The Beauty of Scent, Scrutinized for Pleasure

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Eternal Autumn: Aftelier Oud Luban solid perfume

Autumn is my favorite season, and in Chicago, it never seems to last for more than a couple of weeks before it starts to get bitterly cold. When Mandy Aftel recently launched her new Oud Luban solid perfume, I knew at first sniff that I would be able to enjoy the spoils of my favorite season anytime, anyplace. It's like a gift from Mother Earth herself.



Oud Luban puts Mandy's talent for blending on full display- there are many strong essences dancing with one another, but the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. Besides the eight varieties of oud that are used in Oud Luban, there are also notes of elemi, orange terpenes, blood orange, frankincense CO2, opoponax, benzoin, choya ral, and aged patchouli. The overall impression is one that isn't as literal as I was expecting; instead of visualizing incense, I see a bonfire that is trailing smoke far up into the sky. Instead of simply sensing the presence of the precious Noble Rot, I am immersed in the forest itself with mushrooms growing all around. I also detect the sweetly animalic essence of beeswax, proving that life is teeming. 

photo: "Tempura- Autumn" by SLnnItaly

I love that there are no heart notes in Oud Luban, it has citrus top notes that sing out clearly high up in the register, then a few of the more volatile elements of incense, and its soul rests in the rich and complex base notes. The longevity of Oud Luban on the skin is quite impressive for a solid perfume, topping off at about 5 hours. It's such an intimate and intoxicating scent that on days that I wear it, I need to keep it with me at all times for touch-ups. I just can't bear to have the magic fade out on me for a second.



I feel strongly that Oud Luban is one of Mandy Aftel's greatest triumphs, and it represents a broadening scope in her body of work. I am so excited to experience what she does next, and every other perfume after that. Her attention to every detail and insistence on the highest quality materials means that I can indulge my obsession with scent in the unique way that her fragrances allow me to. Lucky, lucky me!

Oud Luban is available at Aftelier.com for $210. It comes in a beautiful silver compact designed by Mandy and holds 1/4 oz. Samples are also available for $6.

[sample was provided by the perfumer for my consideration]

Deadline for Indie FiFi Submissions has been extended!




Press Contact: Lyn Leigh, 212 725 2755 ext. 102

For Immediate Release


The Fragrance Foundation
Announces
2012 “Indie” FiFi® Award
Submission Deadline Extension!

New York N.Y. November 30th, 2012.  “Indie” fragrance submissions are pouring into the office of The Fragrance Foundation. By UPS, by Fedex, by mail, by messenger and even hand-delivered by the perfumers themselves!  Indie fragrance brands are clearly excited and enthused to participate in the very first Fragrance Foundation 2012 “Indie” FiFi® Award in partnership with Elements Showcase.

Due to the fact that Mary Ellen Lapsansky, Vice President of The Fragrance Foundation has been responding to a deluge of phone calls and emails requesting information and guidance, the decision was made to extend the submission deadline to:

Wednesday, December 7th

“The response has been amazing,” commented Ms. Lapsansky, “so obviously these wonderful indie brands are eager to compete with each other (on the friendliest possible terms of course) for the prestige of being finalists, with the winner stepping up to accept the 2012 “Indie” FiFi® Award at the Elements Showcase award celebration on Monday, January 30th . With all the buzz generated by this FiFi® Award category as well as the $10,000.00 prize generously provided by Givaudan in support of this first-time initiative, it’s  a great opportunity for indie brands to shine.

For all the submission criteria, forms etc. please go to www.fragrance.org and click on Indie Fragrance of the Year to open up the information window.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reminder: Deadline for Indie FiFi Award submissions is this Wed, Nov. 30th!

The deadline for all submissions for the 2011 Indie FiFi Award is this Wednesday, November 30th. Follow THIS LINK for entry details. Good luck to everyone!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide 2011- The Stocking Stuffers

Welcome to Part I of my 2011 Holiday Gift Guide! First I'm going to list several beautifully scented or scent-related items on the smaller side that would make amazing stocking stuffers or host/hostess gifts, with all different price points represented.






The Little Book of Perfume: the Hundred Classics, by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez- $12.24 at Amazon.com
Here is the much-anticipated follow up to Turin & Sanchez' Perfumes: The Guide. This time around, the focus is on their 100 favorite perfumes from The Guide, and some reviews even have updates. There is an excellent new short piece by Luca Turin on The Osmotheque in France along with his take on a few long-gone classics and an all-new foreword by Tania Sanchez (which in my opinion makes The Little Book worth the price of admission alone). This petite, chic volume would interest anyone who loves fragrance- from beginner to seasoned Fragonerd, and easily slips into a handbag so there's a handy reference when shopping for perfume.



Aftelier Perfumes Resurrection limited edition candle (3oz)- $50 at Aftelier.com
There are only 25 of these pure beeswax luxury candles for sale at Aftelier.com (there are other limited edition candles as well) and they will surely sell out soon, so hurry if you plan on grabbing one. Resurrection has essences of frankincense, vetiver, clary sage, geranium, bitter orange, fir needle and lime. I adore the beautiful beading on the outside of these glass votives. If there is someone on your gift list who is very stylish and perhaps a little hard to please, look no further.



Aroma M Geisha Amber Rouge roll-on perfume oil (8ml)- $55 at AromaM.com
The newly launched Geisha Amber Rouge is one of my little darlings as of late, and would make a perfect gift for the sexy siren in your life. This warm Oriental fragrance has notes of Moroccan amber, deep wood resins, cinnamon, clove and star anise.



Juniper Ridge Cedar incense- $10 for 40 sticks at JuniperRidge.com
Juniper Ridge's incense blends are perfect for those who wish they had wood-burning fireplaces but don't. Burning a stick of Cedar incense quickly fills your space with the essence of cedarwood-- an easy way to create a calm and balanced atmosphere during the hectic holiday season.



NEST Holiday boxed votive- $14 at CandlesOffMain.com
A classic. This lovely gold-toned votive in its red velvet embellished box will make every person with a heartbeat squeal with delight. Notes of mandarin orange, pine, cinnamon and eucalyptus create an instant festive mood.



L'Artisan Parfumeur Amber Ball (small)- $90 at Luckyscent.com. Medium and Large sizes also available, crystal refills are $75
L'Artisan's very sophisticated and rustic method of scenting the home comes in the form of these terracotta balls, carved and chiseled by a potter. Inside the ball are seductively scented amber crystals that release their scent slowly over time. Refills are available for purchase as well.



Opus Oils Jitterbug Perfume Parlour Absinthe Tea- $20 for a 3oz tin at OpusOils.com
Absinthe is my very favorite tea from Opus Oils' stellar lineup of loose teas. It's a black tea with notes of pear, violet, vanilla and anise. Intoxicatingly delicious and very refreshing.



Atelier Cologne Oolang Infini Petite Cologne Absolue- 30ml for $55 at AtelierCologne.com
With notes of blue tea, bergamot, smoke and leather, Oolang Infini is guaranteed to please both women and men. It's distinctive, classic and cozy.


[Holiday Gift Guide 2011 Part II still to come, so stay tuned!]

Help Bellatrix and enter to win samples from Croatian perfumers!

One of my lovely readers, Ankica, creator of 100% natural Bellatrix Perfumes would like to hear your opinion about what you would like to see in natural perfumery. Click HERE to take a short survey, and be entered to win samples of fragrances from two Croatian perfumers.

I love to see independent perfumers take initiative like this to try and become more in tune with their customers and their needs, so let's all take a few minutes and show Ankica a bit of support!


beautiful Kukljica, Croatia (Ankica's hometown)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Carrie Meredith and Victoria Jent featured in The Retail Me Not Insider!

Check out the current installment of The Retail Me Not Insider for a piece by the multi-talented (and gorgeous) social media and marketing maven, makeup artist and co-founder of Three Custom Color Specialists, Trae Bodge. Her article is about the best celebrity fragrances according to Trae herself, yours truly, Victoria Jent of EauMG and Kelly Kovack, the co-founder of one of my favorite brands, Odin Fragrances. I love collaborating on articles like this, it's always so much fun.

Trae Bodge

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Juniper Ridge Steep Ravine and Yuba

Occasionally, a small independent brand will pop into my sphere of existence from out of nowhere and quietly hand to me something that I hold in the highest esteem, and that is peace of mind. I am a worrier by nature, I fret (and I do it well), I toss and I turn, I'm often restless and anxious. Juniper Ridge, a company dedicated to wildcrafting from (and protecting) the Western Wilderness, offers peace of mind in abundance. Today, I'll be reviewing a room spray and a perfume, with more to come in the future.

Oregon Wild- photo by Justin Rohde

First up is the Steep Ravine Room Spray. Forget any notion you have of room sprays for a minute, and imagine this: an all-natural pump bottle room spray that smells exactly like the woods in winter, with a little hit of ozone appropriate for the season. A crisp accent of citrus carries with it a certain levity that pairs so well with the pine, and a touch of eucalyptus tickles the nose. In other words, heaven on earth, in the most literal sense. The scent is ideal for the home, and I think it would make a really beautiful holiday gift for absolutely anyone.
notes: bright pine, sap, dappled sunlight and warm wind blowing through the giant trees

Juniper Ridge also has solid perfume in their lineup of products, and I was sent Yuba to try. My first thought was "I love this little vintage tin!" They use repurposed (but brand new) Flood's Ointment tins from the 1930s that contain 1/2 ounce of solid perfume. 
notes: cozy cedar cabin, pine sap, Sierra Granite Lake
Yuba is very sprightly and refreshing, and I'm quite impressed with how potent and long-lasting this solid is. There is also a lot of skill in the blending: the light grapefruit topnote perfectly accents the fresh cedar and pine, and this balance is maintained throughout wearing (which is about 4-6 hours). I'll be honest- natural woods and resins of high quality such as this makes my eyes roll back into my head with pleasure. There's never a time or place when a scent like this wouldn't be desirable to me. Yuba is an all-purpose mood lifter, and it works with a swiftness that only natural essences can achieve.

Juniper Ridge source their materials locally and give back to the environment that inspires them, and that's the sort of warm fuzziness that separates Juniper Ridge from many other indie businesses. They create unique products responsibly, and I promise that if you give them a try, you'll go back for more. They also carry incense, handmade soaps, essential oils, teas and sachets in addition to their amazing room sprays and solid perfumes. If you fall in love with a particular scent, you can usually purchase it in several different forms as well. I hope that one day I can make it back to the Pacific Northwest and treat myself to one of their Wildflower Tours, but in the meantime, I've got inspiration aplenty to take me to my happiest place in the forest. 

Yuba 1/2 ounce solid perfume can be purchased for $65 and Steep Ravine Natural Room Spray is $15 for 2 ounces- both available at juniperridge.com.

[press samples were sent to me for my consideration]

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Memory Erasers: Demeter for Sanrio and Etat Libre d'Orange

I was just thinking today about one of my favorite smells from my childhood: Sanrio gummi erasers. They smell like powdery, fruity bubblegum and I always wanted to chew on them, but relegated myself to huffing them instead. When Demeter for Sanrio decided to release fragrances inspired by Hello Kitty and her friends awhile back, I was stoked. One of them, the Sanrio 50th Anniversary fragrance, was designed to smell exactly like those erasers I hoarded as a child. I had faith that Demeter could pull this off.



Unfortunately, it was a huge fail. My inner child had to have a time-out. If you're in the market for fruity plastic, this is for you. When I think about it, Etat Libre d'Orange Encens et Bubblegum is actually closer to the mark. It smells like classic Dubble Bubble Bubble Gum, with a bit of spice to it. Wearing it gave me a strange thrill, but it ultimately proved to be a stark reminder of my age. It was an ultra-short-lived fountain of youth, but at least I got to go there. It's a touch sexy in a disturbing, Lolita-ish way, but I think there are a slew of teenagers out there who would fall in love with it. I think the concept and the formulation of the fragrance is one of Etat Libre d'Orange's most interesting (and I am a fan of theirs in general, for the record). I like to recommend that people try it just to try it, but it's hard for me to conjure up the image of a real adult who might wear it.


And now I put this question to you, dear readers: Do you have a special memory of a thing or place that you wish someone would replicate into a perfume?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Aroma M Geisha Amber Rouge [a new release, a new love]

Maria McElroy of Aroma M Perfumes has released her first new scent in five years, Geisha Amber Rouge. It arrives like the other Geisha perfumes, wrapped in the wildly appealing Yuzen paper from Kyoto.

[image: aromam.com]

I instinctively knew when I uncapped the bottle that I didn't need to cautiously sniff it first before applying to my skin, I just went for it. When my first response to a fragrance is my heart racing and my lips curling into a smile, I know I've hit paydirt. Geisha Amber Rouge is a new version of Maria's classic Geisha Rouge, but it's deeper, more animalic and profoundly honeyed. The spices are more intense and the amber is rich and powdery-smoky, like the finest incense you can imagine.

[image: incenseandaromatherapy.com]

From the Aroma M website: Geisha Amber Rouge gives a nod to Oriental perfumery in its use of rare vintage ingredients from the desert. Moroccan amber joins forces with deep wood resins, cinnamon, clove and hints of star anis. Characteristically spicy notes of the original Geisha Rouge blend with that of Japanese incense.

To me, Geisha Amber Rouge is the lovechild of Geisha Noire and Geisha Rouge. It's almost as if Maria went rummaging through my secret desires and crafted her new perfume out of them. Geisha Noire is my other favorite in Aroma M's line- I like to say that it out-Shalimars Shalimar (at least for my tastes). Geisha Amber Rouge is set apart by several things, but mostly by its definite tinge of rusty, iron-laced blood, and while I can't figure out exactly how it got there, I enjoy it to no end. There is a sensuality present in this perfume that is very physical, almost visceral. 

Geisha Amber Rouge showed up at my doorstep at exactly the right time and has already become one of my favorite scents of the season. It has none of the cool detachment of many of the fragrances I've been frequently wearing (and no florals, either), but throws searing heat instead and is one of those rare treats that truly stokes the imagination. Amber Rouge is clearly one of the most beautifully composed Aroma M perfumes, and if you love Orientals as I do, do not hesitate to add it to your collection. Your entire being will thank you. 

Aroma M Geisha Amber Rouge is available now on aromam.com, an 8ml roll-on bottle of perfume oil is $55.  Samples are also available for sale. 

[press sample provided by the perfumer for my consideration]