Eiderdown Press
Musings about Perfume and Life
Suzanne’s Perfume Journal
Click on Links to Previous Posts, below

A Conversation on Arabie

A Package from Christos: Greek Sandals & Oud Cuir d'Arabie

A Package from Ines

A Package from Lavanya

A More Affordable Olfactionary

A Week of Wearing What I Like

Amouage Dia (pour femme)

Amouage Dia (pour homme)

Amouage Epic Woman

Amouage Gold

Amouage Interlude Man

Amouage Jubilation 25 

Amouage Lyric Woman

Amouage Memoir Woman

Amouage Opus I

Amouage Opus III

Amouage Opus IV

Amouage Opus V

Amouage Opus VI

Amouage Tribute

Amouage Ubar

Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche

Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant

Annick Goutal Heure Exquise

Annick Goutal Petite Cherie

Annick Goutal Sables

April Aromatics Calling All Angels

April Aromatics Bohemian Spice

April Aromatics Jasmina 

April Aromatics Nectar of Love

April Aromatics Rose L'Orange

Aroma M Geisha Green

Aroma M Geisha Rouge

Arquiste Anima Dulcis

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7

At the Moment (Chanel 22 & Marshall Crenshaw)

At the Moment (Contemplating Change & Habit Rouge)

At the Moment (Marron Chic & Paris)

At the Moment (More Midsummer Delights/Epic/Geisha Noire)

At the Moment (Saki & Lubin Idole edt)

At the Moment (Secret de Suzanne /D'Orsay L'Intrigante)

At the Moment (Spring Pretties/Un Air de Samsara)

At the Moment (Summery Things...Love Coconut)

At the Moment (Vera Wang & Fireman's Fair novel)

Ava Luxe Café Noir

Beatnik Emptiness Incense

Best of 2009

Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory

Bond No. 9 Brooklyn

Bond No. 9 Little Italy

Bond No. 9 New Haarlem

Bottega Veneta eau de parfum

Breath of God

Byredo Green

By Kilian Amber Oud

By Kilian Forbidden Games and In the City of Sin

Calyx by Prescriptives

Canturi by Stefano Canturi

Capote, Truman & Evening in Paris

Carner Barcelona D600

Caron Aimez-Moi

Caron French Cancan

Caron Parfum Sacre

Caron Tabac Blond

Caron Tubereuse

Caron Yatagan

Cartier II L'Heure Convoitee

Cartier IV L'Heure Fougueuse

Chanel 31 Rue Cambon

Chanel Bel Respiro

Chanel Chance

Chanel Coco

Chanel Coromandel

Chanel Cuir de Russie

Chanel Egoiste

Chanel No. 5 (vintage)

Chanel No. 22

Chantecaille Petales

Chantilly Dusting Powder

Clive Christian C for Women

Comme des Garcons Daphne

Comme des Garcons LUXE Champaca

Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet Nomad Tea

Costes by Costes

Coty Ambre Antique

Coty Chypre

Coty Paris

Creature by Kerosene

Creed Acqua Fiorentina

Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie

Creed Virgin Island Water

DSH Perfumes Bancha Extreme

DSH Perfumes Quinacridone Violet 

DSH Perfumes Vert pour Madame


Devilscent Project

Dior Diorissimo (vintage)

Donna Karan Black Cashmere

EnVoyage Vents Ardents

EnVoyage Zelda

Estee Lauder Private Collection

Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss

Etat Libre d'Orange Rien, Rossy de Palma & Noel au Balcon

Faberge Woodhue Cologne

Favorite Fall Fragrances

Fendi Uomo

Fragrances for Sweden

Frapin 1697 Absolu Parfum

Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie

Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentrée

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

Frederic Malle Dans Tes Bras

Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre

Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese

Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose

Frederic Malle Noir Epices

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie

Frederic Malle Une Rose

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel

Ghosts of Perfumes Past, Present & Future

Gone Fishin'

Gucci Eau de Parfum

Gucci L'Arte di Gucci

Gucci Pour Homme

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Exaltant

Guerlain Attrape Coeur

Guerlain Chamade

Guerlain Jicky

Guerlain Mayotte

Guerlain Parure

Guerlain Samsara Parfum

Guerlain Un Air de Samsara

Guerlain Vega

Guerlain Vetiver (vintage)

Guy Laroche J'ai Ose (vintage)

Happy Solstice

Hermes 24, Faubourg

Hermes Caleche (vintage)

Hermes Eau des Merveilles

Hermes Hiris

Hermes Iris Ukiyoe

Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles

Histoires de Parfums 1740

Histoires de Parfums 1828

Histoires de Parfums Blanc Violette

Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine

Hometown Portrait, State College, PA

Honore des Pres Vamp a NY

House of Matriarch Carmine

How I Store Decants

Il Profumo Cannabis

In Memory (w/mention of Lanvin Arpege)

Jacomo #02

Jacomo #09 (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles

Jean Patou Joy

Jean Patou 1000

Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense

Jo Malone Sweet Milk Cologne 

Juliet by Juliet Stewart

Kai Eau de Parfum

Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant

Kenzo Summer

Lancome Magie Noire (vintage) 

Lanvin Via Lanvin (vintage) 

L'Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubereuse

L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidee Blanche 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer

L'Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l'Aube

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two

La Via del Profumo Balsamo Della Mecca

La Via del Profumo Hindu Kush

La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe

La Via del Profumo Oud Caravan Project

La Via del Profumo Sharif

La Via del Profumo Tawaf

Le Labo Gaiac 10

Le Labo Iris 39

Le Labo Patchouli 24

Le Labo Poivre 23

Little Lists

Lorenzo Villoresi Yerbamate

M. Micallef Vanille Orient

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour le Soir

Maison Martin Margiela (untitled) eau de parfum

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles

Message In A Bottle 

Michael Storer Winter Star

Miller Harris L'Air de Rien


Missoni (original) by Missoni

Molinard Habanita

Mona Di Orio Nuit Noire

Mona Di Orio Oud

Mona Di Orio Vanille

Montale Black Aoud

Montale Boise Vanille

Montale Intense Tiare

Montale Patchouli Leaves

Montale Red Aoud

More Roses (rose cookie recipe)

My Heart Has Skipped a Beat (summer smells)

My Perfumes Have Theme Songs

Nasomatto China White

Neila Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling

Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps

Nez a Nez Ambre a Sade

Northern Exposure "A Dash of Chanel No. 5"

Odin 04 Petrana (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline

Omar Sharif Pour Femme

Oriscent Pure Oud Oils

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani

Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman

Oscar de la Renta Oscar for Men

O Tannenbaum Joint Blog Project

Parfum d'Empire Azemour

Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman

Parfum d'Empire Equistrius

Parfum d'Empire 3 Fleurs

Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba

Parfumerie Generale Indochine

Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique

Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu

Parfums DelRae Amoureuse

Parfums Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars

Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin

Parfums Retro Grand Cuir

Paris, je t'aime

Pascal Morabito Or Black 

Perfume Quotes - The English Patient

Prada Infusion d'Iris Absolue

Pretty Perfume Bottles 

Prince Matchabelli Aviance Cologne (vintage) 

Profumum Roma Acqua Viva

Profumum Roma D'Ambrosia

Puredistance I

Puredistance Antonia

Puredistance BLACK

Puredistance M

Puredistance Opardu

Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk

Ramon Monegal Pure Mariposa

Recipe for Socca

Regina Harris Amber Vanilla Perfume Oil

Regina Harris Frankincense-Myrrh-Rose Maroc Perfume Oil

Robert Piguet Fracas

Robert Piguet Visa

Rochas Mystere 

Rome Vacation Photos

San Francisco Holiday

Sarah Horowitz Parfums' Joy Comes From Within & Beauty Comes From Within

Scented Reading

Scents of the Mediterranean

Scentuous Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Serge Lutens Arabie

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834

Serge Lutens Boxeuses

Serge Lutens Chêne

Serge Lutens Chergui

Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles

Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre

Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque

Serge Lutens Miel de Bois

Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan

Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle

Serge Lutens Un Lys

Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental

Slumberhouse Rume

Snow Days

Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure

Sonoma Scent Studio Jour Ensoleille

Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette

Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods (brief mention)

SoOud Ouris Parfum Nectar

S-Perfume 100% Love {More}

Stone Harbor, NJ Vacaton pix (non-perfume related)

Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric Rain

Sweden Is For Lovers

T is for Taxes

Tauer Perfumes: Incense Extrême, Incense Rosé, Lonestar Memories, & Reverie au Jardin

Tauer Perfumes Vetiver Dance

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Diary of a Nose, Book Review

The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit

The Intimacy of Scent

Thoughts of a Perfume Collector


Tokyo Milk Ex Libris

Unlocking an Unknown: Webber Parfum 6T

Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery Bed of Roses

Venimus Vidimus Vicimus, or How 3 Perfume Bloggers and a Husband Took Rome

Vero Profumo Kiki, Onda, and Rubj

Vero Profumo Mito

Viktoria Minya Hedonist

Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb

What I’m Lovin’ Now

Xerjoff Mamluk

YOSH Perfumes Ginger Ciao

Yves Saint Laurent Nu

Links to Other Blogs I Enjoy 

All I Am - A Redhead

A Perfume Blog (Blacknall Allen)

Another Perfume Blog (Natalie)

Ars Aromatica

Australian Perfume Junkies

Beauty on the Outside

Bloody Frida

Bois de Jasmin

Bonkers About Perfume

Ca Fleure Bon

ChickenFreak's Obsessions


Eyeliner on a Cat

Fragrance Bouquet

From Top to Bottom - Perfume Patter

Giovanni Sammarco (artisanal perfumer) blog

Grain de Musc

I Smell Therefore I Am


Katie Puckrik Smells

Memory of Scent

Muse in Wooden Shoes 

Nathan Branch

Natural Perfumery by Salaam

Notes on Shoes, Cake & Perfume

Notes From Josephine

Notes From the Ledge

Now Smell This

Oh, True Apothecary! 


Olfactoria's Travels 

Parfumistans blogg


Perfume Posse

Perfume Shrine

Perfume-Smellin' Things

Purple Paper Planes

Redolent of Spices

Riktig Parfym: Ramblings of a Fragrant Fanatic

Scented Salamander

Scents of Place

Scents of Self

Smelly Blog

Sorcery of Scent 

Sweet Diva

The Alembicated Genie 

The Candy Perfume Boy 

The Fragrant Man

The French Exit 

The Non-Blonde

The Perfume Magpie

The Scented Hound 

The Sounds of Scent

The Vintage Perfume Vault

This Blog Really Stinks 

Undina's Looking Glass 

WAFT by Carol 

Yesterday's Perfume

Ramon Monegal Pure Mariposa: A Beautiful Way to Fly

I wasn’t awake to see the first winter snowflakes swirling in the air this past weekend, but my sister told me they’d arrived and it’s not surprising. I probably should steer my perfume writing accordingly, towards the discussion of a cozy comfort scent or a big oriental that goes great with cashmere, but one of the most beautiful perfumes I’ve sampled recently is Spanish perfumer Ramon Monegal’s creation Pure Mariposa (the full name is Pure Mariposa for Neiman Marcus, as it was created exclusively for that upscale department store), and it draws its inspiration from the butterfly (mariposa means butterfly in Spanish). The name couldn’t be more fitting: this perfume’s white floral heart has a tangerine-like nectar about it which imparts a sense of color, lift and delight while, at the same time, vibrates against a mossy chypre-like base. By virtue of its name and the fact that it’s a shimmery floral perfume, Pure Mariposa might strike one as the perfect scent for spring and summer, but this is not an airy butterfly scent in the way that L’Artisan Parfumeur’s La Chasse Aux Papillons is, for instance, with its white florals rendered wispy and fine. I happen to love that one too—it also is well-named, focusing more on the chase of something that is diaphanous and elusive, whereas Ramon Monegal’s perfume offers up a different point-of-view. To me, it’s a statement about being such a creature.

Butterflies in autumn shades of black, orange and olive green are pictured on the retail, carded sample of Pure Mariposa, and though whimsical in terms of their rendering, at least one of them is meant to resemble the Monarch butterfly—again, a perfect match to the perfume. Pure Mariposa has enough olfactory weight to remind one of those late-summer butterflies and their incredible migrations (Monarchs in the eastern part of the United States migrate as far south as Mexico and can cover 50 to 100 miles per day before reaching their destination). Likewise, Pure Mariposa is full of floral fluidity, but its olfactory wings rest on a frame that has an impressive tensile strength. At the end of the review, I’ll provide the perfumer’s full list of notes for this fragrance, and hopefully before then, I’ll have described its flight pattern on my skin. First, though, here’s a list of the things this perfume makes me think of when I’m wearing it:

  • Quaking Aspens with their flutter of nodding leaves that make me think they’re happy to see me when I pass them on my walk.
  • Cheerful waitresses who alight at one’s table with coffee at just the right moment and get everyone’s breakfast order right, on a football-weekend when the joint is crowded.
  • Daisies that spring up at the corner of a farm field planted in soybeans (and pesticided to the point of being impervious to intruders), yet there they are, a wink of good cheer in a sea of green.
  • A male Baltimore oriole songbird moving with trapeze-like grace as he cascades his way from the top branches of an oak tree to the bottom, his orange color quick and flashing as he hangs upside down and then freefalls from one branch to the next.

To a large degree, Pure Mariposa is an orange blossom perfume (at least to my nose), and though orange blossoms don’t smell like oranges, there is either a phantom or real note of orange that accompanies the perfume, not just in the fleeting top-notes stage, but into its very heart. It’s a brisk and bitter orange note that reminds me of an Orangina when it first hits the skin, but as the orange blossom and accompanying white florals develop and come to the fore, it begins to smell more like the scent of a tangerine, lighter and sweeter. (It reminds me of bigarade, the “bitter orange” fruit which produces an essential oil that is surprisingly juicy smelling.) The combination of the two—the orange blossom bouquet and the piquant orange citrus note—very nicely translates into the idea of a butterfly: to my nose, these notes always smell as if they hover at least two octaves above other notes in the olfactory scale. Combined, they signal a state of sunlit, soaring joy.

If I didn’t have a note list, I’d have figured Pure Mariposa’s white-floral accord as largely consisting of orange blossom and jasmine, but the perfumer doesn’t list jasmine among the notes and identifies the other florals (besides orange blossom) as being tuberose, gardenia and orchid. Such an accord would normally play out with a certain amount of indolic headiness, but Pure Mariposa is not indolic, carnal or even what I would call heady. Though uplifting and joyous, the florals never soar out of the stratosphere, becalmed as they are by a base that adds enough bitter greenery, cool moss and amber weightiness to pull this nectar down to cloud level, ensuring that the perfume is naturally buoyant rather than perky or excitable. Of course, perfumistas who don’t care for the high-pitched floral sweetness of orange blossom probably aren’t going to be won over by Pure Mariposa, but those who are fans of the note have something to celebrate. Here is an orange blossom-heavy perfume that truly has a pyramidal development on the skin (I don’t know about you, but I find many orange blossom perfumes to be rather linear). It is a slow development (a gradual unfolding)—one that gradually takes place over three or four hours—but the floaty bouquet eventually transitions to a base that has a good dose of sandalwood in it. Not the super-fatted and vanillic sandalwood which so often provides a cushion to oriental perfumes, but a lightly creamy sandalwood with a smoky edge … a lean sandalwood, more woody than creamy, sometimes smelling as if it’s attended by a tendril of frankincense. It doesn’t make itself known until several hours into wear time, but when it arrives, it’s a lovely surprise—as if the white petals of Pure Mariposa have drifted down from the sky and found a resting place on a weathered branch of tree. It conjures images of the butterflies arriving in the half-parched Mexican landscape where they’ll take their respite from winter.

* * *

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time,” James Taylor once said in a song, and sung in his dreamy style, that advice sounds simple. A relaxed posture, an appreciation for spontaneity, an acceptance that everything is subject to change: I imagine these traits as part of the secret that allows one to go “sliding down, gliding down” through the ride of life. Yet I’d bet good money that those who do it best also possess a quietly steely will—a determination to show up and do the work that helps them navigate the currents and not simply be blown about. At any rate, I was thinking about these things when I was wearing Pure Mariposa, and I suppose it’s why I really like this perfume. It is both lithe and strong.

The Quaking Aspen has a long telescope of trunk; the cheerful waitress rises at dawn, wears sturdy shoes and stores a revolving roster of faces and menu choices in her memory banks. Daisies probably have secrets to their persistence and the orioles no doubt have spent millennia perfecting their acrobatic flight skills, but I don’t know much about either. What I do know is that all possess an upbeat and easy-going demeanor—a graceful way of moving through the world—that flies over a core of strength more felt than seen. Pure Mariposa is composed on a similar structure: it’s one of those perfumes I admire for its sunny nature, breezy beauty and intelligent design.


Ramon Monegal Pure Mariposa for Neiman Marcus eau de parfum is described on my carded, retail sample as having notes of tuberose, gardenia, orchid, orange blossom, oak moss, sandalwood, ozone, amber and musk. (I just saw that the notes on the Neiman Marcus website for this perfume are different and more numerous—and include three different citrus notes as well as jasmine.) It is currently priced at $200 for 50-ml. I received my sample as part of a birthday fragrance package from my dear blogging friend, Ann, of Perfume Posse.

On the subject of butterflies: In September, we saw far less Monarchs here than we normally do, yet thanks to blogging friends, butterflies came my way. Thank you, Ann, for the Pure Mariposa perfume, and thank you, Sigrun, for the butterfly nail tattoos! (Using a laser printer, Sigrun can create all kinds of nail tattoos; she sent me tattoos of Portuguese tiles in pretty colors, as well as many other designs.)

Photo of the woman examining butterfly stolen from Themakingofkiastorm.blogspot.com.
Photo of Pure Mariposa bottle stolen from Fragrantica.com. Photo of nail tattoos is my own.


Posted by
Keller, 11/7/2014.

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Dans Tes Bras . . .

On the Sum of Its Parts, More or Less

I often think my interest in seeking out new perfumes has reached its natural conclusion, and then something will happen that snaps me back, like a yo-yo, to perfume’s obsessive hold over me. It happened last week in the form of a cold—a cold I thought I’d licked but which proved otherwise when I sampled a perfume I’d never tried before. I was intent on trying Frederic Malle Dans Tes Bras—something about being sick usually puts me in a state of mind where I want to smell the oddball scents, or maybe being sick simply reminded me of Dans Tes Bras, because one of the most compelling reviews I’d ever read of it likened it to “a really cute nosebleed.” What does that smell like? I wondered. If you could draw a picture of it, what would it look like? My brain having finally surfaced from its groggy, cold-induced state was itching to know. First I had this picture in my head of the characters Lena and Barry in Punch Drunk Love (due to their endearingly macabre pillow talk), and then a few other visions that seemed more normal (like how when you really love someone, there is something cute about them even when they’re not well and perhaps having a nosebleed). So after thinking on this some, I found my recently acquired sample of Dans Tes Bras, applied several sprays, and then … nothing. Not a thing! I could smell my supper cooking for the first time in days, but I couldn’t smell Dans Tes Bras and this made me panic a little. For no other reason than I thought I was anosmic to it on a day when smelling it seemed essential.

Essential to what, you might ask. Essential to experiencing life again, I guess.

Luckily it was only the remnants of illness that kept me from smelling Dans Tes Bras (and not my anosmia to certain musk-based perfumes, which I originally feared was the case). A few days later, after applying one big spritz to the fleshiest portion of my upper arm, voila! There it was in all its strangeness. It’s progression on my skin went like this: At the start, a weird though not unpleasant scent resembling a combo of starchy banana, the ink cartridge from a copy machine and violets. Five minutes later, the development of something delicately powdery and vanillic, as if it’s about to pretty itself up, even though it never truly does. It’s more accurate to say that Dans Tes Bras entertains a notion of pulchritude (a tendril of vanillic powder is always present) as it continues to offer up a mix of industrial- and natural-smelling aromas, the variety of which bears the stamp of Steampunk (or a simplistic version of Steampunk, if such a thing is possible). In addition to the aforementioned odors, Dans Tes Bras exudes whiffs of metal and ozone and hints of mushroom, as well as the growing medium for mushrooms—an oddly-cool dirt smell that is lacking in true earthiness, such that I’m tempted to call it ghost dirt. And at its center, occupying a lot of territory in Dans Tes Bras, there’s an accord that resembles Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. It’s a defining accord, one that inspires affection as it nostalgically evokes the bath-time rituals of youth or recalls the scent of a child’s scalp (a favorite smell for many women). To me, it’s what puts the “cute” in the “cute nosebleed” description that the other reviewer (Victoria of EauMG) ascribed to this scent. Not because it makes one think of kids, but because it is an olfactory form of shorthand linking one to the feeling of affection. (Different from “love,” affection, by my definition, refers to the pure and uncomplicated feeling of being naturally drawn to a person or thing. It inspires the word cute—a descriptor I consider ageless, which is why I might apply it to a kitten, in one breath, and a good-looking guy in his 50s, in the other).

It’s obvious that perfumer Maurice Roucel took a very thoughtful approach to this composition as he attempted (in his own words) “to communicate both seduction and generosity” in a fragrance meant to convey the feeling of being in a loved one’s embrace (Dans Tes Bras is French for “In Your Arms”). That said, while Dans Tes Bras is compelling to me as a study of perfume—I love the beauty of the attempt, I love the odd elements that make it an intrigue and not simply a copy of other “skin scents”—it doesn’t hang together for me as a whole. Even though my cold is gone and I can now smell Dans Tes Bras, I feel anosmic to it unless I’m actively parsing its notes. From afar, it becomes amorphous—its individual components unable to fuse into anything that has olfactory weight or distinguishable presence to my nose. Its fragrance profile as whole becomes indeterminate.

Smelling it up close and with an analytic mind, it's intriguing and what I’d call the work of a genius. Smelling it afar: forgettable and almost non-existent. So would I ever purchase this scent?

Hmmm. Concurrent with sampling of Dans Tes Bras, I happened to be reading Michael Ondaatje’s novel Divisaderoa work containing elements that leave my reading mind besotted: the poetic rendering of its prose; the tender way Ondaatje peels back the layers of his characters to reveal truths that are as universal as they are deeply personal. And yet I felt disappointed near the end of it, as Divisadero never gels as a novel. It’s written in an elliptical style, with characters whose lives and motivations are revealed in the same way an evening landscape in summer is illuminated by heat lightning: in brief strokes which dazzle but don’t grant much in the way of purchase. Lacking a true narrative that takes the reader on some kind of journey from one distinctive plane to another, Divisadero will likely vanish from my memory a year from now, whereas Ondaatje’s The English Patient will exist for me ad infinitumcertain passages always humming in my brain, making me reach for it whenever I’m in wont of a story that charts a course through the strange desert that is love.

Still. I’ve read a whole bunch of books this year, most of them with dependable story lines, and almost none of them as satiating on an emotional and intellectual level as Divisadero. And while I am far luckier in the perfume department (thanks to samples that come by way of friends who know my tastes), Dans Tes Bras is one of the most fascinating scents I’ve ever studied. Neither is what I think they set out to be: Divisadero, by its end, reads more like a contemplation on the writing life, its motivation and muses, its rewards and privations and quiet way of shaping a life; and Dans Tes Bras was certainly not conceived as an exercise or study in olfactory creation, yet it smells more like an homage to the art of perfumery than like perfumery’s end product. Both will pass from my memory sooner rather than later, but in the vast ocean of things I consume regularly, these are the two things that recently gave me sustenance.


Frederic Malle Dans Tes Bras eau de parfum was created by perfumer Maurice Roucel, with notes of Cashmeran, sandalwood, musk, patchouli, salicylates, incense, heliotrope and violet. It can be purchased from the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle website and boutiques (or at Barneys New York), where it is currently priced at $180 for a 50-ml bottle or $265 for a 100-ml bottle. My review is based on a sample I acquired from Barneys.

Photo of the couple embracing can be found at various Internet sites; photographer unknown by me.
Photo of Dans Tes Bras bottle is from the Frederic Malle website, where it can be purchased.


Posted by
Keller, 10/7/2014.

 (photo courtesy & copyright of Renée Kohlman, Sweetsugarbean.com)

From the Farm to Sin City: A Hankering for Peaches

(With reviews of By Kilian "Forbidden Games" & "In the City of Sin" perfumes)

Though I grew up on a dairy farm and still live in the country, and though I once fantasized about having a backwoods home with a tiny herd of Jersey cows, cute as buttons, producing just enough high-fat milk for me to make boutique cheeses, in recent years I’ve distanced myself from my rural roots—for many reasons. Most of them stemming from a been there, done that mindset and desire to see more of the world, and some of it due to the wearying spectacle of redneck men in pickup trucks who rev their engines past my house, throw empty Skoal cans out the window, and spit their way across parking lots. Yet even as I speak of putting space between myself and my rural past, it’s not entirely true, especially not at this time of year—late summer, early autumn—when I find myself instinctually drawn back to the homestead, at least in my head. Over the past month I have re-read Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, listened to Emmy Lou Harris’s Pieces of the Sky album, and dreamed again of the doe-like Jersey cows that I truly wouldn’t mind owning, as much for their beauty and docile nature as for their milk.

What is it about this time of year that tugs on my rural heartstrings so? I sometimes wonder if it’s coded in my DNA, this irrepressible pull that comes from slant of sun, change of air, the palpable movement of birds and animals as they prepare to migrate or hibernate, and the weightiness of the harvest—the almost sexual smell of plants and trees that are weighted down with their fruits. On my daily runs through the fields near my house, the corn is ripening and now exudes an odor that smells milky, almost musky, like ambergris. Windfall apples lying in the dew-drenched, late-summer grass have a vinegary sweetness that attracts bees as they ferment, and the tomatoes, peppers and cantaloupes heaped up in bins at the farm-stand waft their respective odors—piquant, sharp and honeyed—into the mix. From a culinary standpoint, this is the highpoint of the year. With such an array of fresh produce, cooking and eating become acts that are decidedly more easy, direct and sensual, and underscoring this immediacy and sensuality is the arrival of peaches.

In central Pennsylvania, the best peaches are harvested in August from ridge-top acreage that speaks of the romantic nature of the fruit. (In the same way that one of my favorite movie characters—Miles from Sideways—once spoke in tender terms of the fragile and delicate nature of pinot grapes, I hold peaches in similar esteem.) Peaches are high-altitude beauties, requiring the chill and brisk ventilation of mountain air, as well as a kissing closeness to the sun and summer heat. They are juicy, fleshy, in-the-moment fruits that don’t store well. Sure, they can be canned and frozen, but they lose some of their identity in the process; whereas an apple in cold storage continues to taste, in every aspect, like an apple, whether you eat it in September or February, the ripeness of peaches is an acute matter: To my mind, they are the fruit most tied to a sense of place, because while they can be shipped cold to the supermarkets and left to ripen later, they never taste the way they do when you buy them locally. When peaches ripen in my part of Pennsylvania, it is the end of summer and you’d better be paying attention, as their season is short. Of course, their incredibly soft and succulent beauty will ensure that you do.

Given my reverence for peaches, I’m a sucker for perfumes that feature this fruit in an upfront way. This includes two perfumes which didn’t get much love from the perfumista community, and this review isn’t likely to change that, because there’s no way to describe the first perfume with a straight face. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful (I think it is) so here we go.

First up is By Kilian Forbidden Games, a perfume that is the olfactory equivalent of saying, “We shouldn’t like peach this much, or admit that we do, but how can we stop? Let’s engage in as much peach as we can and hope we get over ourselves tomorrow.” It’s the Leann Womack, There’s More Where That Came From anthem to sinful fruit: an indulgent, straight-up capitulation to peach born out of familiarity, on one hand, and a sense of on-the-sly foreignness on the other. Forbidden Games smells like a fresh peach at the height of it sweet-and-juicy ripeness, only multiplied—as if you heaped sliced peaches in a bowl, stirred sugar and cinnamon into them, and let the magic of these simple ingredients do their work. In the same way that sugar draws the juice from peaches and creates a syrup, making them seem even peachier, there are plum and floral notes that add the kind of depth and sweetness that make Forbidden Games smell like a hyperreal peach. (There is also a honey note, which I can’t say I detected on its own, but its inclusion no doubt contributes to the luscious syrup around this peach.)

A fine dusting of spice in this perfume lends Forbidden Games a push-pull vibration: the under-the-covers warmth of cinnamon is joined by what smells like the piquant uplift of cardamom. However, as cardamom isn’t listed in the notes, this piquancy might be attributable to the perfume’s listed note of apple. (Apple, peach, plum, cinnamon, Bulgarian rose, geranium bourbon, jasmine, vanilla, honey and opoponax are the official notes.) All I can say for certain is that there is an accent of something fizzy and slightly tart that adds a mouthwatering bit of acidic bite, and it’s what imbues this perfume with a sense of aliveness. Forbidden Games might be a simple perfume, but it’s a simple perfume with ingenious accents: its deft amount of cinnamon doesn't allow the perfume to cross over to peach pie territory but instead maintains a hush-hush glow about it. And that little bite of apple is so teasing, while the plum adds depth. My only disappointment in Forbidden Games is a slight one: in its far-drydown stage, some four or five hours into wear, it develops a faint laundry-musk smell that is a bit lackluster, but also understandable and forgivable. A richer base would subsume the peach, whereas this lighter one acts like a springboard that keeps the peach so fresh, lusty and alive.

By Kilian In the City of Sin is the other perfume I love from this line, and what I perceive as its peach note is actually an apricot note, according to the perfumer. This peachy apricot takes time to develop on the skin and is surrounded by layers of beautiful trappings. In the City of Sin smells far more complex and, at the same time, far more svelte than Forbidden Games, simply because there is no punch of juicy-fun sweetness here. Despite its risqué name, this isn’t the joy of peach, laid up and waiting for you in the hotel room, but the drier, quieter, more cosmetic beauty we’ll call by her true name—apricot—who is wandering the mysterious, twilit city streets. In the top notes stage, a lightly minty and woody bit of vinery wraps around the fruit, which in the first ten minutes after application is more plum than apricot. (And the lightly mentholated vinery that I smell isn’t accounted for in the perfume’s notes of bergamot, pink peppercorn, cardamom, apricot, plum, rose absolute, incense, cedar wood, patchouli and white musk accord.) A brisk and fizzy combo of bergamot, pink pepper and cardamom imparts a feeling of shimmer and excitement to this olfactory canvas, and as this opening accord is met by the red wine-like notes of plum and rose, the beautiful yet more sérieuse nature of these deeper notes has me envisioning a femme fatale who has made her way into the scent. This latter effect is enhanced by the slow developing apricot note, which has a peach-like fleshiness that is more delicate than an outright peach note, but still conjures up notions of sensuality. Rather interestingly, there is nothing in this perfume that smells animalic, overly fleshy, or blowsy and about to lose all control. Quite the opposite, in fact; it smells like ripe fruits given a champagne treatment that has rendered them shimmery, elegant and more suave than sweet. A light incense note keeps this fruited champagne on the dry side while imparting lift, and there is enough cedarwood and patchouli in the base accord that the perfume comes off as lean and sultry. In the City of Sin is not so much about sin as it is about temptation and the lure of beauty. I’ve never been to Las Vegas, but when I picture it, I think of long-legged showgirls, twinkling lights and champagne bottles delivered on silver trays to a cushy hotel rooms. And in that regard, this perfume is right on the money.


By Kilian Forbidden Games eau de parfum and In the City of Sin eau de parfum can be purchased at Luckyscent.com, either in the beautiful white perfume flacons (that come with an equally gorgeous white case) for $245 for 50 ml, or in the plain 50-ml refill bottle for
$145. My reviews are based on samples I received from the lovely Undina (who is also a fan of In the City of Sin) and from Saks Fifth Avenue in San Francisco.

Photo credits: "Peaches and Window" (used here by permission) was photographed by Renee Kohlman and first appeared in her exquisite food blog, Sweetsugarbean.com, in her September 2013 post on baked peaches. All rights to this image are hers. (Thank you, Renee.)

Photo of the By Kilian In the City of Sin perfume bottle is from Luckyscent.com.


Posted by
Keller, 9/12/2014.

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