Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a new year filled with peace, delight, and indescribably beautiful fragrances. It has been a joy writing about perfume and getting to know you through your wonderful comments and emails. I am finding people in the world of perfume bloggery, both writers and readers, to be some of the most creative, generous, and humorous people around! Thank you for your kind, enthusiastic support of The Perfume Bee. May 2007 be scented with all good things for you and your families!

I have just returned from a delightful, whirlwind, perfume-filled family vacation to Prague, Salzburg, and Paris. I made a pact with myself to purchase only those perfumes that I could not easily get in the States, if at all. I think you will be pleased with my choices, which I look forward to reviewing for you. However, there will be a short delay in writing my reviews, as my carefully packed bags have yet to arrive at my home -- my luggage is currently stranded somewhere between here and London's Heathrow Airport! Air Transportation rules being what they are, I have a total of one (yes, one!) tiny perfume sample to show for my efforts. And it is lovely, if not new: L'Artisan Parfumeur "La Chasse Aux Papillons Extreme" (translation: Chase of the Butterflies). This eau de parfum version is a sparkling blend of sun-kissed white flowers: linden blossom, lemon tree blossom, orange blossom, jasmine and tuberose, as well as spicy pink pepper and a touch of saffron. I find it warm and wearable, even in winter. This fragrance is available in the U.S. at Aedes, $90 for 1.7 oz.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow, in the saga of, "Will her luggage arrive today?"

top photo (personal collection): Caron Parfum Interior, Paris

botton photo (personal collection): Flagship Store, L'Artisan Parfumeur, Paris

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Traveling Bee...

I'm off to Europe for the next two weeks, seeking out intriguing perfumes wherever I go! I look forward to sharing my new discoveries with you when I return December 31st. I will try to post while I'm abroad as my internet access allows. Meanwhile, I wish you the happiest of holidays and a beautifully-scented new year!
image source:

Also, don't forget to vote for your favorite perfume blog at the 7th Annual Basenote's Awards for best fragrance blog (as well as best niche fragrance, best new fragrance, best fragrance packaging, etc.) It is quick and simple to vote here. Your name will be entered in a drawing to win a $200 giftcard from the sponsor, Aedes de Venustas! Closing date for entries is December 31, 2006.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Better-Know-A-Niche Perfumery: Frank Los Angeles

While I have focused most of my writing on so-called "feminine" fragrances, my good friend J. suggested I branch out a bit and review men's fragrances as well. It would, she said, be helpful to men as well as to people buying fragrances for men. And, I might add, helpful to those of us who dislike the whole "feminine"-"masculine" perfume distinction in the first place.

So, today's niche fragrances are from a California line called Frank Los Angeles. There are two fragances in this line, convenienty named Frank and Frank 2.

Frank is the lighter of the two. Its notes are grapefruit, lemon, tagette, green tea, ginger root, cassis, bergamot, angelic seed, clove, cardamom, peppermint, ylang ylang, galbanum, and sandalwood. Did I like it? To be perfectly, well, frank, I did not care for this fragrance. At first. It started off smelling of rubbery Chinese food. It did not agree with me at all. However, MANY hours later, it dried down to a much more palatable citrus/spicy slightly woodsy scent. The ginger root/peppermint/sandalwood combo is what came through strongest at the end in a rather surprising finish. And for an eau de toilette, it has above-average staying power.

I found Frank 2 much more to my liking. With notes of bergamot, balsam fir, crushed plum leaves, white lavender, coriander, red maplewood, teakwood, cognac, coffee bean essence and white musk, this is a very magnetic and sensual fragrance. It is warm and slightly sweet, and is especially good to wear in cooler weather. I would definitely consider buying this for the Perfume Drone, if only he wore scented products!

Frank and Frank 2 cost $65 each for 65 ml. They are available at lucky scent and blush beauty bar.

image source: lucky scent

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Winter Camellias

As I was glancing out my kitchen window this morning, my gaze came to rest on a beautiful winter camellia plant in full bloom. It called to mind one of my favorite fragrances, Eau de Camelia Chinois by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier.

I immediately gave myself a healthy spritz of the eau de toilette, and instantly felt lighter and brighter. Right off the top, it smells fresh and clean with a subtle zing of grapefruit. As it dries down, it becomes softer and sweeter, but not at all powdery. Its finish is reminiscent of a gossamer blanket of sheer, light musk and sandalwood layered within a pleasant green accord.

This is ostensibly a "summer" scent. And yet, if nature has camellias blooming in the middle of winter, surely it must be appropriate to wear a camellia-based scent in winter, too. So I am. And it's lovely!

Eau de Camelia Chinois has top notes of exotic fruits, grapefruit, banana and bergamot; middle notes of camellia tea leaves, basil and fir; and base notes of musk and sandalwood. It is part of the "L'Invitation au Voyage" collection and costs $105 for 100 ml EDT. It is available at, champs elysees cosmetics and luscious cargo.

Monday, December 11, 2006

"Comfort Scents"

In my role as a nutrition counselor, I quickly became familiar with the concept of "comfort foods." My clients would confide that often they were eating, not because they were hungry, but because a particular food brought them a sense of psychological comfort and well-being.

I find this true of certain fragrances as well. To me, Christian Dior Addict is the emotional/olfactory equivalent of milk and freshly baked cookies. (This might be in part due to its delicious bourbon vanilla base). Sometimes I spritz my Addict in the air around me and just wait, eyes closed, as it floats in a gentle mist around me, landing on my skin like a gentle ethereal hug! Just breathing in the lovely scent makes me feel grounded, comforted and at peace.

How about you? Do you have a "comfort scent" that brings you a feeling of peace and equanimity?

Addict is available at Nordstrom and Sephora.

image source: Nordstrom

Sunday, December 10, 2006

"The FEAR of Smell -- The smell of FEAR" Exhibit

Today's topic is a slight departure from our recent perfume reviews. But in the name of science, I share with you information that you may choose to use, skip, or ignore. If you have a delicate constitution, you may wish to stop reading here. Know that our next post will be of a more, shall we say, palatable, nature.

I have always been interested in the intersection between the the art of making perfumes and the emotional impact of scents on our psyche. But what about actually making art from body odors? Is it possible to capture the essence of a body scent and put it on public display in an artistic setting?

This is exactly what Norwegian artist and researcher Sissel Tolaas has done in her exhibit currently on display at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Titled, "The FEAR of smell -- the smell of FEAR," this exhibit is part of a show called, "Sensorium: Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art."

In a high-tech version of scratch-n-sniff, visitors can smell the odors of nine male scent donors. These men, who suffered from extreme phobias, were asked to touch a cotton-swab to their armpits at the time they were most afraid. These scents were then chemically reconstituted, mixed with wall paint, and applied to the panels in the exhibit. Visitors can touch the paint and smell the fear. For more, please read the Albany Times Union article.

In a related article, "Senses: A Whiff of Fear Can Sharpen a Woman's Thinking," Nicholas Bakalar (New York Times April 11, 2006) explains that a whiff of fear can actually make women better at recognizing useful information. In a slightly different version of smelling the scents of armpits, women in this study were asked to smell the sweat pads of sweat collected from volunteers during a frightening video, pads collected during a neutral video, and pads with no sweat at all. The women performed word association tasks, and those women smelling the fear pads were more accurate than those in the other two groups. Denise Chen, the study's lead author, surmised that it was the smell of fear that improved performance. Click here for the article.

What does this mean to those of us who love perfume on ourselves and others? Are we effectively disguising our true emotional states? Is this a good thing? As always, I am very interested to know your thoughts on this topic...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Better-Know-A-Niche Perfumery: Lily Lambert Perfume

Portland perfumer Lily Lambert has just released her new line of eight perfume oils called SPECTRUM. Each fragrance is named for a letter in the name: S,P,E,C,T,R,U, and M.

These perfume oils are, in a word, fabulous! They each have their own personality and I have really enjoyed "getting to know them." I am naturally inclined, when faced with an array of roller-ball perfume oils, to get creative and mix and match and blend to my heart's content. However, in this case, each blend really stands beautifully on its own. So whether or not you can resist the temptation of mixing them into your own unique blend or prefer to wear them in their pure form, here are my thoughts on the individual fragrances:

  • S: Opium, amber, black berries and a hint of patchouli...

  • This is a deep, rich floral that lasts and lasts. It is spicy and warm. It is also slightly powdery, in a good way. One of my two favorites of this line...

  • P: Waterlily, chocolate, mango and a touch of nutmeg...

  • This really does smell like chocolate! Like a dark, rich 72% cacao blend. Nice, but too gourmand for me...

  • E: Coco, opium, musk and rain...

  • This is the heaviest and perhaps most complex scent in the line. It is very elegant and dries down to a gorgeous, evening scent. The rain element keeps it just light enough.

  • C: Cucumber, lemon lace and berries...

  • This is the clearest in color of the set (it is essentially colorless), which is representative of its sheer quality. It's light and airy and fruity -- the cucumber top notes are a pleasant surprise!

  • T: Coconut, sandalwood and powder...

  • This fragrance is very soft, sweet and pleasant. The dry-down has a nice little kick to it.

  • R: Cherries and a veil of light musk...

  • The top-note of this delicate, pale-green fragrance truly evokes a bowl of freshly picked, still-warm-from-the-sun cherries! This fragrance seems the most youthful to me -- it would be a great pick for teens and the young-at-heart.

  • U: Pink rose, caramel, and Egyptian sandalwood...

  • This light floral is very wearable and quite lovely. It is very clean.

  • M: White flowers, warm spices, musk...

  • This is my other favorite fragrance in the line. It is a beautiful blend of just the right mix of sweetness and soft musk. This is the yin to S's yang.

Lily Lambert perfume oils can be purchased for $40 each at blush beauty bar in Portland, Oregon. Since the line is so new (and perhaps not yet listed on their website), it might be easiest to order the old-fashioned way, via telephone: USA 503-227-3390. Be sure to mention The Perfume Bee when you do!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Better-Know-A-Niche Perfumery: The Bermuda Perfumery

During the increasingly cold days of this season, when the days are short, the nights are long, and the sun seems far away, it is with great pleasure that I learned about the The Bermuda Perfumery, the house of the Lili Bermuda perfumes. This bright little niche perfumery was founded in 1928 by William Blackburn Smith and his daughter Madeline Scott. It was acquired by the Brackstone family in 2004. The sweet-smelling, distinctly Bermudian perfumes were originally made from the local flowers of the island and now contain essential oils from around the world. Visitors to the perfumery are encouraged to stroll through the beautiful garden behind the building and to visit the old cottage, where the perfumes are actually made. All their perfumes are still bottled and packaged individually by hand on-site at the Perfumery.

The line consists of 7 fragrances for women and 2 fragrances for men.

  • Lily: wild muguet, tamarine and pear flower

  • Jasmine: romantic jasmine, freesia and magnolia

  • Oleander: delicate Bermuda oleander, muguet and white orris

  • Passion Flower: heady gardenia, passion flower and mimosa

  • Frangipanni: captivating orange blossom, ylang ylang, patchouli and jasmine

  • Paradise: subtle and warm bergamot, warm spices, vanilla and patchouli

  • Coral: Fusion of clementine, freesia, nectar of rose and ginger

  • Cedar: warm cedar, bergamot, rosemary and juniper

  • Navy: fresh bergamot, mandarine and green lime

I tested two scents. Coral is their newest fragrance, introduced last spring. It smells very fresh and clean, with the freesia adding just the right note of sweetness to balance the spice of the ginger. For a relatively light scent, it has very good staying-power.

The second fragrance I tested is Lily. Catching a whiff of this very feminine, elegant-without-being-stuffy scent is like thrusting your nose into a freshly-picked bouquet of lilies-of-the-valley. It is quite lovely, and would be appropriate for a formal evening affair, or when you just want to be reminded of springtime in the middle of winter. While I like them both, Lily is my favorite of the two.

A wonderful way to try this line is by ordering The Perfume Library. This sample box contains vials of all seven women's' perfumes and two men's eaux de toilette for $22.

Each fragrance is offered in the form of a perfume, eau de toilette, body lotion and shower gel. For more information, please go to their website.

perfume images source: bermuda perfumery
lilies-of-the-valley image source: wikipedia

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

... More on Signature Scents

In our continuing conversation about signature scents, I 'd like to share a link to Victoria's blog, Bois de Jasmin, in which she features a fascinating article on this very topic by Canadian fragrance expert Marian Bendeth.
image source: wikipedia

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hunting for Your Signature Scent...

That elusive signature scent... The perfect scent to call one's own. Will the hunt ever end? Or is it the hunt that makes it all worthwhile?

Yesterday's New York Times T Magazine has an article by Daphne Merkin discussing her lifelong quest for her signature scent. (If you want to know if she is successful in her quest, please read the article here. Hint: she is...) She describes the search for your own perfume, the one imbued with your signature every bit as much as your handwriting.

I like her comparison of a signature scent to one's actual written signature. It is something that is uniquely associated with oneself in an extremely personal, inimitable manner. It is like a scented calling card which you leave behind, letting others know that, yes, you were there.

As I look through my own fragrance wardrobe, I do not see a signature scent. What I do see is my own fragrant journey... I will write about the particulars of this scented story in a future post. For now, I am in interested in your signature scent. Have you found it? If so, how long did it take you to find it? How did you know when you had found it? Or are you, like me, still searching?
image source: Wikepedia public domain

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Japanese Smell Recorder Recreates and Reproduces Scents Digitally

How many times have you said to yourself, "Gosh, the description of that perfume sounds marvelous. If only I could press a button on my computer and have a whiff of it to see if I like it?"

Well, Japanese scientists are getting close to making that a reality. As can be seen from the above illustration, it is now possible to digitally record a scent. This scent can then be reproduced by mixing 96 chemicals in a scent blender, vaporized, and, puff, the scent is recreated at a computer for one's smelling pleasure!

The possibilities for the use of the scent recorder in perfumery seem limitless. However, the technology is still in the experimental stages and the equipment is a little cumbersome (see image below).

images source Tokyo Institute of Technology

But I am confident that soon we will able to, with a push of a button, smell any number of fragrances right at our own computer. Imagine the monetary savings in being able to easily test a fragrance before purchasing -- no more blind purchasing mistakes! Let me know: do you think this technology will be a good thing?

For more information about this technology, please visit The Tokyo Institute of Technology Nakamoto Laboratory website.