Thursday, March 13th, 2008

The Sweet (and Cool) Smell of Pop Art in Andy Warhol Union Square by Bond No. 9

“My favorite smell is the first smell of spring in New York,” Andy Warhol once said. Perhaps in a similar spirit, Warhol began painting and silk-screening a series of highly stylized, phantasmagorically colored flowers during the 1960s. He returned to this age-old painter’s subject in 1970, when he developed a portfolio of vibrantly colored flower screenprints at the first of his two studios on Union Square. Both the florals and the location were the inspiration for Andy Warhol Union Square, the latest in Bond No. 9′s series of collectible Warhol eaux de parfum, arriving on counter in March, 2008.

The scent, a seductive green floral that’s simultaneously cool and warm, is housed in the slim Bond No. 9 superstar flacon, this time displaying Warhol’s flowers as its surface design. Outsize, otherworldly flowers such as these are of course a major fashion statement for spring 2008 — with multitudes of designers taking their cue from the Warhol Flowers series. Likewise, Bond No. 9′s Andy Warhol Union Square is in tune with the times (as perfumes should be). But let us go one further and propose that this latest scent of ours, enveloped in Warhol’s iconic flower motif, raises the art of perfumery to — dare we say it? — a new level of sophistication.

The bottle is in typical Warhol artistry, but instead on a sculpted glass perfume bottle. It comes decorated in various shades ranging from red and yellow colored flowers to blue shaded blades of grass. As part of an effort to be more environmentally friendly this year, Bond No.9 boutiques will accept empty perfume bottles [to recycle for you], and as a reward, they will give you a refillable pocket spray.

The scent itself is a soft, feminine floral that definitely reminds of spring blooms and decadence. It dries down to a nice subtle scent that delights the nose, but it isn’t overwhelming. I found the scent stayed on throughout the day, fading minimally, but never turning.  I definitely detected the Lily of the Valley and Blue Freesia notes, and when it dried down, I noticed a touch of musk and wood.

Top notes include:  Lily of the Valley, Green Stem Notes, Sweet Blue Freesia, Golden Amber, Silver-cloud Musk Accord, White Birch Wood.

Union Square launches March 15th, 2008 at their four New York boutiques, www.bondno9.com, and Saks Fifth Avenue nationwide.  It will be available in 50ml size ($135) or 100ml size ($195).  A special collector set will be available of ten different bottles ($1500 for ten 100ml bottles) as well.

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Anyone pick up Air of Style? Thoughts?

The Scent: It is a fairly heavy fragrance when initially smelled from the vial, but when it dries down, it isn’t so heady. MAC describes the scent as, “A baroque blend of white pepper, dates, tuberose, orange flower, jasmine, precious woods, leather, vetiver and amber crystals sumptuously overlaid with the opulence of ylang ylang and orris.” First, the description is insanely long and makes it sound like they threw nearly every particular note they could. I want to say that what I could sniff out was more of a sweet floral scent with jasmine undertones, a touch of woodiness, but mostly sophisticated floral tones. You will probably be able to note the subtle sweetness, and I wouldn’t really call this a masculine scent (far too much floral!).

The Packaging: The bottle pictured online is filled with the perfume, when in reality you receive it in two parts: empty perfume bottle and filled test-tube vial [of the perfume]. They include a funnel so you can put it into the actual bottle. The problem with this packaging is you have to figure out a way to get this bad boy to stand, which is pretty much impossible. The scent is better spritzed rather than dabbed on, so for me, I’ll be filling up travel-size spray vials (from eBay) instead of really utilizing the bottle. The actual perfume vial is cute in design, but it’s not practical, which is a problem for those of us would like to actually display it rather than tossing it into a holder of some sort to keep it vertical. I think they would have been better off if they had used airbrushed metal or higher caliber material for the cap of the vial, too.

Overall: I know some people griped about the price ($60.00), but considering the prices of most perfumes, I don’t really see how this is shock-worthy. Just as there are numerous perfumes that are made by some of the most famous perfume houses that make us want to gag, they are still priced similarly to MAC’s prices. Overall, though, the scent is lovely enough and doesn’t make me want to gag. It’ll be a nice scent to transition from winter to spring.

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Clinique Risne Off Makeup Remover Review

Pacifica Candles’ Soy Candles ($13.95), Pillar Candles ($15.95), Soaps ($6.95), Perfumes ($19.95), Body Butters ($15.95)

Each Pacifica candle is made by hand, using century-old techniques to ensure the highest quality. We combine our exclusive Pacifica Wax Blends, in your choice of food-grade paraffin or vegetable-based soy, with the highest quality lead-free cotton wicks, essences, and essential oils in order to create the perfect candle. Our fragrance oils and candles are made in small batches, allowing us to test our products regularly to guarantee perfection. We believe that if a candle isn’t burning well, quality ingredients are being wasted. Regardless of the wax, whether it is soy or paraffin, there must be a perfect balance between the wick size and the fragrance to create a safe, healthy, and smokeless candle.

What makes it worth it: This is not an organic line per se, but it definitely has the right feel and attitude about the environment, natural ingredients, and being a responsible member of its community. Pacifica uses soy and food-grade paraffin in its candles, while they make sure to use natural essential oils rather than artificial fragrances. They have excellent employment policies, are working towards becoming a carbon-neutral company, and take inspiration from culture around the globe.

  • Soy Candles: I tried Tibetan Mountain Temple (a spicy, woody scent of Patchouli, ginger, and orange) and Bourbon Island Vanilla (another spicy scent with lots of vanilla). I enjoyed both scents, but my boyfriend adored the latter. I felt like Tibetan Mountain Temple reminded me a lot of the holidays and the cinnamon-y goodness you find in so many holiday baked goods.
  • Pillar Candles: I tried Roman Frankincense (a blend of Frankincense, Myrrh, a touch of mandarin, and I’d swear some lime) and Vietnamese Ylang Ylang French (a lovely blend of ylang ylang, lavendar, and a touch of vanilla). I’m totally reminded of Sprite or 7UP with Roman Frankincense, but I like the scent – pleasing, very masculine. The Vietnamese Ylang Ylang French pillar candle is a much subtler scent, entirely feminine and just lovely.
  • Natural Soaps: I tried Spanish Amber (deeply woody, amber scent) and Wild English Clary Sage (a great clean scent with clary sage notes). Spanish Amber definitely takes me back to a few moments of my childhood; it’s a strong scent, distinctly masculine. Wild English Clary Sage is also a bit masculine in its scent, but it’s such a clean scent that I know it’s a must-have for any family or couple who shares soap.
  • Perfumes: I tried Waikiki Pikake (a blend of jasmine and sandalwood) and Tuscan Blood Orange (sweet orange and mandarin scent with a touch of strawberry). I found both of these scents to be pleasing, and they come in these petite containers. They make great stocking stuffers!
  • Body Butters: I tried Sandalwood (rich Indian sandalwood that’s very woody with top notes of sweet orange) and French Lilac (a delightful spring scent of fresh lilacs and magnolias). Sandalwood is a very rich, heady scent, which reminds me of seduction. I felt like French Lilac makes a great spring scent, because it’s light and airy and utterly floral.

Why you might pass on it: You can’t. They have a wide variety of products, scents, and the prices are perfect for this holiday season. Everything feels a bit luxe and rich, and I really can’t wait to wrap these up and hand them out to my family and friends this year.

Find Pacifica products at www.pacificacandles.com and www.nordstrom.com.

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Escada’s Moon Sparkle Eau de Toilette ($52.00)

A fruity floral fragrance, with sparkling strawberry and red apple notes. Top notes: strawberry, blackcurrant, citrus cocktail, red apple. Middle notes: sweet pea, freesia, jasmine, rose. Base notes: raspberry, musky notes, sandalwood, dry ambery notes.

What makes it worth it: If you love something fun, flirty, and utterly feminine, you’ll adore Escada’s Moon Sparkle eau de toilette with its candy-fruity smell. I could distinctly smell the scent of fresh strawberries with the slight aromatic sweetness of apples as a lingering note. I really enjoy being able to catch the scent of the different notes used in the fragrance, because it means they did an accurate representation of their fragrance.

Why you might pass on it: It may be too sweet-smelling or fruity-smelling for some. Those with a preference for muskier, woodier scents will find this one too overpowering to easily transition to.

Find this fragrance at department store retailers, as well as www.nordstrom.com. This is also available in a body lotion and shower gel. Also available is Moon Sparkle for Men in an eau de toilette spray as well as a shower gel.

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Hugo XX Eau de Toilette ($52.00)

The contemporary nature of HUGO XX is encapsulated by the re-invention of an edible note, inspired by the aroma of basmati rice. This creates a very feminine scent reminiscent of the HUGO Woman fragrance, but with a more mature character. Embodying the very spirit of modern relationships, HUGO XX and its counterpart HUGO XY are the very essence of the new provocative power match. Notes: Mandarin, Cassis, Lychee, Jasmine, Rose, Basmati Rice, Sandlewood, Ambery notes, Musk. Style: Sophisticated. Intriguing. Desirable.

What makes it worth it: Despite not having any outlandish or innovative shapes to the bottle, its petiteness and stoutness are kind of fun. It’s a sturdy bottle, because of its shape, as well. I wouldn’t hold my breath if I accidentally let this topple on my counter top, unlike some fancier bottles would. The scent is lovely for someone wanting a classic, sophisticated fragrance that does not leave behind any sickly aroma. It’s very empowering, as a scent, because I smell wheeling and dealing, business, one classy lady with got-get-’em eyes and stacked heels. Instead, there is just a touch of fruitiness as an afterthought, but the whole scent itself is rich in woody, musky notes. Oh, and how fun would it be to get your Mr. Right to wear Hugo XY? Matching fragrances–I love it!

Why you might pass on it: It may be too strong for some; it definitely feels like an older woman scent. I’d wear it, despite being 21, because it makes me feel classic, and I don’t mind bending or breaking rules. However, it will definitely alert those around you – it is not anything so subtle that it would go unnoticed.

Find this fragrance at department store retailers, as well as www.nordstrom.com. This is also available in a body lotion and shower gel. Also available is Hugo XY, which is the complementing mens’ fragrance.

Check out Hugo Boss’ ad video for the XX/XY release spurred by the idea of Human Nature and the art of mating.

Friday, November 16th, 2007

MEDITERRANEAN (3.3 fl. oz.) | A radiant woody floral. A modern expression of sparkling radiance. $53.00

As someone just starting to get interested in the world of fragrance (and boy is it a world!), Mediterranean offers me a light scent of floral notes and a bit of sweetness. I found it distinctly feminine–too soft, subtle to be considered something you’d find on a man. It’s a great fragrance for someone who wants an airy, floral scent for easygoing days and casual dates with their beau.

Key Notes:

  • Sparkling Radiance: Peach Nectar Sorbet, Sicilian Mandarin, Damask Plum
  • Unforgettable Bloom:Radiant Wisteria, Star Magnolia, Madagascar Orchid
  • Lasting Impression: Addictive Sandalwood, Fluid Skin Musk, Golden Amber Whisper

View more Mediterranean and other Elizabeth Arden products at www.elizabetharden.com.