The Beauty of Scent, Scrutinized for Pleasure

Monday, October 29, 2012

Perfumer Interview Series: Madalina Stoica-Blanchard

There is a new French niche house on the scene, and its name is JUL ET MAD. I was immediately charmed not only by their initial three offerings (Stilettos On Lex, Terrasse a St-Germain, Amour de Palazzo), but with the founders, creative directors and my favorite couple of the moment, Madalina and Julien. After the perfumes had a bit of time to burn a solid impression into my psyche (especially Stilettos On Lex), I had become very excited about the brand and was eager to know more about them. Madalina Stoica-Blanchard  was kind enough to indulge me with this interview. Reviews of each perfume are coming very soon.


The story of JUL ET MAD is really a love story told in three chapters based on geographical locations. Can you please tell us the story? And, why did you feel your story needed to be told through fragrances?


The story of JUL ET MAD is a true love story between Julien and Madalina, which is depicted in the three first Perfumes of our collection: Stilettos on Lex, Terrasse à St Germain and Amour de Palazzo.

To summarize, JUL ET MAD’s story begins with the portrayal of a young woman who lives on Lexington Avenue and enjoys every moment in New York City. The “Stilettos on Lex” chapter of the JUL ET MAD story is the exact description of whom I was at the time, and I like to think that this portrait is no different from all young women living life at its fullest.

At some point in my career I had to go to France and, before I realized what’s happening, I fell in love with a young, very handsome Parisian. It was love at first sight at this famous café terrace in St. Germain-des-Près.  This amazing and fortunate encounter completely changed our lives, as only few weeks later I decided to leave everything behind and move to France. The perfume “Terrasse à St-Germain” evokes exactly what we felt at the time, is the essence itself of our “coup de foudre”.

After my arrival in Paris, to celebrate the beginning of our life as a couple, Julien brought me to Venice … It was one of the most amazing experiences, we enjoyed every moment spent here, and everything seemed like a dream. Every emotion we felt, the magic of the place with its beauty and history, we illustrated in “Amour de Palazzo”, the third chapter of our Perfume Collection.

As for the “destination”, it simply happens that these first three episodes took place in different locations. The real purpose of JUL ET MAD is to describe the most important and memorable moments of our love story, no matter where situated.

And the idea of telling our story through fragrances came very naturally, as the brand JUL ET MAD itself is all about passion and celebration of life. We feel so lucky our two souls succeeded in meeting and recognizing each other, regardless the distance, the culture, the language, and we are amazed to see how our romance gives strength and belief to people around us. Moreover, every time we were asked how we met and after telling our story, the reaction was the same: “This is so beautiful, you should write a book!” So, what better way to tell our story, than by simply replacing the words with fragrant notes?



As creative directors, what was it about Robertet (Grasse) perfumer Dorothée Piot that made you and Julien feel that she was the one to bring your vision to life?

It’s a bit by chance, as it is with love. We didn’t plan on collaborating only with Dorothée, as different perfumers from Robertet were working on the first three JUL ET MAD compositions. They had for general direction only our feelings and our story, but absolute freedom in terms of raw materials and complexity. The task for the perfumers was even more difficult as this was a personal story. It just happens that, when presented with their first propositions, without knowing, the three fragrances chosen were imagined by Dorothée Piot. Afterwards, we worked together for several months in order to perfect them. Her sensibility and talent made the rest.

I noticed that the photographic image on your website for Stilettos On Lex contains a few mysteries of its own… the woman whose long legs and black patent stilettos we gaze at seems to have a tattoo on her ankle- the JUL ET MAD logo. Could this be meant to represent how perfume can imprint itself on us and become part of who we are? What is the idea behind the design of the logo?

About Stilettos On Lex, you are perfectly right! The JUL ET MAD logo tattooed on the ankle, means how personal and what a real part of you a perfume should be. You cannot simply remove it; Julien likes to think that a perfume is the only thing that remains on a woman even when nude. It is the first thing that precedes and introduces you, as well as the last thing that envelopes and protects you.

Our visuals are a very personal interpretation of places and emotions that marked us at a precise moment, the very source of inspiration for our perfumes … the striking beauty of a mysterious woman on Lexington, a café terrace in Paris, or a Murano glass chandelier in a Palazzo in Venice… That’s why the JUL ET MAD symbol or the bottle were introduced discreetly in every visual, as they are a distinctive part of the scene where the perfumes were born.

Regarding the design of our logo, it’s been a long work process with our graphic and design team. They presented us with a series of very personal questions to which Julien and I had to answer separately and together. They came to our house and took pictures of almost everything (paintings, sculptures, books, personal objects, as well as small design details). Few weeks after, they showed us different drawings, and this symbol just stood out, as we instantly recognized ourselves in it (there is a photo of a first draft of it on our website). We love these two shapes that are so different, but so complementary at the same time. Together, they form a new figure, but not through a total fusion and mix, more like an unbreakable bound, managing to keep their own original properties. As with our couple, we didn’t become a new entity; we kept our individual personalities which, combined, just became much stronger and solid.




At the heart of each of the three perfumes in this collection lie three very different vibes, almost as if each one is a distinct color or style of music. With this collection, was it your intention to see that each fragrance could stand on its own?

The idea was, indeed, to make three different compositions, as every perfume represents a different stage in our lives, influenced by different circumstances, different places, different people, and so on. This explains why we wanted in the beginning to work with different perfumers for each and every fragrance. And, we cannot say it often enough, Dorothée Piot showed a fantastic talent and sensibility, composing every perfume so differently, but still managing to keep the “lifeline” that animates the entire concept behind JUL ET MAD.

As anyone interested in perfume knows, there is an ever-increasing influx of new launches each year. Can you please explain what JUL ET MAD’s unique point of view is?

Yes, it is true that more and more new fragrance launches happen every year. It is a chance that people who are fond of fragrances can still find new and rare perfumes. Regarding JUL ET MAD, we developed our collection with a maximum of respect for the traditional French “savoir-faire” in perfumery, trying to transpose it in every details of our offer, which is entirely hand-made. We kept the highest concentration we could in our compositions, each fragrance of the collection being a veritable “Parfum”. We work in tight partnership with French companies specialized in the traditional perfumery and always tried to come back where the perfume should have stayed, a work of art in every aspect…



What are yours and Julien’s favorite raw materials, notes or accords, and why?

There are so many notes and accords I love!!! Living in different countries and cultures, I got attached to so many different raw materials specific to every place. But, if I really have to choose one in particular, I should say the ambergris. During my courses of Fragrance Knowledge at FIT, I fell in love with this magical, intriguing, exquisite, rare raw material… I remember how amazed I was by the fact that, when mixed and combined with other ingredients, this matter of dull grayish color and not extremely pleasant smell can magically alter and enhance the quality of the existing notes, making them greater, deeper and vaster than they can ever be on their own. It’s a little bit like in real life, when a person gets stronger and more confident thanks to the love and support shown by the people they cherish.

As for Julien? He told me the story of one of his numerous travels in Asia, where an Indian old man offered him as a welcome gift a beautifully hand-carved wooden box filled with musk-scented beads. He is since very attached to the smell of musk, which he identifies as specific to this mystical part of the world he so cherishes.




Have there been any particular perfumers, houses or perfumery styles that have influenced your aesthetic as a creator?

Inspiration is all around us! The industry of fragrance has such resources!! We are deeply attached to the French Traditional Perfumery era, where every perfume was presented as a unique, rare work of art… Whatever the inspiration may be, our goal was to create a Perfume Collection that will simply last over the years, elegant and extemporal, classic and modern at a time, as Love. Love and its beauty is not a question of fashion or trend, it’s simply intemporal.

I must admit that I’m enamored with the bottle design, the Nomad travel atomizers and even the outer packaging. Can you explain the concept behind the designs?

Thank you, Carrie! From the beginning, the idea was to develop a design based on the image of our love, preserving the purity of every matter. To reflect the complexity of the couple, we played with different aspects and textures. The flacon shows all this perfectly. The front, transparent, is delicately engraved with the brand and perfume names in pure platinum letters, in order to keep a feeling of purity and quiet elegance. The back, in perfect symmetry with the front, is entirely frosted, with the exception of the logo symbol, thus responding to its other half. The couple’s entire duality is expressed in this perfume bottle, the logo recomposing itself through the transparency of the glass, as we look at the front of bottle.

A heavy cap in zamak designed by Julien crowns the bottle, its shape reinterpreting the logo symbol.  It starts as a circle at the base, and gradually “blooms” to become a square at the top.
We also developed the Nomad Spray for every flacon specifically. They come already filled, as we think a perfume should naturally follow you everywhere, anytime. As an echo to the glass flacon decoration, the concept of duality is also found here, evoked by the textures and the effects on the bright and matte silver metal.

And last, but not least, we wanted our outer packaging to represent not only a simple perfume box, but the “home” of our unconditioned love, the chest of our passion, revealing the beauty of our perfumes, with nothing to hide. We developed this elegant leather case in light grey color and silver, with an interior draped in white velvet. The perfume hold was designed to be removable, allowing the reuse of this precious box for personal treasures, if desired.



With Julien’s design background and your knowledge of and passion for perfume, it seems natural to me that your first collection would feel as concise and polished as it does. What can we expect from JUL ET MAD moving forward? Do you already have new fragrances in the works?

Well, yes indeed! The JUL ET MAD story just began and we have so many moments we would like to share! Since we’ve met, we already lived so many fantastic things, discovering new amazing places, meeting such beautiful people! Although I cannot get into details at this stage, I can tell that the future will reserve many nice surprises, as our collection is just at its very beginning!

I know that you spent your childhood in Romania, moved to New York at a young age and eventually settled in Paris. What is it about France (besides Julien!) that managed to snatch your heart for good?

I don’t know if there is an answer for this… There are so many things I love in France! The history, the people, the culture, the language… If I really think about it, maybe I found here a similarity to my birth country - which I greatly cherish - as Romanian history and culture are very close and historically related to the French… Did you know that Bucharest was called “Little Paris” between the two WW?  Yes, this could be one of the reasons if I really think about it. It could also be the beauty of this country, and this not only from an architectural point of view… And the food, oh yes, the land of fine cuisine which I so very much enjoy, especially when accompanied by a glass of a perfect wine… And the perfumes, of course!! Being able to live my passion for the industry fully, being able to learn and work at the “source” of the perfumery, and finally being able to create and to see my dream come true… 


And I think it is nearly impossible not to get caught up in Madalina's sweeping passions and her intellectual and creative musings. Behind JUL ET MAD is a story that you must sniff to believe.


[JUL ET MAD perfumes can be found at MiN New York and Aedes de Venustas. They are well worth the attention I'm lavishing upon them-- trust me, you'll want to try these]



By Kilian: In the Garden of Good and Evil Collection

In the world of fragrance appreciation, I suppose I am somewhat of a purist. That means that, while of course, my eye can be caught by the aesthetic genius of really neat packaging, I first go straight for the juice, like a pig snuffling for truffles, I seek out what the bottle contains-- good, evil or baffling.

In the case of Kilian Hennessy's most recent collection (due to launch on November 1st), I was sent plain vials containing the three fragrances, and quickly went to town on them. I transferred a couple of their contents into atomizers, and proceeded to fall into various states of obsessive love and/or affinity for them. It's only after I've made notes on my initial impressions that I allow myself to pick through the press kit for images and stories, and I found that this collection has it all-- brains, heart and beauty.


Starting with the packaging- I think there's hardly a more luxurious combination than white lacquer and gold details, like the beautiful cigarette case style box with the gold snake that adorns the top. It's wildly attractive, and has the potential to make gift-giving the frenzied, slack-jawed event it should be.


The bottle itself is exquisite, and like many of Kilian's other creations, straddles the line between simplicity and excess with aplomb.


The three perfumes in this collection are In the City of Sin, Forbidden Games (both by Calice Becker), and Good Girl Gone Bad (by Alberto Morillas). Aficionados will recognize Becker's masterful, multi-layered amalgams of woods kissed with gourmand notes. In the City of Sin is my favorite out of the three. It's substantial, warm, and dangerously seductive with sillage that confounds and enchants without overpowering.The tart, rich, stewed fruits play against the medium-cool Turkish rose, and the spices, resins and woods are not so insistent that the more delicate aspects of the rose and the tart fruits are upstaged.  It plays some really good tricks on the skin; like initially showing its density and then spreading out like ball bearings scattering across the floor. If you like, you can even pick out its constituents. In the City of Sin's true charm lies in its diffusiveness, therefore it is best enjoyed sprayed from an atomizer. Fans of Serge Lutens Bois series will love this perfume.
[notes: bergamot, pink pepper, cardamom, apricot, caramelized plums, Turkish rose, Indonesian incense, atlas and Virginia cedars, Indonesian patchouli]

Forbidden Games, also by Becker, is one of the "white whales" of modern perfumery-- a sophisticated fruity-floral. It's more complex than it seems at first blush, so it requires a little time for it to unfold and divulge its secrets. This perfume's main focus is fruit- but not the cooked-down fruits of In the City of Sin-- these have fresh facets that really highlight the tempting, gourmand qualities of the fruit that proved to be the undoing of Adam and Eve. The apple, peach and pear elements feel innocent at the outset, but not juvenile. A very pretty wave of florals emerges, comprised of jasmine, rose and geranium which were used to great effect to push forward the blend's vitality. The drydown brings such a heartbreakingly sensual harmony of vanilla, honey, a little spice and incense, and it sticks around on the skin in this state. Gourmand-lovers will be left in a trance.
[notes: apple, peach, plum, Laotian cinnamon bark, Bulgarian rose orpur, geranium Bourbon, midnight jasmine, Madagascar vanilla, Laotian honey, opoponax]  

Good Girl Gone Bad (Alberto Morillas) takes very good care of those who prefer florals over all else. This fragrance brings with it an arresting combination of jasmine, tuberose and osmanthus, among others. The effect is impossibly chic and somewhat reserved. GGGB is not a man-eating, oversized neon floral, nor is it a wallflower. It's a perfume that behaves itself in public, keeps its mouth shut about what goes on after hours, and never, ever apologizes for itself. It's nuanced and highly wearable.
[notes: jasmine sambac, osmanthus, rose de mai, Indian tuberose, Egyptian narcissus, Virginia cedar, amber]

All in all, I think this collection is a very strong showing for By Kilian, and exactly the kind of thing I hope for during Autumn launch season. The bible may have laid out a cautionary tale for us all, warning against doing what comes naturally. This collection is Kilian's counter-spell against that dogma (the silliest of admonitions), and it also serves as a mantra for some of us Earth-bound pleasure-seekers.

[By Kilian In the Garden of Good and Evil collection  will be available starting November 1st. 1.7 oz bottles are $245 each at select retail and e-tail shops. Samples provided for my consideration]

Friday, October 19, 2012

Serge Lutens launches new US website and store

I was happy to receive a very pleasant email from Sandrine Laurent at Serge Lutens the other day, informing me that there is a brand new US website.You might be asking yourself whether or not this is really newsworthy. If the conclusion you come to is that it's not, you're probably reading the wrong blog. The Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue fansite is down the hall and to the left. eyeliner on a cat is just one of many perfume blogs built on a solid foundation of Lutens & Sheldrake.

[Mandarin Mandarine]

Normally a new company website wouldn't get me terribly excited, but I happen to think that this one is extraordinarily well designed with amusement park-like coolness, like the 3D spinning renderings of the ultra-exclusive limited edition bottles. The webshop is fantastic as well, and it's great to have the option of ordering the Palais Royal exclusifs, Serge Lutens cosmetics (which I've been wanting to try for years) as well as the other fragrance collections directly from the source.

Not every single Lutens fragrance is a slam dunk for me, but I will always keep an open mind. That's what Uncle Serge taught us, after all.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Perfume Palate: A Matter of Taste [Perry Sun]


Perry Sun is the kind of girl that makes me thank the heavens for the internet (especially Twitter). When I first "met" her, she worked in Online Media Relations for LUSH Cosmetics, which she recently left to pursue another path, which may or may not involve the conspicuous consumption of mass quantities of pickles. And, like many of my online friends that I hold dearest, we made our connection first through fragrance. I soon discovered that Gorilla Perfumes at LUSH was a veritable treasure trove of excellent, inexpensive fragrances that smelled to me like more love and creative genius went into their creation than many high-priced niche firms. Perry, it turned out, was a little more fragrance-obsessed than even I realized, which only increased my fondness for her. So, look at her pretty face for a moment or two, then read on to find out more about this NYC native's olfactory story. 





First of all, please state your name and occupation:

Perry Sun, pickle aficionado experiencing a quarter-life crisis.

What is your favorite perfume at the moment? 

Orange Blossom from LUSH Gorilla Perfumes, it’s airy but substantial without being heavy.

What is your favorite fragrance house or brand of perfume?

Bond No. 9, I like Laurice’s take on different spots of the city being a born and raised New Yorker.

How often do you wear perfume, and under what circumstances do you wear it?

I wear perfume for when I need an extra boost in my day. If I know it’s going to be a long day, it helps to have something nice waft past your nose to remind you there’s more to life than work, work, work.

Is it important to you to know who the perfumer or creator is behind the perfumes you wear?

I think it adds to the appeal of the fragrance. Knowing that perfumers like Simon Constantine or Laurice Rahme or Maurice Roucel who have had years of experience crafting fantastic fragrances poured their heart and soul into the scent you’re wearing makes it a little more special. It’s hard to find something of quality or something special nowadays in the age of mass production.

Do you follow the work of certain perfumers, and if so, who?

I follow Laurice Rahme’s newest creations, just to see what nook of the city she’ll cover next. I think Ben Gorham of Byredo is just fascinating, I mean who builds a perfume around the concept of the color white?!

Think of an iconic perfume bottle design from the past. What is it?

Lanvin’s Arpege. I remember thinking “I would never have guessed it held perfume”, it reminds me of the ancient Greek amphoras you studied in art history class.

How many times a day do you estimate that you think about perfume?

Whenever I get a whiff of whatever it is I’m wearing, so probably 5-7 times a day.

Think of the last time you complimented someone on the fragrance they were wearing. Did you ask them what it was, and if so, did they tell you?

I don’t think I’ve ever asked anyone what fragrance they were wearing because most people just blurt it out after they say thank you! I also don’t know if I’d ever ask anyone what they were wearing because scent is so personal, it’d be like telling someone your bank card information.

In just three words, describe your ideal fragrance:

Fresh, mysterious and familiar.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Olie Biologique Radicale 005 Rejuvenating Oil


There has been a spate of amazing natural skin care products that have recently launched, and one of my favorites is Olie Biologique Radicale 005 Rejuvenating Oil. It's rare to find an oil that plumps up facial skin so quickly and efficiently or imparts such intense, instant radiance. It's even rarer to find one that has long-term, cumulative benefits that de-age the skin. Radicale 005 does it all for me. It contains 100% organic oils of camellia, rosehip, blackcurrant seed, Evening Primrose, Vitamin E, Grapefruit, Sandalwood, Rose Geranium, Rose Bulgar. It's loaded up with vitamins A, C and E, helps to reduce hyperpigmentation and even out skin tone and heals sun damage, eczema and rosacea.

The scent is rapturous, freshly rosy with the slightly green rose geranium. I am not usually a rose person, but I really like this one. It's smells so much like fresh roses that I can almost catch that whiff of ozone that tells me that something is living and breathing-- it's like the essences were captured in their prime. I love to use it in the morning to wake up my complexion and my nose, since I usually have many things to sniff each day.

Radicale 005 is particularly wonderful under the eyes, as the oil's consistency is on the richer side. What was once just my grouchy, sensitive and dry face is transformed into a calm and satiny complexion. It layers extremely well over my thin-textured retinol lotion and not only reduces the chance of irritation, but actively takes down redness and soothes. That's one of the benefits of having an oil with a heavier texture that leaves no trace of greasiness behind-- it heals and protects the skin. It works wonders on its own, but it also enhances every other product of mine it comes into contact with. It's going to be a cold weather staple for me.

Sometimes I wonder what I'd look like right now if this gorgeous woman had not introduced me to the world of oils. I've been obsessed with skin care since I was a little girl, but I'd always been fascinated with the scientific side of it. Now that I've learned how to separate the wheat from the chaff as far as oils go, I've discovered just how well products like Radicale 005 fit into the life and mind of a fragrance-obsessed, skin care junkie like me.

Olie Biologique Radicale 005 Rejuvenating Oil is available at www.oliebiologique.com in 3 sizes: 30 ml for $68, 5ml for $15 and a 2ml vial as part of a sample trio for $8.95.

[sample provided by Olie Biologique for my consideration]

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Perfume Palate: A Matter of Taste [Jennifer Lee Segale]

Jennifer Lee Segale's story is an atypical love story of sorts. Girl meets dirt, girl falls in love with dirt... and it only gets more interesting from here (spoiler alert: yes, there might be dirt babies). She is an accomplished horticulturist and the proprietor of a few businesses, including one of my new favorite places to grab essential skin care items: Garden Apothecary.

I cannot exist on this mortal coil without the organic H20 and essential oil sprays that I use on my face every day. The peppermint spray pretty much saved me during times when I was nauseous while recovering from surgery earlier this year, and whenever I have a headache or just feel ICK, it's just the thing. I am currently obsessing over Evening Aphrodesiac (neroli and jasmine). Jenn also makes beautiful organic sugar scrubs, oils, bath salts, teas and more, and one of her products actually makes  my husband excited to have spa days with me: her cute single-use French green clay facial masques.

Jenn also is the owner of Dirty Girl Gardening, she's written numerous articles for gardening and horticulture publications for a cool decade. The approach to everything she does honors nature while bringing very modern elements and ideas to her work.



Her latest passion is a project called Sacred Plants:

"Sacred Plants is a book about the connection between plants and a small group of plant Shamans and farmers in the jungle of Belize."

I don't know about you guys, but I love me some plants, pretty pictures, and moving stories of how humans connect with the gifts of nature. Do you love the PBS special "The Botany of Desire"? Then you will want to read this. Jenn needs all of our help to make this fascinating project come to fruition, so I hope you'll click, take a look at the Sacred Plants page on Kickstarter.com and make a donation if you can.

Now, let's find out how she feels about fragrance...



First of all, please state your name and occupation:

Hello, I'm Jenn Segale- owner, mad scientist and dirty girl behind Garden Apothecary. My background is in farming and horticulture on the California coast, and one of my companies is Garden Apothecary, an organic skin + body care product line. 

What is your favorite perfume at the moment?

The jasmine is in full bloom in my garden right now...so brushing up against that every morning has proven to be my fav perfume at the moment.

What is your favorite fragrance house or brand of perfume?

Of course mine! But other than Garden Apothecary, I adore In Fiore, a SF based company that is incredible.

[ed: Julie, if you're reading this, I swear I did not feed her that line!]

How often do you wear perfume, and under what circumstances do you wear it?

Rarely. I am covered in a menagerie of botanicals when I craft my products, and when I'm not, I'm outside in the garden. My garden is next to my bee hive, which is home to over 10,000 honey bees who prefer no scent. 

Is it important to you to know who the perfumer or creator is behind the perfumes you wear?

It's important for me to know what the perfumer stands for...what they know about botanicals. 

Do you follow the work of certain perfumers, and if so, who?

I'm much too self-absorbed for that.

Think of an iconic perfume bottle design from the past. What is it?

When I was about 10 years old, I bought a bottle of violet  perfume from a store in San Francisco. It took all the money I had, and I never opened it once- but just fell in love with the bottle design. It was a slender, vase-shaped bottle resembling a fine liqueur bottle. Just gorgeous- with a silver and purple foil label. Lovely.

How many times a day do you estimate that you think about perfume?

Rarely, but I think about botanical scents all the time. I think about why scents change, how they develop, and how the rest of nature "thinks" and interacts with them. I think about that constantly.

Think of the last time you complimented someone on the fragrance they were wearing. Did you ask them what it was, and if so, did they tell you?

Yes, not perfume exactly but Dr. Bronner's Almond Soap.

In just three words, describe your ideal fragrance:

Deep, floral, moss.

Monday, October 8, 2012

NEST Fragrances Midnight Fleur Eau de Parfum

NEST Fine Fragrance Collection was inspired by 18th century artist Mary Delany (1700-1788), who at the age of 72, created a new art form: mixed media collage. I have to admit that I previously knew nothing about this artist, but was really quite enchanted when I saw what Mrs. Delany did-- for art and for botanical posterity.



So far, I have only tried Midnight Fleur out of the three that are available. The other fragrances in the collection are Passiflora and Amazon Lily, both created by Christophe Laudamiel. Midnight Fleur was created by Jerome Epinette.


You will hardly need me to point out that the packaging is sublime. The large EDP bottle is flask-shaped, powder-coated black glass with gorgeous artwork on one side and attractive minimalist lettering on the other. The housing for the body cream is a heavy jar with similar decoration. I will be shocked if this collection does not turn out to be massively popular for Holiday gifts. There is also an 8.5ml rollerball available in each scent, which is really wonderful (I wish more companies would offer small purse-sizes).

[left to right: Amazon Lily, Passiflora, Midnight Fleur]

Midnight Fleur EDP is a long-lingering, slightly sweet and powdery concoction of amber, lactonic woods, a touch of patchouli and musk. Vanilla orchid and night-blooming jasmine bring a soft roundness to the composition. I'm going to be leaning heavily on this perfume to help get me through cold winter nights ahead. A milky, ambery blanket covers all in this blend, and is accented by an acidic, floral zing that lasts until the final phase of wear. Midnight Fleur is an ideal warm and cozy fragrance that is particularly delightful when layered over the body cream. The cream is obscenely rich and decadent and the jar is just as gorgeous and substantially heavy as the flask bottles.

I am content to say that this scent is not edgy, it doesn't push boundaries or have crazy ad copy that leaves me incredulous. History is not being re-written here by people whose grasp of said history is tenuous at best. Midnight Fleur has the integrity of clearly and faithfully executed inspiration: that of the botanical renderings of Mrs Mary. Delany. The whole of this fragrance, including the bottle and packaging, defies the passage of time. It is something lovely to behold. sensual to experience wearing, and I find that my mind wants to linger on the theme. All the flowers and plants that make us fragrance-lovers so happy deserve to be immortalized in such a beautiful way.



NEST Fine Fragrances are available at Neiman Marcus in-store and online, Bergdorf Goodman in store and online, as well as select specialty boutiques nationwide. $115 for 3.3 oz bottle EDP, 8.5ml rollerball perfume is $30, and the luxury body cream is $50 for a 6.7 oz jar.

[samples provided by company for my consideration]

Monday, October 1, 2012

The LUSH Chronicles: My first foray into the freshly launched Emotional Brilliance Cosmetics line


Spin the wheel! You can do it in LUSH shops or online. Just give it a whirl, and when it stops, quickly choose the 3 colors that appeal to you the most. The wheel will tell you how you're feeling-- check out the cosmetics that correspond to the colored disks, and you've got the exact look to suit your mood at that moment. Each shade is associated with a word, and when you combine your three words, it serves as a colorful makeup fortune cookie. Well, that's the idea anyway. It's the cutest corny gimmick I've seen in quite some time, and I have to admit that I love it.

What I ultimately did, though, was just choose the colors I really wanted to wear on my face, and I came up with a gorgeous avocado green liquid eyeliner (Healthy) which I completely adore, and a very vibrant, dark aquamarine (Control) color that you can layer to make it a deeper blue. Warning: Control (the deep blue) will stain everything in its path, including your skin (but it comes off well with an oil-based cleanser- try LUSH Ultrabland cleanser, it takes everything off). I love the clinical but cute and cheerful dropper bottles, and the little hang tags that come with each one. On the other end of the non-squeezable solid plastic bulb is the perfect fine, easy to control brush for liner application. The eyeliners I chose have no shimmer and smudgeability is fantastic until it sets. It's the only liquid eyeliner I've used that actually applies just as evenly and easily along the bottom lashline as the top, There are plenty of cremes and plenty of shimmers in the range; I think there is definitely something for every taste.

Here's another part I love: the ingredients. For the eyeliner, ingredients include:
Rose petal infusion, glycerin, almond oil, jojoba oil and cupuacu butter. Retails for $22.95.
Awesome! If there's a natural alternative to ANY old thing that works just as well or better, I'm all over it.

The eyeliner collection: I have the avocado green (Healthy) and third from left, deep aquamarine (Control)

Feeling Younger Skin Tint is OMGorgeous. It's a versatile cream highlighter that can me mixed into foundation (which, for me by the way, is LUSH's Colour Supplement in Jackie Oates). It can also be used straight out of the jar (with or without a brush) for strategic, natural looking highlighting blended onto the high planes of the face, cupid's bow and inside corners of eyes. The platinum-white shimmer is subtle, but like with any highlighter, you have to know when to say when. Friends don't let friends use too much shimmer. Its absolutely lovely moisturizing formula is similar to the Colour Supplements (did I mention I love my Jackie Oates? It smells like benzoin and blends like a dream). Final verdict: Feeling Younger is just as good as the best cream highlighter I've ever tried and about half the price. Bam.

ingredients include: oatmeal infusion, orange flower water, almond oil, cocoa butter, glycerin, jojoba oil (basically, it's a party for your face and your invitation was just FedEx overnighted to you). Retails for $18.95.

Feeling Younger Skin Tint: a fabulous, un-obvious highlighter and luminizer



Colour Supplement in Jackie Oates (fairest), smells faintly of benzoin (BONUS!)

Okay, a word about LUSH Colour Supplements. Yes, ANOTHER word. Okay. It's not part of the Emotional Brilliance cosmetics line, but I want to talk a bit about it anyway, because it's absolutely essential in creating all of my looks. Imagine the creamiest, whipped, sheer tinted, perfectly pigmented moisturizer, tailor made for sensitive skin. Add to it that there's a shade for the extremely pale among us (dozens of big companies still refuse to do us this favor, even since the tide has changed against tanning). Oh yeah, and you can also use it as a spot concealer, and mix it into your facial moisturizer to diffuse the color. That's my Colour Supplement in Jackie Oates. Somebody ought to name a luxury handbag after it.

ingredients include: oat milk, safflower oil, aloe vera extract, organic rosehip oil, shea butter, glycerin, honey, tincture of benzoin (a natural preservative). Retails for $15.95-- and it's WAY better than foundations I've spent 5X more on.

The Lippies- need to get my paws on a couple of these soon


Top row are the lipsticks, bottom left are the eyeliners, bottom right are the eyeshadows

Now that I've had the chance to try a couple of products from the Emotional Brilliance cosmetics line, I'm super-confident about going back for more. More of everything! (if any of my readers get that reference, leave a comment and I just might give you a surprise).The mascara, a couple of lipsticks and eyeshadows are calling my name right this very minute. Well done, LUSH!

[samples provided by the company for my consideration]