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On This Page
· Three ways to stay warm this season.
· Beauty Notes: the ever-elusive signature scent, part 2
· Montale Intense Tiare review part 2
· Montale Blue Amber review
· Montale Aoud Blossom review
· Montale Boise Vanille review
· Beauty Notes: What I've been into, lately
· Montale Intense Tiare review
· Parfums Raffy perfume coupon code, 10% off
· Beauty Notes: Montale perfume this 'n' that
· Montale Aoud Blossom and Boise Vanille (preliminary sniff)
· Montale Blue Amber (preliminary sniff)
· Montale White Aoud, part 2
· Montale Sweet Oriental Dream review
· Montale Sweet Oriental Dream (preliminary sniff)
· Montale Chypre - Fruite, part 2 (review)
· Montale Chypre - Fruite, part 1
· Montale White Aoud, part 1
· Montale Powder Flowers review
· Montale perfumes arrive
· Beauty Notes: the ever-elusive signature scent
· More Montale perfume samples on the way...
· Beauty Notes: this 'n' that
· Beauty Notes: perfumes part 8
· Beauty Notes: Perfume recap
· Montale Crystal Flowers review
· Beauty Notes: Perfumes
· Montale Jasmin Full review part 2
· Montale Jasmin Full review part 1
· Montale Aoud Roses Petals review
· Beauty Notebook: Variations on the Floral Perfume

· October 31, 2007 1:08 PM by Blogger Dain
· November 1, 2007 6:53 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· October 25, 2007 3:35 PM by Blogger Dain
· October 14, 2007 7:16 PM by Blogger Dain
· October 14, 2007 7:48 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· October 14, 2007 9:05 PM by Blogger Dain
· October 14, 2007 11:02 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· October 15, 2007 3:03 PM by Blogger Dain
· October 15, 2007 4:56 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· October 13, 2007 6:59 AM by Blogger Dain
· October 13, 2007 7:09 AM by Blogger Dain
· October 13, 2007 10:21 AM by Blogger Chez Moi
· October 13, 2007 10:29 AM by Blogger Dain
· October 13, 2007 1:52 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· October 13, 2007 1:55 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· October 13, 2007 2:11 PM by Blogger Dain
· October 13, 2007 10:17 AM by Blogger Chez Moi
· October 13, 2007 1:08 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· September 26, 2007 2:18 PM by Blogger Dain
· September 26, 2007 9:17 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· September 24, 2007 1:05 PM by Blogger Dain
· September 12, 2007 1:29 AM by Blogger Dain
· September 12, 2007 4:03 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi

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Three ways to stay warm this season.
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, December 22, 2007 5:21 PM (Eastern)

It's been a bit of a challenge keeping warm sans the endless will-sucking, mind-sapping, seven-month season we called Summer back home in the South. In the San Francisco Bay Area, unless you have the good sense to journey inland, it is perennially cold. So, here are a few tricks.

1. Evoke the tropical:

montale intense tiare

Montale's Intense Tiaré sailed to the top of my wishlist this year, when I was wearing my winter coat and jumping up and down. Though there are other tropical coconut perfumes I've yet to try, I've yet to be tempted to try them.

Creed makes Virgin Island Water. Creed. Hm. I sampled two of their fragrances, Fleurissimo and Jasmin Impératrice Eugénie, and was a bit underwhelmed. As much as people rag on Montale for their prices, Creed is the spendier of the two. Plus, I can admit I find Creed's seemingly endless celebrity endorsement annoying. Ava Gardner I can dig, and someday I'd like to try her Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare, that would really be hot. The others though, eh...

Comptoir Sud Pacifique makes Aloha Tiaré. The one consistent thing I've read about Comptoir Sud Pacifique over the years is their scents don't last. I rejected the (stunning) Diptyque Do Son over the same issue. I don't buy weak perfumes; they insult the intelligence. Moreover, per, this particular scent was reformulated from its old monoï self into a more generic gardenia/tuberose scent...which was further described as being not as good as Annick Goutal's Songes, which I rejected as being too sweet and simple.

Oh, I'm sure there are other monoï scents, or other tropical interpretations, but what I love about Montale is their...odd engineering. It's not a plethora of notes, not even conventional notes, half the time what you're smelling doesn't even smell like perfume, only like insane goodness. Intense Tiaré, you can almost warm your hands against.

2. Tropical cute overload:

Bob Marley Waiting In Vain

If you can't actually jump into that warm sea, at least you can hear its rhythms inside the music.

3. Comedy on this subject:

I dithered some whether to embed this video here. I've played it several times, and have found it does make you feel warmer, yet there is a certain amount of bad language in it that some people might object to. Oh whatever, it's a video with an arrow on it; click if you want to.

Lewis Black on Broadway (cold)

image courtesy

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Beauty Notes: the ever-elusive signature scent, part 2
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, December 14, 2007 4:55 PM (Eastern)

potential signature scents

(see Beauty Notes: the ever-elusive signature scent)

I haven't smelled Sublime in ages, hence the small representation. I own the perfumes listed in red text, have the ones printed in purple on my some-day wish list (although I'm not planning to buy Sublime unsniffed).

Intense Tiaré, I've been wearing the most lately. It's amazingly warming and soothing. If anything will take you down to Kokomo, this is it...

...yet the coconut here is silky and subtle, woven into the fresh tiare flower (which even has a minute bitterness to it, like an actual bloom). It's floated to the top of my wishlist in fact. I feel I can live without Jasmin Full or Sublime, but Intense Tiaré plays like a Bob Marley song.

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Montale Intense Tiare review part 2
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, December 09, 2007 6:54 PM (Eastern)


(see Montale Intense Tiare review)

Did I really pass on this perfume? What was I thinking! At the time I sampled it first, it didn't strike me that much one way or the other. (Again with the virtues of trying perfumes in sample form, since they can be handily revisited even months later.)

Now that the weather has changed to its annual blend of fog, rain, dark and cold (okay I'm exaggerating, but I hate cold weather of any stripe), I need this perfume. I went back and got out my sample vial and fairly slapped it on. Yes! Yes! Yes! Coconut and Tahitian gardenia! Sunshine in a bottle! It's really true. You do feel warmer with this stuff on.

Never mind I've never owned a coconut perfume in my life, nor, for that matter, a Tahitian gardenia one. I suppose the closest I've possessed to a white floral would be Givenchy's Organza (which contains as much vanilla, wood and subtle spice as it does white florals) or Annick Goutal's Passion (white florals tempered by oakmoss); big white florals are not my thing. It's truly the coconut melding with the tropical bloom that makes this perfume special.

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Montale Blue Amber review
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, November 11, 2007 2:33 PM (Eastern)

montale blue amberThere was a lot of fuss about this scent on various boards, which is why I wanted to try it. Fortunately, in this day and age, we are privileged to be able to buy expensive scents in sample form...because, for me, "fuss" does not translate into "buy unsniffed"; it translates into "sample-worthy."

I tried this out on my wrist a few times and was a bit impressed. Like all the other Montale perfumes, you don't get the full effect unless you really apply it. So much of the scent hinges on its development on your skin. My initial impression-- Montale Blue Amber (preliminary sniff)--was of a Montale binary scent, two notes, rendered perfectly. But nothing to write home about.

I revisited Blue Amber yesterday, on one of those cold, damp days, and was more duly impressed. If you fairly slather it on, the superiority of those same two notes--amber and vanilla--emerges. Because usually, this type of scent is too sweet, too fake, too...obvious? This rendition is as dry as can be, with the signature vanilla of Montale, the kind that makes you drool without annoying you (I was never that big on gourmand scents until Montale). The amber reminds me of an actual piece of amber, if you've smelled one. Sweetish, a tad pine-y, like a hike through the woods in winter, when you're tramping on a bunch of fallen leaves, there's a ring of ice circling the pond, and a stillness.

So I had this of the virtues of this brand is its sheer strength and lasting power. You get to smell yourself all day, so, it had better be good! The positive qualities can seem more positive because of that simple fact. But all of that said, Blue Amber deserves at least some of the hype, for its purity and odd...I really want to say binary quality, the simplicity of two notes, rather than a stew.

You could always layer this with a floral perfume if you wanted more complexity. I know that sounds horrible, since it costs a lot. I'm reluctant myself to buy it, at least until I suss out how well the Montale's keep, but the concept itself doesn't disturb me. If you wanted a day of amber and vanilla, you could always do that, or you could play around with it.

Like their Boisé Vanillé, this is dry enough to be worn by a man.

armistice day

image courtesy

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Montale Aoud Blossom review
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, November 05, 2007 3:53 PM (Eastern)

You want to know what turned me on to Montale in the first place?

{Perfume Q & A} with Raffy Dolbakian of Parfums Raffy: Tastes of Summer - 2007 Bestseller Summery Fragrances

When I read this, I decided to try Aoud Roses Petals, Jasmin Full and Crystal Flowers. Which led me to try a lot of other Montale's.

I ended up buying Aoud Blossom and Boisé Vanillé (if you want a bit of pleasant irony, I bought them from Parfums Raffy).

It's been harder for me to review Aoud Blossom than the other Montale scents, which contain more familiar notes like saffron, the Montale signature rose, dry vanilla, et cetera. Aoud Blossom is more like a perfect blend of flowers...almost too perfect, since picking out any individual flower is harder than in, say, Crystal Flowers (an obvious heart of deep rose and lily-of-the-valley), or Jasmin Full (layers of warm mellow star jasmine).

Aoud Blossom is more akin to my nose to Creed's Fleurissimo, in being greater than the sum of its parts. I get violets...I'm sure of that, strong violets. Jasmine...something powdery (although I wouldn't describe Aoud Blossom as "a powdery scent," a bit of powder emerges after you've had it on for a few hours). Rose? It's not in the forefront, the way it is in Fleurissimo.

I don't want to overly compare Aoud Blossom to Fleurissimo, to me they smell nothing alike, the reason I brought it up was to suggest a virtually all-floral blend that produces its own "color."

Aoud Blossom isn't oud-y, much. I'm not sure I'd have pegged it as an oud scent at all. It's closer to all flowers, floating into your nose, but at the same time it's strong (yay!) in the Montale style.

My kids were nuts about this one, and I have used them as my chief perfume critics all along. Comments such as, "You smell weird, Mom" are very important to me. It's a reason I chose Aoud Blossom over White Aoud (which is a fabulous perfume, but my skin picked up too much lemony-sourness in it). Aoud Roses Petals fared better, with a positive vote from my daughter (it's still on the wish list), while Jasmin Full got enthusiastic yes votes from daughter and son (apparently they picked up its "grape soda note" lol)...but I will emphasize, they're not perfume newbs. Scents they like include Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien, Passion and Rose Absolue, Etro Heliotrope, Dior Addict, Armani Code...while they disliked Annick Goutal Mandragore, Diptyque Philosykos, and felt eh about scents I would have been more positive about.

So...trying this is a must for floral perfume fanatics. If you're not into florals, I'm not sure this would "convert" you; it doesn't exactly go beyond the realm of a conventional floral scent, it's just better than most of them...stronger, more complex, longer lasting, more "real" smelling (florals without a chemical edge). If you're more of a rose person, I'd point you toward Aoud Roses Petals (or Annick Goutal Rose Absolue for that matter). I've been into mixed floral scents for a long time; my signature scents of yore were invariably mixed florals (Sung by Alfred Sung, Giò by Giorgio Armani, Givenchy's Organza) as well as various scents I've liked (Armani Code, GF Ferré Lei).

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Montale Boise Vanille review
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, October 29, 2007 2:24 PM (Eastern)

montale boise vanille

This was one of the two perfumes I bought a bottle of, after over a year of trying out various fragrances.

Boisé Vanillé is a bit unsung, relative to other Montale scents, and I myself find it a bit dry when worn alone. It's binary, like their Chypré - Fruité, Blue Amber, Intense Tiaré, where they take two notes--really only two--and render them perfectly. Whether you have use for this scent, therefore, depends entirely on how you feel about the two notes.

As it turns out, I can use a dry, non-sweet blend of woods and vanilla. The woods here...I get cedar, a bit, but not the usual sandalwood. Just a sort of generic wood, as if you had gone into a forest and cut into a random deciduous tree. It's a feeling of freshness but a lack of the sweetness associated with women's wood-based perfumes.

Along with this, a purity of vanilla, again without the typical sugary aspect.

On its own, I find this almost too masculine (and I can see this on a man, unlike many so-called unisex perfumes). It makes the perfect foil however for other perfumes, when you want to add a bit of customization. I feel anything sweeter wouldn't work for that purpose, but this blends seamlessly.

Aside from changing from an almost stupefyingly simple wood + vanilla beginning, into a more complex woods + vanilla accord, this is linear. Once it hits its stride, it stays exactly the same for hours and hours.

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2 comment(s)  
October 31, 2007 1:08 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I like that, sweet without saccharine. A good amber is like that.

November 1, 2007 6:53 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Montale Blue Amber is kind of neat...although it is simplistic. It's just amber and vanilla, at least to my nose. It doesn't have enough depth imo to be worn alone. But for what it's a super strong, super dry amber and's not bad.

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Beauty Notes: What I've been into, lately
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, October 25, 2007 3:07 PM (Eastern)

nars mambo

Nars Mambo eyepencil. I haven't felt like wearing eyeshadow, much, so eyeliner is key (and faster to put on, anyway). I had three liners back in August of this year, and found I reached for this liner more and more, to the point I tossed the other two (which were getting old) without needing to replace them.

dr. hauschka lip products

Dr. Hauschka lip products. I wouldn't have guessed these would be so good (no offense, but I always thought of Dr. Hauschka as the skincare guys, not the color cosmetics guys). It makes logical sense though, if you think of lip products as (tinted) skincare for lips.

nars malibu

Nars The Multiple in Malibu. This is really useless as a multiple-purpose product, at least this shade is. It's too dry to use as lipstick, and mediocre as eyeshadow. But it's my ideal shade of warm-toned bronzed-rose blush, wearable year-round.

montale aoud blossom and boise vanille

Montale perfumes. These are so strong, I spray some in the palm of my hand and apply it that way. Perhaps the perfect cure for ephemeral scents, and the ordinary.

24 - Jack Bauer and Tony Almeida at a Drive-Thru

24. If you've watched this show even once (or eaten at an In 'n' Out), you'll immediately recognize the references in this parody. If you haven't, I would highly recommend both!

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1 comment(s)  
October 25, 2007 3:35 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Those Montales sound amazing... I hate weak, derivative perfumes!

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Montale Intense Tiare review
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, October 22, 2007 3:22 PM (Eastern)

montale intense tiare notes

Montale Intense Tiare reminded me some of Robert Piguet's Fracas, only with an underlayer of coconut, to the point I put one on one wrist and the other on the other. I'm smelling them both now, in turn, and I'm not getting a substantial difference, aside from the coconut.

The coconut in Intense Tiare is not the sort of fake coconut you get in many "tropical" perfumes nor is it Hawaiian Tropic coconut. It reminds me almost of young coconut; it's silky and subtle, almost creamy. They've kept this note firmly in the background, beneath the tiare (Tahitian gardenia), which smells fresh.

The white flower accord in Fracas is more complex, where Intense Tiare really just strikes me as tropical gardenia and coconut, albeit good tropical gardenia and coconut. If you like the one, you're apt to like the other.

I've tried Annick Goutal's Gardenia Passion as well, and find both Intense Tiare and Fracas superior...Gardenia Passion is a bit too simple--not nearly as layered and mellow as the other two scents.

I never really "got" the concept of the Big White Floral, it sounds like something people who don't like white florals might say, but Intense Tiare probably falls under that category, coconut and all. It's definitely sweet, tropical, "vacation in a bottle"-y.

The usual excellent Montale staying power and sillage.

On a personal note, it's not a perfume I can wear. I passed on Fracas too. On me these are too "loud," too sweet, not something that blends with my chemistry.

images courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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Parfums Raffy perfume coupon code, 10% off
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, October 18, 2007 2:18 PM (Eastern)

parfums raffy

The Lipstick Page Forums is pleased to announce our own special coupon code, good for 10% off at Parfums Raffy:


The code is good until 10/24/07 and is re-usable and transferable (enter into the box at checkout).

P.S. I've tried it out. It works! Parfums Raffy carries Montale, including some harder to find releases such as White Aoud, Aoud Blossom, Blue Amber, Chocolate Greedy, Intense Tiare, Boise Vanille, et cetera.

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Beauty Notes: Montale perfume this 'n' that
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, October 13, 2007 11:18 PM (Eastern)

violetsI tried Montale's Aoud Blossom layered with Boise Vanille today.

I'm still in favor of Boise Vanille; not sure about Aoud Blossom. My earlier thought, that its blended floral composition was similar to that of Creed's Fleurissimo--not the exact flowers, just the seamless, almost purely floral blend--turned out to be not that far off. Aoud Blossom today smelled quite violetty. Hardly oud-y at all--this is the least Aoud-y of the three Aouds I've tried, White Aoud and Aoud Roses Petals being the other two--just this sweet, old-fashioned, violet-dominated blend, like a good-quality old-style soap.

I'm still smelling it on myself; I've had it on about ten hours. The sillage fades out though, probably after about five hours (I'll have to time it next time). I really want to smell like violets? I like violets, don't get me wrong...and the Aouds are good, staying-power-wise. Just wondering if this is the layer I want over my Boise Vanille. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I've never owned a violet scent before in my life.

I think I'll try Boise Vanille with Aoud Roses Petals tomorrow (I'm kicking myself I used up my Jasmin Full sample, although I suspect an Aoud would pair better with Boise Vanille).

image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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6 comment(s)  
October 14, 2007 7:16 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Violets are nice. They are very motherly, though sometimes they're over-candied.

October 14, 2007 7:48 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Aoud Blossom is an indestructible violet. I put a few dabs on in the morning, and could still smell it quite strongly on myself (close to the skin) past midnight.

It isn't candied here, it's a bit powdery and soapy. It's nice but I feel it's...conservative...for me?

I tried Boise Vanille out with Aoud Roses Petals today. This just might be "it."

What's odd is ARP, which is a strong rose scent (rose, saffron and oud, bit o' cedar in the drydown) hardly smells rosy at all over the Boise Vanille. The whole works becomes one of those rose-in-the-background blended perfumes.

I'll have to see what happens tonight though...yesterday, BV faded out long before Aoud Blossom (hence the last x hours of almost pure soapy violets).

October 14, 2007 9:05 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I can see that... violets also make me think of Victorian sentimentality, which is pretty conservative. Maybe you can get Boise Vanille and a couple to layer over it as the mood strikes you?

October 14, 2007 11:02 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

They are so...expensive. The price here appears to be fixed. I checked all of the sites I could think of that carry Montale...parfums raffy, aedes, luckyscent, four seasons, there's a Canadian etailer too, (which is cheaper, but who knows what the shipping's going to be)...

The cheapest place is Suravi, but only because they have a 10% Basenotes and MUA discount. They don't have the scents I want up, but it's probably a matter of emailing them and asking.

Other than that, there is theperfumedcourt, but all I saw there was an 8-ml decant.

I've heard you can order it from Paris and it's cheaper that way, but more aggravating.

Haven't decided yet which I like better, Aoud Roses Petals or Aoud Blossom (White Aoud is out of the running).

October 15, 2007 3:03 PM, Blogger Dain said...

But if they last as long as they do, and unfold in such a complex fashion, you can consider them like "parfum", which are around $200 for a tiny bottle anyway. Imo, though, parfums don't need layering.

October 15, 2007 4:56 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

What I've read is the Aouds keep very well, but the regular EDP's don't necessarily. In short if I got one Aoud, it would be fairly safe to say it wouldn't go bad. For the regular EDP it would be a decision between 50-ml and 100-ml, but it might depend how fast it goes.

These don't need layering...I like to layer. I have it in mind to get two scents that could work on their own, or else be layered together to create a third scent. Besides, I like the idea of wearing something next to unique. Unless I bump into someone with the same notion of the same two scents, applied in the same proportion, it's unlikely I'll smell this on anyone else. To me there's nothing sacred about perfume; if it works, it works.

Aoud Blossom is pulling ahead, if only because I still don't think of myself as a rose scent person. They don't seem to sell the Aouds in smaller bottles, so the Aoud factor is key here.

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Montale Aoud Blossom and Boise Vanille (preliminary sniff)
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 1:54 AM (Eastern)

I couldn't resist trying these both (even as I had a concoction of Powder Flowers and White Aoud on, with a bit of Blue Amber to boot). It sounds like a right mess, but that is how I used to sample perfumes, after all--go to Nordies or Macy's or Needless Markup, try three or four scents on different areas of each hand, sniff hands obsessively...

I'm rather glad I did. I've decided against Powder Flowers, even though it smells yummy and Chanel-No.-5-y, only without an allergic reaction on my part (one of the perfume tragedies of my life is I can't wear No. 5). Powder Flowers doesn't have enough sillage for me, even though I know it would carry much better sprayed on rather than dabbed on from a vial. I need to narrow, at least for now, so whatever Montale's I choose have to be the end-all and be-all of all perfumery. grumbles...

Boise Vanille is, at first, just as literal as Chypre - Fruite (part 1, part 2). Wood + vanilla, without any refinement, as if you took a piece of wood (okay, a nice piece of wood) and soaked it in a bit of vanilla extract. Voilà! Boise Vanille.


Of course it doesn't stay that way; it softens up nicely, although--so far anyway, I've had it on a few hours--it does remain essentially just that, woods (this part becomes more complex) and vanilla. This smells almost unisex. More woods than vanilla, and not particularly sweet. What's drawing me here, admittedly, is the sillage. It is good...the strong woods meet the nose, and the vanilla is subtle and dry.

Aoud almost the polar opposite, all soft flowers, and with only the tiniest bit of oud. I'm getting tuberose here...and violets...these flowers are well blended though, you get an intense floral sensation without any one flower standing out.

I can't really compare Aoud Blossom to anything else I've smelled, exactly. The blended quality of flowers is similar to that of Creed's Fleurissimo, but Aoud Blossom is by far softer, sweeter, less assertive, and with a combination of flowers more attractive to me (more white tropical flowers, softer violets, not much rose).

I could also compare to Diptyque's Do Son but I don't want to. Do Son is far less of a traditional blended floral scent and more of an attempt to capture a real live garden.

The crazy thing is how good Boise Vanille and Aoud Blossom smell together. I put one on one side of my wrist and one on the other, but I keep trying to smell them both at the same time. In fact that's what I'm going to do tomorrow--layer one over the other.

Speaking of contrasting elements that somehow click, I fell a bit in love with the Marilyn Monroe-Marlon Brando montage (the original version is not embeddable), with photos by Milton Greene, over Monroe singing with Frankie Vaughan. Somehow this combination totally works, better than any other ever could (say, with Yves Montand singing, or Frankie Vaughan in the photos).

I liked it so much, I looked up more scenes from the movie (which I've never seen in its entirety). What I had seen of it before had seemed stilted, not very tempting to add to one's Netflix queue. Yet the musical number is quite wondrous, likely due to the combination (Monroe with her pauses in all the right places, Vaughan sounding very New York for an English guy, Montand dancing):

Marilyn Monroe - Let's make love - Let's make love

You'll just have to excuse the Spanish dubbing in the beginning. :D

images courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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7 comment(s)  
October 13, 2007 6:59 AM, Blogger Dain said...

We shall not see their likes again. I've heard that Lindsay Lohan is the "Marilyn Munroe of our day", and in a sense I can see a slight similitude, in that Lohan is also a tragicomic beauty, a girl who wants desperately to be loved, who seems inevitably destined for a bad end, but it's like comparing water to wine.

On a superficial note, I've been thinking of silver glitter polish, and those shoes of hers have confirmed it.

October 13, 2007 7:09 AM, Blogger Dain said...

What's with the timing?

October 13, 2007 10:21 AM, Blogger Chez Moi said...

Boise Vanille layered with just the slightest hint of rose sounds like something I've been dreaming of. Again, where'd ya get yer samples?:)

October 13, 2007 10:29 AM, Blogger Dain said...

Carol (forgive me if I'm wrong)? How've ya been?!

October 13, 2007 1:52 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Dain: Marilyn Monroe was a fans' actress, I think, more than a commercial success. For example, Elizabeth Taylor got paid one million dollars for Cleopatra...I read Monroe was making a fraction of that, even though her films were as well-attended.

I'll go so far as to say she's still a fans' actress, that's why her image has survived. If you look at it, she was very strong, she came from nothing and nowhere, she hung in there longer than the next person would have. They say a weaker person would not have been able to live as long as she did, with that level of pills and booze. I don't think she intended to die, she just miscalculated how much of this and that. Maybe she was over-confident.

The Net has probably only created more fans, because Monroe posed for thousands of still pictures. People get hold of them and digitize them... Again it could be said, she was simply harder-working than other actresses or models of the time who were more commercially successful. She was an interesting broad, people are still trying to figure her out.

Carol: Hey! :) These samples came from They're more expensive than, but they carry some scents aedes doesn't. I got Boise Vanille, Aoud Blossom, Intense Tiare, and Blue Amber...and these are the last perfume samples I'm planning to buy.

Montale is expensive...they had a big blowout sale at the Swiss Montale a while back (apparently they were closing the Swiss branch), and it would have been worth the hassle of ordering from an overseas site, but I'd only just gotten into Montale and didn't want to buy unsniffed. As it is, I'm really trying to narrow down which Montale's to buy.

Imo, Blue Amber is genuinely better than Tabu. But it is also quite similar. It's drier, more vanilla, a bit softer, but basically it is strong amber, and vanilla.

Boise Vanille is already on my short list. I'm going to try it out today with the Aoud Blossom layered over it.

BV is drier and less sweet than other woods-and-vanilla scents I've tried, it's next to unisex and I think a man could actually wear it. But it's not sharp enough so I'd dismiss it as man's scent. I don't do men's scents well.

I'm warming to the idea of getting this and a floral scent to combine it with. Expensive, yeah, but ultimately it might be better, in the sense of being able to "tune" the scent to exactly what you want, and being able to wear each on its own (and the cost is the same as buying two higher-end perfumes, which is what I was thinking of doing anyway).

October 13, 2007 1:55 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Ugh I screwed up the time on this. I have to add three hours, half the time I get it wrong.

October 13, 2007 2:11 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Lol. It's funny to have comments that come before the post.

Marilyn Munroe is fascinating without even trying. I'm partial to the poise of Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor, because they are much stronger, self-possessed, graceful women, compared Munroe's sort of helplessness to make your heart break. I find her, oddly enough, a rather bad actress, but I don't begrudge her for it. I think if I could really name anyone contemporary who has that level of charisma, it would probably be Justin Timberlake. He's not the most attractive or the most talented, but he has some genius for selling himself.

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Montale Blue Amber (preliminary sniff)
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, October 12, 2007 4:32 PM (Eastern)

I've got some of this on my wrist today, and it's reminding me of, of all things, Dana's Tabu:

1954 dana tabu ad

Blue Amber is's drier, softer, with more vanilla. What I'm getting is almost pure amber and vanilla, despite's more elaborate notes list:

Italian bergamot, bourbon geranium, coriander, patchouli, vetiver, amber, vanilla

So far, I'm not nuts about this as a perfume to wear on its own. But I am already intrigued by the idea of it as a layering scent.

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October 13, 2007 10:17 AM, Blogger Chez Moi said...

I happen to like Tabu. I'm guessing I'd like this one too! Where did you get the sample from?

October 13, 2007 1:08 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

See ya in the previous comment box. ^

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Montale White Aoud, part 2
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 1:10 PM (Eastern)

(see part 1)

I've knocked this off my Montale wishlist, but narrowly, very narrowly. On my skin, it is just the tiniest bit too sour--"lemon sour" (not, say, "sour milk sour"). It's not that I can't do sour, or lemony for that matter, but for me, there has to be a bit more sweetness to balance it off.

It's too bad; otherwise it would be next to perfection. It's strong, long-lasting, is way complex...I get waves of notes, like the oud, cardamom, other spices (subtle), something definitely lemony-citrus, then the sweetness of sandalwood and something else (vanilla?), amber, just a whole lot going on, blended perfectly, almost the perfect balance. Almost, on me anyway.

Hence, I feel this scent depends a bit more than others on chemistry--how much of the sweetness and sourness your skin picks up; and personal preference--how sweet you like your perfumes. I've always liked mine a bit sweet and flowery, over the abstract or woodsy.

However, I do think this is worth a try, for anyone shopping for anything remotely in this category. I might change my mind later on, if they still make it.

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Montale Sweet Oriental Dream review
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 12:08 AM (Eastern)

montale sweet oriental dreamSee Montale Sweet Oriental Dream (preliminary sniff).

I've tried this out only on my wrist, but I already know it's not for me. It's not only its strong pipe-tobacco note--I was wondering if it would fade somewhat in the drydown, which it did, somewhat, but remained prominent throughout--even without the tobacco note altogether, Sweet Oriental Dream would still not be "me."

It's an elegant and interesting scent, but I feel it's too young for me (I'm 42). It would be striking on someone ten to twenty years younger than myself. Even then, it would highly depend on how you feel about the tobacco note. I actually don't mind the smell of tobacco smoke of any kind, but in perfumery it just doesn't do it for me.

Then, there is the candy aspect. The honey here is very sweet, the almonds dry (pleasant in fact, not marzipan-y at all). Without tobacco, this would still be too sweet and candyish for me; again, better on a younger woman (and this is unmistakably a feminine scent).

The rose here does not dominate, whatever. It stays firmly behind the pipe tobacco, honey and almonds, and general candy-ness. Later on, in the drydown, a cherry note emerges, sort faint, sweet cherries. It's actually not as god-awful sweet as I'm making it sound. On the right woman this could be incredible. But definitely don't buy it unsniffed, unless, possibly, you are a lifelong tobacco-note nut.

The usual excellent sillage and staying power of Montale perfumes (of the ones I've tried, only Chypre - Fruite was faint on me).

All in all, a nice experience for me as a sample, but, for me, not a full-bottle candidate.

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Montale Sweet Oriental Dream (preliminary sniff)
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, October 11, 2007 7:56 PM (Eastern)

From the site:

The loveliest rose of France gives its elegance to Turkish delight, a subtle marriage of the noble centifolia rose and the fun accord of almonds and honey.

Sheesh, how did they miss the pipe tobacco? Sweet Oriental Dream's strongest note, at least on my wrist, summons this image:

hubble bubble

Okay, technically it smells like pipe tobacco, but somehow the phrase "hubble bubble" keeps flitting through my mind.

There is rose, and honey and almonds, but they peep out from under a thick smudge of pipe tobacco. If you're imagining a scent based solely on the aedes description, you'll be surprised, one way or the other.

So far not bad, but not for me. It's an assertive scent; it reminds me, not only of hubble bubbles, but also of the time I still lived in San Francisco, long before no-scent policies. You would always smell perfumes in the City, it was part of the experience. These were expensive perfumes, you seldom smelled anything cheap. It was just a wonderful experience--men and women, gay and straight, just a lot of people with good taste in perfumes. sigh Miss those days.

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Montale Chypre - Fruite, part 2 (review)
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 12:19 AM (Eastern)

montale chypre fruite(see part 1)

I've decided this can be struck from my Montale perfume wishlist. It's not a bad scent, particularly, but on me it's relatively faint, even when applied quite liberally. I've had the same result with other perfumes, even ones described by others as potent. Chanel Allure, for example...I can hardly smell it on myself. I suspect my skin chemistry has something to do with it (I didn't observe people around me passing out when I tried putting Allure on), or, whatever...I couldn't smell anything much of anything.

It's a bit better with Chypre - Fruite. Let's grab the description from the site:

Sensual and fruity. A fragrance which includes the seduction of musk and chypre (a harmony of bergamot, rose, jasmine on a base of patchouli and oakmoss) combined with the vibrant coolness of tropical fruits.

That's pretty accurate although what I'm smelling somehow seems...simpler. I'm getting a rather stock chypre base--muted, dusky, deep, a bit sweet, quite pleasant. It's what I like in Annick Goutal's Passion and Ava Luxe's Ingenue; if you've smelled either and like them, you might want to give Chypre - Fruite a whirl.

Atop this oakmossy base floats a layer of sweetish fruits. I'm not getting a lot of the floral notes...maybe a bit, but the fruit layer dominates anything floral. It's subtle fruit, like an actual plate of fruit, rather than synthesized fruit, if that makes any sense.

It's really quite wearable; my gripes are it's too faint on me, and I prefer Passion to this particular chypre. Passion possesses the same yummy oakmoss base, blended with edges of bright sparkling tuberose and soothing vanilla. Chypre - Fruite smelled quite similar to Passion in its drydown, when I first tried the former, but applying more, I get less of the white floral edge, more of a plain simple layer of bright fruit. (If I were looking for a longer-lasting substitute for Passion, this isn't exactly it.)

Bottom line: if you're into chypres, this is what the name says it is, and you might want to try it (although I wouldn't buy it unsniffed). If you're looking for something pleasant, wearable and subtly sweet, you might want to try this.

If you're looking for a very fruity scent, this is not it; the fruit here is subtle and does not stand out from the oakmoss base.

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Montale Chypre - Fruite, part 1
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, October 08, 2007 11:14 PM (Eastern)

This is...interesting. I put a small amount of this on my wrist this morning. (Call me chicken, but I don't like applying a lot of a new perfume until I've tried a preliminary wrist application.)

At first it smelled quite literal: chypre and fruit. I mean literally--a dusky mellow mossy chypre base, same as the other chypres I've tried (Annick Goutal Passion and Ava Luxe Ingenue, itself a replica of the discontinued Deneuve perfume), with a layer of...fruit.

Mind you, this isn't your generic-celebrity-floral-fruit, fruit. It doesn't smell generic nor is it particularly sweet. It just seems so, as I say, literal, as if a guy in the lab had read a label imprinted "Chypre - Fruite" and had dumped the contents of the chypre beaker in with that of the fruit beaker.

Chypre - Fruite remains that way initially, not unpleasant...the duskiness of the mosses offsetting the mild sweetness of the fruit, so the overall effect is elegant.

The interesting part happens later on, during the drydown. That is when Chypre - Fruite becomes amazingly close to Annick Goutal's Passion--really very close. No longer is Chypre - Fruite particularly fruity. Nor does it sport Passion's luscious tuberose, exactly...yet somehow it evokes almost exactly the same deep-moss-with-edges-of-white-floral-sweetness as Passion.

I hope that doesn't sound critical. I'm all for scents with similarities, especially if the "copycat" lasts a whole lot longer on than the original. Passion EDT imo is not worth buying, unless you're a conscientious toucher-upper; I was contemplating getting the (far more obscure) EDP form of it.

This is all preliminary; I'll try Chypre - Fruite out properly tomorrow.

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Montale White Aoud, part 1
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, October 06, 2007 2:05 AM (Eastern)

montale white aoudI wore a small amount of this the other day, and wore it completely today.

It's a beautiful perfume, but it's also kind of...odd. When I tried it out in a small amount, it reminded me of...I want to say a Chanel scent, but I can't name the specific one (definitely not No. 5 nor Coco Mademoiselle, nor any of the newer Chanel perfumes).

Applied fully, you get the panoramic Montale experience, where the scent changes lavishly, each phase lasting several hours. But unlike the others I've tried--Aoud Roses Petals, Jasmin Full, Crystal Flowers and Powder Flowers--this is a bit of an odd composition, although, of course, the drydown is to die for.

Here's the description from the site:

White Aoud weaves the tobacco and honey infused richness of precious oud into a luminous tapestry. The dusky, incense smoke imbued woods are contrasted with soft jasmine and creamy rose. The lemony brightness of cardamom lights up the composition, while warm amber and sandalwood offer a seductive backdrop for this beautiful oriental etude.

They're leaving out the saffron...I'm sure there's saffron in White Aoud. When I first put it on, I got the same oud-and-saffron blend that begins Aoud Roses Petals. But here, the oud doesn't seem to last as long, nor is it ever as strong. It's a bit of oud, but I wouldn't really describe White Aoud as "an oud scent."

The rose is also much subtler than in Roses's there, it's that sort of "smells like good oranges" rose, but White Aoud doesn't strike as "a rose scent" either, it's much more blended than that.

Phase 2 sees White Aoud leaving the oud-and-saffron phase, and entering the unnamed Chanel scent phase. (It could be an old Guerlain scent I'm thinking of, but I don't think so, I really think it's Chanel.)

Phase 3, the drydown...White Aoud began to remind me fairly strongly of Etro Shaal Nur. It's not the same...Shaal Nur is distinctly lemon-and-incense to my nose, and White Aoud is the better of the two scents...more complex, with an ambery vanilla-and-woods thing going on to make things more interesting. But if you like Shaal Nur, you're almost sure to like White Aoud (and you'll probably like it better, unless you're a real lemon nut).

In White Aoud, the "lemony" note is attributed to cardamom (at least by but I think the oud has something to do with it as well. White Aoud is spicy, a bit...subtly spicy, not obvious spices. It's warm and spicy (again, a bit similar to Shaal Nur).

I keep wanting to strike Montale scents off my wishlist. :D It's not a cheap line, and I tend to want two, or at most three, bottles of perfume at a time, because that's the rate at which I use them up. I hate having a perfume go bad; it did happen to me once, when I was hoarding a Givenchy Organza edp. (The horror...I think I had a third of the bottle left. At least it was a relatively small bottle.)

I have eliminated Crystal Flowers from the list, at least. Not that it's a bad scent, by any means; it's a yummy rose-and-lily-of-the-valley scent, in the same vein as Gianfranco Ferré Lei, but softer and warmer. It's just that I can live without a rose-dominated scent. At least I keep telling myself that.

If you like older Chanel perfumes, or if you like Etro Shaal Nur, you will definitely want to try White Aoud. (Conversely, if you don't like these, you may not like White Aoud.)

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Montale Powder Flowers review
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, October 03, 2007 11:05 PM (Eastern) two of this stuff. I tried a bit out on my wrist yesterday, then, deciding I liked it, applied it properly, and did the same today.

This begins as the kissing cousin of Chanel No. 5, indeed. I even get a bit of the aldehydes, as if Montale had initially decided to replicate No. 5...soft abstract rose, sweetish powder and white flowers, perhaps a hint of violets in the background (you'll have to forgive me if I'm off about violets, I haven't smelled nor seen them in at least 22 years)... When first applied, I'm getting No. 5, but sweeter, and light on the aldehydes.

Sometime in Hour 2, approximately, Powder Flowers veers off into pure baby powder, à la Johnson & Johnson. Strong, sweet, baby powder. (At this point the fragrance imo could be a touch more complex.)

Powder Flowers sort of toggles between the two...J & J baby powder and Chanel No. 5...for Hours 2, 3, maybe 4. After that it changes again, into something heavenly, "I can't stop smelling myself," a cloud of ambery goodness that lasts at least an hour or two. (Here you will want to have applied some closer to your nose, so it can waft right into your face.)

After that it fades some...becomes a soft baby powder/ambery thing, which, as in the other Montales I've tried, lingers softly for more hours, and remains on clothing until the following day.

Only in the beginning does it resemble No. 5, (sort of) down to the aldehydes. What's constant is the baby powder note. If you don't like baby powder, or powder in general, you're not going to like this.

But Powder Flowers stays pure baby powder only temporarily, and generally moves in and out in a dance with Chanel No. 5 (the original one I should say, there is a new one out), and a sort of dense ambery vanilla and woods thing.

This is a fine perfume. As much as I've been trying to narrow down which Montale I want, I almost feel as if each new one I try is a bit more delightful than the last. Right now I'm dithering between this and Jasmin Full (part 1, part 2).

chloe from 24

Bet you weren't expecting that! I've decided Chloe from 24 is my favorite tv character of all time, narrowly edging out Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Fred from Angel.

What brings this image to mind is the hour-by-hour quality of Montale perfumes. They're far from linear; they are the opposite of linear. If you're not head-over-heels over how it smells now, wait an hour. Or two. Or eight.

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Montale perfumes arrive
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, October 02, 2007 1:38 PM (Eastern)

montale perfumesThese arrived yesterday. As requested:

Serge Lutens Fleurs d'Oranger
Powder Flowers
Chypre - Fruit
Velvet Flowers
Patchouli Leaves
White Aoud
Sweet Oriental Dream

I couldn't resist trying Powder Flowers first, after reading a comparison of it to Chanel #5 without the aldehydes. I can no longer wear No. 5 (or other Chanel perfumes) without developing a rash, so I definitely wanted to try this one out.

So is similar, though--so far--not as good. What makes No. 5 perfection is it's not too sweet: you have a soft muted rose and other flowers, along with the aldehydes...

Powder Flowers is sweeter, more powdery, is very powdery. The Montale scents I've tried tend to evolve in almost discrete phases, which make them more entertaining (as you await the next phase) and, I think, more attractive to patient people. I see better reviews for this on the "serious" sites, very bad reviews on the "less serious" ones.

So far I like it. This isn't the official review, just a preliminary waft.

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Beauty Notes: the ever-elusive signature scent
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, September 28, 2007 2:25 AM (Eastern)

perfumesI'm anxiously anticipating my Montale samples.

Was tempted to go ahead and request the other Montales I wanted to try, since different places carry different Montales (there are a whole bunch of them). But that would be a bit silly. Who knows, by the time I get this batch, there might be a new Montale out. So, what's the rush?

I began this perfume quest a bit over a year ago, starting with some Annick Goutal samples (Eau d'Hadrien, Mandragore and Ce Soir Ou Jamais) and some Etro (Lemon Sorbet, Sandalo, Messe de Minuit, Royal Pavillon, Shaal Nur, Heliotrope, Vicolo Fiori, Gomma).

In some ways I feel further away from having a signature scent, than I did a year ago. Not really though. I don't feel it has to be a linear path; my life has seldom been linear anyway. I've learned to start at one point and just keep on going.

I've drained some of my samples...Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien, Ce Soir Ou Jamais, Heure Exquise (there's one more go of Passion left). Also Diptyque Do Son, Montale Jasmin Full.

I anticipate using up more...Montale Aoud Roses Petals and Crystal Flowers, the other Diptyques (except Philosykos, which smelled terrible on me, and possibly Ofrésia, which smelled bitter at first sniff), the other Annick Goutals, maybe...I didn't like Songes (too simple and sweet, though admirably strong and long-lasting), Gardénia Passion (also too simple and sweet).

As far as Etro...most of the scents were love or hate. I anticipate using up Heliotrope (I have a full bottle of this as well), Shaal Nur, Vicolo Fiori, Royal Pavillon...that might be it.

As far as Creed, eh...I like Montale better. The two Creed scents I tried, Fleurissimo and Jasmin Imperatrice Eugenie, were both singular, more traditional perfumes, but neither were "me."

Fracas, you've got to like. It's not "me" either though.

If the perfume fairy appeared right now and granted me however many perfumes I so desired...while we're dreaming, these perfumes keep perfectly and never turn...I could easily go for several of the ones I've tried. That's the appeal of "splits" and decants, the idea of being able to own relatively many fragrances, without otherwise living in penury, or, far worse, having your perfumes go bad.

I'm not there yet though; still attached to the idea of two or three bottles.

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More Montale perfume samples on the way...
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, September 26, 2007 2:09 PM (Eastern)

It took me a few days to compile a list; samples aren't cheap. Moreover, Montale is one of those lines that doesn't have tons of online reviews, or, more accurately, it does not have tons of useful reviews. The notes they use are different, the overall smell is not conventional.

All of that said, here's what I came up with:

Montale Powder Flowers
Montale Patchouli Leaves
Montale Sweet Oriental Dream
Montale Velvet Flowers
Montale White Aoud
Montale Chypre - Fruit
Serge Lutens Fleurs d'Oranger

Why Fleurs d'Oranger? Serge Lutens has a cult following, which usually means it's good, but I can admit, after perusing many a review and description of Lutens scents, I haven't been tempted to try them.

Fleurs d'Oranger caught my eye because I'm still on for a neroli scent, after ultimately being disappointed in Annick Goutal's Néroli. Néroli smells divine, can't fault that, but its lasting power doesn't have any.

Powder Flowers, Patchouli Leaves and Sweet Oriental Dream made the list because they weren't available at the other place I was thinking of getting Montale from. Patchouli Leaves has been widely described as a scent for people who hate patchouli, while Powder Flowers has been compared to Chanel No. 5 (which is one of my favorites, and to which I am drearily allergic). Sweet Oriental Dream, I dunno, I've been kicking it around in the back of my mind even though "it sounds like something I wouldn't like." What the hey...

The other three just sounded interesting.

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September 26, 2007 2:18 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Fleurs d'Oranger is real pretty, I liked it, at a time when I didn't have much interest in florals. I'm not sure how it compares to AG, though.

September 26, 2007 9:17 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

AG Néroli is lovely, but it's way too light. It smells quite authentic...not perfume-y, but like actual blossoms, a bit of green leaves, a little tart orange fruit, in that order.

I've tried applying a lot of it, but it never seems to get any stronger, and the lasting power at best is so-so. It's issued only as an EDT so there aren't higher concentrations. mumbles...

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Beauty Notes: this 'n' that
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, September 24, 2007 2:30 AM (Eastern)

I'm putting together which Montale perfumes to try. There are a lot of them; it would be expensive to try them all...and I don't actually want to try them all. I don't think it's necessary. I do think it's possible to cobble together what the perfume smells like, by gathering a few reliable sources for descriptions, and then sort of triangulating them.

Luckyscent's perfume descriptions are overly long and flowery, too...I dunno, enthusiastic? While Aedes' descriptions tend toward the too-short and spare. Put the two far I've got:
  • White Aoud
  • Black Aoud
  • Chypre Fruite
  • Vanille Absolu
  • Soleil de Capri
  • Chypre Vanille (dithering)
  • Intense Tiare
  • Orient Extreme
  • Attar
  • Blue Amber
  • Velvet Flowers
  • Roses Musk (dithering)
  • Aoud Velvet
  • Patchouli Leaves
Before I decide on a final list, I'll check some perfume blogs and Basenotes.

My trial of Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream is going well. It truly is a gentle exfoliant (at least to my skin it is; I don't have particularly sensitive skin). What I like best is the slightly "oily" feeling it leaves after rinsing. I know that sounds counterintuitive, since I have naturally oily skin, but that odd moist feeling does not translate into an oily face; quite the contrary.

My skin is already smoother and softer; seem to be fewer and smaller clogged pores. It's not a miraculous transformation by any means, but I'm suspicious of quick results when you're talking about skin. Most of the products I've tried that ended up working over the long run, worked gradually rather than right away.

I have a theory--that skincare is similar to weight loss. You don't gain the weight overnight (even though it feels that way); you gain it over time, which is why gradual weight loss works in the long run. Quick dramatic weight loss tends to work at first, but then stop working.

Your face doesn't get cruddy overnight either (even though it feels that way!), which is why mild, gradual treatments tend to work best in the long run.

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September 24, 2007 1:05 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I'm jealous. I really wanted to be able to use Dr. Hauschka cleansing cream, but can't... I really liked the premise, a paste that you "press" into a creamy emulsion that lifts away all that is bad without disturbing what is good, and it works, but... ach, allergies.

I agree 100% about skincare. Things that work miracles at first never keep up to the promise.

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Beauty Notes: perfumes part 8
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, September 21, 2007 3:45 AM (Eastern)

Elvis Costello - Peace Love And Understanding (2004)

There are several music videos I've had in draft mode, probably since part 7 of my perfume odyssey. There's this, the original video The Police did for "Roxanne," and Power Station's "Some Like It Hot."

Ultimately, Elvis Costello won out. This is a Nick Lowe song, and Costello kind of ruined it, but in a good way. He de-countrified can almost grasp how Lowe would have done it, all cowboy boots, grits 'n' ham gravy. Oh wait, here it is:

Nick Lowe What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love & Understandin'

Costello is the superior singer, the Whitney Houston to Lowe's Dolly Parton, but I like both versions. looks sheepish

I am a bit closer to finding my perfume nirvana than I was a year ago.

I have discovered my grail house. It is Montale. I "got" Montale, the way you "get" your favorite brand of chocolate the first time you taste it. It just feels right in your mouth; it's what your eyes seek in the shop, no matter how many other kinds of chocolate fill the shelves.

Still, which Montale? There's a dizzying array of scents. I've tried reading reviews, to narrow down even a list of samples. But the reviews of the three Montale scents I've tried (Aoud Roses Petals, Crystal Flowers and Jasmin Full) don't match how they smell. Perfume-Smellin' Things Perfume Blog did justice to Aoud Roses Petals and Jasmin Full (couldn't find a review of Crystal Flowers there), and there is always Basenotes.

I suspect I'm doomed to try them all, slowly.

Along the way, I do have favorites from the other houses I've tried, most notably Annick Goutal's Passion (okay I have a small bunch of favorites). I've also considered buying other forms of perfume (usually something like shower gel works out well, and lotion doesn't). I've never felt you need have everything "match"; scents are components, just as they are themselves made of components; there's no reason you can't use them exactly where and how you please.

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Beauty Notes: Perfume recap
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, September 11, 2007 2:14 PM (Eastern)

It all started with an Etro sample...about a year ago.

I still haven't bought a bottle of perfume. Still contemplating. I had considered buying Annick Goutal's Passion, a beautiful dusky tuberose, almost a "skin scent," then I started getting into Montale. And I still haven't decided.

At first I was sure one scent would jump out of the sea of samples, screaming, "Buy me in full size!" but that's a bit silly and old-fashioned. That happens only if you buy perfume from a department store. Because most of the scents there have to have an immediate effect, otherwise you wouldn't buy them.

With the samples, you get something like Etro or Montale, something that takes an inordinate amount of time to either grow on you (Etro) or develop in the first place (Montale). It's rather the opposite of everything else in modern living--it's actually become a slower process.

Anyhow, here is my current virtual perfume stash (the only real one is Heliotrope):

virtual perfume stash

This doesn't include all the fragrances I like, by any means. It's just the narrowest interpretation of what I might begin to consider buying.

I found the Etro scents overall masculine. Even Vicolo Fiori, which in my department-store days I would have almost purely floral, smells like a good quality soap from an obscure shop, yet still has a masculine edge. Hard to describe, but you know it immediately when you smell it.

I found Annick Goutal overall feminine. Even Eau d'Hadrien, which is unisex, smelled distinctly feminine to me in its spare, almost mathematical construction. Néroli got bumped off the list for its lack of staying power. a weird house. None of the scents lasted well on me, save Eau de Lierre. I put Do Son up for its sheer luscious authentic reconstruction of a garden, complete with sunshine and running water.

Fracas is something I'm pondering as a layering scent. It's lovely as is, don't get me wrong, but I think it's more versatile than that.

Montale is the obvious choice for me. Of the houses I've tried, it's easily the closest to what I'm looking for.

Nope, I haven't tried the bazillion other houses out there. I suppose I could. I'm not persuaded it's necessary.

I suppose it's more of a philosophy. When I find something I like, I tend to stick with it. I realize it's something of an anachronism now, since we have that many more choices, but I've always been like that. I don't feel I need to continuously "upgrade" or be off in search of the newest and latest, except as a sort of experimental phase.

shania twainAs much as I don't actually espouse retail therapy as a way of life, I do think women around the world should have their bit of fun, at least before settling down. :) It doesn't have to be a wallet-draining experience; it can be a creative one.

If I really wanted to sit down and make another collage, it would be of the following:
  1. Nancy Kwan's "I Enjoy Being a Girl" scene in Flower Drum Song
  2. Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"
  3. A Streetcar Named Desire: "Aw, let the girls have their music."
  4. Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!"

images courtesy,,, Wikimedia Commons

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September 12, 2007 1:29 AM, Blogger Dain said...

Hm, I'm not one for samples. The whole process drives me nuts for some reason. The faceless wee things, and I've been burned by samples before. Something I really loved turns out to be real disappointing full size.

As such, I tend to buy bottles, even without trying, which may not be smart, but I'd rather not go through the fuss. Just purchsed Parfumerie Generale Bois Blond, with a few samples. But I also have my eye on: Shiseido Bois de Feminite, Chanel No. 19 parfum, and Guerlain Apres L'Ondee.

September 12, 2007 4:03 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said... thing I've found with samples is that you have to apply a lot of the stuff, to replicate spraying it on from a regular bottle. Those little plastic wands are next to useless.

It's easy to see a point where you could spend more money on samples than you would on an actual bottle of perfume. I've been judicious about what I've decided to try as a result.

Or you could simply end up in a sort of samples hell, never buying a bottle of anything in favor of buying more samples.

Those Montale samples though, amazing...nothing the way they've been described on the Net. There is a distinct Middle Eastern flavor to them, it's instantly recognizable. The interpretation of roses is nothing like other rose scents, you don't get that sort of...blandness, or generic rose quality.

Now I'm wondering about the reviews of other Montale scents I've read. A lot of people missed the saffron in Aoud Roses Petals altogether. It's literally like smushing up saffron threads and mixing them with water, it's very strong, almost as strong as the roses themselves (and stronger than the oud imo).

From this point actually, I feel inclined to try only Montale.

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Montale Crystal Flowers review
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 1:45 AM (Eastern)

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I like this one too. From the Parfums Raffy website:

...Roses from the Dades Valley and refreshing italian mandarins combined with lilly of the valley, white musk and ambergris in a very sweet and sensual oriental flowers.

Normally the "very sweet" would make me cautious, and indeed I had requested this based largely on other people's recommendations. Now that I have it on though, it's quite beautiful.

dades valley

Where is Dades Valley? This description has been widely syndicated on the Net:

"An oasis in the Dades Valley is responsible for the area's alternative name: the Valley of the Roses. El Kelaa des M'Gouna - the only town of any note in the area - acts as Morocco's rose capital, a vast distilling plant there producing the litres of scented rose-water so popular in the nation's cooking and perfumery.

Although El Kelaa smells divine all year round, the best time to visit is in late May, when the rose farmers from the surrounding hills gather to celebrate the year's harvest. With ten tons of petals required to produce a few litres of precious oil, the harvest is understandably a labour of love, and the culminating festivities are all the livelier for it."

So this is the essence of Morocco's rose capital? It's fantastic. All along, I've thought of myself as "not a rose person." But these roses are different. They're not tinny and modern; rather, they smell old, exquisite, crimson to deep red.

collage of notes for montale crystal flowers

When I first applied Crystal Flowers, the rose sprang out and I thought, eh, another rose scent. Pleasant, but possibly doomed to remain in sample form.

After about an hour, the lily-of-the-valley emerged. At first it smelled remarkably similar to the ivy in Diptyque's Eau de Lierre, a sort of bland, almost creamy, mellow greenness.

Once it smoothed out though, it began to recall the rose-and-lily-of-the-valley heart of another perfume I own, GF Ferré Lei. It's better than Lei in that the rose is stronger, clearly defined instead of diffuse, but if you like the one, you're sure to like the other.

I'm not getting much in the way of mandarins as a discrete note, what I'm getting is a skillful blend of roses that smell like oranges. (Even as a child I observed that good oranges smell like roses and vice versa.) In short it's not exactly "fruity," in the now-generic sense of the word, but there is a twist of orange, whether of the fruit or of roses that smell like it.

The scent is softened by nose is still not sure what ambergris smells like. I have read it has a marine quality (being a substance found in a sperm whale's intestine, you'd kind of expect that). I'm not getting anything remotely oceanic here though. (I grew up near an ocean, so I suspect it's simply subtle here.)

Sillage: good, even with my cowardly application of only a small quantity from the vial. Lasting power: great. I put this on almost nine hours ago and the rose keeps on going. So far the lasting power seems comparable to their Aoud Roses Petals.

images courtesy Wikimedia Commons,,

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Beauty Notes: Perfumes
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, September 09, 2007 2:42 PM (Eastern)

Mmmm...I can still smell yesterday's Montale Jasmin Full on my clothes. What I'm going to do today, is fool around layering it with Fracas.

I found Fracas to be a tiny bit too sweet on me. By this I mean it is actually way sweet. What keeps it from being sick-sweet is that it is complex enough, and...floral-, rather than synthetic-, smelling. It smells really good, and the sillage lasts well (better than Jasmin Full), but wondering if Jasmin Full would knock the edge off some of the sweetness (where Fracas would extend the sillage of Jasmin Full).

I'll also need to try Crystal Flowers. It's premature to say this, but I've already found "my house." It's Montale.

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Montale Jasmin Full review part 2
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, September 07, 2007 3:12 PM (Eastern)

(see part 1)

I knew it! It was a matter of putting more of it on, about the same as any other eau de parfum (unlike Aoud Roses Petals, which fares well on a couple of drops).

I've been wearing Jasmin Full over the past several days; don't even feel like moving on to my other samples. I've decided, albeit a bit grudgingly, I prefer this over the two Diptyque florals I'd been turning over in my mind: Do Son and Jardin Clos. Partly, admittedly, because the Diptyques don't last that well on, and don't come in a more concentrated form.

Jasmin Full is more on the level of Annick Goutal's Passion to me. (Sure, the Passion EDT doesn't last well either, but it least it comes in eau de parfum...the Annick Goutal EDP's I've tried have been decent.)

These are all essentially floral perfumes. I would like my next perfume to be more floral than anything else. I suppose if you analyze it, I'm not seeking an abstract smell--which also makes my perfume quest simpler and easier--fewer factors. I'm seeking something close to the smell of flowers in the hot, humid, almost tropical weather. It is not the same, smelling flowers in dry--and, around here, temperate--California. Many of California's more spectacular blooms, such as bougainvillea, don't smell at all. The flowers that are fragrant certainly smell nice, but never seem to drench you in their perfumes.

So I am looking for that drenching, intoxicating floral experience. Second to that, would be a citrus experience...which is where Etro Shaal Nur and Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien might enter into it. Thirdly, would come what I think of as a more traditional perfume experience: the well-balanced, well-composed scent where the notes are blended so perfectly, no one note stands out, and you're left with this incredible wall of yum (I always think of Phil Spector right about here, at least in his old days when he created the Wall of Sound).

Of these three broad types of perfumes I like, the Wall of Sou--er, of Yum--would be the hardest to find.

It's relatively easy to find a perfume that smells almost purely of flowers, and from there, of the right flowers, and from there, a perfume that won't require a second mortgage, lasts well on, doesn't cause skin allergies, and just smells all-around divine. The art lies mainly in creating a natural smell of flowers, with enough depth to create interest (and that is where many a lesser floral scent fails).

Citrus likewise isn't all that obscure; it would need a few notes to balance it out, but it's probably better as a relatively stripped-down scent anyway.

On a side note, I've had The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" video in Blogger draft mode for days now, wondering what to do with it. It turns out that very song " often cited as the most perfect expression of the Wall of Sound." (Wall of Sound - Wikipedia)

As much as I generally dislike non-scent-related references to perfumes--they don't make sense to me--I might as well play The Ronettes! (It's a lovely song, and yes, they were still playing it on the radio in the 70's.)

The Ronettes - Be My Baby (1965)

Along with this, I stumbled across Eddie Money's duet with Ronnie Spector, "Take Me Home Tonight." I always liked that song, felt it didn't get the recognition it deserved...then again, Eddie Money was never really considered a Great, either, as there were tons of Springsteen-alikes floating around in those days.

Eddie Money - Take Me Home Tonight (1986)

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Montale Jasmin Full review part 1
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, September 04, 2007 12:51 PM (Eastern)

I put "part 1" because, although I've worn this perfume over the past couple of days, I'm still not sure about it.

This is a gorgeous scent; no problem there. I have some first-hand jasmine experience, in fact I've had something like this in my yard:

jasmine vine

But this is not the jasmine I smell in Jasmin Full. It's much closer to this:

star jasmine

The vine jasmine in the top pic, even I'll have to say doesn't smell all that great. It tends to be too sharp and thin.

But the star jasmine (bottom pic) smells warmer, fuller, rounder, softer, and stronger. There's a fair amount of it here in public parks, street medians, and so forth. When it's in bloom, you can smell it from yards can roll down your car window and breathe it in. I particularly liked that pic because of the sunlight...Jasmin Full has a sunny, rather than nocturnal, feel to it.

That said, Jasmin Full is not a literal copy of star jasmine. I get the same warm, sweet, round note, but there is more, a sort of drenching if Montale had blended in some green jasmine leaves, and dashes of other white flowers.

My sole issue with this scent is its sillage. It has the staying power; I can smell it on myself for hours and hours (not unlike their Aoud Roses Petals), but the sillage doesn't last very long, not even a good hour.

Again, I put "part 1" because I don't know if I've just been chicken. Aoud Roses Petals was so potent, a couple of drops were good to go all day, so the first time I wore Jasmin Full, I didn't put much on. The second time, I put more, but of course I'm planning to put on even more today.

Available at Parfums Raffy.

images courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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Montale Aoud Roses Petals review
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, August 30, 2007 1:49 PM (Eastern)

Just got a sample of this, from Parfums Raffy. In fact I have several samples, but went straight for the Aoud one, and placed a tiny drop or two of it on my wrist.

Why oud? What is oud? As there is, apparently, a musical instrument by the same name, let us first borrow some text from the Parfums Raffy site:

...The luxurious Aouds are fragranced ointments extracted from the oils of the Arabian Oud Tree. Oud is a precious oil from the bark resin of Aquilara - known as Ud (also Ouf or Aoud) - oil. Only trees of a certain age (50 years) deliver this essence. A thousand-year-old secret process, preserved in a cave for several years. Its subtlety and richness come from its vintage nature. Aouds are the sole perfume of Arabian kings and sultans since the dawn of time and are believed to possess aphrodisiac properties.

And some from the Wiki:

Agarwood or just Agar (from the Malay gaharu) is the resinous heartwood from Aquilaria trees, large evergreens native to southeast Asia. The trees occasionally become infected with a parasite mould and begin to produce an aromatic resin in response to this attack. As the fungus grows, the tree produces a very rich, dark resin within the heartwood. It is this precious resinous wood that is treasured around the world. The resin is commonly called Gaharu, Jinko, Aloeswood, Agarwood or Oud and is valued in many cultures for its distinctive fragrance, thus it is used for incense and perfumes...

I was warned about oud...that it was either love or hate. But I have a fair amount of exposure to Middle Eastern cultures, where the people can be all about perfumes. This smells...wonderful. Okay here are my impressions:

montale roses petals collageFirst sniff: saffron, with somehow an imaginary hint of somagh and dried lime. I mean I don't think this contains somagh or dried lime, but the saffron note is so authentic, my nose automatically anticipated the other ingredients, in the initial few seconds.

At first this perfume smells sharp, almost acidic, and not sweet. The kind of scent that might send a perfume novice into a minor state of panic. Since I'd been forewarned, I applied only the small amount and was prepared to wait for it to mellow some.

About half an hour later: it's mellowed some. No longer as sharp nor as acidic. Now you can really smell roses. But not roses in the soliflore style, which would tend to disinterest me. Actually this is reminding me a bit of Yves Saint Laurent Paris...but a touch sweeter and older, imo a bit nicer and more complex. Paris would be the lighter-hearted younger sister of Aoud Roses Petals, but imo, Roses Petals would be a bit more beautiful.

Now it's smelling sweet, almost a blend of dried and fresh rose petals, with a slightly...sappy...undertone, and the saffron still hanging in there.

The Montale perfumes are reputed to wear extremely well. That's refreshing, considering the ephemeral nature of other scents I've tried recently. Strength and staying power imo should be factored into the cost of a perfume.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this as a "young" scent. To me, it has a mature feel to it. Nor is it necessarily a rose perfume lover's scent. As much as I like smelling rose fragrances, this is the first I've ever considered buying; there's much more going on here than plain roses.

Drydown: this develops into a soft and candied, almost honeyed, rose, after a while, with the cedar note coming to the fore and the saffron and oud receding slightly.

More than twelve hours later: those one or two tiny drops of Aoud Roses Petals--barely faded. I'm not exaggerating. The perfume has become a tad muted, that's it. Homina-homina-homina! This is the first Montale I've tried, but I already love it!

images courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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Beauty Notebook: Variations on the Floral Perfume
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 4:31 AM (Eastern)

Recently I received some samples from the lovely Parfums Raffy. I selected scents I was most attracted to, based solely on descriptions, and only later realized they were all primarily floral perfumes.

robert piguet fracas
Robert Piguet Fracas

I chose this after reading that Fracas was the prototypical tuberose fragrance, the one all perfumers looked to when developing their own version of tuberose. I've smelled enough tuberose perfumes to know it's a note I love, so why not try the crème de la crème? (Plus, it's been around since 1948.)

What attracted me to Aoud Roses Petals was, ironically, not the rose. It was the aoud. I was curious to try it, read so much about it, how it was a love or hate note (probably no better way to sell it to me), how Montale perfumes lasted all day with only a few drops, how Montale had developed a cult following, et cetera.

These eau de parfums are bottled in aluminum. They have to be. They're so strong, and the bottles are would take you a long time to get through the bottle, hence the notion of shielding the scent from light.


What drew me here, after days of dithering over which Creeds to try: tuberose, again, and violets, which I haven't smelled in years (used to be some growing in my yard in Virginia, two decades ago)--but also the sentimentality of trying a scent that was commissioned for Grace Kelly's wedding to Prince Rainier.

Normally I don't seek out "celebrity" perfumes or beauty items unless I have a particularly strong affinity for the celeb--Marilyn Monroe, Catherine's a short list. I did ponder trying Creed's Fleurs de Thé Rose Bulgare, for the cool Ava Gardner factor, but the notes in Fleurissimo seemed closer to what I liked.
florentine iris

Here's a bit of an oddball; this is based on a scent commissioned for the Empress Eugénie in 1870. Described on several sites as mainly a blend of jasmine, sandalwood and vanilla (it also has citrus notes and rose), Jasmin Imperatrice Eugenie has inspired intense perfume love-it-or-loathe-it. Can't wait to try it.

parfums raffy

All perfumes will be reviewed here and in the reviews section.

images courtesy,

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