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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Saturday, August 6th, 2011

MAC Turquatic (50ml)
MAC Turquatic (50ml)

MAC Turquatic (50ml)

MAC Turquatic (50ml) ($49.50 for 1.7 fl. oz.) is new to the line-up, as it was previously only available in a 1 fl. oz. size. I reviewed the scent here, but I knew that with the repackaging, you would want to see photos, so I purchased this for photography.  I love the aesthetic of the bottle, even though the scent is not one I’m personally drawn to.  It debuts on August 11th and will be part of the permanent range–it is also available in Rollerball (0.20 fl. oz.), $20.00) and 1 fl. oz. bottle ($27.50).

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Saturday, August 6th, 2011

MAC Turquatic (Rollerball)
MAC Turquatic (Rollerball)

MAC Turquatic (Rollerball)

MAC Turquatic (Rollerball) ($20.00 for 0.20 fl. oz.) is housed in a slim, glass tube with a gradient of yellowed chartreuse to greenish-teal. The fragrance is inspired by the sea with a “crisp and energizing” feel. The notes, as included in the press release, are: mineral water, anemone, lotus, orris, and Corsican blue cedar.

It’s a fresh scent with a musky floral vibe–it dries down on me and smells heavier than one expect for a “crisp” fragrance. The sillage is low, which means the scent kisses the skin but doesn’t waft, so it ends up being a subtler scent that you can smell but others will barely notice. There is a light, watery element that keeps it from becoming too heady, sexy, or otherwise categorized as more of a musky scent, but there’s still an inkling of something darker lying beneath the surface. For me, the lotus and blue cedar dominate, but they work well together. If you have Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue, this might smell familiar.

Turquatic’s scent doesn’t turn on me as it wears, but it only lasts a few hours (three to four) before being nearly indetectable on the skin. For a scent that already wears as close to the skin as it does, having to reapply it two or three times a day is not particularly palatable. Rollerballs are all about convenience–and you’ll pay for it–but contain little product inside. MAC has priced Turquatic where many other brands have priced theirs.

It will launch on August 11th and become part of the permanent range.  It is also available in 20ml ($27.50) and 50ml ($49.50) bottles–I will have photos of the latter up soon.

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Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino
Tom Ford Neroli Portofino

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Eau de Parfum ($190 to $465) has been relaunched, along with several ancillary products, for the spring/summer. The eau de parfum is now encased in a translucent aqua-blue glass bottle, which retained the same shape as the scents in the Private Blend collection. The launch added bath soap ($35), shower gel ($65), body scrub ($80), body moisturizer ($65), and body oil ($70).

A modern intercontinental version of an iconic fragrance theme balances luminous citrus oils and floral notes with amber undertones that awaken the senses and leave a splashy yet substantive impression. Notes: bergamot, lemon, mandarin, lavender, myrtle, rosemary, orange bitter, Egyptian jasmine, neroli, orange blossom water, pittosporum, woody amber accord, ambrette seeds, angelica root.

It starts out as crisp orange blossom mixed with spiciness that makes it way to something a little sweeter, more of a fruity and floral mix. The dry down is distinctly orange with amber rounding it out in a way that leaves it just right, not too sweet, not too woody. On my skin, the scent wears well for six to eight hours, with it becoming rather subtle by the eighth hour. It’s a very light scent at all times; not that you can’t detect it, but the scent itself is certainly not as heady as scents like Amber Absolute or Oud Wood (two previous scents I’ve reviewed).

Neroli Portofino is a very lovely scent for summer–it reminds me of salty sea breezes, sandy beaches, and iced tea. It took me a few wears to appreciate it for what it is, but after that, I definitely can see the appeal. At first, it just seemed too simple, but the wear is incredible in the eau de parfum.

Now, I also tried out the body oil and shower gel, and on me, neither lasted for as long as the eau de parfum–it really wasn’t even close. The shower gel faded away within an hour, while the body oil lingers for two to three. Both products worked well aside from the wear time, though, and all three work well layered. The shower gel lathers up without leaving skin feeling dry, while the body oil absorbs quickly and imparts a subtle sheen on the skin.

Both products are housed in the same aqua colored packaging but come in plastic. At first, I didn’t quite get why they’d go plastic, but then as I used the shower gel, I got it–you have to squeeze the bottle to get the product out! Unfortunately, squeezing a square bottle is not nearly as effective as a rounded bottle or tube. I would have preferred if both products had come with a pump mechanism. If the eau de parfum is not in your budget, the body oil gave me better wear over the shower gel, but there is also a body moisturizer available, which may have even better wear–I have not tried, though.

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Saturday, April 30th, 2011


Candles By Victoria – Scent Shots

Candles By Victoria – Scent Shots

Candles By Victoria Scent Shots ($1.95 for 2 oz.) are individually sized tarts that release their scent when melted. If you’re not familiar with tarts (I wasn’t!), you’ll also need to make sure to grab a tart warmer, too (I got mine via Amazon, since I did not realize I needed one when I placed my order). I decided on Scent Shots, because I couldn’t commit to a few scents and would have rather tried a wide variety to find my favorites for future purchases. I couldn’t even tell you which scents I ordered by memory, and I haven’t gotten through all of them, but I will describe the ones I have tried so far!

  • Bear Claws was a sweetened scent of nuts and caramel–definitely smells like the treat by the same name.
  • Christmas Kitchen is mostly a cinnamon spiced scent with a touch of orange.
  • Harvest is a decadent spiced scent that’s not as warm as Home Sweet Home.
  • Hazelnut Spice has the nuttiness of the hazelnut warmed by the spiciness of cinnamon.
  • Home Sweet Home was a warm, spicy blend that kind of reminded me of Christmas but not quite.
  • Poison Apple smelled like a mix of sweetened green apples and spice.
  • Sunflower had a floral scent with a lot of rose and jasmine that ended up smelling a little soapy to me.
  • Ylang & Amber is dominated by ylang ylang, which is a strong floral, with just a touch of amber.

Candles By Victoria carries an insane amount of scents (they boast “over 640″), and you can read through scent descriptions here.  I was entirely overwhelmed by the variety, but I am thankful they did have descriptions and broke out the scents into a few categories.

My friend Brooke always raved about the brand, so when they held a sale several months ago, I knew I had to bite the bullet! I’m really glad I did, because they do exactly what I want a candle to do–give me lots and lots of scent. The throw is fantastic, as my two-bedroom apartment smells of whatever I’ve melted. A lot of the candles I’ve used in the past (all of those used wicks and burned) failed to really permeate my living space (trust me, it’s not a lot — like 750 square feet).

I usually get 8-12 hours of melting time–I tend to just turn on the warmer and let it go for a few hours.  I’ve re-used the melted tarts (which will form a small disc) as well, and the scent is lessened but still noticeable (depends on how long you’ve already melted it for).  My best advice is to melt for a couple of hours and turn off, because the scent lingers for hours afterward so you can save the scent for the next day.

In fact, after writing this post, I placed an order for a few more scent shots that I haven’t tried and two candles (Hazelnut Spice and Christmas Kitchen).  They currently have 10% off if you use the code CBVICTORIA.  The only downside is while shipping is at a flat rate, it is $8.50, so make your order count or split with a friend/relative :)  Hey! Mother’s Day gift idea!

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Monday, February 7th, 2011

Tom Ford Amber Absolute Eau de Parfum
Tom Ford Amber Absolute Eau de Parfum

Tom Ford Amber Absolute Eau de Parfum ($190.00 for 1.7 oz.) is described as a ” honey-colored scent infused with the purest form of amber, joined by a tenacious refrain of African incense, labdanum, rich woods and a touch of vanilla bean.”

Initially, it is a burst of smoky incense and amber with an underlying sweetness punctuated by vanilla. A little spicy, but more like a dark, smoky room with incense burning in the background, and it’s very strong and nearly overwhelming in the beginning. Amber is noticeable at every point in the evolution of this scent as the day wears on, but it is most apparent after an hour or so, when the fragrance gets drier.

The vanilla isn’t cloying nor the star at any point while wearing this scent, but it is always there, balancing some of the headier notes of labdanum. The heart of the fragrance is amber, with a resinous incense rounding it out for the first hours, then getting it woodier and a little sweeter. The woods really don’t come into play until several hours have passed, but then they are there, subtle but distinct, along with a touch of sweetness from the vainlla bean.

Like Oud Wood, this is a potent, long-wearing scent–I can still detect it into the next day. Though a pricey affair, I find a spray on my wrist, then gently dabbed onto the other wrist and beneath my ears, is more than enough.

final thoughts: Scents are certainly personal, and at this price tag, trying-before-buying is something you should seek out if possible. It’s a heady, amber scent with lots of smoky incense and a hint of vanilla sweetness.

where to buy: Nordstrom

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