Eiderdown Press
Musings about Perfume and Life
Suzanne’s Perfume Journal
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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

Deneuve

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 Angelique Noire

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Exaltant

Guerlain Attrape Coeur

Guerlain Chamade

Guerlain Encens Mythique d'Orient

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

Miscellany

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

Puredistance WHITE

Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk

Ramon Monegal Cuirelle

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

Sammarco Perfumes Bond-T

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

Smell Bent Florist's Fridge

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

Swiss Arabian Nouf

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

Tightly

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 Eau de Hongrie

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

EauMG

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

Kafkaesque

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! 

Olfactarama 

Olfactoria's Travels 

Parfumistans blogg

PereDePierre 

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 Cow Jumped Over the Moon

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 Cuirelle: Sueded Enchantment

I’d forgotten that my friend Ines (All I Am – A Redhead) had sent me a decant of Ramon Monegal Cuirelle, and though I had worn it once or twice when she initially sent it last year, enough time had passed that I’d forgotten what to expect from it (apparently), as reacquainting myself with it has been a surprise. Firstly because the name Cuirelle had me expecting a full-on leather scent – which it decidedly isn’t – and secondly because it’s the exact sort of perfume I’ve been craving over the last year: the soft kind. Cuirelle is a delicate, gourmand-like approximation of suede leather, and if I were allotted only one sentence to describe it, I’d draw a verbal picture of a beautiful young woman in suede go-go boots eating a slice of pineapple-upside-down cake somewhere sunny and spring-like. It’s an Enchanted April kind of scent: a scent that puts one in mind of Lady Caroline Dester luxuriating in the Italian countryside when the temperatures are warming up, and everything is in bloom, but it’s not sultry yet. The ocean is down a winding path, more or less a stone’s throw away, and Lady Caroline is in the polite company of her English traveling companions, so naturally some kind of polite, fruit dessert is involved. Why pineapple-upside-down cake? I include it as part of my description because five or ten minutes after application, attendant with the smell of suede leather, delicate florals and ocean mist, there is a whiff of pineapple (an imagined pineapple, as there is no fruit listed among Cuirelle's notes) in an accord that also smells brown-sugared and creamy. Equally fitting with the vibe I get from this perfume, there's a warm whimsicality to said dessert. It’s casual and unfussy and the kind of thing one might be served in the countryside, far away from the city and its patisserie shops. Cuirelle shares that appeal: elegant, loose-limbed and relaxed, it’s a fragrance that strikes me as feminine and pretty (perhaps its name is a combination of cuir, the French word for leather, and elle, the French word for “she”?), and not overly dramatic or serious. Any perfume that smells softly of leather, and softly of tropical fruit and dessert, is a perfume that must be said to have a sense of levity or humor about it. If the perfume was deeper, either in terms of its leather or its fruit, it would be a different matter, but this one isn’t balanced that way.



My only reservation about this analogy is that it might lead you to assume that Cuirelle has a retro, vintage-y composition when in fact it’s modern. Modern in the sense of uncluttered and not overly cosmetic. As such, kindly replace any thoughts of leather gloves and flapper regalia with an imagined remake of Enchanted April, in which Lady Caroline is wearing suede leather boots in a pastel shade like violet, since there is something sexy about this perfume without it ever coming close to being over the top. And imagine, too, that we are at the stage where the magic of the month-long stay at San Salvatore has had its curative effect on the women in attendance there (Enchanted April is actually a story of four women of different backgrounds who experience a profound shift of values while embracing the natural beauty of this paradise) leaving Lady Caroline at peace, able to accomplish what she set out to do: To leave behind the trappings of her own physical beauty. Not the fact of her pulchritude nor the enjoyment of beautiful things, but the way her beauty and wealth have shackled her into leading a superficial existence. If this statement seems at odds with my asking you to imagine her in sexy suede boots, then recall (if you’ve seen the film or read the novel) that Lady Caroline doesn’t ditch her beautiful clothes and stop bathing during her stay at San Salvatore. At the conclusion of Enchanted April, she is as exquisite as she is at its start, only all the more so because now she’s operating from a soulful level. Similarly, Cuirelle strikes that rare balance, whether one is talking perfume or talking about character (which is how I think of perfumes), between the politely mannered and the assertively confident. Whenever I find this combination, I conclude that a high degree of intelligence is in attendance, as it’s a fine balance to pull off.

"Strength and texture. Not the essence of leather, but an interpretation of it. Cat-like flexibility and musk sublimated with shades of honey and incense and balanced with green Cedar and Vetyver grass,” is how the Ramon Monegal advertising blurb describes Cuirelle, and to a large degree, I concur.

While the word “strength” is not one that comes to mind for this scent in terms of its actual smell, it fits it conceptually. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I did compare Cuirelle to Lady Caroline, who does indeed possess a “cat-like flexibility” that is a statement of strength. And in terms of texture, it’s truly there, if you spend time examining this perfume in the close manner that perfumistas do when they are trying to parse notes. Doesn’t matter that I guessed the notes for Cuirelle all wrong (to me, it smells like suede achieved via an accord of iris, heliotrope and jasmine – notes that would also account for its fruity nature – and a veil of chypre notes that might include bergamot, saffron, oakmoss and patchouli). Doesn’t matter that I can’t detect the actual notes that Ramon Monegal lists for Cuirelle, those being olibanum, Indonesian patchouli leaf, bourbon vetiver, Virginian cedar, cinnamon and beeswax. What matters is that this incredibly suave perfume, when studied closely, has depth. Reiterating what I mentioned at the start, for me its textures are the combined whiffs of suede leather, sea air, vague florals that merge to become a tropical pineapple, married to a base accord that is too delicate to be called rum-like, but which nevertheless echoes the butter-rum scent of a pineapple-upside-down cake.

Wearing it yesterday, I got an unsolicited compliment on it from my hairdresser, which surprised me considering Cuirelle's languid nature. It does have some sillage, but for the most part it’s a perfume that acts a bit like Lady Caroline when she first embarks on her Italian holiday. It’s content to keep its own company and to grin at passers-by like a Cheshire cat.

 

Ramon Monegal Cuirelle eau de parfum can be purchased at LuckyScent.com, where a 50-ml bottle is currently priced at $185. My review is based on a decant of Cuirelle I received from my blogging friend Ines (All I Am – A Redhead), whose luscious review can be found here. (Ines, if you’re reading this, I can’t believe how similarly we characterize this perfume. I just re-read your review for the first time since you originally posted it, and it hits on the same themes as mine. Thanks for introducing this to me!)

Image, top of page, of actress Polly Walker (playing Lady Caroline Dester) and Joan Plowright (as Mrs. Fisher) is from the 1992 film, Mike Newell-directed film,  Enchanted April, based on the novel of the same name. Middle image is also of Polly Walker playing Lady Caroline.  Bottle image is from Luckyscent.com.

Posted by Suzanne Keller, 7/2/2015.
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Guerlain Angélique Noire: Singular

In the first week of April, before Lavender died, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross received a good-luck charm from Martha. It was a simple pebble, an ounce at most. Smooth to the touch, it was a milky white color with flecks of orange and violet, oval-shaped, like a miniature egg. In the accompanying letter, Martha wrote that she had found the pebble on the Jersey shoreline, precisely where the land touched water at high tide, where things came together but also separated. It was this separate-but-together quality, she wrote, that had inspired her to pick up the pebble and to carry it in her breast pocket for several days, where it seemed weightless, and then to send it through the mail, by air, as a token of her truest feelings for him. Lieutenant Cross found this romantic. But he wondered what her truest feelings were, exactly, and what she meant by separate-but-together. He wondered how the tides and waves had come into play on that afternoon along the Jersey shoreline when Martha saw the pebble and bent down to rescue it from geology. He imagined bare feet. Martha was a poet, with the poet's sensibilities, and her feet would be brown and bare, the toenails unpainted, the eyes chilly and somber like the ocean in March, and though it was painful, he wondered who had been with her that afternoon. He imagined a pair of shadows moving along the strip of sand where things came together but also separated. It was phantom jealousy, he knew, but he couldn't help himself. He loved her so much. On the march, through the hot days of early April, he carried the pebble in his mouth, turning it with his tongue, tasting sea salt and moisture. His mind wandered. He had difficulty keeping his attention on the war. On occasion he would yell at his men to spread out the column, to keep their eyes open, but then he would slip away into daydreams, just pretending, walking barefoot along the Jersey shore, with Martha, carrying nothing. He would feel himself rising. Sun and waves and gentle winds, all love and lightness.

The above excerpt is from Tim O’Brien’s award-winning book, The Things They Carried, a novel-in-stories about the Vietnam War. I’m not sure any other author has ever written so poignantly about that war, and though all of the stories in the books are mesmerizing, the title story, from which this passage is taken, gets my vote as the most poignant and the most mesmerizing, not only for what it says but by how it is written. The bulk of the story is a series of lists of what the soldiers carried or “humped” across the war-strewn jungle landscape of that country: lists of everyday necessity items like P-38 can openers, mosquito repellent, C-rations and water canteens; lists of the guns and grenades and ammunition, the ponchos and jackets and gear. Lists of the items that kept them occupied in the downtime (tobacco, playing cards, pencils, stationery and stamps for the letters they wrote home), as well as the intangible items they carried too – their “emotional baggage” (fears, superstitions and private shames). O’Brien lists the weight, in pounds, of some of the items they carry, and, by placing that in the reader’s mind, the lists themselves acquire weight. Ticked off in a matter-of-fact style, the lists are both unsentimental and personal (“Henry Dobbins carried his girlfriend’s pantyhose wrapped around his neck as a comforter”), and by some literary sleight-of-hand, achieve two things at once: they function as a shorthand narrative of what an army “grunt,” or infantry man, did during the war, and at the same time, they lend the story its crushing heaviness. The reader feels the stacking effect of these burdens, and the sense that each soldier is carrying them mostly alone, his only community being his small band of army brothers.

Yet for a story to have emotional impact, in addition to dark weightiness it must also have a sense of light – the light that one wants to believe in, that could just as easily slip away. So, in between the lists of the things they carried there is a loosely woven story: a rumination by Lieutenant Jimmy Cross on the college girl he fell in love with, Martha. A girl who sends him letters (and the pebble) but who is too cool and noncommittal to be considered his sweetheart. Because Martha is aloof in person yet poetic in her communiqués – sending him this stone which she carried next to her bosom, which she describes in terms that could lead a young soldier to hope for a future with her, as well as to question that hope – she becomes a distraction. A phantom lover. A burden so infinitely tender it would not seem to be a burden at all, until the day that it is; until the day that Lieutenant Cross feels that it has kept him from performing his duties and decides he can’t carry it anymore.

I have thought about this story, about this stone and the two people who carry it separately yet together, for a long time. Now I can finally put a perfume to it – something I knew I would eventually do. Every time I read or think about The Things They Carried, this pebble has weight to me; I imagine how it felt, tasted and smelled.

Guerlain Angélique Noire is the olfactory version of the pebble (and of the young woman who slipped it into her pocket for several days before slipping it into a letter). Angélique Noire is a vanilla perfume, and yet it is the poet’s vanilla scent: more enigmatic than effusive, more dreamy than direct. Though the name would suggest that it smells primarily of the angelica flower, one only has to sniff the atomizer of whatever vessel is holding this fragrance (the bottle, or, in my case, a sample vial) to know that vanilla is its overriding theme. Sniffing it in such a way (from the atomizer, before applying it on skin), it seems to promise an experience akin to sniffing a pricey bottle of vanilla extract used for baking. What a surprise, then, to spray it on and discover that this vanilla lands on the skin as if surrounded by sea mist, vegetation and suede leather, and that it continues in this vein. For almost the duration of its wear. Angélique Noire is an elegantly-vegetal vanilla perfume that is more cool than warm – or in other words, a vanilla perfume largely informed by the angelica plant: a plant with a juniper-like scent reminiscent of crisp air and the kind of greens that grow densely in the shade. On its own, angelica has a fern-and-pine, mineral water-and-air, gin-like smell. In Angélique Noire, where it is grafted onto a dominant vanilla accord, the melding of the two has a tempering effect on both the angelica and the vanilla. As such, the angelica note is not as brisk and tonic as it appears in other perfumes (like Frederic Malle Angéliques sous la Pluie), but a softer and more amorphous form of cool. It smells like a very pretty form of dill – like the dill and sugar brine that is used for gravlax (minus the actual gravlax, of course). And the vanilla is not the liqueur-like confectioner’s vanilla I expected when sniffing the atomizer, but a vanilla that is more teasing and ambiguous.

The collision of the two accords creates a fragrance that is softly complex – a fragrance that has a true alfresco nature (reminding me of the sea pebble) yet is married to a sweet-and-creamy something that might best be filed under the descriptor of “longing” (reminding me of Martha). It is a fairly linear perfume that doesn’t change much over the duration of its wear, and I am fine with that, finding complexity, instead, in the interplay between the two main accords. While the overall effect is a cool vanilla scent, the rub between the two produces some warm facets – an inky, iodine-like smell that reminds me of the sea; a hint of rum-like sweetness – both of them as subtle as these other facets: A mineral-like scent reminiscent of fresh gravel spread on a road. Suede leather that plays hide-and-seek. And a chill, slightly perfumey herbalness that recalls the kind of herbs used in brines – capers and dill, sweetly refreshing and weedy – rather than the savory herbs one more commonly finds in a garden. Altogether, they make Angélique Noire a vanilla scent that can’t be pinned down. It’s elegant in the way that perfumes from the Guerlain house always are, but it’s got a restless, outdoor spirit. It’s a perfume for the person who quietly follows the beat of her or his own drum, who seems to enjoy solitude and separateness more than togetherness, yet who is dreamy, rather than prickly, in this regard.

* * *

In The Things They Carried, along with the pebble Martha sent him, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried her letters that were always signed “Love, Martha” even though her letters never spoke of real love or of the war. Without the weight of commitment, she would seem to be an easy thing to carry – a “Gentle on My Mind” kind of girl – but sometimes it’s the softest straw that breaks the camel’s back.

 

Guerlain Angélique Noire eau de parfum has top notes of bergamot, angelica seeds, pink pepper, and pear; heart notes of sambac jasmine and caraway; and base notes of angelica root, vanilla and cedar wood. It can be purchased from Bergdorfgoodman.com, where a 75-ml bottle is currently $260. My review is based on a sample I received from my blogging friend, Undina.

The Things They Carried, copyright © 1990 by Tim O'Brien (Originally published by Houghton Mifflin and reprinted in paperback by Broadway Books, a division of Random House New York, 1998, page 8)


Photo of woman with windswept hair can be found various places on Internet; photographer unknown by me.

 

Posted by
Suzanne
Keller, 5/30/2015.
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Like Taking Tea with an Asian Beauty: Puredistance WHITE


I should probably state this right off the bat, so as not to confuse: WHITE, the new perfume from the luxury perfume house Puredistance, is neither a jasmine perfume nor a tea perfume. Nonetheless, the first time I smelled it, my immediate comparison was to two specific teas: jasmine, with its leaves wound into pearls that unfurl like anemones as they steep, until one’s cup is filled with an infusion that resembles a delicate perfume more than actual tea; and white tea, which is often accompanied by notes of vanilla, coconut or lychee, such that it smells dessert-like, but softly so. “This is a perfume that would appeal to the tea connoisseur,” I said to myself (and thought of my friend Ann of Perfume Posse). “Especially to someone who appreciates very fine nuances of aroma.” You wouldn’t think that person would be me but you’d be wrong.

I’ve been sampling WHITE off and on now for over a month, and my perception hasn’t changed. Its scent sweeps me off to a country I’ve never been toChinawhere I’m being served jasmine tea in a beautiful setting by an equally beautiful Chinese woman. Or maybe I’m in Japan or Viet Nam or some other part of the part of the Orientit really doesn’t matter. The feeling is one of pared-down elegance that I rightly or wrongly equate with Asian beauty and Asian art, although “pared-down” isn’t quite right. What I really mean is beauty that has a sense of precision, an understanding of form, and a feeling of alignment. WHITE is a fragrance meant to convey happiness, and it achieves this by being fine-boned, focused and centering to the mind rather than (in the western way) eclectic, loping and full of itself. Not that there is anything wrong with the latter: when it comes to happiness, the reckless Bohemian approach can be exhilarating and so, too, perfumes with an uninhibited sense of joie de vivre. I know, because I own a good number of such perfumes, but over the past year I’ve been favoring fragrances that take a poetic and reined-in approach; it is simply where my mood has been. WHITE evokes happiness by way of its elegant and ethereal olfactory strokes that speak of contentment rather than of the dizzying, electrifying joys of freedom.

Composed around notes of rose de mai, tonka bean, iris, sandalwood, bergamot, musk, vetiver and patchouli, WHITE starts off smelling floral and feminine, reminiscent of honeyed jasmine blossoms suspended in a delicately aqueous and green-tinged accord, which is why it reminds me of jasmine tea and not just of the flower itself. As jasmine is noticeably absent from the notes list, I wonder if the effect is due to the Rose de Mai – described by Wikipedia as having a scent that is “clear and sweet, with notes of honey”in combo with the coolness of iris? Whatever accounts for it, this opening stage of the perfume not only has the aroma of a floral tea but is as gently stimulating as that beverage. It taps the pleasure center of the brain in a way that elicits a feeling of joy that is pure (innocently pure, as there is nothing indolic or strumpet-like about this bouquet), calm and very “present.” The warmth of its bouquet reminds me of sunlight, an uplifting and golden smell that makes me feel like a cat basking in the sunlight of a window. WHITE is not as high-soaring a perfume as, for instance, Jean Patou Joy is with its operatic amounts of soprano-like jasmine and rose. WHITE’s floralcy is softer and anchored by a humid botanical element that verges on the aquatic (but only verges). I often develop crushes on perfumes expressing a dewy, almost minty form of greenness in their opening notes, and there is a hint of that here too, lending youthfulness while secretly working as a ballast that keeps WHITE from being too excitable. It is as if WHITE’S humidity has trapped an innocent bloom in its balmy embrace and both want to stay there and talk for awhile.

And luckily they can, because WHITE’s top-notes stage doesn’t burn off quickly. In fact, it’s probably not accurate to reference the perfume pyramid in regard to WHITE, because its floral accord is evident almost as soon as the perfume hits the skin and is the heart and soul of the perfume. Somewhere around twenty minutes of wear, it’s engaged by the slow-developing scent of tonka bean and sandalwood: an irresistible, dry marshmallow version of a vanillic base. Tonka and sandalwood impart creaminess to WHITE, and in this composition they do so in a way that is tender and discreet; like fine pearls of tapioca, they add starch to the perfume in a way that is in keeping with WHITE’s organic nature. This fragrance development doesn’t alter the floral nature of the perfume, but it does change the scent of its bouquet, which now smells less like jasmine tea and more like the marriage of white tea and vanilla. At this stage the fragrance’s florals and botanicals are absorbed in this luscious, foamy base that increases the perfume’s sense of containment. The conversation between the notes in this perfume has gotten cozier – and fluffier – as if there is also shared laughter.

Overall, WHITE is a perfume of gentle enchantment: it never loses its elegant manners, it keeps up its charming dialogue for a long time, and it wears both its heart and its name on its pristinely clean sleeve. Here it should be noted that it achieves these things partly due to a good dose of white musk, which depending on how one feels about musk will ultimately determine how one feels about this perfume. White musks aren’t all the same and neither are the compositions that employ them. This is important to keep in mind because, in my own case, there are many such perfumes I don’t care for, and then there are perfumes like Le Labo Gaiac 10 and Guerlain Lys Soleia, which contain a lot of white musk, that I find utterly captivating. It comes down to the overall fragrance composition and how well musk fits into it (not to mention whether I can smell it at all, because there are some musk scents to which I’m anosmic). In Puredistance WHITE, the musk is an important and well-integrated component, firstly because its fixative property extends the longevity of the delicate florals and their marshmallow base; secondly, because I suspect musk’s diffusive properties might also account for the softness of the bouquet, its ability to entertain the nuances that it does; and thirdly, because it does smell mildly soapy at times – mostly in its far drydown where it concludes with a laundry-fresh linens smell – extending the idea that WHITE is, well, white. Clean, innocent of heart, good-mannered. If WHITE could come to life, she would probably end her part of the long and lingering conversation by checking her watch and letting you know that she must be off to the drycleaners before they close.

 


Puredistance WHITE is a pure perfume extrait (with 38% perfume oil, a very rich amount) composed by perfumer Antoine Lie with notes of Rose de Mai from France, Tonka bean absolute from Venezuela, Orris absolute from Italy, Sandalwood from Mysore, Bergamot from Italy, Musk, Vetiver from Haiti and Patchouli from Indonesia. It can be purchased from the Puredistance website where a 17.5 ml. flacon is currently priced at $170. This perfume officially launched just this week, so it should also soon be available in the US at LuckyScent.com, which carries the rest of the Puredistance line.

My review is based on a sample I received from the company.

Photo of beautiful Asian woman can be found various places on Internet; photographer unknown by me.
Photo of Puredistance WHITE flacon and box is from the Puredistance website, linked above.

 

Posted by
Suzanne
Keller, 4/28/2015.

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