eyeliner on a cat

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

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Top 5 Pre-Spring Fragrances: Ode to a Chicago Thaw


[photo: Chicago's Polar Vortex via airplane by Hank Cain]

Today, all the neurons in my brain are firing in one direction-- towards Spring. I just can't help it. I know there was a huge snowfall here just earlier this week, but now it feels like Spring. I've opened the windows so that Computer Blue can investigate the tree and building denizens all around us, and get a whiff of her first real Printemps! Curtains are billowing in the breeze, Tom Petty plays on the stereo, sandalwood-scented incense wafts throughout the place and right out the window for others to enjoy. I've got on a dress that Stevie Nicks might try to snatch from me. Excitement is definitely the order of the day.

When I feel like this, I always bring out parts of my temporarily stowed-away perfume collection to see what strikes my fancy. What follows is my Top 5 list (in no particular order) of what's capturing my fancy during these unseasonably warm few days (I'm pretty sure it will all freeze over again any minute now).

1. Ramon Monegal Impossible Iris
In many ways, this perfume is about as feminine as I'll get with fragrance. This is no deep, dark elixir, but that doesn't mean that it's devoid of mystery. Its unabashed floral complexity would normally be something I might pass by, but not Impossible Iris. The ultra-modern raspberry tinge to it and the subtle pepperiness make me swoon, and when I wear it, I imagine the sophisticated, beautiful woman it was created for originally-- Ramon Monegal's wife (as an anniversary gift to her). Once my mind occupies the geography of Spain and I think of the Monegal family (extending to include everyone on staff), to wear Impossible Iris is to feel beautifully put-together, chic, clear-minded, and most of all-- to feel welcomed into Ramon Monegal's world. I absolutely treasure this fragrance and it is irreplaceable in my collection.

Oh, and if you're looking for a fragrance that very stylishly represents Pantone's 2014 color of the year, Radiant Orchid? This is it.



2. April Aromatics Jasmina
To be honest, this is not a perfume that I actually stow away for warmer weather-- I use it year-round to help me sleep or quell anxiety. It contains jasmine from India and France, ylang ylang and pink grapefruit. I wear it more often in warmer weather because I love how it smells on my skin when I'm outside. The way it mingles with fresh air makes it feel even more perfect. Not only do I feel happier when I wear Jasmina, it seems like the people around me do too. This is natural fragrance done exactly how I like it. Tanja Bochnig creates fragrances that are loaded with positive energy, and I hope there are lots of other people out there who enjoy the benefits of her broad talents as much as I do. If you're not familiar with April Aromatics, Jasmina is a great place to start, especially if you enjoy jasmine or suffer from insomnia, anxiety, or any emotional disturbances that could use some balancing. Nothing works quite as well for me-- it's nature's perfect medicine and the artisan craftsmanship is of the highest order. Bliss in a bottle.



3. Juniper Ridge Siskiyou Backpacker's Cologne
Juniper Ridge has a lot to be proud of, not least of which is the world's first (and only, as far as I know) mobile fragrance distillery. Everything they make, from soaps to incense to cologne, is wildcrafted from local, sustainably collected botanical materials. Their Siskiyou fragrance has been a favorite of mine since I first became aware of this brand. It's a scent designed around cedarwood surrounded by bright, jammy saps, spicy ginger, conifer needles and a juicy punch of citrus-- all essences native to the Pacific Northwest. I love to rake this through my hair, because it lasts longer on hair or clothes than on skin. There is more magic in this bottle than even I have words for. All I can say for sure is that if Juniper Ridge's goal is to capture various regional landscapes in an olfactory snapshot, they do that in spades. It's more than fragrance-- it's a feeling of freedom and contentment. To me, that's something you can't put a price on, but if pressed, I'd say that $55 for 1 oz is a bargain. If you're interested in Juniper Ridge's mobile distillery process and love awesome photography, do sign up for their newsletter on their website-- it's not to be missed.






4. Le Labo Santal 33
Le Labo's peppery, dry Santal 33 is a very refreshing (literally) alternative to more traditional and often cloying fragrances for men or women. If you like the sharp, slightly camphor-tinged Australian sandalwood, you won't find a better version of it. Santal 33 is one of the brand's smartest fragrances- heavy on chic as well as cheek. If Juniper Ridge scents evoke landscapes, Le Labo's evoke climate. Arid or humid, overcast and gray, brightly sunny and fleeting-- their scent renditions are driven by feelings rather than concepts. Santal 33 has a persistent, spare sun shining down on the wearer. The emotional impact is intensely positive and it feels so expansive and broad, encompassing all of the most interesting facets of Australian sandalwood. For me, this baby pairs well with a white fine-gauge, deep-v tee, steel-toed boots and a studded leather jacket. The uniform of confidence. You don't need to be a tough guy/gal to pull off wearing Santal 33, though-- just let its devastating authenticity do the talking for you. Think of the strength and self-sufficiency of a tree--yours for the taking.



5. Jul et Mad Stilettos On Lex
Stilettos On Lex could easily be thought of as in the same category as Impossible Iris, meaning that it's built around an intense floral accord with accents of ripened fruit, but it doesn't end there. The shadowy corners of this fragrance don't give away its secrets-- ever. But I enjoy some intrigue and sexual power in my sillage once in awhile, and Stilettos reminds me of an ultra-modern version of the big 80s florals that my mother used to wear. In that respect, it really feels like a gift. I was obsessed with my mother's perfumes growing up, but I knew instinctively that they were not for me, nor would they ever be. I'm just too different from my mother, who possessed the kind of effortless glamour and magnetism of a true 1980s diva. Stilettos is larger than life, but not so large that it outsizes my moodiness, my sharp edges and preference for speaking without saying a word. It fills a very specific need for me to connect to my true self and my mother simultaneously. This perfume's attractiveness is off the charts. Dark skies, brilliant heart.



Tell me, what have you been wearing or thinking about wearing lately? 

[All photos are property of their respective brands and photographers. All rights reserved.]

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