I know that many of my readers are not just familiar with Amouage, but are thoroughly enchanted with the brand. Therefore, I thought you'd want to get in on voting for them for a coveted Details.com Grooming Award. The incense-based Jubilation XXV has received the nod.
My love, lust and adoration of Amouage's Library Collection continues with the recent release of Opus VI, a fragrance without gender but filled to overflowing with emotion. After Opus V came out, I was certain that it was my special scent, and I'd never love another Amouage that much. I should know by now not to think in terms of absolutes when pondering fragrance. Perfume is a truly mercurial element that is entirely dependent on its creator that sets it free into the world, as well as the people who buy and interpret that scent for themselves. These two universes do not often intersect with ease and has the potential to foster feelings of alienation, but the thread that binds us all together is strong. It is made of shades of gray, it is irrational, it is passion and it is love. A beautiful perfume indelibly marks everyone who submits to it, and whether the scent becomes legendary or not does not matter. Opus VI secretly stokes my subconscious desires as only one other fragrance has done in the past-- Opus V. Are you wondering if I love them equally? I've been wondering the same thing myself.
I find that the notes list for almost every Amouage fragrance is only a part of the story, and I'm sure that's done deliberately. Creative Director Christopher Chong knows how to hold the public's interest by not revealing too much. And yet, he has been very much in support of transparency. An example of this is how some of the synthetic notes are officially listed along with some natural ones. As a consumer, I feel that the firm is giving consumers more credit than many other firms do. We're not being dragged towards being force-fed some abstract, phony story built on a shaky concept. There are strong aesthetics behind every Library Collection fragrance, and while each can be said to have a theme, in many ways, it is the wearer who is challenged to create their own story from the perfume. And if there's one thing perfume-obsessed people can do, it's spin a yarn.
Opus VI begins in a feminine vein with (unlisted) notes of jammy damask rose, orris, violet, jasmine grandiflorum and a light dusting of powdered honey. Amouage's famous frankincense-based incense accord is present from beginning to end, as are the very broad but lightweight woods. The amber accord is seamlessly blended into the base and I do not find that it's in the least overwhelming. In fact, I wouldn't mind if the amber were amped up a little more. No matter which floral elements are used in any Amouage blend created in the past few years, it is the uncommon, modern and unmistakable base that lasts for so long and is so recognizable. Notes will change from blend to blend, but they all exist on the same vibrational plane. The persistent and pleasurable thrum of woods, amber and incense with a tiny hint of sweetness by way of tonka or vanilla signals the arrival of the newest entry in The Library Collection. Opus VI is about as good as it gets for my tastes.
[sample sent to me by the company. I unfortunately have no information on when Opus VI will be available for sale in the US, but keep your eyes peeled at ParfumsRaffy.com]
I have recently become pretty obsessed with natural and organic (when possible) skin care products, mostly due to the influence and encouragement of my fellow blogger Nav of Beauty Huile. With a little nudge from her, I've decided that I'm going to start posting once a week or so about my experiences with skin care products as an ultra-sensitive skin type. I'll be using a rating system: 0-5, 0 meaning no sensitivity or irritation whatsoever, to 5, meaning that I pretty much burned my face off (nod to Victoria J, EauMG).
To start things off, I'll be reviewing Dr. Alkaitis Organic Enzyme Exfoliating Mask. Exfoliation is one of those words that gives me shivers down my spine, because I rarely know what I'm in for. That's because my skin is so reactive and so unpredictable, that I'll be sensitive to something today that I had no problem with last year. It's not an unusual occurrence. I broke out in red bumps all over my face as soon as I entered the pre-surgical area of the hospital when I had my gallbladder out a couple weeks ago. I was honestly more worried about my skin than the surgery, and I had the anesthesiologist in stitches over my kvetching.
Dr. Alkaitis Organic Enzyme Exfoliating Mask: Irritation Factor= 0 out of 5
This mask is one that comes in powder form (my favorite kind), and you mix a teaspoon of the mask with a teaspoon (or a bit more) of water and make a thin paste, sort of like pancake batter. There is enough in the jar for 25 masks. Application is sloppy, slimy fun, and it's left on the skin for 5-7 minutes. One major caveat: you must keep the mask moist on your face, or the enzymes will be inert. I take a wet muslin washcloth that I use specifically for masks and lay it over my face as I loaf until it's time to wash it off. You can also mist face with a spray-bottle at frequent intervals. The scent reminds me of steel cut oats soaked in milk, and I love that. After rinsing and completing my toning, oiling and creaming steps, I stared hard at my skin in the mirror. No redness, no irritation (not even when the mask was on), I see and feel a subtle, beautiful refinement in the tone and texture of my skin, and my complexion is calm and happy.
Trish and Dr. Saul Alkaitis, my most favorite father and daughter team ever
It's hard to believe something could truly exfoliate the skin without my even feeling a single tingle, but I'm a believer now. Not only are there work-horse enzymes contained in the mask to devour surface debris and dead skin cells, but also phyto-nutrients, antioxidants and minerals which are delivered to the skin. It brightens, and with continued use, even lightens, and it serves as an overall gem of an anti-aging treatment that is a pleasure to use. I am so into this brand. You can expect more reviews of this product line in the future, because I become a little more obsessed with it every day.
So, my sensitive-skinned siblings-in-spirit, Dr. Alkaitis' Enzyme Exfoliating Mask is not only acceptable for you, but I heartily recommend it as the only product of its kind that I've used that delivers visible results after just one use, and actually soothes angry, moody skin in the process. Put your mad scientist outfit on and get to mixing, because your skin wants this mask, like, yesterday, for its very own-- sooner rather than later.
EDIT: Trish Alkaitis mentioned that it's very important that everyone knows that this particular mask is only to be used twice a month, tops. Just because it doesn't sting doesn't mean it's not getting down to business.
Ingredients list: Organic Oat Buds*, Blueberry*, Bilberry*, Strawberry*, Raspberry*, Grapes* and Blackberry*; Extracts of Barley Grass*, Turmeric* and Cat’s Claw; Enzyme Exfoliating Complex consisting of Cellulase, Lipase, Lactase, Protease Complex, Xylinase, Amylase, Bromelain, Papain, Maltase, Beta-Glucanase, Invertase, Pectinase, Mannanase, Phytase, Alpha-Galactosidase, Arabinosidase and Glucoamylase. * – Signifies certified organically grown.
Ah, it's list time again! In other words, here comes my unnatural jubilation for strange associations and randomness transformed into logic. This time, myself and the rest of my blogging group (Persolaise, Olfactoria and Fragrant Moments) will be focusing on one of my favorite topics: Classic film characters. You should probably know that my idea of a classic does include the likes of Pink Flamingos as well as The Blue Angel.
John Barrymore as Larry Renault in Dinner at Eight wearing Caron Pour Un Homme
[photo credit: movieactors.com]
Barrymore's tragic turn as Larry Renault in the 1933 film Dinner at Eight demonstrates what was so appealing about the oft-brooding actor: a beautiful sadness cuts his outwardly flawless masculinity and colors every move he makes. This makes Caron's Pour Un Homme perfect for him. By most accounts it is an exemplary fougere that, not surprisingly, many women have grown fond of wearing over time, probably because of the whiff of powderiness it graciously gives off. Once most of the top and middle notes have worn off, what remains is mild, sweet incense. Pour Un Homme is a classic that is still relevant and quite attractive; just like Mr. Barrymore.
Marlene Dietrich as Lola in The Blue Angel, wearing Le Labo Patchouli 24
[photo credit: IMDB.com]
Ah, Lola, the stunning seductress played by Marlene Dietrich in 1930's The Blue Angel. Who isn't obsessed with this woman, a burlesque performer with the world at her feet, with or without spats? The perfect scent for Lola is Le Labo's Patchouli 24, with its strong tobacco note, smoky birch tar and burnt vanilla. It has no gender, but what it does have is earthy sex appeal, and lots of it. It is a fragrance worthy of a beautiful woman in a tuxedo and top hat with a cigar.
Christopher Lee as Grigori Rasputin in Rasputin: The Mad Monk wearing Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan
Rasputin: The Mad Monk is one of my favorite Hammer films, not for its historical accuracy (ahem), but for the passionate and nearly perfect performance that Christopher Lee gave as Grigori Rasputin. It's what he was born to do. The fiercely intelligent, scary, hard-partying Rasputin needs a fragrance that will hold up to his exploits and desires, and Serge Lutens' Ambre Sultan is the only perfume that stepped up for the job. Ambre Sultan is a powerful herbal oriental scent with a thick coat of fur, perfectly suited to be the fragrant companion to one of the most interesting and fearsome con-men of all time.
Catherine Deneuve as Carole in Repulsion wearing Serge Lutens Datura Noir
[photo credit: johnmyersart.tumblr.com]
Roman Polanski's1965 film Repusion shows the beautiful Catherine Deneuve on a downward spiral as she falls into the clutches of extreme paranoia and other assorted mental afflictions. Somehow, her beauty remains intact, even when she doesn't mean it to be so. Her beauty has cursed her, and the curse is slowly poisoning her mind. What is beautiful and also poisonous? Why, the Datura flower, of course. Sweet, ethereal and slightly bitter.
Mink Stole as Connie Marble in Pink Flamingos wearing Issey Miyake Le Feu d'Issey
[photo credit: feastoffun.com]
John Waters' 1972 film Pink Flamingos is the source of the magnetic pull that brought my husband and I together. And then I became one half of The Filthiest People Alive, and my husband, the other half (Raymond Marble). Connie is full of hatred for most living things, but especially Divine and wildlife. "Horrid little birds!" The sadly discontinued Le Feu d'Issey is like a blood orange and a habanero pepper were the subjects for some strange gene mutation experiments. The perfume screams much in the same way Connie Marble does: with fire and juiced-up passion.
Tomorrow morning, I'll be heading to the hospital for a routine surgical procedure-- I'm having my gallbladder removed. It's given me so much trouble recently and made me so sick, that I'll be relieved to get it out of me. My surgeon and surgical team are super cool, I like the hospital where I'll be, and I have full confidence in the staff. But I'm still nervous. All I can think about is what perfume and skin care products I'm going to bring with me. Distracting myself with such thoughts is certainly my self-preservation kicking in.
Just hold still... this won't hurt a bit
Since I can't bring my cat Troutie (the perfect creature comfort creature), I'm going to bring a small variety of perfumes most of which are made by hand, by people I care about and who care about me. It's all about good vibes-- bottled.
Here's the short list:
Aroma M Geisha Amber Rouge: it's in a roll-on bottle so travels well, has maximum impact with minimal sillage, and it acts as a cashmere blanket for my soul. Prediction: When the nurses get close enough to me, they will want to know what I'm wearing and where they can buy it.
Aftelier Oud Luban: It's in solid form, another great traveller. It's warm and cozy but also edgy and smoky. It reminds me of the best parts of myself, and it feels like an extension of Mandy. It's the best of both worlds. Prediction: My husband will comment on how amazing it smells. He always does, and it's gratifying when he notices and comments on whatever scent I'm wearing.
Opus Oils Giggle Water: Another roll-on bottle, this time filled with a cheerful orange blossom scent spiked with Kedra Hart's signature. a long-lingering soft musk. It makes me feel like the sun is out and I'm being warmed by its rays. A perfect reflection of Kedra's personality-- playful and engaging with a bit of the animal thrown in for good measure. Prediction: Men comment on this one. If I were single, I think I could feasibly get myself a surgeon or anesthesiologist boyfriend.
Now, on to the skin care oils or balms. I said I'd bring two- one for face, one for body, but I don't think I can stick to two. Here are my must-haves:
Decleor Angelique Night Balm: I use it over retinol cream every night, and when I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, I am very, very happy with what I see. Hydrates and protects to the max. Superb!
Aftelier Wild Orange Face Elixir: A perfect light to medium weight oil that my skin adores, and the fragrance makes me swoon. Patchouli and Cedarwood join the Wild Orange to facilitate the ideal indulgent skin care ritual. I use what's leftover on my hands to massage into my cuticles. It works even better than my expensive Decleor cuticle oil.
Red Flower Essential Omega Fresh Berry Oil: I can use this to soothe irritations and moisturize my face and body. I love the scent, which smells like pulverized berry seeds, a tiny bit of mint and a little bit of brightness from bergamot. It's a truly elegant multi-use oil that I've come to rely heavily on.
Ole Henriksen Lavender Body Oil: Since my pal Nav was so nice to send me a giant vat of this gorgeous stuff, I'm partying like it's 1999. I can only imagine the dry air in the hospital, and what sort of odors it will carry, and lavender is the perfect bodily spell to cast in order to protect my poor nose from any unwanted odors. Lavender: it's not just for dinner anymore.
I'm skipping the retinol, so that leaves room for one more thing... more perfume!
Amouage Library Collection Opus VI has been gobbling up all my stress and anxiety lately. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I might love it more than Opus V. Did you hear that, Mr. Chong? It's big, it's magnificent and it has unexpected facets that keep me interested. Full review to come soon. Prediction: If I'm feeling well enough, I will wear this, and others may be lucky enough to smell it because it does have some throw.
Bringing all these scented treasures with me is my way of protecting my state of mind in an unpredictable environment. They are my instruments to create balance and harmony-- it's the only healthy way to self-medicate that I know of, what about you?
EDIT 3/11/12: In the wake of The Great Hospital Fiasco of 2012, my skin went haywire. Within hours of entering the hospital, my cheeks and chest started reddening, and it only got worse from there. I have no idea what it is that made my skin freak, but I'm pretty sure it's airborne. I had my elite arsenal of skin care products at hand that temporarily soothed and hydrated for the longer term, but I've still got rosacea-like blotchiness on my face. I've never had rosacea before, but it wouldn't surprise me if I start getting it regularly now. Did I say that I loved that hospital and had faith in the staff? I retract all such complimentary statements. My surgeon is a badass and I like him quite a bit. Pretty much everyone else can go jump in the lake.
I couldn't have dreamed up a more thoughtful, genuine friend. Mandy comes from a place of giving and generosity, and that shows in just about everything she does. So on her special day, I'd like to extend special gratitude to her for always understanding, never letting me down and being adept at making me laugh, especially during darker days.
Mandy: may you always have jasmine wishes, and ambergris dreams!