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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

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 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

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

Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk

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

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 Hedonist

Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb

What I’m Lovin’ Now

Xerjoff Mamluk

YOSH Perfumes Ginger Ciao

Yves Saint Laurent Nu

 

LEARNING TO ADJUST MY VIEW OF MUSK

 

(OR, A RANT THAT LEADS TO A RAVE OF EAU DES ILES)

 

A few months ago I was swapping samples with another perfume blogger, and when asked what fragrances I was interested in, I wondered if she might introduce me to some good musks. Up to this point, I had been avoiding musk scents like the plague. Not that one can totally avoid musk, because if what I’ve read is correct, synthetic musk is a component of almost every modern perfume due to its superb fixative properties. And not only perfumes, but also cosmetics, food flavorings, and most obviously these days, detergents. (Have you noticed that it’s almost impossible to avoid being assaulted by the “clean”-musk funk of liquid laundry detergents, even if you don’t use them yourself?  It seems almost every scented detergent in the supermarket these days is turbo-charged with white musk, so if you’re around people who, of all things, wash their clothes, you’re probably going to smell it.)

 

Anyway, getting back on topic, most of the perfumes I adore probably do have some amount of musk in them, and a chosen few have a rather pronounced musky component that I would say is part of the reason why I adore them. However, overall, I have never cared for fragrances in which musk plays a starring role (I prefer it as a bit player). The reason being, I dislike musk’s diffusiveness, or what I call its vague nature—and I hate, too, that most musk fragrances never live up to their hype. Musks are always hyped as being sexy; they are supposed to smell like skin, but to my nose they’re usually way too clean—too soapy or shampoo-ish—to smell sexy. And then there are those musks with slightly gourmand undertones: a faint dusting of cocoa that drives me insane because it’s so nebulous, I can’t decide if it’s really there; its ambiguity causing me to focus on it so intently, I actually get hungry (something which, oddly enough, never happens when I’m wearing an overtly gourmand scent, in which the notes announce themselves with a bow and curtsy).

 

At their very best, musk-heavy fragrances smell cuddly to me. The musk blunts the sharp edges of the other scent molecules that share its space and also acts like a film—or filter—that softens the hue of more saturated notes, like tuberose, for instance. While cuddly might equate to sexy for some fragrance lovers, to me it’s not the same thing. Blame it on the fact that I am only five foot two and have spent a lifetime being referred to as “cute,” but I usually bristle at the notion of cuddly perfumes. (There are exceptions, of course: I do love me some Flowerbomb, which has got a fluffy cuddliness to it. Or Tea for Two, with its snug drydown.)  Much of the time, though, I prefer perfumes that have great presence and poise—or some kind of intensity—probably because those are the things that are lacking in both my persona and physical self.

 

It’s a detriment, though, to avoid things you don’t like. If I had a dollar for every person who has ever emailed me asking for a musky scent, I’d be halfway to a bell jar of Muscs Koublai Khan (the one musk scent I am holding out hope for as being the animalic musk scent of my dreams. We’ll see; I hope to try it soon). So, as mentioned at the start of this ramble, I asked the kind and lovely blogger I was swapping samples with to send me musk-heavy scents, and she sent me a handful of them: a couple by Ava Luxe (Gardenia Musk and Oriental Musk) and the widely-loved Drama Nuui by Parfumerie Generale to name a few. I’ve been playing with them all summer, and while I can’t say I’ve become a musk convert yet, there is one that wowed me, that made me understand the artful way in which musk can act as an olfactory Japanese screen, bridging the worlds on either side of it and softening the view from one to the other:

 

Eau des Iles, by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier. Imagine that on one side of that Japanese shoji screen there is a world of arid greenery, while on the other there is exotic lushness. Imagine that you have a set of top notes that bears more than a passing resemblance to the very austere Caron Yatagan, and a heart and base that reminds you of the creamy drydown of Parfums de Nicolai’s Sacrebleu. It would seem a difficult marriage to pull off—a difficult transition between the two—yet thanks to the gauzy weave of musk that holds them together, it works.

 

The notes for Eau des Iles include spices, coffee, precious woods, ylang-ylang and patchouli, and the company website describes it as a remembrance of “perfume islands in which coffee fragrances intermingle with stately rare woods and smooth exotic flowers that have a strange beauty of their own.”  That’s actually a pretty accurate description. The coffee note is not a gourmand coffee note: it is bitter and green and lightly smoky. It doesn’t stick around too long, but enough to evoke the perfume’s coffee-island theme. Other arid and woodsy green notes do linger, playing yin to the warm, enveloping ylang-ylang that is the yang in this fragrance’s yin-yang equation. And musk, while not listed in the official notes, is there doing its job and doing it beautifully: balancing both sides of the equation, letting each side sustain itself to some degree while tempering the interaction between the two.


Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles can be purchased from LusciousCargo.com, as well as at a number of online perfume discounters, priced anywhere from $80-$112 for a 100-ml bottle.

Images credits
  • Diary: December 12, 1941, 1980, acrylic on canvas by Roger Shimomura.  This artwork was photographed and uploaded to Flickr.com by Cliff1066.
  • Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles is from LusciousCargo.com.

Posted by Suzanne Keller, 9/1/2009.


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