On Scent

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Crowded November 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — julieclara @ 4:54 am

Occasionally a perfume has multiple personality disorder.  The scent combines two, possibly three, different perfumes into one.  I’ve even heard my own personal favorite, Kelly Caleche, described as two completely different fragrances cajoled into residing in a single bottle.  But Tom Ford’s For Men takes this multiplicity a step too far.  It stuffs a whole crowd of personalities into a single spritz.

In fact, it’s somewhat uncanny just how accurately For Men reproduces the precise odor of a sweaty, crowded, liquor soaked club in some nondescript European town.  The musky, spicy, mossy, and syrupy clouds spewing from the toxic crowd overwhelm and nauseate you.  Hidden behind the blur is the unmistakable note of alcohol, spilled on the floor and oozing out of people’s pores.  As the dense fog envelops you, you’ll gasp for a breath of fresh air.



The Smell of Stress February 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — julieclara @ 10:19 pm

The smell of stress is not what you’d think.  It’s not dark, it’s not putrid.  It’s not bodily or sweaty.  No the smell of stress is paper white and graphite grey.  It’s asparagus green forms and squealing plastic swivel-chairs.  The smell of stress is a sheet of solid ice that you crash onto.  It’s the dry taste in your mouth and the vertigo as you stand up too quickly.   The smell is a long line of people awake far earlier than normal on a Saturday in an unfamiliar sterile hallway making small talk.  The smell of stress is surprisingly bland, frightful in its timidity, but still deadly toxic.


Soap Bubbles

Filed under: Uncategorized — julieclara @ 9:58 pm

I’m not certain of the reasons why, but the strength of my sense of smell varies directly with the temperature outside.  As a result, I’m far more aware smells, odors, and fragrances in the warmer months than during winter.  Perhaps this explains the hibernation of my desire to write perfume reviews this past mid-winter.  Or perhaps, like the smell strength and temperature correlation, there were other forces at work.

Now outward signs suggest that winter is drawing to a close and my nose has awoken hungry and roaring.  It happened when I tried Lolita Lempicka’s new fragrance Fleur de Corail. Longings for summer instantly invaded my head especially because the initial burst of this fragrance resembles precisely the smell of those giant soap bubbles we used to make in our neighbors’ yard as kids.  They had this large contraption that we’d dip in a concoction made from top-secret recipe, and then proceed to spin in circles until we collapsed from dizziness.  Even after the scent of soap bubbles dissipates, nostalgia for such impossibly long summer afternoons, those that can only be experienced by those between the ages of four and nine, continues to be a theme of Fleur de Corail.  It proceeds to tell the story of kiddie block, Technicolor ice pops, and the plastic of a Slip’N’Slide, all baking in the sun and embellished with a healthy dose of garden hose water.  Oh, to have just one more of those perfect summer days!


Guilty Pleasures November 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — julieclara @ 10:05 pm

As we all know, fragrance the exclusive domain of the fancy glass bottles in the perfume department. So many things in our daily lives – candles, detergents, lotions – have carefully crafted scents. Usually such scents take a back seat, serving as the muzak of the olfactory atmosphere. But every now and then, one of these unassuming smells catches the nose of a scent enthusiast and becomes a guilty pleasure. One of my personal favourites is classic Chapstick. It is really a non-scent and I realize that expressing an affinity for it is somewhat akin to revealing that one’s favorite color is beige. Still, I rather like the vague jar-of-ointment-being-opened-in-the-next-room smell that emanates from a freshly opened tube. Then every now and then, an unexpected scent leaps from the background demanding your attention, leading you to ponder why someone isn’t bottling this. This recently occurred when I received a free sample of daily hand moisturizer for Sephora by OPI. This lotion has one of the most intriguing floral scents I’ve ever come across, mainly because at first it has hardly anything to do with the blossoms of flowers. Instead it is the smell of freshly cut stems dripping with water – the very same scent that pervades every flower store. Only when the lotion warms up and sinks into your skin does the fragrance of flowers begin to emerge, developing into the bouquet of long-stem roses and the tingling anticipation leading up to your rendez-vous with its recipient.


Theme and Variations

Filed under: Uncategorized — julieclara @ 8:46 pm

In a world where so many creators of fragrances remain anonymous, the fact that Jean-Claude Ellena’s name is so frequently attached to his perfumes provides fragrance fans the opportunity to join in his artistic explorations.  Ellena is a man of themes and variations.  He introduces a theme in one scent, such as the initial juicy shock of an overripe mango in Un jardin sur le nil, and continues to vary and develop theme within a different context in a subsequent perfume, the suggestion of juicy overripeness in the drydown of Eau de Pamplemousse Rose.
My favorite of Ellena’s themes and variations occurs with two of his lesser known perfumes each created for a different perfume house.  His Osmanthus by the Different Company, an outfit Ellena created before joining Hermès, came first.  The eponymous Asian flower continued to provide inspiration when he subsequently created Osmanthe Yunnan for Hermès.  In both of these fragrances the delicate citrus notes of the flower play a leading role.   Osmanthus is very simply a reproduction of the plant following its botanical processes starting with the warm sunshine, which causes chemical reactions within the leaves giving energy to the buds that gradually unfurl and produce their enticing scent.  Osmanthe Yunnan is somewhat more refined and more removed from the actual flower itself because with this version Ellena has paired the floral scent with the creamy, earthy flavor of tea.  On skin this pairing comes alive: it is one of the first warm, sunny days of spring and you sitting in an Adirondack chair underneath a giant budding tree sipping a freshly brewed infusion.


Cyclone November 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — julieclara @ 9:07 pm

camp_fireYou will be in the right mood to try Cyclone for the first time on an evening when the sky is blood-red with tiny ash particles spewed from a raging forest fire hundreds of miles away.  Cyclone is a chaotic captivating whirlwind of a perfume.  Brief glimpses, fractured perceptions and vertiginous sensations swirl and overwhelm you.  You hear the rumblings of a haphazard gypsy band and catch a momentary vision of bare foot dancers.  Amidst the confusion the pungent smell of a campfire hits your nose softened by the hay-like smell of burlap.

As the chaos and confusion subsides, you find yourself left with the feeling of losing your footing.  Three women pull you in different directions.  Grasping your left hand is a dark and mysterious, musky-smelling gypsy woman.  A fair-haired and utterly unattainable woman who smells like finely-milled French lilac soap gently caresses your right hand.  A fierce red-headed woman has you by the waist.   She is dangerous and as she exhales you smell the slightly metallic odor of blood on her breath.


Bal D’Afrique October 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — julieclara @ 9:59 pm

spice marketMy latest obsession is the Swedish perfume house Byredo.  Each one of their eight fragrances is extraordinarily well crafted, like a symphony whose composer combines and balances the timbres of his brass, wind, percussion, and string instruments creating a sonorous orchestration throughout the first, second, and third movement.  Also like music, time plays an important role in these perfumes.  The metamorphoses undertaken by these fragrances once you spray them on skin keep you captivated, to the point where you find yourself nose to forearm in all sorts of public places: the drug store, the museum, the city bus.
The first perfume I tried on was Bal D’Afrique, which was supposedly inspired by the French infatuation with all things African in the 1920s.  This emerges in the form of the contrast between prim and proper and exotic and wild that dominates the first two acts of this perfume.  The initial impact of this scent is that of a sun-soaked spice market seen through a chaste veil of white flowers.  This slowly transforms into a perfectly milled ivory cake of jasmine soap that washes the lingering scent of spice from your skin.  In its final act, Bal D’Afrique transforms into the sweet, gluey, and faintly floral scent exhaled as you flip through the pages of a glossy fashion magazine.