Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Tom Ford Lavender Palm Eau de Parfum
Tom Ford Lavender Palm Eau de Parfum

What makes perfume such an interesting subject is really how personal and intimate it is. Not only do we all have our personal scent preferences, but our body chemistry can alter the way a scent develops. Our associations of smell and memory also play a major role. As I’ve discussed before, I love lavender. I love it in earthy, herbaceous forms as much as I do in sweeter, more vanilla-laced ways. When I spied Tom Ford Lavender Palm Eau de Parfum ($195.00 for 1.7 oz.) at Nordstrom a few weeks ago, I knew I had to try it. Tom Ford’s Private Blend scents have worn really well on me (anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, depending on the scent), and it’s lavender-based, so it really had my name on it :)

Herbaceous. Clean. Stylish. This sparkling Eau de Parfum is Tom Ford’s take on the free-spirited ethos and chic elegance that evokes California. The seductive interplay of two varieties of Lavender forms the heart of this captivating fragrance. Bright citrus notes layered with a moist palm leaf accord, clary sage, sensual woods, and smooth tonka bean brilliantly elevate the earthy Lavender note into a surprisingly refined star.

When I first spritzed it on my wrist, I loved the combination of earthy lavender and lemon with an underlying leafy green note.  As Lavender Palm develops, it becomes more sensual and smoother. There’s lavender, but it’s not as present as it was in the beginning, vetiver, and a little sweetness tempered by the citrus notes. A hint of incense dances lightly in the very background, just barely there. It’s not earthy lavender, but it’s not sweet, vanilla-and-lavender. It fits somewhere in between.  Lavender Palm has little sillage so it wears rather close to the skin, and on me, it remains highly detectable on the skin for six hours or so, and then it continues to be detectable but to a lesser degree for up to ten hours.

It feels like a surprisingly straightforward scent; it’s not the most complex, but as a fan of lavender, it works for me. I tend to gravitate towards rich, heady, sultry scents, and sometimes, they do feel heavy for daytime wear.  It’s a unisex scent, though I have heard several sales associates say this is better on men than it is on women.  I couldn’t say I agree, only because I almost love it on me (I really, really like it, but I need more time to determine if it’s true love), and if I can convince the Tech Guy, I’ll get him to try it (he already steals Oud Wood).

I have been continually reaching for it since it first arrived and sometimes wear it before bed.  There’s a lighter quality to it compared to other scents in the Private Blend collection that makes so wearable and fresh–so perfect for spring.  At this price point, this should be a scent you love and reach for often.  It should do something to you, for you; should make you feel beautiful, powerful, lovely, or bring you back to a most cherished memory.  If you like to wear lavender, this is worth testing.  I love sites like The Perfume Court, where you can purchase small samples of scents to try or for scents you enjoy wearing but perhaps not enough to own a whole bottle. I didn’t see this scent up there yet, though.

Thursday, February 9th, 2012


Haus of Gloi Perfume Oils for Valentine’s Day

Haus of Gloi has created five scents for Valentine’s Day. Perfume oils are available in small sample vials ($3.00) or a 5ml amber glass bottle ($15.00). The photo above shows several vials of various scents. I’m still working my way through their regular catalog of scents, but I did trial their recent seasonal ones.  Their perfume oils last six hours or so on me, with some scents tending to stay longer on the skin.

  • Come Hither is described as being inspired by herbs and roots used in Hoodoo to attract a mate. It has Bourbon vanilla, tonka bean, rose oil, Queen Elizabeth root, saffron threads, and honey in it. On me, it’s feminine, soft, and rosy–there’s a subtle, sweetened rosiness that is rounded out by an earthy quality. There’s also a hint of herbaceous greens that is most noticeable in the first twenty minutes of wear but fade away shortly after.
  • Odette is described as “clean sun dried linens, tuberose, ginger lily, and white musk.” It’s a crisp, musky, and floral in the beginning. After a few hours of wear, it transitions into a more sweetened floral. The scent smells fresh and perfect for springtime, but the sweetness does pull it back a bit once it settles against my skin.
  • Who Needs Love is described as “chocolaty orbs, coated in crystallized coffee – filled with a pomegranate and raspberry filling.” At first, it’s a subtle sweetness mixed with a gentle tartness; there’s the sweet-tart taste of raspberries with the earthy sweetness of chocolate. For a scent with as many food descriptors, it’s not overly foodie. As the scent wears, the raspberry really starts to prevail with the chocolate becoming a backdrop. It was my favorite of the spring scents, which is funny, because I don’t typically like dessert-based scents.
  • Spring Tonic 1 is described as “Californian lemon, Mexican lime, parsley, and dandelion greens.” There’s a tart bite of citrus initially; there’s the sourness of the lemon, the crispness of the lime, and there’s a grassy element that gives it a green note. It smells like a really fresh, crisp salad. On me, the lemon seems to pull ahead after a couple of hours of wear.
  • Spring Tonic 2 is described as “fresh cucumber, parsley, and dandelion greens.” Lots of crisp cucumber from the get-go, mixed with the green, peppery scent of parsley. The cucumber wanes a bit, and the scent turns greener, almost grassy.
Friday, October 14th, 2011


Tom Ford Violet Blonde Eau de Parfum

Tom Ford Violet Blonde Eau de Parfum ($100.00 for 1.7 oz.) is a new pillar of Tom Ford’s signature collection for women. It joins Black Orchid and White Patchouli. The notes include: violet leaf, Italian Mandarin, baie rose, Tuscan orris absolute, Tuscian orris butter, jasmine sambac, benzoin, cedarwood, Haitian vetiver absolute, musk, and soft suede.

It opened with strong burst of floral notes with a sweetened, fruit-laced edge over a backdrop of peppery greens. There was an inkling of the greenness from the violet leaf when it opened, but it quickly transitioned to fragrant, floral jasmine, which was the prevailing note on my skin for some time. The jasmine blended with the rooty qualities of the orris (iris root), so it was cool and just softer than crisp; like the first few days of fall, where the air coolly caresses and you realize the seasons have just changed.

I appreciated the damp, mustiness the orris notes imparted–they enhanced the depth and added another layer of nuance.  It made it distinctly autumnal for me and suitable as the weather slinks into sunny but cool afternoons.  Autumn is my favorite season, especially the precious few weeks, because it’s blissfully temperate with leaves just beginning to change and no fireplaces have been switched on.  It’s fresh and green and lovely.

Violet Blonde encapsulates some of those qualities–the freshness and green crispness of autumn–but it is more floral than anything else.  It never turned achingly sweet, which is a direction that tends to remind me of youthfulness, and instead, it evolved to an earthy jasmine with soft, creamy woods that took away some of the edginess of the opening of the scent but made it more wearable.  Violet Blonde reads elegant, polished, and subtly feminine–ultimately, a sophisticated, layered scent that’s not as heavy or as daunting as Tom Ford’s Private Blend Collection, but in some ways, more refined.

Saturday, October 8th, 2011


Tom Ford Santal Blush Eau de Parfum

Tom Ford Santal Blush Eau de Parfum ($195.00 for 1.7 fl. oz.) launched a month or so ago. After the first spritz, I get hit with a tidal wave of musk. Then the sandalwood really comes through and spills over the musky undercurrent. There is also a floralness around the edges; for me, subtle enough that it doesn’t resonate as a floral scent, because on me, the woodiness seems to prevail.

I’ve only briefly tested some of the other scents in the Tom Ford Musk Collection–as in on cards at stores–and found the musk to be too much, but I found Santal Blush to be a much better match for me as I like musk but in more restrained doses. I think Santal Blush nails that–you definitely need to give it a moment to settle (it goes from too much to balanced within fifteen seconds), because it seems like it is too much initially but softens quickly.

Half hour into wear, it’s creamy and woody but spiciness from the cumin emerges from the background to play softly with the sandalwood and musk. Once we stretch past the hour mark, it is a delicate mix of sweet and spicy, musky and woodsy scent that’s warm and creamy. It wears beautifully and well on me; at full strength for eight hours and then subsides over the next twelve–it lingers faintly against the skin the next morning but has mostly worn away.

Friday, October 7th, 2011


Illamasqua Freak Eau de Parfum

Illamasqua Freak Eau de Parfum

Illamasqua Freak Eau de Parfum (£59.00 for 75 ml) is the first developed and launched by Illamasqua. I received a sample (so the bottle pictured above is a lab sample or decant, not representative of the actual packaging). The top notes include Black Davana, Opium Flower, and Belladonna. The heart notes include Poison Hemlock, Datura, and Queen of the Night blossom. The base notes include Frankincense, Oud, and Myrrh.

Initially, it’s woody and floral, with the strength of the floral carrying the scent for the first half hour to hour of wear. The florals sweeten and lighten a little from Queen of the Night blossom after it opens but the general tone of the fragrance is still darker and heavier. It stays sweet and floral for another hour before it transitions into the next stage, where the base notes tend to resonate more. I prefer the scent as it moves into those later stages, because it becomes more resinous with an underlying smokiness. For me, it was still floral but less so but shaped by hints of incense and a toned down sweetness.

It has a fair amount of sillage, leaving a trail of scent behind the wearer; it’s not overwhelming, but there’s a faint hint that follows. If I only spritz on my wrists, the sillage is minimized, but if you do full body sprays, you might want to save this one for nights on rather than for the office. Three hours into wear, it was still at full strength, but it seems faded and subtler by the fifth hour yet still lingering after eight hours of wear.

Freak is set to launch at select Sephora and SpaceNK stores in November, but I don’t have the price point yet.

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Guerlain Shalimar Eau de Parfum
Guerlain Shalimar Eau de Parfum

Guerlain Shalimar Eau de Parfum

With the recent launch of Shalimar Parfum Initial, I felt it only proper to try out Shalimar Eau de Parfum ($123.00 for 3 oz.) first. It’s an iconic scent, not just for the brand, but in the world of fragrance. For a truly excellent read on the history of the scent, check out Perfume Shrine’s. It comes in a wide range of concentrations and product types; from the most concentrated (Extract, $131 to $322) to accessorizing products like perfumed body powder ($64).

The notes of Shalimar are bergamot, lemon, jasmine, rose, May rose, iris, incense, opopanax, tonka bean, and vanilla. It opens with an intense burst of the bergamot where the crisp citrus gives it a very cool feel, but it warms up quickly with a heady smokiness that’s marked by spice and leather. As it progresses, the final scent on me is a sweetened, spicy vanilla with the warmth and coziness of amber and sandalwood. It’s not the sweetened vanilla of a dessert, but richer, deeper, less sugary and cloyingly sweet. It is rather powdery on me, more notably in the earlier hours of the scent and decreases over time until it’s all but vanished by the third hour.

It’s not a shy scent, and it’s one that instantly says, “Pay attention, you don’t want to miss a note.”  There is a great deal of complexity from beginning to end.  Perfume is so very personal and often has to do with just what sensory memories are evoked when it is spritzed. I cannot relay any stories of mothers or grandmothers who wore and loved this scent; I actually have no memories for or against–no one I have known has worn it (and it is a scent you would remember!). I don’t like it on me until about two hours in; then it’s that right level of headiness that I like but with more of the tonka bean and vanilla pulling through with less emphasis on bergamot (which I don’t usually like).  The scent lasts on me for eight hours or so.

The inspiration: “The setting: Northern India, four centuries ago. His name was Shah Jahan. Hers was Mumtaz Mahal. Dazzled by her beauty, he idolized her; so madly in love was he that he wanted to make her life a perpetual garden of delights. And so sprang from the earth the Gardens of Shalimar. The story of their boundless love fired the imagination of Jacques Guerlain who, in 1925, created the world’s first oriental fragrance. A subtle mix of flowers and sensual amber-woody accents, Shalimar has become the eternal essence of love and radiant femininity. Wildly Guerlain, marvelously classic, it continues to fascinate young women just as it conquered every generation that came before.”

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