eyeliner on a cat

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The LUSH Life: Gorilla at LUSH Dear John and Superworld Unknown, plus 2 major skin treats

My recent obsession with LUSH continues with two more Gorilla Perfumes: Dear John and Superworld Unknown. My interest was also piqued when I read about and had the opportunity to try some of LUSH's  skin care products. The way that fragrance is weaved into these products is of importance to a scent-obsessive like myself, so I had to add in reviews for those as well. Leave it to LUSH to show me exactly what utterly delicious things I've been missing yet never had a clue existed until now. But first, the perfumes!

Dear John notes list: lime, pine, coffee, coriander, clove, cedarwood, vetiver

Dear John ($15.95- $39.95) is a gingery zinger of a fragrance and is thoroughly unisex. It's particularly wonderful for warm weather because its freshness is so intense and the drydown offers very soft, edible spices. It goes from fresh ginger to a not-too-sweet gingerbread in about 45 minutes, and it's pleasing to the senses for the entire journey. It reminds me of the course the sun takes-- from high noon until dusk, different shades of warmth are revealed as time goes on. As Dear John settles into the skin during the drydown, the clove and coriander ease their way up to the forefront, and the sharp ginger and lemon from the beginning is practically just a memory. In my opinion, this fragrance is well worth the price of admission to own a bottle. Dear John is something I can see myself wearing once in awhile, until the end of time.

Superworld Unknown notes list: cocoa, vanilla, tonka, cassie, juniper, petitgrain, neroli, lime, lemon, bergamot, rose, ylang ylang, benzoin, sandalwood

Superworld Unknown ($3.00- $49.95) seems to me like the more leathery, sex-bomb sibling to the beautiful Tuca Tuca, It's a rubbery sort of sweet, supple leather, exactly the type that made me fall hard for the avant-garde synthetics of Comme des Garcons and Le Labo. The name refers to a pop song by Norwegian singer Karin Park, but me? I think of Soundgarden of course. This is the kind of fragrance that I  might tell the world is "very me" (Hey, I just did!). Here, I think the notes list betrays what the scent actually smells like to me. There is a fleeting gourmand sweetness that really just plays into the leather. I must admit I cannot pick out about half of the listed notes. This is why I write my impressions down before I've had a chance to read the official notes list. All that aside, this is one of the most attractive, thoroughly urban, tarry, rubbery leather fragrances I've had the pleasure to wear. And yes, I have many, many others. Superworld Unknown is a must-have for me. Plus, if  it makes me think of Chris Cornell, that can only be beneficial to my mood.

Viva La 1990s!

RO'S ARGAN ingredients include: glycerine, almond oil, cypress leaf infusion, brazil nut oil, vanilla pod, fair trade shea butter, argan oil, cupuacu butter, cocoa butter, goji berry decoction, rose absolute, geranium oil, lemon oil

Ro's Argan Body Conditioner ($29.95) is a thick, rich, berry-rose scented cream that comes in a tub. At first I thought it was a body butter-type product, and then, that thing happened that always happens with LUSH products. I read the label, and it tells me to use what I'm holding in my hand in a very non-traditional way. As per the directions, after showering, I slathered Ro's Argan all over (happily, a little goes a long way), and then rinsed it off in the shower and gently blotted my skin dry with a towel. Wacky? Yeah, I know! But it's wonderful. My skin was probably softer than it's ever been in my life, AND (we've covered the wacky, now here's the crazy part)-- I absolutely love the honeyed rose scent. Is this backwards day or what? Un-rose-able me has found a rose to love in an unlikely spot. It's got a gorgeous but subtle tartness to it, and the rose is not overbearing at all, and there is a slight musky, woody depth. This is exactly how I want to smell and feel when I get out of the shower: with my skin criminally smooth, smelling clean and fresh-- not in an Irish Spring kind of way, but in the way that suits my personality. Even at my very cleanest, there will always be a bit of growl underneath.

The website recommends using their Turkish Delight Shower Smoothie before using Ro's Argan Body Conditioner. Major "don't mind if I do" moment. The scent, texture, richness and straight-up effectiveness makes Ro's Argan Body Conditioner THE essential post-shower product suitable for anyone with a heart which is still currently beating. It's just gorgeous.

ULTRABLAND ingredients include: beeswax, rosewater, almond oil, honey, fresh iris extract, glycerine, rose absolute, tincture of benzoin

Ultrabland facial cleanser ($15.95- $29.95) is exactly the kind of cleanser I'm really into lately-- the kind that is less a cleanser and more of an event. Take a little bit less than a teaspoon (that's what works for me), and take your time massaging it into dry skin. It removes makeup (eye makeup will take two rounds) and sunscreen in a flash. I use my trusty muslin face cloth and warm water to remove the cleanser, and what is revealed is the same kind of freakishly soft and smooth skin that Ro's Argan Body Conditioner gave me. It's soothing, hydrating, simple and natural, and a boon for those of us with sensitive skin, dry skin, even blemish-prone. These ingredients will take care of most of us.

There are balm cleansers out there in the market that are similar (but completely inferior, and not natural) that sell for three or four times what Ultrabland costs, and it's loaded with petrolatum/ mineral oil. It's crystal clear what the majority of beauty industry execs think of the intelligence of their target consumers. I'm just going to say this here, to make it official where I stand on this issue:
It is no longer a good idea to use petroleum-based products on your skin. It is toxic! 
There are gorgeous natural alternatives, even other synthetic alternatives, that will not hurt you. Think of petroleum-based products as the Smoke Monster from Lost. You may forget about it because it's not in your face 24/7, but it will sneak up on you and basically vaporize you one day. Was that a dramatic enough analogy? Gosh, I really miss Lost. And I really, really love LUSH.

[Samples provided by LUSH for my consideration. I am in no way affiliated with LUSH or any other company. My opinions are strictly my own.]

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Invisible Monster [a perfume launch and a short film about Christopher Brosius]

Filmmaker Aaron Peasley has created a very neat short film portrait of New York perfumer Christopher Brosius [CB I Hate Perfume]. I wanted to share this on my blog for several reasons, but the most important being that this film was made by a fragrance fanatic just like you and me, except this guy, he can do stuff with film, and we can't. Well, I can't. It delves into the creative process of Brosius, whom I consider to be one of the most interesting American perfumers working today. His new fragrance Invisible Monster was released this week, and Brosius explains a little bit about the concept behind it.

Now, I've got a porkpie hat full of as-yet-untested CBIHP samples somewhere around here, and I'm not going to bed until I find them.

CLICK HERE to go to W Magazine Fashion Films to watch (it's just over 4 minutes in length). Many thanks to Aaron Peasley for reaching out!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

India on my mind: Neela Vermeire Creations Trayee

Ah, Bertrand Duchaufour. It was a name I made sure I learned to spell correctly once I got into perfume heavily. Since then, I get a strange sort of pleasure typing out the letters that form his name, but why? I don't love all of his perfumes by any means, but the ones I do love are fiercely hoarded by me. Today, I'm happy to add Neela Vermeire's Trayee to that select lot.

I dream of Trayee with the tall, corrugated flacon 
(I know, that's not how the song goes)

[notes: blue ginger, elemi, cinnamon, ganja accord, blackcurrant absolute, basil, jasmine sambac, egyptian jasmine, cardamom absolute, clove, saffron, javanese and haitian vetiver, incense, Mysore sandalwood oil, patchouli, myrrh, vanilla, cedar, amber notes, oud palau from Laos, oak moss]

Trayee is part of a fragrance trio that launched earlier this year by Vermeire. I have tried the other two, and they did not work for me, but I enjoyed smelling them on blotters very much. Trayee is a sleeping aficionado's dream of sweet, sticky rice with ginger and other spices. For me, spices in fragrance tend to veer in and out of sweet/savory territories depending on the weather and body chemistry, and Trayee is no exception. The starchiness of the rice is so clear and present, it almost leap-frogs the spices to latch on directly to the soft, musky incense in the base. This fragrance facilitates some sort of ghostly game of chess that I cannot turn away from. After I drained the sample vial in one sitting, I fell in love with Trayee at lightning speed, surprised at myself. I immediately started thinking about a full bottle.

As the fragrance develops and the spices fade somewhat, it becomes more earthy and softly smoky, and I suppose this is where the ganja accord comes in. It's incredibly beautiful. In the first 20-30 minutes of wearing Trayee, I did not expect it to develop with the kind of complexity that it did; there are subtle shifts that occur during the drydown that make me smile and smile again.

One of the weird little things I do when I'm really trying to understand a fragrance is this: I blow hot air on my skin where the fragrance was sprayed (much like creating fog on eyeglasses to polish them). By doing this, I can smell/taste elements of the perfume that are hidden until... well, until you find them. So, just when I thought the spiciness of this perfume had almost completely given way to other influences, my hot breath gave up the goodies- the spices were revived.

This fragrance is much more than gourmand, spicy or musky, or any one thing- it's emblematic of a cultural experience that I've never lived, one that I have little knowledge of, but that I want and need to wear on my skin strictly for pleasure. Food smells in any culture instantly get to the heart of what is important and unique about that culture. Perhaps these scent combinations are representative of the comfort Neela felt as a child, cooking and baking with relatives in the kitchen, or ambling through spice markets, where the senses must certainly be peaked and blissfully overwhelmed. While I definitely don't claim to understand or have firsthand knowledge of the cultural significance of what this fragrance was built with, I know what I like, and what turns my imagination over and over. Trayee is the most beautiful dream I've never had.

Currently, the full-size 55ml bottle of Trayee is available for $260 at luckyscent.com. Samples and a 10ml discovery set is available at neelavermeire.com (sales of full bottles coming soon according to the website).

Neela Vermeire

[fragrance sample provided by Neela Vermeire Creations for my consideration]

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Natural Skin Solutions with Becca and Mars

I've been a fan of Becca and Mars' homemade bath, body and skin care products for maybe a year and a half now, and I still get geeked when new products are added to the line. The reason? because proprietress Erica Wolfe keeps outdoing herself. In the time since I've started using the brand, some sort of something  special happened somewhere along the line to kick up the magic quotient. Case in point: the new Calming Complexion Serum.

It's got some very attractive and well-researched ingredients, this was not a slap-dash formulation. With hazelnut oil, borage seed oil, jojoba, vitamin E and vegetable glycerin, and a touch of lemon and lavender essential oils, it really did calm my very sensitive skin and hydrate it for the entire day. It softens effectively and quickly, perfect for my evening facial massages, and and is only $17.50 for a 1 oz bottle. It seriously makes me embarrassed about all the money I've spent on face oils, but we need to look forward, not back!

Also new is Becca and Mars' Tangerine Sugar Lip Scrub ($3.50). You know those delicious looking lip scrubs that come in every flavor from green apple to red velvet cake? This product is just as good, if not better (all-natural ingredients here), and literally a fraction of the price. It's a gorgeous hydrating balm made with tangerine essential oil, sweet almond oil, beeswax and grainy sugar to exfoliate the lips. You remove the scrub with a damp washcloth, and once the sugar is gone (you can also lick it off if you want to), what you're left with is the moisture and protection of the sweet almond oil and beeswax. I now consider lip scrub to be an essential and quick beauty trick for die-hard lipstick fans and for anyone who needs to smooth out their flaky lips.

It's also great for sensitive lips, too. What, you've never heard of sensitive lips? I had never had a problem with any lip product until I tried a scrub in a lipstick tube by Korres, and my lips felt like they were on fire when I used it. Needless to say, I trashed it and never had the courage to try another lip scrub until now. The judiciously-chosen, healthy ingredients make a big difference.

All of Becca and Mars products are affordable, and I'm happy to say, of fantastic quality. If you're looking to get about eight times your money's worth from some of your skin care products, you need to check out this little corner of Etsy heaven.

[samples provided by company for my consideration]

Monday, July 23, 2012

The winner of the Ramon Monegal draw is...

First, I want to thank everyone who left a comment. I had so much fun reading all of your entries! I feel like Santa Claus tonight, and you're ALL on my "Nice" list. 

Without further ado, I'd like to announce the winner of a Ramon Monegal 50ml Inkwell Bottle in the fragrance of their choice:

Congratulations, Isayah!
Please email me at eyelineronacat at gmail dot com with your mailing address, phone number (for FedEx) and your choice of fragrance. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have about the scents!

A special thank you to Ramon Monegal Perfumes for this wonderful prize.

List Randomizer

There were 27 items in your list. Here they are in random order:
  1. Isayah
  2. dreamer
  3. Brady Dommermuth
  4. Stephen
  5. Natalie
  6. ana
  7. Aimee L'Ondee
  8. Nekosan
  9. Liz Reductionista
  10. Undina
  11. cj
  12. Barney B.
  13. DRTVrmoi
  14. Victoria
  15. Tony Goh
  16. Suzanne
  17. Rebecca
  18. phthalo
  19. Lovethescents
  20. Scott
  21. Jana
  22. sherapop
  23. Dubaiscents
  24. Chris
  25. rene groyer
  26. queen cupcake
  27. radmilamila
Timestamp: 2012-07-24 01:07:23 UTC

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

HUGE Ramon Monegal Giveaway!

I've got a really exciting and super-awesome giveaway for you guys! Just comment on this post, answering the following question, and you'll be entered in the random draw for your very own 50ml Ramon Monegal Inkwell bottle filled with your choice of 14 fragrances:

If you could design your ideal perfume, what type would it be, and what would be the main focus of it (or notes in it)? Also, tell me about the vibe it would project.

Click HERE to read my interview with Ramon Monegal if you missed it!

I have listed descriptions of the 14 Ramon Monegal fragrances below (the RM website is still under construction, so it's not completely up to date).

AGAR MUSK: The magic of the Orient, balanced with musk and Oud, the mythical Agar wood. A journey to the centre of Eden, between seductive oceans of Amber and exciting hints of Vetyver roots.
The essence: Arabian Agarwood, Cuir Vitessence (leather), Nutmeg, Vetiver, Ambroxane (amber) , Musc Coctail

DRY WOOD: Nature in its purest state. Noble Sandalwood and Cedar, the texture of Cashmere in a mist of Amber molecules. Force and personality create a forthright and sociable attitude.
The essence: Cedrat coeur, Bay, Poivre, Mousse verte, Sarriette, Santal, Cedar, Cashmeran y Norlimbanol.

LOVELY DAY: Radiant and luminous. A vibrant presence of white Rose petals, silky texture, rooted in Iris and liquorice. An unforgettable and captivating romantic spirit.
The essence: Absolute Jasmin Sambac, Absolute Rose the, Absolute Regalise, Iris sur Cedar, Ultrazur Mol. y Cassis

IMPOSSIBLE IRIS: Mysterious and ambiguous, the legendary Iris root only gives off the extreme beauty of its perfume on rare occasions. It is only blended with the best Cedar in the presence of the exotic Ylang-Ylang flower with traces of with Violet and Jasmine that bring out all of its glamour such that it may become the most attractive perfume in the world.
The essence: Iris concrète Italie, Absolute Cassie Egypte, Framboise (raspberry), Ylang-Ylang Comores, Absolute Jasmin Egypte y Bois de Cedre Virginie.

MON CUIR: Daring and insistent. Skin to skin, leather infused with musk. A bohemian attitude, honey from Labdanum and Sandalwood creating a free, flexible and adaptable spirit.
The essence: Cuir de Russie, Fleur d’Oranger, Labdaceme, Nutmeg, Patchouly Indonesie y Musc. Santal Australie.

AMBRA DI LUNA: Provocative and daring. Golden Amber with a hint of Vanilla, subtle but intense. The magic of Jasmine wrapped in Sandalwood dust, capable of bringing one’s most hidden feelings into the moonlight.
The essence: Ambre, Ciste-Labdanum Maroc, Abs. Jasmin Egypte, Abs. Castoreum y Santal Mysore.

CUIRELLE: Strength and texture. Not the essence of leather, but an interpretation of it. Cat-like flexibility and musk sublimated with shades of honey and incense and balanced with green Cedar and Vetyver grass.
The essence: Encens Somalie, Patchouly Indonesie, Vetyver Bourbon, Bois de Cedre Virginie, Cannele y Absolute Cire d’abeilles breches

CHERRY MUSK: Greedy awakening. Innocent talisman. Sudden, informal and shameless as a compliment, from the center of a heart of Cherries in a bed of Coconut and Jasmine, which is founded on an aphrodisiac paradise of musks.
The essence: Musc Blanc, Musc de Fruit, Muscenone, Acord Cerise, Fraise, Mousse d'Arbre y Rose Chinoise.

COTTON MUSK: (formerly called White Musk) The myth of seduction, extreme purity. A provocative aphrodisiac of white musk, Roses and Gardenia that seeps gently into the skin until it becomes a part of it.
The essence: Rose Wardia, Gardenia Real, Olibanum, Vetyver, Vanille Madagascar y Musc Blanc.

UMBRA: Essence of the earth, capturing the bitter scent of Vetyver root, under the freshness of musk, the texture of Lichen and spruce balsam and that like a shadow define its soul and its perfume.
The essence: Haitian Vetyver Root, Yugoslavian Tree Moss, Madagascan Black Pepper, Bourbon Geranium Leaves, Canadian Fir Balsam, Tonka Haricot.

ENTRE NARANJOS: Fresh southern air, full of vitality and joy. Air imbued with dew from the Orange Blossom combined with the freshness of Orange Peel against a background of Orange wood and Amber.
The essence: Absolute Fleur d’oranger Tunesie, Orange, Petitgrain citronnier, Neroli, Ambre y Patchouly Indonesie.

KISS MY NAME: A troubling presence that blurs reason. Extravagance of the mythical Tuberose flower. It trails a soothing veil of Jasmine, Orange blossom and Neroli that leaves an unmistakable trace in the memory. Its nectar leaves no one unmoved and is its uniquely personal stamp.
The essence: Absolute Tuberose des Indes, Iris sur cedre, Absolute Jasmin Eqypte, Neroli Tunisie y Baume Tolu.

MON PATCHOULY: The unclassifiable essence of the overseas Patchouly, the emblem of “Flower Power”. Along with Vanilla, Nutmeg and Amber flavors, it becomes an statement of claim.
The essence: Patchouly Indonésien, Mousse de chêne Absolute., Encens essence, Geranium Bourbon, Jasmin Egypte and vegetal Ambre.

L'EAU DE ROSE: Radiant caress. Idyll between drops of morning dew and velvet textures of petals of aromatic Roses. Captivating elixir with epilogue in the shape of adage of Musks between leaves of Patchouly.
The essence: Rose Essence, Rose Thé, Rose Wardia, Neroli Artessence, Mol. Ultrazur, Patchouly Indonésien, Coctail de Muscs.

L'eau de Rose

Now, I've not reviewed any of these fragrances yet, but I'm quite familiar with them all (I might be a little obsessed), so if you have questions for me about any of the scents, please feel free to ask! The draw will be open from today, July 18th until this coming Monday, July 23rd at 7pm Central US time, at which point I will conduct the drawing on Random.org and announce the lucky winner on a separate blog post. That winner is then responsible for emailing me with their fragrance choice and mailing address to eyelineronacat at gmail dot com. The prize will be shipped directly from Barcelona to the winner, so please also provide a phone number for FedEx.

A big thanks to Ramon Monegal Parfums for this generous prize, and I'm looking forward to hearing the responses to my question! Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Guest Post on Josie Maran's Blog, Chicological!

Guest-blogging for Chicological was a particularly fun and exciting one for me to do. I love and share the ethos of Josie's company, as well as the laid back friendliness of the staff at HQ. Please click below to go to Chicological to read my post all about natural perfume, with quotes from Mandy Aftel and Ayala Moriel!

Chicological- featuring eyeliner on a cat

Monday, July 9, 2012

Perfumer Interview Series Exclusive: Ramon Monegal

Once in a while, perfume aficionados are afforded the giddy pleasure of the discovery of something new and extraordinary. Something that, when we look at it head-on, we can recognize in it something of ourselves. Perhaps there's just a little more glamour, seductive prowess or decisiveness, but you're in there. That's precisely how I felt when I began to hungrily explore Barcelona native Ramon Monegal's perfume line. 

There are 14 fragrances in all for the initial US launch next month (check the end of this post for locations). After spending some quality time together, I have come to know these fragrances almost as facets of myself, and I've got several favorites which I will be reviewing individually very soon. I've been very much looking forward to conducting this interview to gain insight  into the 35-year industry veteran's way of thinking as he strikes out on his own for the first time, what his creative process is like, and what his hopes are for expansion into the US market. I am so pleased to have been granted the very first US interview with Mr. Monegal.

[showroom storefront in Barcelona]

CM: Even people who are serious about perfume will occasionally miss hearing about a brand because they are based in another country, or perhaps just by chance. I am definitely one of those people. What is the single most important thing you wish people to know about your brand, your perfumes, or yourself?

RM: I really think that now is the time for Master Perfumers to regain their prominence like it was in the past, when they introduced their creations in person, without intermediaries, when they worked in their own ateliers, and when they were able to communicate their own olfactory language directly. I have created my own brand to regain the freedom of the Author, to work again with mythical raw materials, forgotten since the extracts disappeared, and to work with the exclusivity that comes from true luxury: scarcity. Barcelona, the city where I was born, (that is why I included it in my brand's name) is a cradle of great artists, where several different Mediterranean cultures converge and flourish. Cosmopolitan, open and Mediterranean, Barcelona has really influenced the development of my personality as well as my olfactory language, and therefore my brand. My store is placed in the core of Barcelona; it is a warm and intimate place where you can enjoy the experience of discovering my creations, and I can see and learn from the customer’s impressions and comments in person. 

I create from absolute freedom, trying to communicate values and attitudes through my compositions, always made by the Mediterranean light and vitality. I make my creations by hand, with the knowledge from my teachers but also using the latest technology. I do everything in my own factory, where we ourselves do the entire manufacturing cycle. From the essence mixtures and the macerations, until the fill and bottling. We also do the logistics. I come from a perfumer family, and I combine the creative direction of my new company with teaching my children in the craft, the fifth generation.

[Ramon Monegal at work]

CM: While working my way through your line of 14 fragrances, I found more than a few surprises. I find that the pendulum swings wildly from one fragrance to the next, and it’s rather thrilling! Who is your intended customer? What is he or she like?

RM: My target is a high level customer, perfume lover, with perfumery knowledge, with an olfactory image well defined, and highly demanding but appreciative of the quality of the raw materials that they find in my fragrances. No matter their age or nationality. The most important is their desire to communicate their attitude and values with the indicated scent. That is why I am introducing a complete range of fragrances, where you will find very different values and attitudes.

[L'eau de Rose: dry, substantial, voluptuous and uncomplicated]

CM: I find it to be an appropriately modern practice not to specify gender in fragrance. Why does it matter to you that your fragrance line expresses this quality?

RM: The gender of a perfume is a creation of the commercial industry of the past century, which decided that women wear florals and men, woods. This has led to an erroneous stereotype, partisan and with male chauvinist influence. In my opinion, a smell, a sum of smells, or a perfume, defines an olfactory image anyone can identify with. I think you must be able to try a perfume without influences, focusing your attention on discovering if that scent fits with your olfactory image, your values, your attitudes and what you want to show. I think a man can feel he is as attractive as a rose, and a woman, as strong as wood. Carrie, how do you feel? I also think you don’t have to be afraid to mix different smells, as well as you mix your meal or your clothes. Do not be afraid to try!. Let your imagination fly and follow your intuition and feelings. I love the freedom. Do you?

CM: Yes! You just reminded me of something else I wanted to mention-- that I have been experimenting with layering the perfumes in your collection, creating new scents from existing ones. It wasn't until I had played around with them that I finally could clearly see the thread running through the entire collection... it's like that saying "Can't see the forest for the trees"-- now, I can see both! I have often been drawn to fragrances in which the gender identity is neutral, and sometimes even masculine. I feel that this is a good time to be a perfume lover, because our options are much broader than, say, 30 years ago. Tell me, what is the most valuable thing you learned early in your studies of perfumery that you still employ?

RM: When I was in Geneva, learning from my teacher, the Master Perfumer Arturo Jordi Pey (Firmenich), we used to discuss a lot about our different points of view, because I was young and he was very strict, elegant, highly demanding and classic, with a strong personality but very paternal. One day, we were talking and suddenly he told me “Ramón, shut up, listen and learn, but despite what they say, be always true to yourself”. That was the best advice that he gave me; the man who was one of the best perfumers around the world. After a long time, I understood that is possible to be true to yourself and apply the strict fundamentals of classic perfumery, but for that, you must find your own olfactory language. Now, I am still improving my language. Due to the never-ending beauty of the raw materials (either essential natural oils or synthetic molecules) or because of my experience and knowledge of how to blend them, I realize that I am still learning and traveling down an endless road of discovery.

[Kiss My Name: seasonless tuberose]

CM: I must bring up the Inkwell bottle. I am not usually someone who is fixated on packaging at all, but I am fascinated by this bottle. In fact, as I write this, I had to pick up my bottle and look at it again. Can you explain what the ideas are behind its design, and what materials did you use to create it?

RM: I am a great lover of the volumes, forms, lines and designs-- almost as much as the perfumes! Carrie, note that I had begun Architecture studies due to my passion for it, but I ended up being a perfumer by familial tradition, and also because my teacher was able to make me a perfume lover.

When I left the commercial industry, I spent one year thinking about my own collection. I wanted to be unique, special and genuine in all fields, so that is why I wanted to create exclusive fragrances, bottled into an exclusive flacon. When I decided to design my own, I just had ended my novel “La Perfumista” (The perfumer), discovering the magic of an Inkwell, an incredible container loaded with a mysterious black fluid that soaks into the paper’s skin, and on the imagined history of its author written by his own hand. It is a great allegory to adapt to my no-gender perfumes. Thinking about it, one day I found an Inkwell of my great-grandfather's (who was also called Ramón Monegal, the first perfumer in the family). Maybe it was by chance; maybe it was destiny… Then, I redesigned it with new proportions and added the unscrewable diffuser, thinking about the best materials such as semiautomatic glass, Zamak (an alloy of Zinc, Aluminum, Magnesium and Copper), the best aluminum for the diffuser, and finally the Bakelite, a thermosetting polymer used in the past by the best perfumery houses, but replaced by injected plastic due to its high cost.

[Mon Cuir: a leather like nothing else in the world- an original]

CM: “Luxury” has got to be the most erroneously used descriptive word used by companies to describe their products. Luxury doesn’t mean what it used to, but I feel that your perfume line holds on to the concept of classic luxury and simultaneously incorporates important modern advantages. Can you please put into words what your idea of true luxury is? 

RM: I do not like to talk about luxury, because it encourages talk of what luxury is not, but I am going to make an exception with your smart and well done questionnaire, and am going to tell you something about what luxury is to me:

True luxury is enjoying a unique experience. It is not classified by the price, but the excellence and exclusivity. You cannot buy or sell it; just look and find out! For me, luxury is the freedom to choose exactly the raw materials that I want, with no cost limitations.

When the craft was industrialized, and marketing arrived, everything became banal and fictitious, because now, sales are more important than the essences. A good perfume can be an unforgettable experience able to make you fly and dream. When that happens, we are taking about luxury.

The quality of the raw materials, the handmade processes, the Art of the craft, the personal touches, the knowledge, or the latest technology to improve the old techniques, are some of the ingredients to get to that stage of excellence. But finally, I really think the most important ingredient, and unfortunately currently quite missing, is the honesty.

[Ramon Monegal]

CM: I know that the quality of the raw materials you use is of the utmost importance to you in the creation of your perfumes. Can you talk a little about these raw materials?

RM: I must admit that when I ended my perfumer training, I came into the Maison Myrurgia, the company of my family. There is where I received formation as “Nose” (“Nez” in French). In perfumery, there are two different roles, the Nose and the Perfumer. The nose is someone who specializes in the search, evaluation and approval of raw materials from around the world, and the Perfumer is someone with a special sense of smell, with specialized training in the mixture of raw materials who can then compose a note. So as you can also note, I am both nose and perfumer.

In Myrugia, we used to work with 1.000 different references, and every year I received at least 15 samples of each reference. I had to try all of them, evaluate them and choose the best and most refined. We had some raw materials only comparable to those of Maison Guerlain, a house very close to us, with whom we were very good friends. (Many years ago, we had an amber infusion with 10 years of maceration. We received a stunning offer for them from Jean Paul Guerlain, who told my father that they were the best infusions he had ever smelled). 

Working with the best raw materials is the basis of my work. My laboratory is based in Switzerland, where I work with the best Absolute Sambac Jasmine from its concrete, we fractionate the Cedar, the Oud, the Patchouly or the Vetyver, we get Rose essence and its Absolute of an amazing quality, a unique distillation of Iris over Cedar, as well as we get the best Iris essence and its Absolute (my favorite over all, and the most expensive raw material around the world), an impressive Tuberose and Orange flower extracted in Grasse, as well as the best Spanish and Italian citrus, and so forth. Obviously, and in keeping with my interest to constantly be learning, I work with the best and newest synthetic molecules, such as Cashmeran, Ambroxane, Ambermax or Norlimbanol. 

My current palette only includes the most exclusive natural and synthetic molecules. That’s my way to create unique and genuine creations, unmatched by competitors, because they either can't or don't want to go to the trouble of seeking out and buying the very best. Once again, this is also a luxury to me.

[Ramon's cozy perfumer's organ in the RM showroom]

CM: As you prepare to launch your fragrances here in the US, can you tell the readers of this blog what they can expect from Ramon Monegal Parfums, and what sets your fragrances apart from the rest?

RM: Customers will find that our perfumes are made by a true perfumer. As you know, the most well-known current Signature brands are not signed by true perfumers. In my collection, customers will find exclusive fragrances, capable of love, seduction and surprise. Olfactory histories like “Lovely Day”; a watery floral fragrance, radiant and silky, around a bridal bouquet of beautiful roses, or like “Kiss, my Name”; a nectar of Tuberose, Jasmine and Orange blossom, a timeless myth reinterpreted according to a perfume-- outgoing and exuberant. Or, like “Entre Naranjos”; a vital elixir, fresh, sparkling, lively and a sunny interpretation of some verses of the great Andalusian (Spanish) poet Antonio Machado, dedicated to an orange tree, or like “Agar Musk”; a perfume of worship around the Oud agar wood; sober, majestic and elegantly opulent, or like “Mon Patchouly”; the desire for freedom, the revolutionary idea of “flower power”, but from the Spanish island of Ibiza, the smell of Patchouly bathed by the Mediterranean becomes a provocative breeze, and offers a sense of affirmation.

My maxim, besides “Less is more”, is “A good perfume should always add”. The distinguishing features of my work, my perfume, are the passion for what I do, the purity of the aesthetics, the divine proportion, the non-negotiable quality of my raw materials and its mastering, my Mediterranean origin with its contribution of freshness and vitality, the naturalness and originality of my creations, the fusion of the classical basis with our own technological evolution, and finally, my own language based on the projection of values.

[the unique atomizer and Bakelite cap of the satisfyingly heavy Inkwell bottle]

If stories are to be told with perfume, Ramon Monegal certainly has created his own olfactory language to tell them with. It is refined, frequently intangible, sometimes daring and unusual, but always attractive. Finally removed from the shadow of anonymity as a perfumer, he speaks this language in a voice imbued with clarity, purpose and passion... and he's just getting started.

[Starting sometime in August, Ramon Monegal Perfumes will be available exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman in-store and at www.bergdorfgoodman.com, select Neiman Marcus stores and at www.neimanmarcus.com, as well as selected specialty boutiques, including www.luckyscent.com / Scent Bar].

The official website is in the process of being redesigned and will be ready very soon, but in the meantime, below you'll find a list of the names of the 14 fragrances in the collection:

Agar Musk
Dry Wood
Mon Patchouly
Kiss My Name
Cotton Musk
Impossible Iris
Entre Naranjos
Mon Cuir
Lovely Day
Ambra di Luna
Cherry Musk
L'eau de Rose

All photos courtesy of and copyrighted by Ramon Monegal Perfumes, Barcelona, Spain 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Currently Coveting...

It's that time again, when I openly share my current wishlist. My logic behind doing this is always the same: put it out there in the universe so I can stop thinking about these things and move on!

A Navy eye. I have avoided blues in all shapes and forms all my life because it was just a color that did not speak to me. It felt foreign. Now, I feel much differently about it. I've bought a vintage blue suede handbag, and now I'm ready for the eye makeup. Mally Beauty makes the products I need: EverColor Shadow Stick in Nautical and EverColor Starlight Eyeliner in Sailor.

Ivory silk pajamas: I have so many pairs of pajamas I've literally lost count. But I don't have them in Ivory, so you can understand the seriousness of my situation.

RMS Beauty Oil: I am so happy I discovered RMS cosmetics-- the creamy, hydrating organic formulas are very kind to my skin. I've all but given up powder cosmetics for good. Now there's a new facial oil, and based on the quality of everything I've used from RMS, I bet it's fabulous.

Last but not least, here are several looks from Haider Ackermann's Fall 2012 Ready To Wear collection. The sumptuous colors and fabrics return as part of Ackermann's signature style, and with some new silhouettes as well as some familiar ones. If I could, I would dress myself only in Haider Ackermann.

Have you noticed that there's no perfume on my list? Well, that's because I've got more samples than I have time to test them, besides, the discovery of a new Spanish luxury fragrance house launching in the US very soon is occupying the perfume part of my brain in full at the moment. Ramon Monegal will knock your socks off.

[details and reviews coming soon!]