Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Crazylibellule and the Poppies - Shanghaijava Collection

Sometimes a perfume line comes along that makes you smile just to say the name! Such is the case with the new French line: Crazylibellule and the Poppies. This company makes a charming line of solid perfumes which come in a lipstick-like applicator. Made of a waxy compound, the perfumes are applied "anywhere you'd like to be kissed" and offer very long-lasting staying power. Even the retro packaging is bright and grin-inducing!

The first collection to be offered in the U.S. is the Shanghaijava Collection. These seven sensual, exotic blends evoke the mystery of oriental nights. The set includes Lilas Spiritual, Litchi Blossom, Encens Mystic, Ginger and Coconut, Musc & Patchouli, Ananas Imperial, and Blue Orchidee. Of the seven, my favorite is Lilas Spiritual. With its creamy, lilac scent, it is like a cheerful breath of springtime. An added plus is that these products meet the strict new air travel regulations and can be carried onto the airplane in your handbag!

Aromascope says, "The line was launched in French Sephora in 2005 and became an instant success and has finally made its debut in the U.S. The brand name has a quirky vibe to it, “libellule” meaning “dragonfly” in French because “like fragrance, dragonflies delicately hover in the air and then lightly touch down”, and “crazy” references the female proclivity for fantasy and “the Poppies” stand for freedom in nature..." (here is the rest of Ina's review...)

Robin at Now Smell This reviews Encens Mystic. "Encens Mystic is mildly sweet at most, and could easily be worn by either sex. All of the Crazylibellule & The Poppies solids leave a bit of a waxy residue on skin. It didn't bother me in the least, but if you think it will bother you, consider yourself warned." (Here is the rest of Robin's review...)

The perfume sticks come in 5 gram containers at the reasonable price of $16 each and can be purchased at b-glowing and blush beauty bar in Portland, Oregon.
image source: b-glowing

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Niche perfumery

There is quiet revolution brewing in the world of perfumery. In small and not-so-small perfume studios across the U.S. and in Europe, there has been an incredible flowering of niche perfumery. I define niche perfumes as those which are created by individual perfumers with the finest ingredients on a small scale with an incredible attention to detail and product. There is a wide variation of philosophies within niche perfumery: some perfumers use only natural ingredients; others use a combination of natural essential oils and laboratory-made ingredients. Some use alcohol as a base, while others use oil or wax. Some niche perfumers create a large line of scents, while other make 3 or 4. Some of these perfumer sell only from their own studio, while others have their products in select boutiques around the world. But the common ingredient to all niche perfumers is a heart-felt passion for their profession and their product.

Future postings to this blog will highlight niche perfumers here and abroad. We will look at what other bloggers have said, and include original articles and interviews with niche perfumers. We will also look at those retailers, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores, who make these wonderful products available for our use.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rubbing Wrists Together Does NOT Change Perfume Scent

How many times have we been told NOT to rub our wrists together after applying perfume because doing so will break the molecules of the perfume and destroy the scent?!?

Allure's beauty editor, Linda Wells, finally lays this myth to rest in the new book, ALLURE: Confessions of a Beauty Editor.

She writes, "Finally an astute reader with a doctorate in chemistry wrote in and pointed out that if it were that easy to crush single molecules, her job would be a lot easier. Good point, Maggie Topp from the Netherlands. From now on, we'll rub to our heart's content."

image source: Amazon.com

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Let them eat cake, and smell good while doing so!

"A fragrance worn by Marie-Antoinette, a woman sometimes described as the world's first fashion victim, has been re-created by a French perfume-maker for an exhibition at the Palace of Versailles." Click here to read entire Times Online article...

This perfume consists of lavender, rose petal, jasmine, iris, galbanum, essence of citron tree, musk, tonka bean, ambergris, vanilla, benjamin, cedar and sandalwood. The recipe for the perfume was discovered by Elisabeth de Feydeau, a French historian. It is a floral bouquet made from completely natural products. It sells for the queenly price of $440, with the profits going toward restoration of Marie-Antoinette's furniture and objects.
Painting by Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun
image source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Belle Fleur Candles

We have been talking a lot lately about environmental scenting. Good - bad - indifferent. But I am a big fan of scenting my home and am always trying new products. I am on the hunt for that perfect fresh, clean floral scent with no chemically undertone.
The elegant Fifth Avenue Florist Belle Fleure may have the answer. It now offers sumptuous candles for the home. They combine rare botanicals with delicate florals to produce long-lasting (approx. 45 hours) fragrances. The Exotic Garden collection features 4 scents: Mayan tuberose, orange blossom pomegranate, jasmine verbena, and white orchid tea. Priced at $48, think about it as $1/hour of delicious fragrance!

image: Belle Fleure

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Ethics of Scent Branding

Yesterday's British Times Online features an interesting article about "scent branding," which is widespread in America and is now arriving in Britain.

Also known as "Muzak for the nose", scent branding refers to the pumping of particular scents into hotel and retail spaces with the aim of influencing shoppers' purchasing decisions.

Writer Iain Hollingshead states, "The smells are not designed as air fresheners. Instead, firms are trying to affect consumer behavior through the subliminal use of smell. The idea is to encourage them to spend more time and money in a store or help them associate a smell with a brand."

Are we entering a slippery slope here? What are the ethical implications of subliminally manipulating our purchasing decisions in this way?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Color Fun!

Today we are giving our noses a rest and looking at a fun website called Colorstrology. This site shows you your own special color based on your birthday. My special color for September 17 is... Tabasco! The accompanying description makes me sound more like a worker bee than a perfume bee, but there you have it! What is your special color? Do you resonate with it?

This website came to us from a link on Ava Luxe's site. Ava Luxe is an indie perfumer based in San Diego. Definitely one to watch! (Thanks to Marlen at The Perfume Critic for this tip).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Vanilla-Lover's Delight

If a little vanilla is good, then a lot of vanilla must be better! Such is the case with indie-perfumer Susanne Lang's set of 9 vanilla-based roll-on eaux de parfums. These scents can be mixed and matched to create your own personal blend. The set includes 4-ml bottles of Vanilla coconut, Midnight orchid, Warm vanilla, Vanilla wood, Vanilla champagne, White chocolate, Vanilla sugar, Sugarcane, and Vanilla musk.

The Vanilla Collection is available at Luckyscents and select Saks stores.

image source: Osmoz

The Madeleine Effect

Have you ever caught a whiff of something and suddenly been thrust back to another time and place? I know that whenever I smell a particular ginger/molasses aroma, I am instantly back in the warm cozy kitchen of my grandmother Margaret. Scientists have a name for this: The Madeleine Effect. This is based on a passage written by Marcel Proust in Remembrance of Things Past. He describes how the fragrance of a madeleine cake dipped into linden tea suddently sent him back to his childhood. When a strong memory is evoked by catching a sudden sniff of a scent, "the madeleine effect" is present.

This reference is found in an article in the current issue of Scientific American Mind. Author Eleonore Von Bothmer points out that the sense of smell is one of the oldest senses, from an evolutionary point of view, and is strongly associated with emotions and memory. Interestingly, loss of smell may be indicative of some neurodegenerative diseases. For example, at the onset of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, people frequently lose their ability to smell.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Seeing Scents: Braille Packaging at L'Occitane

Have you ever noticed the small, discreet dots found on the labels of L'Occitane products? L'Occitane uses braille as a way to help the blind and vision-impaired to make informed choices.

L'Occitane also has a summer perfume school created to help blind and poor-sighted teenagers learn about the the world of perfume. The school aims to aid in the development of these young people's oflactory senses, and perhaps open doors to a future career.

While this blog accepts no paid advertising, I believe exemplary companies deserve kudos. Well done, L'Occitane!

image source: L'occitane

Monday, October 16, 2006

Patchouli Oil: Mothball of the Middle Ages!

What is it about patchouli oil? For most people, it evokes a strong love or hate reaction. Many associate it with the free spirited energy of the sixties. Others find is reminiscent of earthy bodies in need of a bath. In a recent radio interview on Studio 360, Kurt Andersen discussed this and other "scented" topics with the New York Times perfume critic Chandler Burr.

Burr explains that in the Middle Ages patchouli was the smell of the spices and vegetable matter that the Middle-eastern traders would pack around silks that they would then ship to Europe.

He states, "The Europeans associated these luxury goods with this smell and therefore they came to think of patchouli as something that was luxurious. To the Arabs, the stuff smelled like mothballs, because, of course, that's what it was, it was a kind of mothball!"

I personally find patchouli off-putting in large doses, but appreciate its role as a base-note in many wonderful fragrances such as Gucci Rush, Le Labo Patchouli 24, and Jil Sander No. 4.

For more of Chandler Burr's insights, I encourage you to check out Robin's interview with him at Now Smell This.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Le Labo Jasmin 17

I made a beeline for the ultra-hip Le Labo perfume boutique in Nolita when I was in NYC last month. While there, I had a wonderful conversation with Eddie Roschi, one of the co-founders. He took the time to explain many ingredients of perfumery to me and my two friends, Chris and Jan. One of the most interesting discussions was about ambergris, a product highly valued as a perfume fixative. It is a product of whale digestion (yes, you read that correctly), which comes about when the sperm whale regurgitates a mass of partially-digested squid. It is, says Eddie, "like coughing up a hairball," which then floats on the surface of the ocean or washes up on the beach. Depending on the quality and current market, ambergris sells for as much as $60-$240 per pound.

Eddie then pulled a jar from his amazing apothecary, and inside was a dark, grayish lump of waxy-looking ambergris. We three all took a sniff of this animalic product and unanimously agreed that it would be fascinating to know how the first person ever decided to use this in perfumery! It was not an offensive scent; rather, we just pondered the thought process that may have led to using whale vomit residue in this way!

We thoroughly enjoyed testing all ten of Le Labo's scents. I came away with a bottle of Jasmin 17, a very feminine floral composed of jasmine, litsea cubeba (exotic verbena), neroli, orange flower, palma rosa, bigerade (bitter orange), amber, musk sandalwood and vanilla.

For a wonderful interview with Eddie, check out Marlen's conversation at The Perfume Critic.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Scent of Colors

For a refreshing visual break, I suggest visiting the Scent of Colors site. It is a japanese floral blog, organized by colors. The link between flowers and scent is obvious, but until digiscent (the topic of a future blog) is readily available, we must satisfy ourselves with inspiring pictures on our computers. (Of course, we could and should be surrounding ourselves with mountainous bouquets of real flowers, but sometimes a quick glance at the computer screen is all we have time for)!

This site was mentioned on Emily Davidow's website Emily's playground, which I highly recommend visiting when you want to feel uber-hip and in-the-know. Be sure to scroll her great pop-culture links.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Badgley Mischka perfume

With their eponynous debut fragrance, Mark Badgley and James Mischka have created a lovely, hollywood-glamour era perfume. It is a spicy-floral fragrance with notes of jasmine, cassis, osmanthus flower, white peony, caramel amber, Indian sandalwood, patchouli, and musk.

The perfume opens with a strong fruity/foral beginning and then softens to a soft, woodsy finish. In the first few minutes, I was reminded of Fath de Fath. But half an hour later, Badgley Mischka had its own distinctly elegant message. It felt warm and inviting, like a finely spun cashmere sweater. My only complaint is that its lasting power (on me) is about a 4, on a scale of 1 (evaporates instantly) to 10 (lasts overnight).

For more about what Mark and James have been up to, check out this recent interview: Showbuzz

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Autism Fundraising Project at "The Perfume Critic"

October is National Austism Month. Our friend, Marlen, The Perfume Critic, has set up an Autism fundraising project. For every $1 US you send to PerfumeCritic.com, you will be entered into a drawing for a bottle of Estee Lauder's Youth Dew Amber Nude eau de parfum. The proceeds will be donated to the Autism Society of America.

To make a donation, please visit The Perfume Critic.

Marlen was inspired by Ayala Moriel, Canada's premier natural perfumer. Ayala has created an Autism Fundraiser which supports Autism Communication Training of British Columbia.

Autism is near and dear to my heart, as I have a sweet nephew who is autistic. It is wonderful to know that perfume-lovers can help support this important cause.

Retailers Search for Signature Scents

We all know how difficult it is to discover our own signature scent. To find the one perfume that captures our very essence is the holy grail that keeps us searching. Now major companies are joining the club as they seek to develop their own signature scents. In hopes of luring customers into their stores, as well as linking their image with a particular scent, retailers, hotel chains and casinos have begun using aroma as part of their imaging package.

The current Time magazine discusses this in it article, "Scents and Sensibility," by Jeremy Caplan. For the complete article, please go here.

Caplan also provides a short quiz to test your smell IQ: Does the Nose Know?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Why the Perfume Bee?!?

Without flowers, there would be no perfume. Without bees, there would be no flowers. The bee buzzes around making connections and helping beauty to be expressed in the world. In this blog, I want to share ideas about the joy of scent and perfume. There will be article reviews, interviews, fragrance reviews, and, of course, personal opinions. Let's catch the buzz together!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Scent and Mood: Science offers proof that certain smells make us happy!

As if we didn't know...! Telling a perfume-lover that scent affects our mood is like telling a meteorologist that air pressure affects the weather! However, it is always gratifying when science supports our addiction, and this recent study by Quest International can only be seen as a check in the "plus" column for those who adore perfume. The study made an interesting distinction between scent associations and nationality. For instance, Americans associate the smell of red berries and tropical and orchard fruit with a sense of well-being and happiness. Meanwhile, the French associate the sweet, powdery, floral and musky woody smells with a happy feeling. For more, please go to: Scent and Mood.

This brings to mind the idea of "perfume therapy," a term I just coined to indicate the strategic use of scent for mood enhancement. I know that for myself, when I am feeling a bit low, there is nothing like a spritz of Jo Malone Orange Blossom Cologne to immediately lift my spirits.

Do others have particular scents that are guaranteed mood-elevators for them?