Notes from the Editors of The Lipstick Page Forums: A Dedication to the Art of Beauty and Fashion.

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· The Weekend Blogger: Bit o' honey
· Just Notes: This, that and the other
· Just Notes: What I've been into, lately
· Beauty Notes: Giò lotion by Giorgio Armani
· Just Notes: What I've been into, lately
· Beauty Notes: the ever-elusive signature scent, part 3
· Beauty Notes: Perfume Bay to become Beauty Encounter
· Beauty Notes: What I've been into, lately #2
· Ava Luxe: new blog
· Beauty Notes: Unique Books and Hand-Decanted Perfumes
· Beauty Notes: Transitioning into "niche" perfumes
· Three ways to stay warm this season.
· Beauty Notes: the ever-elusive signature scent, part 2
· Montale Intense Tiare review part 2
· Beauty Notes: Serenity
· Montale Blue Amber review
· Montale Aoud Blossom review
· Montale Boise Vanille review
· Beauty Notes: What I've been into, lately
· Montale Intense Tiare review
· Beauty & Fashion Notes: this 'n' that
· 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
· Annick Goutal Eau du Ciel review
· More Montale perfume samples on the way...
· Beauty Notes: this 'n' that
· Beauty Notes: perfumes part 8
· Robert Piguet Fracas part 2
· Creed Jasmin Imperatrice Eugenie review
· Angelina Jolie, Keira Knightley
· Where to get perfume samples
· Beauty Notes: Perfume recap
· Montale Crystal Flowers review
· Beauty Notes: Perfumes
· Beauty Notes: Perfume
· Robert Piguet Fracas part 1
· Montale Jasmin Full review part 2
· The best perfume ads?
· Montale Jasmin Full review part 1
· Culture Notes: Youtube & perfume
· Creed Fleurissimo review
· Montale Aoud Roses Petals review
· Beauty Notebook: Variations on the Floral Perfume
· Perfume
· Beauty Notes: perfumes part 7
· Culture Notes: Trigger Happy TV
· Beauty Notes: Annick Goutal Passion vs. Heure Exquise
· Annick Goutal Passion
· Beauty Notes: perfumes part 6
· Diptyque Tam Dao
· Beauty Notes: In Search of Wisteria in the Bay Area
· Beauty Notes: Everything you ever wanted to know about Serge Lutens
· Diptyque Jardin Clos
· Diptyque Eau de Lierre
· Beauty Notes: perfumes part 5
· Perfume for Dummies
· Another perfume link...
· Beauty Notes: perfumes part 4
· Beauty Notes: perfumes part 3
· Beauty Notes: perfumes part 2
· Beauty Notes: perfumes
· Beauty Notes: Diptyque
· Couple of indie links
· Diptyque Do Son
· Update on Annick Goutal and Diptyque
· Updates on Diptyque
· Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion
· Annick Goutal Neroli
· Annick Goutal Heure Exquise
· Diptyque reviews on the way...
· Update on Annick Goutal
· Update on Annick Goutal
· Annick Goutal Les Nuits d'Hadrien
· Updates on Annick Goutal samples
· Day 2 of Annick Goutal Neroli and Songes
· Premature reviews for Annick Goutal Songes and Neroli
· samples arrive...
· seven samples for $15 rides again
· Favorite "high end" beauty products
· Cool perfume post plus cool comments
· Some rambles about fragrance layering
· Etro Heliotrope
· Perfume blog link
· Etro and more on natural hair products
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· May 10, 2008 3:45 AM by Blogger Dain
· May 10, 2008 8:56 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· May 11, 2008 12:27 PM by Blogger Joy Rothke
· May 11, 2008 2:09 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· April 27, 2008 12:28 AM by Blogger EZE
· April 27, 2008 1:20 AM by Blogger Dain
· April 30, 2008 12:52 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
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· April 25, 2008 2:00 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
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· October 20, 2007 10:57 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
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· October 13, 2007 10:21 AM by Blogger Chez Moi
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· October 13, 2007 1:52 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
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· 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
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· September 12, 2007 1:29 AM by Blogger Dain
· September 12, 2007 4:03 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· September 9, 2007 2:38 PM by Blogger Joy
· September 9, 2007 2:56 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· September 2, 2007 5:47 AM by Blogger Dain
· September 2, 2007 12:45 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· August 28, 2007 10:44 PM by Blogger Dain
· August 28, 2007 10:53 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· August 29, 2007 2:18 AM by Blogger Audrey_H
· August 30, 2007 5:47 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· August 19, 2007 1:49 PM by Blogger Dain
· August 20, 2007 2:11 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· July 26, 2007 8:09 PM by Blogger Forever Redeemed
· July 26, 2007 11:13 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· July 24, 2007 11:30 PM by Blogger Dain
· July 22, 2007 1:32 AM by Blogger Dain
· July 22, 2007 2:47 AM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· July 8, 2007 11:02 PM by Blogger Dain
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· June 29, 2007 3:12 PM by Blogger Dain
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The Lipstick Page Forums Beauty & Fashion Blog

The Weekend Blogger: Bit o' honey
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, July 18, 2008 11:45 PM (Eastern)

An Earnest Sewn Co.'s invitation to A NEW HIVE

...An art installation inspired by the worldwide en masse disappearance of honeybees
by Derrick R. Cruz of Black Sheep and Prodigal Sons

Proceeds from A NEW HIVE support the establishment of beehives in public gardens, educational programs focusing on the importance of bees and the art of beekeeping, as well as research for the development of sustainable beekeeping practices.

I've often commended the labor of bees (but then I ponder the engineering of spiders). What you see is the honey, and it's simple, and you eat it. But how many bees travelled how many miles to gather nectar from hundreds of flowers, to alchemize said nectar into what you see. I prefer honey to sugar, myself.

What I've been up to...
  • Face. The Zia pressed powder of a few posts back...meh. And I seldom say "meh." If it's not the worst powder I ever tried--and it's not--still I miss my MAC Blot pressed. What's in that stuff, that can't be replicated anywhere else? I've decided to repurchase Blot after all. Not sure what to do with the Zia...I don't like returning used cosmetics even to stores which accept them...but until I update my review...meh.

  • Clothes. Made it out to the City last weekend, to visit both Golden Gate Park and Stonestown Galleria. The park has a certain amount of sentimental value; once, I lived within walking distance of it, and I've seen much of it. It's still good, though they recently decimated the children's playground, replacing funky old swings, merry-go-rounds and see-saws with sterile New Age-y constructions. I don't know what they were thinking, beyond fewer lawsuits, and fewer things for older children to play with, but it's hardly worth going to the playground any more.

    Stow Lake still rocks.

    Stonestown was surprisingly lovely. I got a couple of items--a sky blue hoodie, and an aquamarine blue skirt.

  • Perfume. Still using up samples. I retried Annick Goutal's Les Nuits d'Hadrien EDT, after reading Dain's review of the EDP (I doubt they smell different, particularly, but the Annick Goutal EDT's don't last well).

    I can smell more clearly these days. In Les Nuits... there lies the same exquisite lemon-and-cypress heart of Goutal's Eau d'Hadrien, only prettied up with frills of more traditional perfumery. I haven't smelled Eau d'Hadrien in ages, but there was something geometrical about it, the way they managed to trap sunlight and evoke whitewashed houses, narrow streets, lemon groves, and pretty dark-haired girls, in a scent perfume mavens don't seem to particularly care for lol

    It's a good thing I don't do decants. I think I'd end up with a hundred, easily.

Not much else to add; I may go to a bead show this weekend, although I'm not sure.

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Just Notes: This, that and the other
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, May 10, 2008 1:17 AM (Eastern)

cydwoq horn shoe
Cydwoq's Horn shoe

I've decided against Jean Patou's Sublime. I tested it out's odd. I've found, with perfumes, that you can seldom turn back the clock. A scent with which you were once so in love, can be like an old boyfriend where it was right at the time, but things have changed.

On the other hand, I still want Joy. And that's not a perfume I really liked that much, before, particularly. In my youth, it was the scent of a grown woman's pocketbook (they don't call them "pocketbooks" on the West Coast btw), the kind of woman whose hair was always done.

I'm still in search of shoes. Willing to give "cheap" shoes another shot, even though cheap is no longer, well, cheap. I mean shoes less than the $300 of my beloved Cydwoqs. Bleh. I know they're worth it, in the sense of not having to shop for shoes in the next ten years, in the sense they are, beyond doubt, well-made and comfortable. And, you could step on them, or your kids could step on them, and it would be fine. They could be rained on. (I don't wear suede shoes.) And they would be...marvellous.

Since I've never been a shoe gal, I never looked at other women's shoes until now, and realized how few shoes stand out. I never craved a lot of shoes, don't need variety (where I so do with jewelry), but it would be nice to somehow own these American-made, unusual shoes with--according to the blogs--excellent arch support. Cydwoq will custom-make shoes if you so desire (apparently they have something along the lines of 250 leathers to choose from). So color wouldn't be a problem.

Oh, I know, I'll end up at Nordstrom or some other dreary department store, and find a pump made in Spain or Italy, and end up buying that. My shoes are starting to fall apart now, after so many years of good service, so putting off shoe-shopping indefinitely is out of the picture. I know I should be glad I can afford a decent, if not shoe-gasmic, shoe, so I don't wish to end this post on a "Paris Hilton can't buy the Titanic" snivelling note. lol I'll let you guys know if I find anything.

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4 comment(s)  
May 10, 2008 3:45 AM, Blogger Dain said...

I'm a spender, not a saver, as you well know, but--I'm all for deliberation before buying, especially for anything $100 and above. Is there any way to try them on before you make a decision?

May 10, 2008 8:56 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

That's just the problem. There are several stores around here that retail them. It's a case of, "I'm afraid to try them because I might like them."

I have yet to try the Nordies route, which would likely be half the price if not less. Cydwoqs do go on sale online, and I've seen some on Ebay, but the sale ones tend to be either odd sizes or styles I don't like.

May 11, 2008 12:27 PM, Blogger Joy Rothke said...

They're interesting...but the soles don't look very sturdy.

May 11, 2008 2:09 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I'd have to see them in person, no doubt. I'm hoping to do that today, since I have to get shoes one way or the other (my beloved Cole Haan's have "vintaged" to the point of developing a hole in one side). I'm going to try Nordies first, but there is a shop in that mall that carries Cydwoqs.

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Just Notes: What I've been into, lately
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, April 26, 2008 8:34 PM (Eastern)

salux beauty skin cloth

Salux Beauty Skin Cloth. A marvel of modern engineering; I'm impressed with it, every shower. I use half the soap I normally would, without skimping on lather. Any keratosis pilaris-y bumps are neatly filed away; great for keeping legs ingrown-hair-less; ankles, toes and elbows are radiantly free of dead skin.

Yet it's pleasant to use, rather like a spa in your morning shower.

Its true might though is as a facial exfoliator. I pity the fool (okay I don't actually pity the fool, just having a Mr. T moment) who blows hundreds of dollars on a Clarisonic, while this under-five-bucks nylon gem sits on the shelf. I see skin on my face I haven't seen in years. Fewer flakes, clogged pores,'s all that, and the proverbial bag of chips.

andy tauer l'air du desert marocain

Andy Tauer's L'air du désert marocain. Dain sent me a sample, I have it in my cubicle. :) It's not something you could ever wear a lot of, in an office, yet it's ideal for hot weather, when you want to smell soapy.

As a fragrance, I can admit it's a bit literal. It smells hot and dry, and like a spice market, okay...but it's done with such care. So it doesn't smell cheap-spicy, or as if it were trying too hard to be sexy. To me it's not sexy at all, it's rather...dry and clean, masculine. If I could fault it for anything, it's the mediocre staying power, the price...cheaper than the Montale oud eau de parfums, more expensive than the regular Montale line, but, all in all, a lousy deal, given how many times you'd have to reapply it during the day.

As a sample though, it's my favorite among many, many samples. I tried the Serge Lutens Fleurs d'Oranger sample I'd bought (kicks self) as an office cubicle hot weather scent, and regretted it bitterly the first time I used it...pure eau de cleaning products, albeit really good cleaning products. mumbles...

dr hauschka body care kit

Along with Giò lotion from a bygone era, I've dug out my Dr. Hauschka kits and delved into the body one. These kits have a long life; you can dabble for months inside just one kit. So far I'm liking the Rose Body Oil, perhaps for the novelty of using a body oil, but it's genuinely likable, with its delicate rose scent and light feeling.

images courtesy,

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3 comment(s)  
April 27, 2008 12:28 AM, Blogger EZE said...

The best part of the Salux cloths is the packaging. It's just the right mix of cheese and functionality.

April 27, 2008 1:20 AM, Blogger Dain said...

I got a lot of citrus from L'Air du Desert Marocain, a sandy fizz over dry spices and curls of cedar. It was definitely nice, but not my taste. Have you tried layering it over one of your Montales? I liked it over Black Aoud.

April 30, 2008 12:52 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I wasn't overly wowed by the packaging :) There were several Chinese knock-offs on the shelf, but I wanted to try the patented Japanese version. The pic is no exaggeration...the thing is like a small bath towel.

I got this at my local "Japanese dollar shop"'s sort of a combination of a regular Japanese odds 'n' ends shop...they've got dishes and novelties...and a dollar shop, where they have 99 cent items. They also have a section for Japanese shampoo, facial cleansers and the like. It's pretty neat.

I get next to no citrus out of ...Marocain? On me it's spicy, dry, hot and calming. What's great is that it's not sweet. I'm not into spicy perfumes, but the dryness here works. I'll have to give it a go over a Montale.

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Beauty Notes: Giò lotion by Giorgio Armani
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, April 24, 2008 10:45 PM (Eastern)

gio perfume by giorgio armani

Stealing a small break here, as I've been cleaning house (we have guests arriving soon).

One of the items I "rediscovered" while dusting was a small bottle of Giò-scented lotion. It's at least thirteen years old, likely more, as it dates back to when I lived in Washington State. It never smelled as good as the Giò perfume (while the shower gel certainly does), yet that doesn't exactly explain why I never used it up.

It's still perfectly preserved; I tried some on...I need lotion, why buy if you own some? It smells terrific too. I'm not terribly fickle about perfumes...I tend to make a particular one my signature, for years, then switch to something else for more's funny how this still smells so good on me. Giò was good to me. Thinking now of chasing the perfume down some time and buying it again.

I went on one of those "artisan perfume binges" a while back, and regret nothing (have my nifty Montales to show for it, along with a bazillion samples), but I've never been one to turn my back on the ordinary department-store perfume. That would be silly.

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4 comment(s)  
April 25, 2008 11:03 AM, Blogger Dain said...

It truly surprises me how few niche perfumes I want to keep for myself.

April 25, 2008 2:00 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Part of it is the cost imo. I rather liked that Tauer L'Air du Desert Marocain, but the thought of paying $90 for a little bottle of something with little staying having to hunt it down and buy it in decant form.

There are quite a few artisan perfumes I'd buy if I could...Jasmin Full, Intense Tiare, the Tauer one, Heure Exquise (maybe), AG Rose Absolue and Eau d'Hadrien, yadda yadda... The mainstream perfumes tend to be more reasonably priced.

April 25, 2008 10:24 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I'm starting to be more open about fragrances with very little staying power. I've always been prejudiced in favor of strong, powerful perfumes. In some cases (Chanel Cristalle and Guerlain Après L'Ondée are good examples) ephemerality is an integral part of the charm—if they were stronger, they'd not be the same experience.

I think the only niche scent I find myself craving is Ormonde Woman, though I'm still in the middle of investigating Frederic Malle and find quite a few outright stupendous. Otherwise, the only sure bets at this point are Caron Parfum Sacré, which I snagged for $13, and Guerlain Mitsouko (still). I guess I'm more about the classics. : )

April 26, 2008 3:36 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Uh-uh...if it doesn't last, I won't buy it. To me it's an insult, especially for expensive perfumes. It's on the manufacturer to find a way of making the scent last. I don't use other cosmetic products that have no staying power, from eyeliner to blush to lipstick, either.

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Just Notes: What I've been into, lately
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, February 22, 2008 6:18 PM (Eastern)


As much as Jean Patou's Joy perfume was created in 1930 to combat the Great Depression, it doesn't smell exuberant to me. I get the American-ness of the rose, but it is also an English rose, and the jasmine only makes it smell more like an English-flavored East Coast garden. After breathing Montale's Middle Eastern rose and jasmine for months, this has a nostalgic edge for me; a scent to bridge past and present, motherland and U.S. Like Patou's Sublime, Joy went immediately to my wish list.

I can admit I think in terms of houses when I think of perfume. For years, Givenchy was my house. I wore Organza, and had little vials of Extravagance, Organza Indecence, Amarige, and Ysatis (didn't like Ysatis though). Tried "new" L'Interdit, Hot Couture, up to Very Irresistible...but at one point, I felt the house of Givenchy had modernized far too much.

Montale has been my house since last year, owing to their Middle Eastern essences, swirled together with a slight French edge.

Patou, I've finally put a finger on more emotional in appeal than either Givenchy or Montale. I just felt a jolt of happiness smelling Sublime after all these years (ten, easily, likely more). It was like a friendly smile. Joy to me dates back decades; I'm fuzzy as to when I smelled it before (Virginia, East Coast, a perfume for ladies with pocketbooks and compacts). Yet there is the same radiant warmth of that friendly smile.

chain samples

(Not to scale.) One of my local bead shops closed down, more than a year ago, and I've yet to replace it with another brick & mortar shop. The markup around here, outside that one shop, is terrible. I gave up, and began the search for good etailers.

l'oreal mega blondes haircolor

This stuff worked out pretty well. I'm not even sure I miss my L'Oreal Feria. Preference Mega Blondes has its own have to be more careful applying it, since it lifts more than Feria. I fried the top layer of my hair when I first used it. Well it didn't come out crispy, exactly, just lighter than I'd wanted. Fortunately I've cut at least four inches off the bottom of my hair over the past few weeks, so it doesn't matter.

dr. hauschka #09 lipstick Dolce

Dr. Hauschka's #09 lipstick (Dolce). More versatile than their #01 Amoroso lipstick, which is too much color for my etiolated winter skin. Dolce is perhaps a tad too warm to truly be my grail, yet there is the niceness of it: tasty natural ingredients, pleasant heavy gold-colored case, overall lip conditioning. Thinking of replacing this with their Adagio lipstick (#07), which is a sort of complex pink, though I'll probably use up Amoroso first (at the rate Dolce is going, it should last well into summer).

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Beauty Notes: the ever-elusive signature scent, part 3
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, February 12, 2008 7:44 PM (Eastern)

Beauty Notes: the ever-elusive signature scent
Beauty Notes: the ever-elusive signature scent, part 2


Thanks to the lovely Dain, who gave me a sample of Jean Patou's Sublime (among loads of other samples), I'm pretty well set as far as the perfume wardrobe goes.

When I tried Sublime again, after...ten years? probably more...I immediately reconnected with it. This was the scent I had tried several times at Nordstrom, along with Guerlain's Samsara, Dior's Dune, some others...and had never bought. It is sweeter now to my nose; perfumes in the 1990's were sweeter and more assertive than the popular scents of today. But, so what. It's magnificent.

Yup, I will go through the entire...mass...of samples, and will doubtlessly experience something unexpected. The Lutens loot should be interesting. Still I have several decades of perfume conservatism under my belt; I have never owned many scents. Five will already be more than I've ever owned at a pop.

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Beauty Notes: Perfume Bay to become Beauty Encounter
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, February 11, 2008 7:40 PM (Eastern)

Not the newest of news, no doubt, but Perfume Bay, the online perfume discounter, lost the suit Ebay filed against them. As of March 1, 2008, Perfume Bay will become Beauty Encounter, at

Perfume Bay is familiar to me as one of the few places carrying Annick Goutal's eau de parfums. Rather crucial, since the widely-available Goutal eau de toilettes have terrible staying power. I got my Passion EDP from Perfume Bay, and have off and on eyed their solid Sublime. (There are a lot of odds and ends on the site; reminds me of Woolworths in a good way.)

Oh well, I'd hate to see an independent etailer take a nose dive over something like this, so do update your bookmarks on March 1.

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Beauty Notes: What I've been into, lately #2
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, January 18, 2008 3:14 PM (Eastern)

I think we need a label for this, somehow...a blend of favorite things and Jack Bauer and Tony Almeida at a Drive-Thru.

Anyhow. Shall we commence?

Ava Luxe Voyage earrings

ava luxe earrings

I'm not affiliated with Ava Luxe, I should mention. I just like her stuff. Here I thought this was beautiful, a binary combination of kyanite and labradorite, strung on karat gold. Sometime I will do something similarly binary...I can't wear 14KT gold earrings, but I'm hoping someone will come up with a wearable golden leverback cheaper than 18KT gold. mumbles...

handmade sapphire earrings

Here is my own stuff. Less spectacular for sure, but keep in mind, there can be a difference between making something to wear, and making something to sell. With the emphasis on "can be."

It's been on my mind lately, because I tend to acquire less for the sake of owning something beautiful, and more for that of owning something useful. Sometimes the twain meet, oh, take this for example:

nars eyeshadow duos

I've gotten the most mileage from Island Fever (far right). In the pan: a gorgeous shimmery sea blue shade, plus a medium shimmery iridescent grey. It should be pretty, but useless; something you bought on a whim because it looked nice. But it isn't useless by far. The blue shade, applied very lightly, is the most natural, unobtrusive shadow I own. It shouldn't work but it does.

Hence, the Ava Luxe earrings could well correspond to this concept. Bright and pretty, but potentially utile as well.

My little hoops (these are the most conservative earrings I've made thus far) would be more like this:

nars mambo eye pencil

Nars Mambo, the unsung eyepencil. I paid $19 for you at Sephora, and momentarily felt a complete idiot; you can buy a perfectly decent deep brown eyepencil at Longs Drugs for four bucks. Then I started using you.

Mambo is deep brown, yet possesses hints of purple and red--making it subtly ideal for green or blue eyes, and making it go with everything. Thereby replacing brown, purple, and bronze pencils for me. No, you don't swatch particularly well, but on, you are a minor genius.


The Scented Salamander follows up on the Bond No. 9/Liz Zorn Perfumes story:

Trademark Questions Over The Use Of The Word "Peace" / Q & A with Laurice Rahme of Bond No.9, Liz Zorn of Liz Zorn Perfumes, & Sarah Horowitz -Thran of Creative Scentualization

Dwelling in lawyer-infested California, I suspect the entire thing was less of a shock to me. And I found some people seemed to turn it into a girl-on-girl fight--not good for business, for either party. Oh well. I see Zorn has some samples on her site; you might want to check them out.

aspirin mask screenshot

And finally, for your perusal--Michelle Phan, aka RiceBunny, demos the aspirin mask (here with honey): RiceBunny's Xanga Site - Aspirin = Beautiful Skin

No, I'm not into this myself. I'm far too lazy. But the idea of using aspirin and honey as a mask makes perfect logical sense. You are exfoliating. Exfoliating is good.

Have a great weekend!

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5 comment(s)  
January 18, 2008 4:31 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I've been trying "just notes" for random things, but I'm not sure how it might work.

I like labradorite; from a design perspective, it would go with so many things. Pearls, watery green amethysts, mm... it's just pretty to look at.

I think the reason why the blue might work is the fact that it may be a perfect contrast. A perfect contrast works better than a near match. Someone with brown hair, for example, might do well with green.

Hm, it's interesting that she was able to get an interview with Laurice Rahme. I don't really buy it, though, it is insincere. But I'm tired of the issue, and I still think Bond is a silly brand, just from a purely aesthetic standpoint. It is really the sort of thing that could go back and forth forever, and I think it was very wise for Liz Zorn to drop it.

January 18, 2008 4:57 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Yeah...I just didn't want to leave it hanging. There was a big splash about it, then nothing. From the article, it would appear this sort of thing happens fairly regularly...and from what I've seen of lawyers, I wouldn't be too surprised.

Every few months in California, you get something in the mail informing you there is a class-action lawsuit you might be able to participate in. At first I thought hey, great...then I read the thing. Usually it boils down to, you sign a form and mail it back. By signing, you agree the settlement is final, yadda yadda...and if the suit is successful, you are entitled to a $15 voucher toward, say, renewing your contract with your wireless phone company for another year...or $50 toward the purchase of a new stove.

It's a joke! The settlement "terms" are invariably next to worthless. It's clear to me that lawyers simply file these "class-action lawsuits" against major corporations...the corporations probably settle (cheaper than taking it to court)...whoever bothered to sign the form gets their $15 gift certificate. And the lawyers collect a fat percentage of the settlement. If I were cynical, I'd say they split the take with the lawyers for the major corporation, but I'd like to think they're far too honest for that. lol

January 18, 2008 8:54 PM, Blogger Dain said...

It seemed absurd to me at the time because in cosmetics, people copy each other all the time, and it's not something trifling like names, it's like, NARS makes a gold-pink-peach blush with a clever title, and everyone from Chanel to Milani has something like a year later. It seems like copycatting in this business is a given.

Oddly enough, it has come up in fashion, too. I was just reading an article on Marc Jacobs' derivativeness in W today. Apparently, it caused quite the furor, and all things considered, it must have been far nastier. Fashion is bitcher than even Hollywood.

January 19, 2008 3:28 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I think that gold-and-sapphire earring is especially rich. The colors kind of resonate with each other in a way that the silver doesn't. If it doesn't get too heavy, some vivid green drops at the bottom would add some extra intensity.

January 20, 2008 1:53 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Mmmm...the gold ones did come out prettier. I got some 14KT gold beads to try usual, the cost per bead is relatively low, but they go so fast. Suddenly every piece "could use some of those." rolls eyes

I've found it's entirely different buying jewelry, and making it. If you're buying, then I can see jewelry minimalism. That's when you would want to get the most impact out of your pieces, because you have to pay the markup.

If you're making it, there's no point to minimalism. That's when you want to experiment and develop your own designs--which tend to be specific to you. When I'm making anything, I don't tend to lay it out, I tend to put it on. I'll try it on as I'm making it.

Now if you're selling it...that's when the design itself would take precedence. Because you have no idea who's going to wear it.

I have some tiny emeralds actually, I got them at the same time as the sapphires. It's amazing how tiny these things are. Imagine cutting and drilling them.

I was going to make something similar to these hoops using emeralds...but also thinking of combining the stones somehow.

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Ava Luxe: new blog
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, January 12, 2008 12:26 AM (Eastern)

Ava Luxe

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Beauty Notes: Unique Books and Hand-Decanted Perfumes
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, January 05, 2008 10:57 PM (Eastern)

Eiderdown Press: Unique Books and Hand-Decanted Perfumes

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Beauty Notes: Transitioning into "niche" perfumes
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, December 28, 2007 1:14 AM (Eastern)

I would like to remind our dear readers that we have covered some of the more obscure brands of fragrance on this site, with more to come.

Perfume Reviews
The Mnemonic Sense

You may also check individual brand labels, such as Serge Lutens, Annick Goutal, Montale and so forth.

Even as the choices in scent grow exponentially, still I would like to think we at The Lipstick Page Forums endeavor to refine...if not "what's good," at least what isn't particularly good. It's not all good. In fact that's something I always liked in Dain, that she didn't advocate indiscriminate collecting. There is a useful aspect to it, in having tried sheer masses of products, but then there is a tendency to become less perceptive of each product.

Before I go on, it's well to note I never bought any Diptyque perfume. I tried a bunch of them, but the one I liked best, Do Son, had this sort of pathetic staying power. It smelled otherworldly for about an hour; two, tops...I remember wearing it in Muir Woods, and trying to detangle what was Do Son and what was the scent of the park itself--no small potatoes, the latter looks like this:

But, eh, it's like that fantastic lipstick of the perfect shade, and zero staying power. Ultimately I won't be happy with it. I would choose a lipstick that's perhaps less in terms of the color, if it means I can put it on and forget about it, as long as possible.

Likewise, I tossed the idea of Annick Goutal's eau de toilettes. Yes, they're cute, they're easy to find, and reasonably priced, relatively speaking...the lasting power just sucks. I chased down the more elusive Annick Goutal eau de parfum and found it to last as well as any other EDP.

Etro was kind of a weird brand. I ended up with a full bottle of Heliotrope, which my kids love (always good to have a consultant or two).

Ultimately it is all about the samples: Where to get perfume,, and The Perfumed Court are the more popular sites for these. Though samples can become expensive in their own right, I've found them indispensable particularly for niche fragrances, because these tend to not be designed to smell good sprayed on a card, or tested on your hand in a department store. There is often a far less immediate appeal...some scents take hours to develop, days to comprehend, and months to be able to afford. :D

Anyhow, happy hunting! and do check back on this blog.

image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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December 28, 2007 2:30 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I've heard that the Chanel exclusifs are very good, but of course, they are a mass-market brand's version of niche. I haven't smelled any of them, but talented perfumers and highest quality ingredients sounds like a promising mix. Guerlain is very tricky for me, Guerlinade is musty on me, but I do like L'Heure Bleue. If I had a house, it would be Caron. Caron never cheapens.

You know, Annick Goutals have never agreed with me? They are somehow... too cute, too benign. I think I prefer perfumes very strong opinions. Diptyque, I've only tried two, one was a big hit, the other a big miss. ETRO has very wearable, but unoriginal perfumes, I think. Serge Lutens, I think, gives you a real appreciation for raw materials--those two really know how to bring out a flavor, it's never the thing itself, but in a lot of ways, it is often better. I'm dead curious about Montale--I guess we'll see!

December 28, 2007 11:43 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

The odd thing is it's probably harder to get hold of a Chanel "secret perfume"--dunno, do they keep it behind the counter? :D than a plain old niche fragrance. The niche people were smart enough to start up sample programs, which go hand-in-hand with decant services.

I've never had Guerlain work on me...have never tried Caron. Givenchy is my "mainstream house," since I'm allergic to the older, better Chanels.

Annick Goutal is weirder than Etro if you think about it. Etro, overall, struck me as masculine, where AG struck me as feminine--but wildly differing. Not all of their scents are nice-girl concoctions. It's as if someone goes crazy in the lab late at night, and pops out something no one else has, that is too perfect. And then it's business as usual the next day.

Lutens...mmmmm...I suspect he's more your guy than mine. You're more European in taste than I am. Montale to me has this slight French edge, but it's largely Middle Eastern in flavor. I sense SL is largely French with a slight Middle Eastern edge. (I could be entirely washed up here, it's more of a hunch.)

December 29, 2007 12:04 AM, Blogger Dain said...

Yeah, Guerlains are just tough, but very rich food for the mind. I guess that will just have to be my next perfume review. ; )

To be honest, there are only a very sparing number of SLs I'd consider FBW, indeed Tubereuse Criminelle is alone assured. They are magnificent to appreciate, as one might savor fine wine in a restaurant, but it is quite another thing to buy a case of the vintage (approximately the relationship between decant and full-bottle, no?).

However, I see what you mean, and I think your hunch is a good one. It is very French. But you know, Fleurs d'Oranger is one of the least impressive of the SLs, pretty but... And I have never tried Montale. We'll just have to see.

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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)

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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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Beauty Notes: Serenity
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, December 05, 2007 1:36 AM (Eastern)

It's well to find ways to keep your morale and energy up, no matter what's going on. Not that it's easy to do. In fact it's a skill, that should probably be taught in school along with mathematics (the two are not as dissimilar as they may appear).

Serenity & Music

What better way to get everything in alignment than to put on some music? (Do people still say that, or did this expression recede with the vinyl recording?)

alicia bridges - i love the night life COQUIGUATE

This was one of my favorite songs of the disco era. It's subtler than Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," and as sexy, in its own way, as Grace Jones' "Pull Up to the Bumper."

And speaking of Grace Jones...she was a prominent figure in the tail-end-of-disco, birth-of-New-Wave period, and I miss her. I didn't know until today that LL Cool J's "Doin' It" was sampled from a Grace Jones song:

Grace Jones - My Jamaican Guy (Live)

Serenity & Perfume

Finally got around to trying my sample of Serge Lutens' Fleurs d'Oranger today.

serge lutens fleurs d'oranger

In its own right, it is a highly soothing composition, with waves and billows of honeyed orange blossom, whiffs of the orange itself, smooth white starts out with a small burst of the same bright sweetness of Fracas, in fact...all reminiscent of crisp white cotton shirts, sunny gardens, and general tranquility.

I can never in a million years see buying this, mind you; it's not "me." "You," in your perfume-buying decisions, should be the perfumes that bring you peace. My Montale Aoud Blossom/Boisé Vanillé blend never fails to soothe, nor does Annick Goutal's Passion. I'm mulling over the idea of trying Jean Patou's Sublime again (I haven't smelled it in a decade, easily, and don't want to make the same mistake I made buying Samsara after not having smelled it in about as long.)

Serenity & Jewelry

turquoise, labradorite and keishi pearl necklace

I had the idea of trying to capture the sea around Jamaica, without using obvious maritime symbols such as mermaids or shells. This is American turquoise and labradorite, with a natural pink keishi pearl. In the end I couldn't resist the golden anchor (in real life, it looks more like a fleur-de-lys than an obvious anchor).

Here a great deal of the calming aspect is making the piece itself. It's not unlike knitting, which I've recently thought about taking up (I was a complete screw-up at knitting in my youth), in being able to take the same elements and redo them, with very little waste (okay knitting trumps jewelry making, but if you stick with it long enough, you don't make that many mistakes anymore).

Serenity & Comedy

Springtime for Hitler

Sometimes you really need to laugh. When I saw The Producers originally, it was sometime in the early to mid 1970's, when the horrors of World War II were still relatively fresh. I had to blink to believe what I was seeing, it was that hysterically funny. Likely some of its jibes are less pointed now, but the opening number for Springtime for Hitler is a classic.

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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

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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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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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Beauty & Fashion Notes: this 'n' that
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, October 19, 2007 9:37 PM (Eastern)

I have been busy lately...I have to finish up a project involving jewelry. I placed an order with a company I'd been planning to buy from, for...months, possibly even a year or more. It's one of the few jewelry supply companies that is Fair Trade certified, they're based in Thailand, and the majority of their items are fine silver (.999). Only a few items are sterling. They also vermeil and according to them, their vermeil exceeds legal standards.

Aside from this, they have this totally droolworthy site with a glut of stunning items, everything from beads (some solid, which I'm kicking myself I didn't buy), pendants, earring components, chain, charms, all sorts of things. They carry rose gold vermeil as well as yellow, but I find rose gold difficult to work with since most vermeil components, not to mention goldfilled, are yellow. If you'd like to check it out:

When I got the package, I literally had to sit down when I was opening it. The images on the site really do not do the items justice. Part of it is the weight of each item, the soft yet bright silver, the sheer quality of the workmanship. Take this pendant:

silver rose pendant

Here it looks nice enough, you're thinking eh... In person, when you run your fingers over it, there is not a single rough edge. All of the many edges are as smooth as silk. The balance of the pendant is perfect; it's handmade yet the symmetry is also perfect. It's just an amazing piece.

That's what I did today, made a necklace out of that pendant, some lapis, some of these:

silver butterfly beads

...and some odd Bali sterling components. It's a bit tricky to design with fine silver because of the weight first design had two strands of lapis and silver along with the pendant. I loved how it looked, but it was too heavy to wear more than a few hours, so I went back to the drawing board and made it a single strand.

I hope you take advantage of our Parfums Raffy coupon code for 10% off. Parfums Raffy has a diverse selection of perfumes, and the prices are competitive. They have modern mainstream perfumes, classics such as Joy and Fracas, niche brands such as Creed and Montale, Raffy's own original perfumes, and even this:

bill blass nude perfume

This is Nude by Bill Blass. I've never owned it, never even tested it, but let me tell you this. This perfume drove me crazy one day at Trader Joe's.

If you don't have a Trader Joe's, they tend to have relatively small aisles (at least ours do) and to be perpetually crowded. So I was there one day shopping, and I smelled the most wonderful perfume. I mean it was magical. Normally I don't notice perfumes, but this was extraordinary...I kept smelling it, as I made my way through the aisles, but it was so crowded I couldn't pinpoint who was wearing it for the longest time.

Finally I figured out who it was and I asked her what was that perfume, and she said it was Nude by Bill Blass.

Hopefully I'll have some jewelry pics and other features soon.

images courtesy,

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October 20, 2007 12:25 PM, Blogger Dain said...

How pretty. You have my interest piqued in the Bill Blass now. Which Montale did you get?

October 20, 2007 10:57 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I've never tested Nude, I only smelled it on someone else. I read some reviews on Basenotes, where it was described as "artificial" and "synthetic," yet it did get four thumbs up (out of four reviews).

:D I'll post about what I got when I get it...

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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.

image courtesy

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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.

image courtesy

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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.)

image courtesy

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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.

image courtesy

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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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Annick Goutal Eau du Ciel review
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, September 27, 2007 2:38 PM (Eastern)

annick goutal eau du cielFrom the Annick Goutal site:

Aerial, Fresh, Soft, Tender, Natural

A melody of tender scents: Brazilian rosewood, violet, Florentin iris and lime blossom. A subtle interpretation of innocence, a gentle fragrance as delicate as the shiver of an angel's wing...

Unlike the usual hyperbolic perfume description, this describes Eau du Ciel to a T. It is a superbly delicate, youthful scent, perhaps the opposite of sophistication.

That would appear a rarity these days, given mainstream perfumes seem to be pressed from the same fruity-floral mold (I suspect they're produced in the same factory), and niche scents targeted towards an older audience.

I'm not sure I can pick apart these notes; they're blended perfectly, like other Annick Goutal scents (Heure Exquise, Passion, Nuits d'Hadrien, Ce Soir Ou Jamais, Eau d'Hadrien, of the ones I've tried). I want to say Eau du Ciel smells like hay. Having spent the majority of my childhood summers at an organic farm, I have fond memories of the scent of hay (even though it is poky in reality). Soft, sweetish hay, with a little freshly mown grass, and just something pleasant, summery, lazy, like that part of my grandparents' garden where they had planted tall flowers (when you're young and short, tall flowers tower majestically) and my sister, cousins and I played hide and seek.

It smells more sunshiny than dusky, more warm than cool. I'm not exactly sure what rosewood smells like, but there is something predominantly woody here. I'm getting only a soft edge of violets...this is not a strongly violetty scent...with more iris, like a bearded iris in the sun. A faint edge of something citrusy, which could be the lime blossom blended with iris (irises smell a tiny bit citrusy to me).

All in all, a terrific scent for a young woman. I'm thinking later teens or early twenties. Actually I kind of like it myself. There's something calming about it.

image courtesy

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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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Robert Piguet Fracas part 2
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, September 17, 2007 9:40 PM (Eastern)

(see part 1)

Told ya there would be a part 2. :)

I tried this out again today, after having felt a bit ill over the past couple of days, due to changing weather. Something about Fracas seemed soothing; a scent you could wear even when others would make you feel off.

Today I got more of an orange-blossom vibe from this...tuberose and orange blossom. Orange blossom is not listed as a note (although "orange" is), but somehow there is a sweet and waxy white orange blossom here.

Overall, I've begun to question how long it's going to take me to find "my" perfumes. I feel this is individual; others may figure this out a whole lot sooner. For me, it's a bit more than the classical "love at first sniff"; I'm starting to feel now that time itself is a factor, that my scents have to evolve over time.

I mean it sounds kinda crazy but even though I've been wearing my Montale's and Fracas lately, to the exclusion of all else, I do not feel my first actual bottle of perfume in ages need be any of these. (Although I am dying to try more Montale.)

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Creed Jasmin Imperatrice Eugenie review
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, September 16, 2007 2:09 AM (Eastern)

empress eugenieI tried a bit of this out today. From the Parfums Raffy site:

Creed Jasmin Imperatrice Eugenie is based on the formula of a fragrance originally created in the 19th century for the Empress Eugenie of France. Creed Jasmin Imperatrice Eugenie is an aristocratic blend of citrus top notes over a rich heart of Italian jasmine and Bulgarian rose and a warm powdery base of sandalwood and super absolute of vanilla.

I couldn't pass up the chance to try a scent of that description.

First impressions: for being based on such a venerable formula, I got a distinct 80's (1980's that is) vibe from this juice. Giorgio, but nicer, with a dash of Samsara.

The vanilla was prominent...not today's subtle, dry, or ethereal vanilla, but rather, a strong smudge of vanilla blended seamlessly with sandalwood. I didn't get much of the citrus top notes...I could buy there might be rose in this (it was subtle on my skin), but the jasmine was much more to the fore.

About an hour later, it began to remind me of...old house. Old Southern house. I definitely lived in a house that had that odd, almost musty smell, although I can't place exactly which house, or when.

It's not an unpleasant smell by any means...and it's not the same as the "dank concrete building" I got from Etro Gomma (an otherwise gorgeous scent), nor the (wonderful) "musty wet riverbank" I got from Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. This was almost plain Southern house, the kind that had apple green walls, wood paneling, that sort of thing.

The old house phase lasted probably a good hour or two, then Jasmin Imperatrice Eugenie mellowed further...less old house, more of just an old-style perfume along the lines of the aforementioned Samsara.

Now...ten hours later...I can still smell it on my skin, albeit faintly. The citrus seems to have finally peeked out, and there remains a touch of the vanilla-sandalwood duality.

All in all...perhaps it's a bit like the other Creed scent I sampled, Fleurissimo. It's not bad, but it's not "me."

Yet there is something a bit tempting about it...its sheer strength and lasting power are impressive. If you liked it, a little would go a long way.

Conclusion: sample first, do not buy "unsniffed." I read the notes before deciding on the sample, but this is little like a modern interpretation of those notes.

If you like Giorgio, Samsara, or even Obsession...this doesn't remind me of Obsession exactly, more the idea of an assertive, definitely "there" might want to check this out.

If this is the kind of thing you are violently against, you may decide to choose another scent to sample.

image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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Angelina Jolie, Keira Knightley
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, September 13, 2007 1:22 PM (Eastern)

Angelina Jolie ad for Shiseido

Again with the utterly colorless background and dress, making her sublime blue-green eyes jump out at you.

You'll note how simple her makeup is here. Just a little eyeliner and neutral shadows, nude lipstick, and mascara.

Pub coco mademoiselle

I'm less crazy about the Keira Knightley ad for Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle perfume. I actually like Keira Knightley, thought she made a bold and brilliant debut in her films. What I find disturbing, is this trend toward 1970's-style anorexic thinness. It didn't work in the 70's. What's up with bringing it back?

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Where to get perfume samples
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, September 12, 2007 12:11 PM (Eastern)
Aedes de Venustas
The Perfume Shoppe (Canadian)
Aus Liebe zum Duft (German)

Independent perfumers:
Ava Luxe
Antonia's Flowers
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Modern Atelier
DSH Perfumes

Decant services:
The Perfumed Court
You Smell Marvelous

Perfume essences:

I've tried only the first two, but from all I've read, they are reputable.

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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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Beauty Notes: Perfume
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, September 08, 2007 12:15 PM (Eastern)

I'm wondering now how many samples you need try before you attain full-bottle nirvana.

I know that sounds vapid. It's just that I went through a fair amount of cosmetics experimentation, back in the 60's rotfl... Okay back in the late 90's and at the turn of the century. And I found it wise to pace yourself. It takes half an hour to buy a lipstick, but one year to use one up. Ten lipsticks = ten years.

Perfumes have the edge of the sample/decent phenomenon. It's been necessary: perfumes are too costly done any other way.

Here is my current list of favorites:

  • GF Ferre Lei (not new for me)
  • Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien and Passion (not sure about Heure Exquise)
  • Etro Heliotrope and Shaal Nur
  • Diptyque Do Son (not sure about Jardin Clos and Tam Dao)
  • Montale Aoud Roses Petals and Jasmin Full
  • not sure about Fracas...I think I might like Jasmin Full better

There's no way I could buy all of those fragrances. It isn't the cost that would bother me. It's the thought that some of them would end up sitting at the back of my closet. I believe perfumes are like jewelry--they're not happy unless you wear them. You should choose them carefully.

Here is a cool article on Etro fragrances: indieperfumes: Etro. This illustrates the layering concept, which is something I like, the idea of "tuning" perfumes by applying one to one part of the body, and another somewhere else. I don't need any one perfume to...necessarily encapsulate everything, all the time. To me, the components can be as important as the whole (and you need not combine them the same way each time).

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September 9, 2007 2:38 PM, Blogger Joy said...

I adore Fracas, but it takes some getting used to! :>

September 9, 2007 2:56 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Yup, I hear that! :)

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Robert Piguet Fracas part 1
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, September 07, 2007 10:51 PM (Eastern)

robert piguet fracas(Somehow I suspect there will be a part 2.)

I'm trying this on today, from my Parfums Raffy sample. isn't exactly what I'd thought it would be, although it is pretty much the way it's described on the Robert Piguet website:

"Tuberose, seductive and lush, combines with Jasmine, Jonquil, Gardenia, Lily of the Valley and White Iris in a lavish profusion of fragile white flowers. A whisper of orange with a base of Sandalwood, Vetiver, and Musk."

It's lush all right. I'm getting mostly tuberose, as you would expect, since this is purported to be the prototypical tuberose scent. The base notes ground it some, and there is something of a blend of white flowers, but the tuberose reigns.

I've had this on for some hours, and I tried putting on only a few drops. I realize it's a chicken approach, since you won't know the nature of a perfume unless you really try it on (not unlike clothing or jewelry). I suppose on some level I'm terrified of being somewhere, wearing lots of a lousy perfume, hence the cautious approach. But so far, I'm liking it.

image courtesy

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Montale Jasmin Full review part 2
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 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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The best perfume ads?
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, September 05, 2007 2:07 AM (Eastern)

Retro Enjoli commercial

No wait, not that one! :D I actually remember that ad. To give credit where it's due, it was one of the first ads I can remember featuring a professional woman, complete with suit. (Although looking at it now, the wisdom of asking someone to work two full-time

Beauty aficionados will note this also shows the favored lip shape of the 1970's: small and neat. (Full lips would not be in vogue in the U.S. until many years later.)

the best perfume commercials

This is the one I was thinking of. What's lovely is it features various brands of perfume, and actresses such as Nicole Kidman, Sophie Marceau, and my girl Scarlett Johansson.

The Nicole Kidman Chanel No. 5 (full version) is all over the Net; it's hard to resist a luminous Kidman declaring, "I'm a dancer. I love to dance!" and the whole Roman Holiday-ness of it all. But of the ads excerpted in the video, my favorite has to be the Little Red Riding Hood one:

Chanel no5 - Little Red Riding Hood

Oh, I know it's borderline sappy, yet there's enough sheer wit--today's Little Red Riding Hood, not the wolf, is clearly in charge--to make it sparkle.

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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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Culture Notes: Youtube & perfume
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, September 02, 2007 12:18 AM (Eastern)

There is a definite renaissance of perfumes lately (meaning the past few years I suppose). Why? Because it's one of the few beauty items that hasn't been played out? Because people now order just about anything online? I think it is caused by both, but my secret pet theory involves a complete misuse of chaos theory.

Just as the advent of cable television meant no television show, no matter how bad, could ever die, so did the advent of Youtube mean that no memory, no matter how trivial, could ever slide into the depths of oblivion.

For example, I was listening to Dain's favorite song lol "Glamorous" by Fergie:

Fergie - Glamorous (Dirty Version)

...and thinking, what does Fergie's rapping style remind me of? It's one of those edges of memory, where you have just enough of it inside your head to drive you crazy, wondering what the entire memory is.

Finally, I realized that part of it reminded me of Mick Jones' rapping in E=MC2:

Big Audio Dynamite - E = MC2

I haven't heard that song in eons; it was never my favorite song, particularly. In fact, only now do I realize all of the references in the song are to films directed by Nicholas Roeg. (Okay, I recognized The Man Who Fell to Earth, Don't Look Now, and Insignificance, at least.)

Thus, youtube has revolutionized memory itself. There are many, many, many videos on youtube of events I never (consciously) thought I'd ever see or hear again.

Now, to the really bad chaos theory analogy: don't perfumes do the same thing? When I smelled Creed's Fleurissimo, from my sample, I knew instantly I'd smelled it before. Who wore it, what decade that was...I can't place those things. If there were a Youtube for that...rolls eyes...

Is it possible the growing popularity of Youtube has somehow encouraged people to want to, or expect to, remember more?

Or is it the other way around? The resurgence of perfume is caused by people's desire to remember more, hence the growing popularity of Youtube?

Ultimately--are we going to forget how to forget?

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September 2, 2007 5:47 AM, Blogger Dain said...

That song defies so many odds. It revels in how bad it is. It's good at being terrible. I've gotten over the fact that no one expected Fergie to do anything after that one song she did with black eyed peas, and then she went vulgar, like so many b-listers do, and then she went solo, and surprisingly, is still successful.

There is some really weird video of Fergie as a young child. I think the show is called Kids Incorporated. It has her singing to a clown, it's creepy.

About perfume, actually, I think it's been this way the entire time. Perfume seems to inspire a sort of fanaticism that's an extra level above other cosmetics. I think it because people can take scent very personally; the people who collect perfumes en masse tend to know quite a bit about what they're buying, in a way that a senseless collector of eyeshadows does not, necessarily. What's been new is that the mass market lines dwindled in quality, and the niche brands took over. I think L'Artisan was really the first, and then Serge Lutens took the crown (and I don't see SL relinquishing it yet). This whole idea of a "nose" finding room for creativity instead of being stifled by mass market demands, I guess it is similar to makeup in the idea of a makeup artist line. But anyone can dab on eyeshadow, willy nilly, with practice. But it takes intelligence to appreciate perfume. I don't that has ever changed, since the first bottles were churned out by Guerlain at the turn of the century. I think this fact is obvious by the fact that it's always better to have the newest lipstick or face cream, but usually the most prestigious perfumes are the ancient ones that have such limited distribution (beyond LE) that they can only be found in moldy old shops in France or the Czech Republic guarded by crazy old ladies who sell only if they want to.

Perfumes remind me of wine. Or furniture. Of course you could use IKEA, but who (taste aside) would prefer it to a precious Chippendale?

September 2, 2007 12:45 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Hmmm... I agree, part of what's spurring a broader interest in perfumes, is the mainsteam ones have gone downhill.

I do think there is a connection though. It is different when you're older. I'm sensing there are young perfume fanatics, but there are probably more older ones.

When you get to be forty, you turn a corner. I don't mean forty literally although it feels that way (more metric I suppose). It's at that point, your memories have amassed...or things have changed to the point your earlier memories are too different from whatever's happening today.

Something simple...say a telephone answering machine. Before they existed, if someone called and you missed the call, that was it. If you didn't want to talk to someone, you didn't answer the phone. I remember the common practice was to hang up after seven rings.

It's trivial, for sure. But now, it's impossible to miss a call. It's impossible to avoid anybody. Nobody counts telephone fact you can't miss a call ever, because of cell phones and answering machines, and cell phones with answering machines. You can always be reached.

Take the VCR. Same thing...if you missed the tv show, that was it. Some special movies and shows were shown once per year; the kids would wait all year for them. The concept of the rerun...typically a show was rerun only once. A few shows became syndicated, but it was limited.

Now, if you want to see it, almost no matter what it is, it's a matter of opening a browser and clicking a few times. From something you could see once or twice in your lifetime--it's become, you can see it as many times as you like, whenever you like.

The VCR is not a new invention--probably the answering machine isn't either, but there was a lag in years between when they were created and when ordinary people started using them.

Those are only two small inventions that changed how people live and how they think. (Not even going into personal computers and the Internet.)

A memory that's ten or fifteen years old, is not the same as a memory that's thirty years old or more. I still think something like youtube, has influenced people into retrieving memories...things you forgot you'd forgotten, either because they were trivial, or, as likely, because you never thought you'd see them again.

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Creed Fleurissimo review
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, August 31, 2007 1:18 PM (Eastern)

mont royalWhen I first put this on, I immediately recognized it as something I'd smelled before, long ago. I can't recall who wore it, or when, only that it was a very long time ago, another era really. Think no telephone answering machines, no VCR's, no central air conditioning; that sort of thing.

This perfume creates a strong impression. No one close to me wore it, I'm sure of that. I could have smelled it only a few times in my life, definitely more than thirty years ago, and I don't remember perfumes easily.

This is surely the scent of genteel ladies, Southern or otherwise. It's virtually all flowers. The violet isn't quite as prominent as I'd hoped....and the tuberose doesn't stand out until the drydown, it's well blended in with the rose. In fact, to my nose, the rose is the foremost note until the drydown, when the tuberose comes forward a bit.

I'm not getting a lot of iris here, just the rose and tuberose together, with the smoothing touch of violet adding body to the composition. It's sweet, but more elegant than sweet.

Fleurissimo was famously commissioned for the wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier. Smelling it now, it's not hard to is a romantic scent, ideal for a wedding.

creed fleurissimo sample vialI see this as the fragrance of a woman still young, but not a kid. Somewhere from mid-twenties to thirties...hmmm...I suppose I'm trying to think if it's too young for me. It's pleasant on me, but I feel it would be more striking on someone younger than forty-something.

I do feel your perfume should match your age, although of course there is no hard and fast rule, no magic cut-off number. It's just that some scents grow more attractive to you, the older you get, and others begin to seem too young. Or, to mangle a quote from Dazed and Confused: "That's what I love about these perfumes, man. I get older, they stay the same age."

For an eau de parfum, I expected a bit more staying power (or perhaps I'm spoiled now that I've tried Montale's Aoud Roses Petals...hmmm?). You would have to reapply this, but probably just the once. Sillage is good.

I would not recommend "buying this unsniffed"; I would recommend getting a sample first. Fleurissimo is an old-fashioned perfume, quite different from today's sweet, fruity, and, all too often, interchangeable scents. As I say, the instant I smelled it, I remembered's singular.

Available at Parfums Raffy. (If you're into Creed, they have a nice complimentary set of Creed samples with Creed purchase.)

Boone Hall Plantation image 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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Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, August 29, 2007 12:25 PM (Eastern)

I searched "perfume" on youtube. Not sure why, perhaps because there are now so many good videos pertaining to cosmetics, I thought there might be a few for scent.

Ugh! A whole spate of clips for the movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. I haven't seen the movie, but what an unpleasant association.

How we have changed. I also found several for 1992's Scent of a Woman, featuring Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell and Gabrielle Anwar. I saw this in the cinema; it's a quiet film, unassuming, yet the older blind guy, who can detect and accurately name women's perfumes, among other things...rather haunts me now.

Check out this scene, where Pacino shows O'Donnell how it's done:

We have become a culture of the obvious...or have we? Do the guys of today still pursue, the way guys used to? Hm I should watch this movie again.

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Beauty Notes: perfumes part 7
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, August 28, 2007 10:33 PM (Eastern)

(see part 6)

I'm still sort of waiting for the Moment of Truth to arrive, and tell me which of the (many) samples I've tried is to be my next bottle of perfume.

It's not as easy as it sounds (and mind you, I'm not complaining). It's just a different experience from perfume-shopping of yore. Before, I would go to Nordstrom or what you have, try on various scents...I liked so few of them, the "full bottle choice" was always pretty obvious.

The past few times I went to San Francisco, I reached for my Diptyque Do Son or Eau de Lierre. In fact I finished my Do Son sample today; the first Diptyque sample to go. Is it a sign? My Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien was the first Annick Goutal sample to go.

I've yet to use up an Etro sample (to be fair, I own Heliotrope, which negates using up the Heliotrope sample).

Oh well. If I miss Do Son all that much, that might well be it.

There used to be several copies of this video on youtube, then they all got pulled and this official copy now resides there alone. One of my all-time favorite music videos. It was odd seeing it after not having seen it for what, twenty years?

Donald Fagen - New Frontier

Not particularly relevant to this post, unless you count the "Ambush" reference :D

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4 comment(s)  
August 28, 2007 10:44 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Nice video, says a lot without saying too much. Culture these days, we want to disclose everything. It'd be nice to retain a sense of privacy...

August 28, 2007 10:53 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I felt funny watching it, it reminded me of this tv movie I saw long ago, with Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay. Oh here it is: A Rather English Marriage

Both of them try to capture a time and place, that haven't existed for years, that will never exist again, that would otherwise simply have been forgotten.

We almost bought a house that had a bomb shelter. lol It was the first one I'd ever seen in person. Really weird...thick, bank-vault style doors, a posted list of supplies, a place where the canned goods would have gone...

August 29, 2007 2:18 AM, Blogger Audrey_H said...

Aaahhh, Donald Fagen is great! I heard him live in Stockholm (with JennyB!) this summer. I've been a fan for nearly twenty years now.

August 30, 2007 5:47 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

That would be fabulous, to see Donald Fagen in concert. I'm seriously jealous. :)

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Culture Notes: Trigger Happy TV
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, August 24, 2007 2:18 AM (Eastern)

I'm still pondering whether to go ahead and buy Annick Goutal Passion or Heure Exquise--or to try more samples, different houses, and decide then.

I was pleased to see so much Trigger Happy TV on youtube though. Trigger Happy TV, if you've never seen it, was a brilliant series of street theatre skits. By its nature, it had to be finite, since once people figured out who Dom Joly was, the element of surprise would be lost. A lot of it is repetition, like having people dressed up as rabbits or squirrels, but some of it, like the sketch above, remains laugh-out-loud funny even after you've seen it a few times.

Passion or Heure Exquise? or is it now time to get the Serge Lutens samples?

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Beauty Notes: Annick Goutal Passion vs. Heure Exquise
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, August 22, 2007 2:17 AM (Eastern)

Trying to decide which of the two is more "bottle-worthy." I've decided to pass on Eau d'Hadrien as my first perfume bottle purchase, it's been years.

I still have the ends of Armani Code and GF Ferré Lei, which I've been reluctant to use up since I have no new bottle to move on to. I can try samples, and samples have been good to fact I highly recommend samples. Gone are the days that I went to Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus or Macy's, and sprayed perfumes on my hand, and tried to deduce what it would be like to smell these perfumes day after day. Now I can actually smell them day after day. Ultimately it's put me more, rather than less, in the mood to buy; there's no risk.

But there's little point in using only samples. I'm glad for my bottle of Etro Heliotrope. Spraying beats dabbing, what can I say... I seldom wear Heliotrope by itself; it's pleasant (dry, almost not sweet, almond and vanilla, with a smidgen of ethereal flowers) but for me it's a layering scent, rather the equivalent of a camisole or tank top.

So far, I'm leaning more towards Passion. Heure Exquise still smells very good on me, in all its powdery grandeur, but Passion is closer to a "melds with your skin scent" experience. If only Annick Goutal made a twin-pack. ;)

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Annick Goutal Passion
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, August 20, 2007 10:12 PM (Eastern)

annick goutal passion(Not to be confused with Gardénia Passion.)

When I first tried this on, I hated it. It went to the "why bother trying it again?" pile o' vials, at least momentarily. Of course I tried it again (the beauty of the perfume sample vial!). Now it's one of three--along with Heure Exquise and Eau d'Hadrien--Annick Goutal perfumes I'm considering buying a bottle of.

As to why I hated it at first sniff, the only thing I can think of is that I was trying it on at the same time as something else, and the combination confused me.

From the Annick Goutal site:

Main page:
Passion - sensual, fascinating, alluring, sweet floral, cyprused;
tuberose - jasmine - vanille-oakmoss

Product page:
Alluring, Sensual, Fascinating

Passion is the fragrance of passionate love. Tuberose and jasmine from Grasse blend with vanilla to create the warm and heady scent of a sensual and captivating woman.

Even if it's only briefly mentioned, it's the oakmoss that makes Passion. The product page description makes it sound almost horribly sweet and candy-like, and indeed Passion was not one of my first choices ( happened to be out of Le Jasmin).

My previous experience with oakmoss was in Ava Luxe's Ingenue perfume, which itself was a replica of the long-discontinued Deneuve perfume (which I've never smelled and don't even remember).

Deneuve was classified as a chypre. As funky as the word "chypre" appears to be, it's a terrific perfume category. Not fruity, not really sweet, not floral, not spicy, not gourmand...just muted, dusky, soft, mellow, almost a "skin" scent. It is not a category for young girls, I don't think, nor for the slew of new "celebrity" perfumes. To me it has an "old," elegant feel to it, and the oakmoss in Passion is well balanced by the tuberose/jasmine/vanilla sweetness (a tad more floral than vanilla).

I tried Passion out again yesterday and today; it's still in the "bottle worthy" running. Even as an eau de toilette, the staying power is decent (6-7 hours). Sillage: you can smell it if you're close to the person (about the same as my good old Givenchy Organza edp).

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Beauty Notes: perfumes part 6
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, August 19, 2007 1:18 PM (Eastern)

(see part 5)

I'm now thinking in terms of buying an actual bottle of perfume. I feel, as long I'm using samples, I'm getting...soft. It's easy to like something in its (relatively inexpensive) sample form. The moment of truth arrives when you buy the bottle.

So, over the next few days, I'll retry the few perfumes I'm thinking of buying. Etro Shaal Nur would have been one of them, but it strikes me as more of a cold-weather, soothing scent; something I don't really need right now.

It's more a tie among Annick Goutal Passion, Heure Exquise and Eau d'Hadrien (all eau de parfum). I'm not considering Diptyque yet. I like it but it's too new to me, where I've been wearing the Etro's and Annick Goutal's over the past year.

I used up my sample of Eau d'Hadrien long ago... Wouldn't it be nice to find a gift set of Eau d'Hadrien, Heure Exquise and Passion edp's? (Of course I have this recurring dream that I open my front door and people throw money at Actually it's not that easy even to find Annick Goutal eau de parfums. A lot of places I checked last night carried only the eau de toilette form, and Annick Goutal edt's tend to be light.

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2 comment(s)  
August 19, 2007 1:49 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I'm thinking of getting a new perfume too. But I've only just started.

August 20, 2007 2:11 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I wore AG Passion all day today...mmmmm.

It's the oakmoss. Even on the AG site, they barely mention oakmoss, but that's what makes Passion good.

I didn't request Passion as a first choice actually, rather as a back-up in case my first choices were out of stock. Based on the AG individual product page for Passion, I thought it would be too sweet--tuberose, jasmine and vanilla.

It's the oakmoss that grounds this. It reminds me a tiny bit of the Ava Luxe "Ingenue" I sampled (a replica of Catherine Deneuve's perfume). That was described as a chypre. I recognize that same note in Passion.

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Diptyque Tam Dao
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, August 18, 2007 1:10 PM (Eastern)

diptyque tam daoThis is nice. From the Diptyque site: Rosewood, cypress and ambergris, in the heart note the sandalwood from Goa

I'm getting mostly sandalwood from this, although it does start out with a small burst of cypress. When I first put it on, the cypress note was a bit distracting. What I was expecting was next to pure sandalwood; soft, dry sandalwood...but Tam Dao actually does become that, once the small cypress note softens.

I gave it the "Does it last on a really hot day?" test yesterday. The weather has been super hot lately (dry heat), so I've been trying out various perfumes in it. Tam Dao did fairly well...not as good as Eau de Lierre (which clung on valiantly through miles and hours of next to scorching heat), but I could still smell it faintly and pleasantly on myself after I-880 in Friday rush hour traffic, in the previously mentioned, un-air-conditioned car. (Here you are talking about several hours of heat.) And the following day, a ghost of sandalwood remained on my clothes.

Out of the houses I've tried lately...Etro, Annick Goutal and Diptyque...I can admit I like Diptyque the best. Not all of the Diptyque samples...Philosykos ended up smelling Youth Dew-y on me (a pity, as its opening smell of fresh figs, fig leaves and fig tree itself is quite authentic); Olène, as much as I liked it initially, now falls behind Do Son and Jardin Clos; Ofrésia, which smelled bitter on me, although of course I will try it again. But Tam Dao, Eau de Lierre, Do Son and Jardin Clos are still on my possible bottle-worthy list.

My sole gripe with the Diptyques is the lasting power. Overall they seem a bit better than the Annick Goutal eau de toilettes, perhaps not quite as good as the Annick Goutal eau de parfums; overall not as good as Etro. Of the group, as mentioned, Eau de Lierre wins the staying power prize.

And, they could have a bit more sillage too. Jardin Clos has the best sillage of the group.

That's why I layer perfumes though; I always have at least one long-lasting perfume on. Lasting power is more important to me than sillage. I like to be able to smell the perfume myself, and be smell-able if the other person is fairly close, but I don't every day have to wear a strong perfume.

Overall...if you like sandalwood, you'll like Tam Dao. Imo it's better than Etro Sandalo. Sandalo struck me as too sharp-smelling. Tam Dao is smoother, softer, mellower. It is truly unisex; doesn't smell "perfume sweet." Rather it has a beautiful naturally sweetish smell of sandalwood.

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Beauty Notes: In Search of Wisteria in the Bay Area
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, August 16, 2007 8:18 PM (Eastern)


This was a complete and total bust. The image above is from Wikimedia Commons.

There's one place around here I know has wisteria (the nurseries don't generally carry it, maybe they have it, maybe they don't)'s in front of a vacant lot. I went there today, since it was en route to the local Target.

Editor's note: those Go! designer collections aren't bad, although you do have to avoid anything with a ginormous logo on it. I got a few of the Proenza Schouler tanks and short-sleeved tops last time around; they're nice and soft, look better than regular old tanks and short-sleeved tops, and seem to be wearing well after several washes. What they have now is Libertine; I got the puffed-sleeve top (it's way cuter on than it looks online, it's fitted and the neck is scoopy) and some of the lace-inset Indonesian tanks.

I even brought my camera, hoping to take a picture of the wisteria. I realized, in reviewing Diptyque Olène, it's been years since I smelled an actual wisteria flower. It's probably been more than twenty years. I have a fairly strong memory of the scent, but why not smell the real thing?

Once I got there, I could find only two, dilapidated blooms. Wisteria in the South, I'm sure of it, blossoms the entire summer. Bleh! And they both smelled terrible. I got a tiny bit of real wisteria (and haven't changed my assertion that Olène does not smell like wisteria) but not that dense, wondrous cloud of scent. Oh well.

I'm betting Berkeley has wisteria. Can you imagine, a Southerner looking for wisteria?

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Beauty Notes: Everything you ever wanted to know about Serge Lutens
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, August 15, 2007 3:44 PM (Eastern)

but were afraid to ask. :D

Serge Lutens ~ Nearly All the Facts

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Diptyque Jardin Clos
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, August 12, 2007 3:07 PM (Eastern)

lilacJARDIN CLOS Anno 2003
Hyacinth, white lilac, mimosa, water melon

I wore this on Saturday. When I first put it on, it was almost a dead ringer for a floral scent that was exceedingly popular, I'd like to say in the 90's, but it could have been the 80's (looks guilty, I'm gettin' old!). Back then I knew nothing about perfume, hence never knew the name of that scent, but it was strong, a bit old-fashioned, and pure flowers and femininity.

I had to get up early Saturday and go to the supermarket; wearing Jardin Clos was great. It was a wonderful thing to smell on yourself, having to get up early and go to the supermarket. Normally I loathe the word "classy" but this smelled classy. It's nicer than its unnamed predecessor, more delicate and complex, but essentially a purely floral-feminine perfume. To my nose, the lilac trumped the hyacinth but I got a good blend of both, with that slight bitter edge of an actual hyacinth.

This stayed put well the first few hours, with decent, if not outstanding, sillage. After those first few hours it shifted from classy, into something sublime...something honeyed, with less of the strong lilac edge it started out with.

I'd say it was almost completely gone after eight hours. Drat. Still, it goes on my potential bottle-worthy list. I liked both parts of the dual experience--classy perfume with a vintage flair, paired with the (more predictable) Diptyque-esque almost otherworldly floral experience, similar to their Do Son and Olène.

To me this is a mature woman's scent; it is not one of those sweet, light fragrances. I didn't get any watermelon out of this; it's not fruity in any sense of the word to me. If there is mimosa, it's subtle...there could be mimosa, especially the kind that smells so good on a hot day...but this is primarily a thick smudge of lilac and hyacinth.

And I don't see how this could ever be unisex, it has nothing in it I would care to smell on a man.

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Diptyque Eau de Lierre
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, August 11, 2007 1:07 AM (Eastern)

diptyque eau de lierre

I tried this again today, instead of retrying Etro Vicolo Fiori as I'd planned. I was going somewhere hot (known as "inland" around here); I knew it would be at least ten degrees hotter, tank-top weather, so the notion of Eau de Lierre, described on the Diptyque site as follows:

Ivy leaves, cyclamen, geranium, green pepper, ambergris, palisander wood, musks

...would be more refreshing in the heat.

I like Eau de Lierre. It's kind of a weird perfume. I have ivy in the back yard (it's a pest in fact, you have to cut it back and keep it off the trees); there were tons of English ivy in Virginia, enveloping the buildings, blanketing the ground...I've never really smelled ivy though. Eau de Lierre just smells green and fresh to me. It reminds me most of L'eau d'Issey, but without the breath of flowers...a green meadow, with ivy and no flowers. In that way it's more abstract than L'eau d'Issey, but if you like one, you might like the other.

So, getting back to the story, I dabbed this on pretty thick, expecting the "smells wonderful, fades too quickly" quality of other Diptyque perfumes I've tried, except Philosykos (it's been well pointed out that perfumes that don't agree with you last longest on you), and was pleasantly surprised that it lasted the entire trip, through driving on the freeway in Friday traffic, in a car without air conditioning, inland to the fantastic dry California heat. Many other scents would have burned off, plain and simple. Eau de Lierre continued smelling good for hours, and the sillage was not bad for at least the first several hours.

In fact I can still smell it a bit. I am getting the ivy (I'm sure ivy smells that way if you ever bother smelling it), a little green pepper. Cyclamen? does that even have a smell? I can buy that there might be a little geranium in it, but it's not strong. Musks...could be a little musky sweetness there. But it's the green ivy that dominates.

I'd like to say Eau de Lierre could be worn just as easily by a man, because it's not flowery, but I would rather smell this on a woman than on a me it's not masculine enough, even if it's not a traditionally feminine scent.

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Beauty Notes: perfumes part 5
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, August 10, 2007 1:36 PM (Eastern)

diptyque shop(see part 4)

A definite "nay" to Annick Goutal Songes. I tried it again a few days ago. This is the eau de parfum form; it has the strength, no doubt about it. A few good dabs were good to go all day.

Still, in its genre--tropical white floral--their Passion scent is subtler and more complex (Songes kind of hits you over the head, and is potentially headache-y toward the end of the day).

Recap thus far:


Yay: Shaal Nur, Heliotrope (already own this)
Nay: Lemon Sorbet, Gomma
?: Royal Pavillon (on me this is less a perfume, more a hothouse replica :D)
Retry: Messe de Minuit (I never got past the "head shop phase" here, but that's hardly fair), Vicolo Fiori, Sandalo

Annick Goutal

Yay: Eau d'Hadrien EDP, Heure Exquise, Passion
Nay: Les Nuits d'Hadrien (EDT form, too faint), Songes, Gardénia Passion, Rose Absolue, Mandragore, Ce Soir Ou Jamais (pretty, but too young for me)
?: Néroli (smells terrific, doesn't last on)
Retry: Eau du Ciel


Yay: Do Son
Nay: Philosykos, Olène (lovely but too similar to Do Son)
Retry: Eau de Lierre, Jardin Clos, Tam Dao--I liked these at first sniff; Ofrésia (this smelled bitter on me)

Diptyque shop image courtesy

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Perfume for Dummies
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 1:15 AM (Eastern)

Okay I'm just kidding (you'll note I didn't change the other Java references on the cover). But there is a pretty good Wiki on the subject of perfume that might be helpful for beginners.

Note: the Dummies books are revered by programmers.

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Another perfume link...
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, August 07, 2007 8:21 PM (Eastern)

Got this from Perfume Posse (also linked to in our perfume links).

The Perfumed Court

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Beauty Notes: perfumes part 4
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, August 05, 2007 2:46 PM (Eastern)

(see part 3)

You know, a part of me is wondering if I'm turning into a perfume sample junkie. It's so buy samples, then you have a lot of samples, so it's not as if you don't have any perfume to wear. On perfume sites, they talk about a scent being "bottle worthy."

Sorry, couldn't help it... If Seinfeld were still being made, Elaine would be a perfume sample junkie, struggling to commit to a full sized

So, on my "bottle worthy" list thus far: EDP's from Annick Goutal--Eau d'Hadrien, Passion, Heure Exquise...Néroli is made only in EDT form. I'm on the fence about Néroli, anyway, wondering if there isn't a longer-lasting neroli scent around.

Not altogether sure about getting more Etro. Will have to retry some samples there, but Shaal Nur and Royal Pavillon were the standouts; not sure about Vicolo Fiori.

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Beauty Notes: perfumes part 3
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, August 02, 2007 2:50 PM (Eastern)

passion by annick goutal(see part 2)

It's funny, Annick Goutal's Passion now smells quite good on me. I'm not sure why I disliked it before. It could have been a case of "confused nose." When I sniffed it initially, something screamed "1970's!" and I put it aside. (If, say, pop music diversity reached its summit in the 70's, perfumery sure didn't.)

Passion is a tuberose and jasmine scent, a little's sweet, a bit simple, but good. It now goes on my short list, along with their Heure Exquise and Néroli.

I'd say some of the Annick Goutal scents lend themselves as well to layering as Etro's. Why layer? :) I think I'm the only one on LP who does it routinely, but I tend to think in terms of components all the time, how you can move the components around, what you can do with them.

Leaving Annick Goutal Eau du Ciel and Songes on my to-retry list.

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Beauty Notes: perfumes part 2
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, August 01, 2007 1:37 PM (Eastern)

ylang=ylang(see part 1)

Group 3: my Annick Goutal samples: Les Nuits d'Hadrien, Passion, Gardénia Passion, Eau du Ciel, Rose Absolue, Néroli, Heure Exquise, Songes.

Les Nuits d'Hadrien was the EDT form and I don't recommend it; it's too diffuse. The EDP form I'd sprayed on my hand at Nordies struck me as rich and complex, truly the nocturnal complement to Eau d'Hadrien, but the EDT was lightly scented water on me.

Gardénia Passion and Rose Absolue...nay to these. They're good, even excellent soliflore scents, but I found I was not into either gardenias, nor roses, enough to consider a full sized bottle. (Even though Rose Absolue layered delectably with Heure Exquise.)

Eau du Ciel...I've tried this once. It struck me as a young scent, too young for me. I doubt that's a fair assessment so will be sure to try it again.

Passion....interestingly, my first impression of this was entirely negative. I'm trying it again right now; it's not bad. It's not "it" for me, as far as tuberose-based floral scents go (that would be Diptyque's Do Son), but I haven't ruled it out as a layering scent.

Songes was nice and strong, but rather lacking in complexity. It would make a good layering scent should you be into layering. I plan on revisiting Songes. It's basically a bouquet of tropical flowers (plumeria, ylang-ylang and jasmine) on a base of vanilla. Strong and sweet.

Heure Exquise and Néroli were my favorites of this group.

Heure Exquise was your basic powdery scent...its notes, from the Annick Goutal site: Turkish rose, iris, Mysore sandalwood. But blended together so well, you don't detect individual notes, only a thick sweet smudge o' yum, complex enough to not be common.

Néroli was a sort of green interpretation...I got a lot of green leaves out of it, with a layer of the orange blossoms. Delicious, but rather short-lived on me. Were it offered in a more concentrated form, I might consider it; as it is, I'm thinking of trying other neroli scents.

Conclusion: Heure Exquise and Néroli go on the short list, unless I can find a longer-lasting neroli scent as yummy as Néroli. Retry Passion, Eau du Ciel and Songes.

To come: group 4.

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Beauty Notes: perfumes
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, July 30, 2007 5:07 PM (Eastern)

Okay... I have narrowed things down a bit in my perfume search.

annick goutal eau d'hadrienGroup 1: my Nordies samples: Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien, Ce Soir ou Jamais and Mandragore.

Mandragore is out for me. It's not bad...a rather earthy tea scent...just not me.

Ce Soir ou Jamais is pleasant, a rose scent with enough other flowers and plants to make it "not just a rose scent."

Eau d'Hadrien is to die for. It's a spectacular, almost geometrical perfume; a perfect balance between lemon and herb, sweet and unsweet, light and dark...amazing.

Eau d'Hadrien goes on the short list.

etro royal pavillonGroup 2: my Etro samples: Lemon Sorbet, Gomma, Shaal Nur, Royal Pavillon, Heliotrope, Messe de Minuit, Sandalo and Vicolo Fiori.

I have a bottle of's ideal for layering. It's primarily almond and vanilla, and you're thinking, what's to layer with that...but it's not particularly sweet, rather it's dry and almost powdery. As a layer, it's a "your skin but better" scent.

Of the rest, several can be ruled out...Gomma (which had a rather dank edge on me, like the smell of an old concrete building), Sandalo (not bad, but sharper than Diptyque's Tam Dao, were I in the market for a sandalwood scent), Lemon Sorbet (again not bad, a bright sparkly lemon, yet pales compared to Eau d'Hadrien), Messe de Minuit (thanks, I lived through half the 60's and the entire 70's already).

So add to the short list:
* Shaal Nur, which manages to make patchouli soft.
* Royal Pavillon, which captures almost the exact smell of the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
* Vicolo Fiori has a slight sharpness, but then mellows out to smell like a bar of soap from an old, dusty, obscure shop.

To come: groups 3 & 4.

images courtesy,

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Beauty Notes: Diptyque
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, July 26, 2007 2:06 PM (Eastern)

diptyque shop
google street view of the Diptyque shop on Maiden Lane

I'm slowly wending my way through my Diptyque samples. It's a different experience from, say, going to Nordstrom and spraying a few perfumes on your hands (trying to fit about three scents per hand). It's a much more leisurely process.

I compared Olène to Do Son the other day. They're quite similar to my nose; both intense, complex, brilliant florals.

For that matter, I compared them both to my remaining sample of Givenchy Ange ou Démon, since I finally got around to writing a review for it. Ange ou Démon, in comparison with these two exquisitely delicate florals, is a workhorse of a perfume: dab it on, it'll last until you shower it off, and cling to your clothing an extra day beyond that. If it's strength you're seeking however, may I recommend Givenchy Organza. It's all that and still yummy, without hitting you over the head.

It would be redundant imo to own both Do Son and Olène, unless you're one of those floral fanatics. For me, Do Son narrowly edged out Olène. There's just this extra shot of yum there, that makes this a bit more insanely addictive than Olène.

You are giving up some of the strength and lasting qualities of the older-style perfumes...which is why I layer btw. I layer a stronger, longer-lasting scent, with a more ephemeral one. It's not that I'm not happy with either, and I don't layer them one upon the other, rather I place the longer lasting scent lower down (back of knees sort of thing) and the lighter one higher up.

Here is what Do Son brought to Yup--it's that good.

"Falling in Love Again," Marlene Dietrich, from 1929's The Blue Angel

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July 26, 2007 8:09 PM, Blogger Forever Redeemed said...

Great use of Google Street View!

July 26, 2007 11:13 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Thanks! I was surprised there were so many views of Maiden Lane. I've got pics of it from either end (it's a very short street).

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Couple of indie links
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, July 24, 2007 6:09 PM (Eastern)

Fragrant Fripperies Fragrance Decant & Sample service

I haven't tried them; however, if you're looking for perfume samples, might be the way to go.

Sweetpeacurli's Silly Little Site

I realize I linked to this earlier, when it was still called Sweetpeacali's Haircare Guide. As the name has changed, I'm linking to it again. Still one of the most comprehensive listings of sulfate-free shampoos and silicone-free conditioners.

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July 24, 2007 11:30 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Ooo... that's great, the perfume sampling site. They have pretty much everything you'd ever want to sample.

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Diptyque Do Son
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, July 21, 2007 2:24 PM (Eastern)

tuberoseSince I wouldn't know a tuberose if it fell into my soup, I did some brief google image searching to get a firmer concept of this lovely bloom.

I retried my Diptyque Do Son eau de toilette yesterday, and it was intoxicating. That's the scent I want. I kept smelling it on myself throughout the day (it seems to be stronger than some of their other EDT's), and it recalled the first time I wore it, when I revisited Muir Woods (which I highly recommend btw), and wasn't sure the entire time how much of that fresh, sweet smell was something growing in the woods, and how much of it was me.

Why had I thought Do Son had a bitter edge? It really doesn't. There is a slight feel of hyacinth in there somewhere, but the overall sensation is of heavy, enchanting sweetness; yet it's fresh, not cloying.

Do Son mirrors Diptyque's Philosykos in a way, in being a singular scent, with a heavy emotional factor. Fig groves don't do it for me...sure, we had fig trees in the Virginia of my childhood, but not groves.

We did however exist in an almost tropical heat and humidity at times, and the flowers corresponded to that. Blooms in dry climates don't smell nearly as much. You could place a single gardenia in a bowl of water, and it would scent the entire room. There were numerous flowers--I never knew their names--that would waft a heavenly cloud of scent your way, should the wind blow. Sure, everyone griped about the heat and moisture, but people who grow in these climes, form an attachment to the intense perfumes of these flowers.

images courtesy,

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July 22, 2007 1:32 AM, Blogger Dain said...

I've never tried Do Son, so I don't know how it compares to other tuberoses, but here are some others:

Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle
Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture
Caron Tubereuse
L'Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons
Frederic Malle Carnal Flower
Creed Tubereuse Indiana
Robert Piguet Fracas
Michael Kors

That's all I can remember off the top of my head. I love tuberose, so I kept a list of them memorized.

July 22, 2007 2:47 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

You might like Do Son. Actually I'm not quite sure why I like it. It's...different.

I was looking around on the Net some, for more about Diptyque. They have a shop in San Francisco, it turns out...I took some screenshots of the Google Street Views of it for the reviews section (I dunno, better than the same old pics of bottles). :)

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Update on Annick Goutal and Diptyque
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, July 20, 2007 6:41 PM (Eastern)

diptyque tam daoI'm trying to be more organized about my recent Annick Goutal and Diptyque sample vials. (For that matter, I'll likely revisit my previous Etro ones as well.) I tend to be lazy. If I get an even slightly negative first impression of a scent, when I have so many others to play with, I tend to not try it again, and that's not truly fair.

Today I sorted the AG's and Diptyque's into two categories, to whit:

Too awful on me to even bother trying again.

Diptyque Philosykos. This ended up smelling almost like Youth Dew on me; it just did not agree with my body chemistry.

Annick Goutal Passion. This didn't agree with me either. It wasn't as sweet as its description on the Annick Goutal site: "Tuberose and jasmine from Grasse blend with vanilla to create the warm and heady scent of a sensual and captivating woman." Tuberose, jasmine and vanilla sounded almost too sweet and heady to me, but this...I don't know. It's not bad, just not what I expected.

Annick Goutal Les Nuits d'Hadrien EDT. If memory serves, the EDP smells yummy, but the EDT is too faint to bother with imo.

Everything else, except Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion and Rose Absolue.

Gardenia Passion and Rose Absolue both smell good, don't get me wrong, but they're both soliflore scents, and I don't see myself buying them. You'd have to be a complete gardenia or rose fan, respectively, and I'm not enough of a fan of either to buy.

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Updates on Diptyque
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, July 15, 2007 9:45 PM (Eastern)

diptyque do sonI've been a bit busy as of late, so I've been trying out my Diptyque vials slowly.

Philosykos. I suspect this is one of those scents you love or hate. I'm a bit more in the latter category, although I could imagine this smelling quite good on someone else. On my skin, it started out promising, a bit airy and sweet...pure, fresh figs.

Later on though, the sweet edge seemed to dissipate, and the scent began to remind me of...Estee Lauder Youth Dew. I'm serious. It's not as heavy as Youth Dew; it's still sweeter and lighter, but there is that odd, Youth Dewiness about it.

Conversely, if you like Youth Dew, you might want to check this out. (Youth Dew and I never got along, but that shouldn't influence you.) Philosykos lasted quite well on me, I'd say the full eight hours, and the sillage was pretty good.

Do Son. This is closer to what I like; it's basically floral, with a slight bitter edge. For whatever reason, I got hyacinth out of this, although it's not listed as one of the notes:

Tuberose, Orange tree leaves, Berries, Iris

I found this elegant, although I'd like to try it out more before judging too much either way.

Olène. My favorite so far. As Dain pinpointed, perhaps the reason I like it so much, is that it smells similar to me to the floral notes in Givenchy Organza, a perfume I wore for some years (and still like, don't get me wrong).

Olène has that intense, bright, flowery goodness:

This water evokes a deep and mysterious twilight of white, slender and starry flowers...

It's more complex than Organza imo, more exotic, for not being an exotic scent. There's something about the intensity that's attractive to me.

I saw on several sites that Olène was a wisteria scent, but it doesn't evoke wisteria to me, particularly. I expected a deluge of wisteria...there was a fence around a friend of mine's house, back in Virginia, that was saturated with purple wisteria in the summer. The thick cloud of scent would hypnotize you from half a block away. That's what I was hoping for, but all of that said, Olène still rocks.

Lasting power...let's give it six hours. I tried it layered over some Annick Goutal Heure Exquise, and that worked well, both the meld of scents and the, erm, "stretching" aspect.

Ofrésia. Since this is listed on the Diptyque site as a freesia scent, and the name...well...

Peppery white freesia, on a woody note: the fresh scent of a dewy garden...

...I was surprised to find a slightly salty (which must be the "woody"), then slightly bitter edge to this. It's not your mama's freesia scent; in fact, it is genuinely unisex, seemingly neither feminine nor masculine. Perhaps a bit more of the latter.

Nor is it unpleasant. I will have to try it more to form a firmer opinion; this is just a first impression, that if you were picturing the exact scent you get from a freesia blossom, this isn't really it.

Eau de Lierre. Wearing this today. First impression: carrots. Fresh carrots. It then mellows out into something quite green and meadowy.

Ivy leaves, cyclamen, geranium, green pepper, ambergris, palisander wood, musks

All in all, I like it. The closest perfume it smells like to me is L'eau d'Issey, only more masculine...less of that breath of sweet floweriness, more green and fresh.

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Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, July 08, 2007 10:27 PM (Eastern)

billie holidayThis is quite the soliflore, or single flower, scent. It's pure gardenia.

Hence, how you feel about this perfume will hinge directly on how you feel about gardenias. Are you crazy about gardenias? Do you dream about them? Do you envision yourself "...up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles..."? (Sorry, couldn't resist...yes, I read Lady Sings the Blues, and found it inspiring).

As lovely as this smells...unlike other gardenia scents I've tried, it smells natural rather than harsh, bitter or chemical...and its sweetness is also natural, rather than cloyingly the end of the day, I'm no Lady Day. To me, a pure gardenia scent is akin to a pure rose scent. I like them both, but don't generally buy them, because I'm not as emotionally attached to gardenias or roses as I am to other flowers (see Annick Goutal Neroli).

Gardenia Passion lasts respectably well, somewhere between the all-day-ness of their Heure Exquise and the aforementioned Neroli. It stays strong around six hours or so, then gently fades out to a teeny drop of gardenia. Gardenia Passion also layers well with Heure Exquise.

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July 8, 2007 11:02 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I used to listen to a lot of Billie Holiday in high school--she still beats them all

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Annick Goutal Neroli
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 10:17 PM (Eastern)

This is my second favorite of my Annick Goutal samples, perhaps as much from a sentimental attachment to orange blossoms, as from the composition itself.

Neroli is fresh, flowery, sweet (not sugary) orange blossoms, with a little acidic scent of orange fruit. If you don't like citrus scents, this may not be your cup of tea, unless you're also head over heels for orange blossoms. It is a natural, gentle, honeyed scent, with no synthetic or chemical undertones (undernotes?).

Not as strong nor quite as long-lasting as my Heure Exquise. If you're looking to spritz on in the morning and keep going until midnight, ah, you will need to reapply this, but probably just the once.

Neroli in fact layers well with Heure Exquise. My two favorite scents smell even better together.

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Annick Goutal Heure Exquise
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 9:59 PM (Eastern)

I've recently acquired some vials of Diptyque eau de toilettes, so I think it's time to sum up my Annick Goutal perfumes before journeying onward to Diptyque.

My favorite of my samples is Heure Exquise. Here is the description from the Annick Goutal site:

Powdery, delicate, sophisticated

A sophisticated trail of Turkish rose, a gentle powdery base of iris from Florence and Mysore sandalwood. This fragrance recreates the atmosphere of a rose garden that blossoms with the passing of each exquisite hour.

Pretty accurate, at the end of the day, although this fragrance is so well balanced and well blended, that my nose does not detect discrete notes. It's all just a wall of yum; a sweet, yet not overly so, complex, powdery scent, like taking a shower with the world's best-smelling soap and dabbing on a little perfume afterward.

Heure Exquise lasts relatively well (I'm thinking of investing in the eau de parfum form rather than this eau de toilette).

It also blends well with other perfumes, for women who like to layer their scents.

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Diptyque reviews on the way...
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, July 07, 2007 3:49 PM (Eastern)

I just got hold of a mess of vials of these. :)

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Update on Annick Goutal
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, July 06, 2007 10:10 PM (Eastern)

So far...I have decided Heure Exquise is the best of the lot. Like Etro Heliotrope, it is one of those perfect "base compositions." (I should explain, I like layering perfumes these days.) It goes with just about anything, makes just about any fragrance better.

On its own, it's good, but a tiny bit bland imo.

I've tried it now with Neroli, Gardenia Passion and Rose Absolue. Of the three, Rose Absolue + Heure Exquise is heavenly. Gardenia Passion + Heure Exquise lasts longest...the meld of gardenia and powdery goodness lingers on. It is Neroli + Heure Exquise I like best though. Why? shrugs Isn't that the nature of perfume?

To be fair, I have some sentimentality about orange blossoms. I have an orange tree (this is California; you need one). The actual blossom has an intense, honeyed scent, akin to the heavily perfumed flowers of my youth (wisteria, gardenia, old roses).

I doubt I've been fair about California flowers, that they look great and don't smell. There is a period here when jasmine is ubiquitous, and honeysuckle, and lavender. Today I smelled all three blended together, in a park. That would make a nice perfume, eau de California: jasmine, honeysuckle and lavender, with a little orange and lemon blossom.

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July 6, 2007 11:05 PM, Blogger Dain said...

If you throw in the smell of the sea, and maybe some car exhaust, you've got it. : ) I kind of get what you mean about layering, though I never do it myself, because my nose is extremely sensitive and it confuses me. But it makes sense--people mix oils together all the time, why not use more complicated elements, if they're more or less monotone? It's hard to find perfumes that are complex top down. There's a lot that are just "top", usually citrus and florals, and there's quite a few that are just "base", often gourmand. I don't know how to explain the difference, but like today, I had on one wrist Fracas, the other, BVLGARI pour Femme. They're both white florals, so you'd think they'd be created equal, but while the BVLGARI is a sweet warmhearted little bouquet (your phrase, "wall of yum" came to my mind as I sniffed), Fracas is a composition, played out over time. The difference is enormous. You wouldn't ever want to use Fracas to layer, but the BVLGARI would be ideal for it.

July 6, 2007 11:57 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

It did cross my mind to throw in an ocean note...I went to San Clemente once, it was...unreal. There is an unreality to Southern Cal, but it's blended with hard-nosed realism. You'll be driving on the freeway, 80 miles per hour...because you have to drive so, so much. You can't drive slowly. Then you'll exit and suddenly everyone is going 15 MPH. You have to be a good driver.

I never thought of myself as a "layerer" until I did the 7 samples thing for Etro. It's...modular? It reminds me of programming, where you think in terms of components. A few Etro scents stand well alone, like Shaal Nur and Royal Pavillon (of the ones I tried anyway), but the rest seem almost like parts of a scent.

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Update on Annick Goutal
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, July 04, 2007 12:11 AM (Eastern)

annick goutal neroli AND annick goutal heure exquise

Okay...we have a winner: Neroli, layered with Heure Exquise. (Speaking of my samples.)

This pair creates my coveted "wall of yum," or long-lasting veil of yummy scent. Heure Exquise on its own doesn't quite do it; it's a lovely, powdery scent, yet Neroli adds an acidic quality that keeps Heure... from becoming a bit too bland.

As I've mentioned before, it doesn't bother me to layer. I've used Etro Heliotrope as a "base" for many perfumes; it mellows and sweetens them.

Passion, and Les Nuits d'Hadrien EDT, have been knocked off my list. Passion just is not "me." It doesn't smell as sweet on my skin as I'd like (conversely, it might suit you if you're looking for something "not too sweet"). Les Nuits... eau de toilette was very light on me. Having sampled the eau de parfum, I can heartily recommend that, but imo the EDT should have been stronger.

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July 4, 2007 12:59 AM, Blogger Dain said...

What does Heure Exquise smell like?

July 4, 2007 1:08 AM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

It's basically...powdery. In a sense it's like many powdery scents I've smelled, only it is better in not being a completely generic powdery scent. I loathe generic powdery scents...sometimes a good one can stand alone, but still I prefer the combination.

July 4, 2007 9:08 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

Ah, here is the description from the AG site:

A sophisticated trail of Turkish rose, a gentle powdery base of iris from Florence and Mysore sandalwood. This fragrance recreates the atmosphere of a rose garden that blossoms with the passing of each exquisite hour.

It doesn't smell distinctly of any one of these notes; it's quite well balanced and blended. Of the AG samples I got this time, I think I like this one, and Neroli, the best.

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Annick Goutal Les Nuits d'Hadrien
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, June 29, 2007 2:25 AM (Eastern)

I tried this out again today. On me, it's a bit gorgeous, but surprisingly faint, compared to the original Eau d'Hadrien.

Perhaps it's unfair to compare the two, but it was the spareness and lucidity of Eau d'Hadrien, the simple two notes of lemon and cypress, citrus and herb, that was pure unadulterated genius.

Les Nuits... has the citrus, but the other notes in it seem to mute rather than add. Oh I doubt I'm being fair. Some perfumes need a heavier application to stand out, for example, Etro Heliotrope. At first I deemed it a weak perfume, until I got a bottle of it and started spraying.

I'll try it out again tomorrow.

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June 29, 2007 3:12 PM, Blogger Dain said...

I haven't tried the original Eau d'Hadrien, but I know it's more popular. IMO, Les Nuits is a for nights (obviously), city dwellers, or people who aren't really into citrus. I'm surprised you find it weak, though--do you have the EDT, perhaps? The EDP is very strong for a citrus (which is why I liked it), though I gave it as a gift as I never wear citrus perfumes.

I've never really liked a rose, either, at least, not enough to buy one. Just enough to spritz at the store and wear it around.

June 29, 2007 9:44 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

It's definitely the EDT. But then I tried the EDT of Eau d'Hadrien and on me, or to me, (or both), it smelled much much stronger.

I can't smell certain perfumes on myself. I tried Chanel Allure, and even though other people describe it as heady, potent, et cetera, I could hardly smell a thing (whereas Coco Mademoiselle smelled wonderfully potent on me).

So it could just be one of those things. I fairly drenched myself in it this morning. But I can't really smell it.

June 30, 2007 2:38 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

You know something, I'll bet that's it. I tried Les Nuits... before, in a shop, and it wasn't weak.


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Updates on Annick Goutal samples
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, June 27, 2007 10:26 PM (Eastern)

annick goutal heure exquiseI've been slowly wending my way through my samples of Annick Goutal.

Thus far, oddly enough, since I don't think of myself as attracted to "powdery" scents, it is Heure Exquise which stands out. It has an eternal quality. Powdery fragrances can so easily smell, well, cheap, or generic, which is worse than cheap...Heure Exquise emerges because it has sufficient individuality.

Neroli is still in the running; I've worn it several times. Here it would depend on how you feel about citrus scents; it's almost as citrus as it is floral. Songes remains on my first-pass list as well.

I've briefly tried (or retried, rather) Gardenia Passion and Nuits d'Hadrien. Gardenia Passion is easily the best, most authentic gardenia perfume I've tried. You'd have to be nuts about gardenias however; it is what it says it is, just gardenia. Nuits...I'll need to try some more before commenting.

Rose Absolue...I've decided against, for purely personal reasons; I'm not a rose gal after all. That would explain why I've gravitated toward many a rose perfume over the years, from Evelyn by Crabtree & Evelyn, to Stella by Stella McCartney, to Rose Absolue itself--it's a rich, classical rose; deep red, many-petaled and velvet--rather than a light, modern, tinny rose--but never bought one.

Passion is what I'm wearing today. I can't decide whether I like it or not. It honestly smells like something I smelled in the 1970's, but I can't put my finger on it. It's not unpleasant. me.

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Day 2 of Annick Goutal Neroli and Songes
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, June 19, 2007 2:57 PM (Eastern)

Today I'm layering these two scents. By this I don't mean I apply one over the other, but rather I apply one higher up on my body and the other one lower down.

The rationale is that some perfumes have sillage, or scent you can smell from farther away, while others have less of this quality. I place the sillage-laden fragrance farther down--backs of knees, lower thighs--so the stronger scent wafts up, without becoming overwhelming. The quieter scent is placed higher up--décolletage, stomach, wrist, behind ears...whatever your preferences.

Hence I have Songes as my "lower" scent and Neroli as the "higher" one.

With all this preamble, I smell the orange blossoms in Neroli much more clearly today than yesterday. Now it smells quite distinct from Eau d'Hadrien. It's almost pure orange blossoms, with a shot of actual orange fruit, like a sliced orange on a plate next to a flowering orange tree.

Songes...I can hardly smell now that it's farther away from my nose. When I had a tiny drop of it on my wrist yesterday, I smelled it for hours. Of course this is all dabbling from a sample vial; spraying it on would produce more definitive results.

I had intended to try a different scent today altogether, but couldn't resist the combination of these two.

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Premature reviews for Annick Goutal Songes and Neroli
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, June 18, 2007 8:52 PM (Eastern)

I tried these out today, from my samples.

Songes was surprisingly strong, heady, good sillage...I suppose it was a bit less complex than I'd expected. (Mind you this is a first impression.) A single tiny dab smelled strong for hours.

The notes from the Annick Goutal site are as follows: Frangipani, Absolute of Ylang-Ylang, Absolute of Jasmine and Absolute of Vanilla. The description from the site came closer to what I was smelling (or perhaps a blend of both):

The top note is a glorious natural jasmine accord. It then moves through a series of scene changes, comes close to a woody-powdery core, and eventually settles into a rich, long-lasting wood-vanilla-white flowers drydown of great refinement.

I'd say the wood part faded after a while, the vanilla was in the background...what I was getting was very floral, tropical, tempered and grounded a bit by the other notes.

Conclusion: what I liked best were the strength and sillage. I like perfumes that require only a bit, and last for hours. I hate having perfumes fade quickly.

It could have been more complex, but then I already layer perfumes; doesn't bother me a bit. Thinking of this as a potential layering scent, or, ideal scent for extremely hot, humid weather, when lesser scents fade instantly. this reminds me quite a bit of their Eau d'Hadrien perfume, to the point I half-wondered if the folks had gotten my order confused. But it does smell different. Initially, you get a healthy dose of orange blossoms, indeed the scent of "young ladies fond of flowers."

After that it seemed to fade, and I wondered if this were one of those scents you had to slather on to get much scent payoff. changed again and started smelling almost exactly like the aforementioned Eau d'Hadrien.

Now...several hours's smelling good, closer to pure orange blossoms. For being a "soliflore" (single flower) scent, it seems to have taken quite a journey getting to this point.

It's way too early to draw a conclusion about either scent, but so far, I like them both.

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Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 2:13 PM (Eastern)

annick goutal perfume samples

Mmmmm. I haven't tried any yet. The package smells heavenly, like Harper Lee's description of "the ladies" in To Kill a Mockingbird (funny how cosmetically-inclined people remember stuff like that: the Tangee Natural lipstick, the Cutex Natural nail polish).

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June 18, 2007 4:59 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Yay! How fun! I've only really tried Nuit d'Hadrien, and it's yummy, though I'm not really into citrus. But considering that I am not, I think that speaks well for it.

June 18, 2007 6:05 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

I'm trying out Songes "trying out" I mean I dabbed one teeny drop of it on my wrist. It's quite strong. I'm not sure if I like it yet. It could stand to be a tad more complex...I suppose it reminds me somehow of Organza, but stronger, sweeter, less complex. But those could be good things.

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Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, June 14, 2007 8:55 PM (Eastern)

I'm at the end of Armani Code--which is a terrific scent btw--but I'd like to replace it with something different. There are a few scents on my short list: Annick Goutal Ce Soir Ou Jamais and Eau d'Hadrien, Etro Royal Pavillon (Shaal Nur is a good one too but seems more of a winter scent), I say, it's a short list.

Enter Today I ordered their sample pack...and the samples are generous; you get vials with enough to thoroughly road test your follows (all Annick Goutal):

First choices:
Rose Absolue
Gardenia Passion
Heure Exquise
Le Jasmin
Les Nuits d'Hadrien
If out of stock, please substitute:
Eau de Ciel

(You can order samples of any of the fragrances on the site; these are just the ones I wanted to try.)

Of the group, I've smelled only Gardenia Passion and Les Nuits d'Hadrien. Both smell good in their individual way--Gardenia Passion's virtue is that it smells like a bona fide gardenia, without the chemical, even harsh undertone of other gardenia perfumes.

Les Nuits d'Hadrien...well...don't remember exactly, just that it was wonderfully complex.

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Favorite "high end" beauty products
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, February 16, 2007 8:28 PM (Eastern)

Conversely, some products are worth their higher price tag. The colors, staying power, texture, versatility, sometimes even the shelf life--I've had cheaper lipsticks and eyeshadows turn on me relatively quickly--all of these factors can make a more expensive item into a cheaper item in the long run.


  • Nars the Multiple in Malibu. The ideal blush in convenient stick form. Of course there are other shades, it's just that I find this neutral to slightly warm, bronze-kissed (yet not brown/muddy/dirty) medium rose shade ideal.

    I've observed that the majority of drugstore blushes fade more quickly than their department store counterparts. I'm not willing to touch up blush; time can be money too (plus you get a ginormous stick of color here; I've barely dented mine, considering I use it almost every day).

  • MAC Blot pressed powder. The grail powder for oily skin...I stopped using loose powder altogether after I tried this beauty board gem (although they do make a Blot loose powder, I haven't bothered trying it). Blots oil like a dream, doesn't darken, nor look caked, nor look orange. Not much coverage, but I prefer that since I use a foundation product.


  • Alba Botanica Honeydew Nourishing Hair Wash. Not majorly expensive, not cheap either (around $9 for 12 ounces). One of the nicest shampoos I've tried in a long time, won't wreck even frequently-washed hair, lathers decently for being a SLS-free product, smells wonderful. There's a Plumeria version of this also that I'll probably try next.


  • Perfumes in general...I have yet to find a lower priced perfume that I like. Of course even higher priced perfumes can fade quickly; I prefer stronger scents. The sole exception here might be Etro Heliotrope, which doesn't last as well as, say, Givenchy perfumes, but it makes up for it in being versatile. I've used Heliotrope as a layer with other perfumes, to stretch them out and add complexity and depth.

  • Dior eyeshadows. At $52, these quints ain't cheap. Still, if you wanted a single compact of shadows that would run the gamut from casual to formal, contain five shades at $10.40 each (ounce for ounce, cheaper than MAC), provide divine subtlety and coordination of color (thus removing the "shadow klutz" and "color blind" factors), this is your baby.

image courtesy
  • Nars eyeshadows. Here you have colors that may appear improbable. Particularly the duos, which add an unexpected combination to the existing improbability of the individual shades. Still, they work. I've had my duos for almost three years now. The quality hasn't changed; they still look terrific.

  • Chanel Hydrabase lipsticks. I'm starting to get into these; they're amazingly complex and intensely moisturizing (while the surface of the lipstick feels almost dry, my lips are very soft after the color wears off). Yes, they have a candied rose scent that may be a love-hate thing (try a sample before buying). But I like it, and I don't always like scented lipsticks.

    Another factor that's become increasingly important to me is--is there a word for it? I'm sick to the gills of limited edition and discontinued makeup. Perhaps the word is "longevity." I've kept an eye on Chanel for some months; they don't discontinue frequently. That's worth an extra $14 for me not having to go through the headache of finding a look-alike (I do use up lipsticks, being a reformed "lipstick ho").

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Cool perfume post plus cool comments
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, January 20, 2007 10:18 PM (Eastern)

Here is the post: Do You Blend Perfume?

And the comments (91 as of today)

I do blend. Why not blend?


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Some rambles about fragrance layering
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, November 10, 2006 10:45 PM (Eastern)

I never saw myself doing this, even though other women have been doing it for years. Generally speaking, I'm lazy. I prefer spray bottles of fragrance to splashes or "dab bottles," being too lethargic to splash or dab. I keep all of my perfumes with my socks. If they were stored separately from the items I need day by day, they would never get worn.

I used a tinted sunscreen: no need for two layers. I pay $18 for a compact of MAC Blot pressed powder, because it works, meaning I need not touch up my powder during the day, and it lasts, meaning I need not journey to the mall to replace it until a year has passed. I won't wear gloss because lipstick lasts longer on. Eyeshadows must be fade-proof since I can't be bothered with an eyeshadow base.

I could go on (and on) but, ah, fragrance layering. I've just begun to do this.

Of course, more closely examined, there probably is a "lazybones factor" in fragrance layering itself, particularly if it means less frequent reapplying of either scent...but anyway...

My combination of choice these days is Etro Heliotrope and...get this...Armani Code.

Code is the stronger of the two (and I have the eau de parfum), so I usually do only one, or two little, spritzes of this. Heliotrope is an eau de cologne so I'll go for five or six spritzes here. It sounds like a lot but Heliotrope doesn't have much sillage. Putting on a lot of it makes it last longer, but doesn't make it smell that much stronger.

Code wears better, so, as both fragrances fade, I still smell good.

Another odd note...this doesn't work if you apply the Code too high up. I tried spraying some on the back of my neck and it ruined the entire effect. Code has sharper, "higher" notes than Heliotrope (which lacks either kind of note), so spraying it lower down makes it waft pleasantly up to meet the Heliotrope (which tends to linger in the middle of the range).

It all sounds somewhat eccentric, but experimentation in beauty is good. (I tried out several perfumes with Heliotrope before settling on Code.) If you can find a few scents in your stash that complement each other, you will not only expand the use of your stash, you will also produce next-to-custom scents.

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Etro Heliotrope
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, October 19, 2006 2:03 PM (Eastern)

Finally, a scent equally beloved by men and women.

Yes, men are...strange. Out of the blue, they will adore a certain scent on you. Typically, this is a scent that you yourself barely noticed, or liked well enough but hardly considered extraordinary. And, so often, it is not your most expensive, nor your most esoteric, perfume. It's just something you spritzed on for the day and basically forgot about.

Etro Heliotrope is one such perfume. I tried it out; it smelled beautifully of soft, not-too-sweet vanilla with a touch of almond and some ethereal floral notes. Nice!

But then I noticed the men in my life seemed to like it too. And that's when it went on my "must own" list.

Moreover, Heliotrope is a scent that grew on me. From its "nice, but not bottle-worthy" beginnings, I came to crave it slightly more each time I wore it.

Here are the notes of Heliotrope, from the Etro site:

Head notes: fresh floral (bergamot, petit grain, almond)
Heart notes: floral (ylang-ylang, rose, jasmine, iris)
Base notes: floriental (tonka bean, vanilla, Tolu balsam, Peru balsam, musk)

The vanilla stands out most on me, but it's blended so nicely with the other notes. Unlike some tonka bean scents, also, the smell of vanilla here is quite pure. It's not "1990's bug spray vanilla" (and I have been disappointed in some such scents), but rather a soft, natural, different sort of vanilla: gourmand, foody, yet not sticky.

Reviewed in Online Beauty Reviews

Available at

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Perfume blog link
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, October 05, 2006 1:51 AM (Eastern)

How did I miss this one?

Peppermint Patty's Perfume Posse

If you want irony, it's been on thebroadroom's Women Bloggers list for years.


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Etro and more on natural hair products
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, September 11, 2006 2:31 AM (Eastern)

As far as Etro...I've knocked Heliotrope off my "potentially bottle-worthy" list. It's a lovely scent, but too "foody" for me...on me it's a bit floral atop a tremendous base of vanilla. i.e., if you were looking for a vanilla scent, you might well want to investigate this one.

I retried Royal Pavillon and loved it remains on the PBW list.

My favorite of the group is still Sandalo. Actually I'd like to try Sandalo layered with something else Etro; Shaal Nur is the obvious choice but I'd like to try it with others as well.

Messe de Minuit, I think it's well to either dab a small amount on your wrist, or else try it out on a day when you're not planning to go anywhere. It's an eccentric scent. I tried a little bit and got the "oranges and head shop" part, but didn't wear it long enough to get the, ah, "wet basement" aspect. :D

Oh well. About the hair care...I did some shopping at my local health food store, plus a couple of Longs Drugs. Here are my thoughts and what I got.

Health food store: a biotin supplement and Dain's Nature's Gate Herbal Daily Hair Conditioner.

Biotin has a tremendous beauty board buzz as the supplement to take if you want healthier, thicker hair. At least that's what I got out of it. As usual, since the FDA does not regulate supplements, you're pretty much on your own as to how much to take. I looked on the Net and decided to go with a smaller dose, at least to start out with. I'll write here if it works.

Nature's Gate Herbal...they have reformulated this. Or...? I tried its shampoo twin some years ago and didn't like it. The scent was far too powerful; back then it was like spraying Ambush on your hair.

This conditioner though, has a much gentler scent. So I don't know if the shampoo fragrance is still as strong or if they've muted them both, but so far I'm quite happy with the conditioner. I've used it once--so far, it's quite moisturizing without being heavy.

To fill you in on my's fine and on the thin side (hence the biotin supplement), basically straight with a slight wave, naturally oily scalp, and colored. I use a deep conditioner the first few days post coloring (the L'Oreal Feria deep conditioner). My daily conditioner, therefore, has to work with both oily scalp and dry, colored ends.

I really must mention this, I used to use Pantene. I still have some and intend to use it all up. The idea of trying a new conditioner has to do with my Pantene Smooth & Sleek building up on me, similar to shampoo build-up.

But I would like to say for the record, that I never experienced the dramatic "Pantene horror story" I've seen circulating the Net. The gist is that, if you use Pantene, the silicones in it build up on your hair, enveloping the strands and slowly killing them off. One day your hair looks fine; the next, poof! Your hair suddenly breaks off, having been gradually strangled by this buildup of silicones.

That never happened, in the almost two years I used Pantene hair products daily.

What did happen, is that I felt the need to switch hair products. I felt the Pantene was no longer doing what I wanted it to do. Also...more inchoately, if you will...I felt I would like to move toward more natural hair care products. There are a lot more of them now. If a more natural product...I realize "natural" is next to meaningless as a technical term, bear with me...a product without the sodium lauryl sulfate that has long been regarded as a harsh ingredient, or at least without so much or it...possibly a product without parabens or with less parabens (Nature's Gate Herbal does contain a paraben ingredient)...if this type of product performs better than a mainstream product, particularly regarding stripping hair or irritating scalp, then why not? It doesn't cost that much more.

Longs Drugs: Kiss My Face "Whenever" shampoo and Jason Mango Satin Shower Body Wash.

About the Mango, Longs had only three scents to choose from. It was either this, Chamomile (which smelled a tad perfumy, in a pleasant way) or Tea Tree (which admittedly I didn't even bother smelling; tea tree oil smells medicinal to me). Mango actually smells a lot like their Citrus body wash. Sort of a pleasant meld of fruitiness and perfume.

Whenever Shampoo, for being a non-SLS shampoo, lathers beautifully. Even better than Avalon Organics, which also lathers well. It smells nicely of real lime. It's supposed to be green tea and lime but I'm not getting much green tea here.

It's too soon to judge about the shampoo, I'd like to use it more before saying, but Whenever on its first use is mild, not at all stripping. Actually it's similar to Avalon Organics Lemon Clarifying.

That's about it!

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Etro Vicolo Fiori and Shaal Nur
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, September 08, 2006 2:26 PM (Eastern)

Shaal Nur today...I can admit I was expecting this:

...based on the spritz I tried of this at a department store. That is, a late 60's type of scent, very "come up to my pad and burn some incense some time." I got a fairly heavy dose of patchouli and sandalwood (keep in mind I was trying Etro Patchouly at the same time though), with what smelled like real late 60's incense (yes, I am old enough to remember some of this stuff). Visions of East Indian bedspreads, sandals, Peter Sellers, bouffant hairdos, wacky tobaccy, et cetera.

Trying it on now from a sample though, is entirely different. Here I'm getting more of this:

Just something soft and ladylike, feminine without being overly sugarly or simplistic. It's strong, but not overpowering. It smells somehow natural and different.

Yesterday's Vicolo Fiori wore pretty well actually. I can see I probably did not put on enough of some previous Etro's, and will retry all those I thought had faded too quickly.

Here are the notes for Vicolo Fiori, from the Etro site:

Head notes: citrus floral (tangerine, campanula)
Heart notes: fruity floral (water lily, lotus, cyclamen, wild rose, ylang-ylang, white peach, cantaloupe)
Base notes: woody, amber (musk, iris, sandalwood, vanilla, amber)

Vicolo Fiori is densely floral, again--and this is something I revere about the Etro scents thus far--without being overly sweet. Just a clean, lovely soapy fragrance, suitable for young and old alike.

The Party image courtesy

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Etro Heliotrope and Vicolo Fiori
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, September 07, 2006 4:08 PM (Eastern)

Ah...I think I'm finally getting the hang of these samples. The ones have that little plastic doohickey in have to use it about three times in the same spot to replicate the experience of using the perfume, or at least come close to it. Good! I'll get to retry my samples all over again (except Gomma, which in memory I've come to avoid, but the rest are downright addictive).

Here are the notes of Heliotrope, from the Etro site:

Head notes: fresh floral (bergamot, petit grain, almond)
Heart notes: floral (ylang-ylang, rose, jasmine, iris)
Base notes: floriental (tonka bean, vanilla, Tolu balsam, Peru balsam, musk)

What I got yesterday was mainly the tonka bean/vanilla vibe, with a sweet top layer of the florals. Soft and innocent, like a fragile white dress.

Today I'm wearing Vicolo Fiori. So far it smells like a very elegant bar of soap. This could be what you're looking for, if you're looking for a "clean, soapy scent." It's not exactly eau de Dial Soap, it smells more along the lines of a good floral soap, something you'd find in a small shop, but there's a definite cleanliness to the composition (can't help thinking off the bat, that this would be good in an office setting).

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Etro Heliotrope
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, September 06, 2006 1:58 PM (Eastern)

I put some of this on this morning. It's quite interesting...I'm getting a lot of vanilla. A little bit of floral over a lot of vanilla.

I was madly tempted to layer this with either Royal Pavillon or Lemon Sorbet, but refrained, if only to give Heliotrope a chance on its own.

I'll post later on how this wears...

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Etro Pavillon, Sandalo and the story so far
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 12:31 AM (Eastern) I'm on my fourth Etro scent.

So far...Gomma turned a bit sour on me. Hard to put a finger on had this gorgeousness to it, and when it faded out, it returned to gorgeousness. But my skin brought out this sour edge.

Gomma + Lemon Sorbet smelled better...more gorgeousness, less sour edge. Still, it took some hours to mellow out into something quite good.

Lemon Sorbet...I like this. But on me it's not very strong. I'm thinking of it now as a scent that might be ideal to combine with other scents. According to Audrey_H of our Perfumery, the theory is that any one Etro scent can be layered with any other. Lemon Sorbet on its own is this bright, sparkling, almost visually lemon yellow, scent to me.

Royal Pavillon is probably the best of all four. It's enchanting, like a magical forest. You can see the Etro perfume guy dabbling in this, and that, to get it to smell just's green, it's watery, it has little exotic blooms here and there.... My gripe is that it's not strong on me and it fades too quickly. But I don't know how much stronger it would be, sprayed on properly from a bottle (my Armani Code is soft too, and it's one of the best perfumes also).

Pavillon, from the Etro site:

Head notes: green floral (rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, mimosa, violet)
Heart notes: woody (sandalwood, vetiver, oak moss)
Base notes: aromatic vanilla (castoreum, civet)

Now Sandalo. This was love at first dab. I don't know why. I like stronger scents...and this is the strongest of the four, stronger than Gomma. It's almost too simple. It's plain sandalwood, a little bit sweet...that's all.

What makes it stand out is the quality of the sandalwood. I have to believe the blurb on the Etro site:

"Etro has chosen Mysore sandalwood from southern India, a valuable wood considered sacred because it has been used for millennia in the temples and during religious ceremonies."

It actually does smell like that description: very pure. I dabbed on just a bit this morning and I can still smell it distinctly (it's almost 10:00 pm over here). This scent, unlike others, did not seem to change at all from when I put it on to now.

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Etro Royal Pavillon
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, September 04, 2006 12:45 PM (Eastern)

I've worn this for a couple of days now. I'll have to say it's a bit faint on me. Today I'm going to try dabbing it from the sample rather than dabbling, if that makes any sense.

As promised, "This smells like a damp greenhouse filled with exotic plants." (JennyB, The Lipstick Page Forums Perfumery). Like the other Etro's I've tried so far, it has this persistent addictive quality. It's not apparent when you first try them on, if only because none of the compositions so far falls under any conventional perfume category, but there's something about them that makes you want to smell them again.

Oh yeah, and I finally noticed how to spell "Pavillon." :D

Royal Pavillon...has a very "green" smell, combined with a little water, and a little bit of sweet flowers. My sole criticism so far is that it could be stronger, but again, spraying it on from a bottle would no doubt make it stronger.

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