notes rise up gently but rapidly to support the narcotic floral essences. There is never too much of any one thing in Flapper, it is balanced well and simply makes me happy. I need perfumes like Flapper in my life. Who couldn't use an instant mood-lifter?

Flapper notes: sweet lemon blossom, clementine, tangerine, pink peppercorn, perilla leaf, mango absolute, ginger lily, datura, gardenia, jasmine, vanilla, white musk, blond tobacco, tonka bean

I find it rather impressive that Kedra Hart, well-known for her rich, animalic perfumes, can also pull off delicate soliflores and light floral compositions with equal aplomb. Once again, I'm hooked, and I'll be back for more. 

Opus Oils Giggle Water and Flapper are available with either an alcohol or coconut oil base (I love these scents in the alcohol base). 1 dram bottles (5ml) are $35, larger sizes also available, as well as an eau de parfum version. 

[samples provided by the perfumer for review]

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

3 Houses To Rule Them All

Recently I asked the question on Twitter: if you could only have access to the releases of three perfume houses for the rest of your life, which would they be? For me, there must be a classic line, a line that inventively uses synthetics, and an all-natural line. The three I have chosen demonstrate each respective arm of perfumery exceptionally well. There are lots of choices to suit every mood within each house, so there's no way I would get bored.

Guerlain is not without its hiccups in perfume history (especially over the past 15 years or so), but overall, it's undeniable that the classics that have come out of this house have been monuments to the raw emotions of life. As time goes on, I fall deeper and deeper in love with Guerlain.

As far as all-natural perfumers go, to my mind, there is no one better than Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes. In fact, Mandy's talent takes her out of the strictly-natural realm and lets her perform in the same arena as the big boys. She continues to ensnare new fans as her exposure grows within the perfume-loving and blogging community, and with a new fragrance launch right around the corner, I do believe that the future is looking (and smelling) awfully rosy for her.

My third and final choice has to be a house on the avant-garde side of perfumery, a house that is very comfortable manipulating synthetics and pushing all kinds of buttons and envelopes. It's got to be Le Labo. Their attitudes and practices confound some, offend others, but I cannot deny that their playfulness and wit carries over to their olfactory design aesthetic, and I love it. Besides, Oud 27 changed my life.

I must know, if you had to choose, which 3 houses would rule your kingdom?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Liz Zorn Riverwalk: my top choice for PLAP 2011 (and a draw!)

What an exciting day it was, that day I got my gorgeous little box of 13 samples for the Summer of Patchouli Love Project (or PLAP- Peace, Love and Patchouli) on Perfume Pharmer. I stayed up late that night (well, I'm already a night owl, so it was later than usual, even). I sniffed and took notes well into the wee hours, and I had a wide variance of reactions to the fragrances: pleasure, displeasure, confusion, childlike giddiness, wonderment... reactions that really ran the gamut. When I got to #2, I knew within seconds a couple of important things: a) this is fantastic, something I would wear regularly, and b) this is without a doubt Liz Zorn's perfume. I am a Soivohle junkie, through and through. Liz' signature of rich, resinous aromatics with a tinge of sweetness is something I am completely defenseless against. Her perfumes are enchanting, original and stay with you for hours on end. Riverwalk (her entry for PLAP, #2) is no exception.

[photo by Liz Zorn]

Riverwalk has many scent elements to it, and I'll list them according to Liz' Blog. Keep in mind that these are not listed in order, it's just a rough list:
notes: bergamot, lavender absolute, French lavender EO, star anise, galangal root, petitgrain, fir balsam absolute, rectified birch, choya loban, geranium leaf EO, geranium concrete, 2 different aged patchoulis, patchouli absolute, cassis absolute, hay absolute, blend of 5 different natural cedars, cocoa absolute, tonka bean tincture, Indonesian vetiver, benzoin Siam absolute, brown oakmoss and vanilla absolute, rosewood/linaloe/ho wood(?), ambergris

Riverwalk is a fougere at heart, allowing the classic composition to put patchouli front and center. No natural isolates were used, it's a 100% natural perfume in every way possible. The underlying sweetness of vanilla, cocoa and tonka is absolutely delightful and never overwhelming, and works so well with the intensely aromatic lavender essences. Riverwalk's spicy, smoky side is really brought out by the contrasting note of star anise. The fragrance mellows over a period of hours and the warm gourmand aspects are brought to the forefront. The gorgeous lavender lasts throughout the entire wearing, accompanying the rich patchouli to the very end, creating a delicious, fuzzy incense.

My initial impression of Riverwalk still holds true to me. It immediately felt like something that had so many facets that it was constantly growing and changing on my skin, leading me down different paths simultaneously. One minute, it's a fairly masculine fougere, the next, a gourmand patchouli, and then, an ode to honey-drenched hay in the sun. I think that this is the mark of a successful and unique natural perfume: it's not static, definitely not linear, and not only one thing to all people. Riverwalk highlights the best things about patchouli; extending its possibilities beyond what our memories have allowed, tenderly taking us by the hand while we stroll into new territory. You have a frame of reference to recognize its classic elements, but realize that the originality in this composition takes patchouli far beyond any expectations. To me, this is one of the most joyful things about fragrance.

To celebrate The Summer of Patchouli Love Project, I'm having a draw for two (count 'em 2!) 5ml silver atomizers filled with Liz Zorn's Riverwalk. To enter the draw, leave me a comment about anything having to do with patchouli: do you have a favorite patchouli perfume? Do you have issues with patchouli? Do you love it to bits like me?

The drawing will close one week from today, on Saturday, July 16th at 1pm Central US time. Two VERY lucky winners will be chosen at random, and should email me with their mailing address at eyelineronacat at gmail dot com. I will announce the winners around 2pm on July 16th. Liz will have Riverwalk available soon on her website for sale, so stay tuned!

Lust List: my burning desires of the moment

It's that time again! I get to put my fondest wishes out there in the universe and see what is meant to come to fruition, and what will remain unfulfilled. This is wishing therapy. It helps to take away the power that these objects hold over me to admit publicly that I must have them. So mote it be.

1. Guerlain Attrape-Coeur. Still, yes. The only bottle I've found for sale is $300 from an Amazon 3rd party seller. Sadly, as time passes, I want it more.

2. Opus Oils lotsofstuff. I just ordered a bottle of Dapper from Les Bohemes Collection, but that's not good enough. No, I need Heavy Sugar, Dirty Sexy Wilde, Wild Child #13 (sample's almost gone) and a few others too. But mostly, I'm already thinking about getting a bigger bottle of Dapper, because I am going to go through it quickly. Oh, and Dapper body creme, too. That berry-violet-tobacco-leather thing is just killing me, it's that good.

3. Guerlain gold-tone filigree atomizer case for my vintage L'Heure Bleue EDT refill bottle. Not necessary, not by a long shot, but SO pretty. *UPDATE: don't need anymore, thank you Dee!*

4. Samples of all the Tauer and Aftelier perfumes that I haven't tried yet. Sometimes, it's appropriate to be a completeist.

5. Samples of the Huitieme Art Collection fragrances. I want them to satisfy my curiosity about Pierre Guillaume's new "phyto-perfumery" technology. It's research for my blog, of course. Yeah, that's it. *UPDATE: don't need these anymore, thank you Brian!*

6. Chanel Cuir de Russie, 28 La Pausa, Coromandel and Bois des Iles. I'd like large bottles of all of them, but I'd settle for decants, if I must.

7. Catch up on Caron samples, including the masculines that Victoria (EauMG) has been raving about. I have a lot still to try. Also, I need Caron loose face powder and one of those amazing swansdown puffs to go along with it. Preferably on a stick. *UPDATE: should have samples of the masculines on the way soon, thanks Brian!*

8. Find a bottle of vintage Jovan Grass Oil from the 70s. My mother used to wear it and I clearly remember the bottle on her vanity. It fascinated me to no end as a child.

9. Serge Lutens Bois de Violette. A full bottle. Immediately. I also want to sample Bois et Musc and Bois et Fruits. Since we're wishing here, I'll take a vintage bottle of Shiseido Feminite du Bois as well.

10. Bottles of Liz Zorn Meerschaum, Sonoran Leather and Journeyman. Oh, and a full set of her new EDTs, since we're at it. Especially Leather Krem, which I'm in love with.

11. Estee Lauder Youth Dew and Youth Dew Amber Nude. I'm long overDew to give these a try. I do believe my dearest one, JoannElaine (Redolent of Spices), will be sending me some Youth Dew goodies (that is, if the Canadian post ever sorts itself out). I also need a bottle of Sensuous Noir, that one's a no-brainer. I finally got to smell a scent strip of Sensuous Nude, which I was at one time very excited about, but that excitement has since been squashed by a screechy muguet note. Pass.

12. Le Labo Cuir 28 (Dubai exclusive). From what I understand, all city exclusives will be available everywhere for a limited time in November. I'm ready to take the plunge!

13. Lucky number 13 belongs to Etat Libre d'Orange Bendelirious. I'm dying to dive into that cherry lollipop-iris thing. It sounds very cheerful.

I'll leave it here for now, I think. So everyone else, please do dish about what you're coveting these days. Inquiring minds NEED to know!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nostalgia for the Future: Boadicea The Victorious Divine

Michael Boadi, creator of UK-based Boadicea the Victorious has been getting a lot of attention lately: first for attracting Michelle Obama's attention, who bought a couple BdV perfumes while on a trip to London, and then there was a little perfume called Illuminum (Boadi's other perfume line) White Gardenia Petals, worn by Kate Middleton on her wedding day. I must admit, I'm sort of happy to know that my country's First Lady has pretty adventurous taste in perfume. Divine was one of the fragrances that she took home with her.

notes: jasmine, mandarin, violet, aldehydes, styrax, sandalwood

Divine's aldehydic opening is reminiscent of one of the very best synthetic perfumes I've come across, and that's Comme des Garcons Synthetic Series 6: Tar. While Tar veers off quickly into burnt rubber territory, Divine gives us wisps of softly powdered jasmine and violet on the backs of champagne bubbles. Like an old photograph ravaged by time, Divine has an antiqued quality about it, inspiring in me a strange sentimental longing for something unknown.

Divine is lighter than air, and I find myself surrounded by clouds of urban evidence when wearing it: skyscrapers, cold metal, leather boots with lug soles, exhaust from a city bus-- Divine reminds me of the reasons why I love big, bustling cities. The modernity they offer comes with its pitfalls, but also exalted things like fabulous museums of art, a menu of endless musical possibilities, and a fascinating mix of people. When I find myself completely submerged in city life, after awhile, I become nostalgic for what the city was like a long time ago. To me, nothing represents decades (even centuries) past better than violets and jasmine. The way these florals are used in Divine is impressive to me for one reason: the restraint that was applied in its creation. By not allowing the floral notes to dominate in this blend, it becomes ultra-modern, even launching it well into futuristic territory. That is why this is the ultimate Steampunk perfume. Divine is the convergence of the past and the future, eschewing the emotions and problems of present-day for a more rewarding journey- time travel.

"Steampunk Dalek" (coolest-gadgets.com)

The sensual, dusty, time-worn quality of the jasmine and violet fade slightly after about 20 minutes of wear, and here, you really begin to appreciate the subtleties of the fantastic animalic styrax note that is married to the sandalwood. The progression is linear; the base notes do not merge to form a thick bottom rung to catch the fall of the other notes, instead, the perfume stays light from beginning to end. The synthetic smoky, tarry styrax gives Divine a very dreamy quality that I love. Each note supports itself entirely, and still manages to complement the others. The effect when I wear Divine is one of blissful introversion and quiet speculation. It is clearly not born of nature, it is manufactured, crafted from molecules in a wildly interesting way. In my mind, Divine is a modern perfume-lover's dream, and it has become an objet d'art that I must now own.

Boadicea The Victorious Divine EDP is available directly through  www.boadiceathevictorious.com (in the UK) as well as here in The States at Luckyscent, the cost is $175 for a 50ml bottle of EDP. BdV also offers a full range of candles and a really neat home fragrance device called an Aromarizor that you purchase scented cartridges for.

[my sample was provided by the company for review]

[Boadicea the Victorious logo]

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stranger in a Strange Land: Aftelier Perfumes Shiso

I first tried Aftelier's Shiso perfume several months ago. It's taken me quite a while to get a handle on it, and to figure out where in time and space to place it. Its creator Mandy Aftel recently told me that even she had trouble deciding what Shiso should be categorized as on the perfume finder on her website (she went with Spicy Green, and I'd say that's pretty accurate).

Shiso is based on an old Geisha formula; a classic Eastern blend with a modern, Aftelian twist. You can read more about the creation of Shiso (and also Tango, a perfume in my top five favorite perfumes of ALL time) in this recent article for Scent and Sensibility.

Knowing the creative intention of Shiso hasn't stripped me of the pervasive sense that it just seems very foreign to me-- not in an Eastern way, but possibly like it was made from alien essences by hands that do not even slightly resemble my own. I recognize components of Shiso when I put forth the effort, but when it's all  put together, I feel like I've got possession of something illicit, misunderstood, something walking the line between fragility and impassable strength. The emotions that take hold of me when I wear it are also practically unknown to me-- this is territory I've not been in before. Somehow, I've been lucky enough to take a fascinating trip with one of my favorite perfumers without having to leave home.

notes: antique clove, green pepper, perilla, kewda, geranium, agarwood, sandalwood, patchouli

All of these essences are of an earthly nature, so how do I reconcile my feelings of Shiso having come from perhaps another galaxy, far, far away? That turned out to be easier than I thought. I only had to quell this intense curiosity by giving myself over to the pleasure of wearing it.

Shiso starts out on the skin like a whisper of coolness with the icy floral/herbal geranium and softly minty perilla/shiso taking hold at once, and this is a theme that maintains itself throughout the duration of wearing it. This sets the tone for this unusual and beautiful perfume to continue down its own strange and winding path. There is clove in the top notes, but I don't detect any in particular. What I do get the impression of is a hyper-verdant spicy accord, like freshly crushed leaves from a mortar and pestle. This must have something to do with the green pepper essence. Yes, you read that right, green pepper. I can assure you that once you have Shiso on your skin, you will recognize it, but if you're that person that hates to eat green peppers, don't despair. It's not like wearing a salad at all, it acts like a bridge between the bewitching herbs and the woody drydown. It helps to maintain that freshness in the blend well into the final stages.

As the drydown approaches, I start to smell a touch of bitter almond or heliotrope, and I've no idea if it's actually there, it may be the qualities of the woods and astringency of patchouli creeping up in intensity. The sandalwood is there almost from the start, my nose hones in on sandalwood because it's one of my very favorite things in the world to smell, and this is extremely high quality sandalwood. The kewda provides an interesting (and not very often used) vegetal musk that really meshes well with the particular patchouli Mandy has used here. The agarwood is hard to pick out on its own, but it serves to strengthen and smooth out the woody base. Shiso gives quite possibly one of the most beautiful drydowns I have ever experienced, and it lasts for several hours. I will say that I enjoy a good synthetic woody accord very much and realize the need for it now more than ever (especially with sandalwood being so scarce), but when you get to smell natural sandalwood, you remember just what you've been missing.

I am confident in saying, unequivocally, that there is no other perfume on earth like Aftelier Shiso. This is a new kind of perfume. It is multi-layered, and multi-faceted, has varying moods, and in many ways (even though I've spent many hours with it) is still somewhat unfamiliar to me. It is emotionally challenging and at the same time balancing and recalibrating, it has the heart of a lion but the physical presence of a sprite. Shiso is everything I love, yet nothing I've ever known before.

But I'll let you in on a little secret: I love a good perfume mystery.

Aftelier Perfumes Shiso is available at Aftelier.com in different sizes, including sample size.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Winner of the Barbara Bui Le Parfum bottle is...

First, let me say thank you to everyone who commented, showed their support, and entered the draw! This giveaway is just a small token of the appreciation I have for all of you who continually engage me in conversation, make me think and make me smile.

Now, on to the winner!
Congratulations, AIMEE L'ONDEE!

Aimee: please email me at eyelineronacat at gmail dot com with your mailing address and I will get your prize out to you next week!