Author Archives: Angela

Aedes de Venustas Musc Encense ~ fragrance review

With Aedes de Venustas Musc Encensé, it’s all about texture. A musk-centered fragrance — especially one that puts incense on the billing — could easily be stifling and itchy, a fur stole of a perfume. Musc Encensé, however, is a vapor that hangs as sheer as the waft off of a cup of tea. It’s the sort of fragrance you spray on, forget about, then later catch a whiff of something nice and realize it’s you.

Ralf Schwieger composed Musc Encensé. Its notes include clary sage, cashmeran, tonka, musk, incense and leather. The musk-savvy perfume lover will want to know what kind of musk this fragrance embraces…

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What to Do When Your Favorite Perfume is Discontinued

At last, you find a fragrance that you can’t wait to put on in the morning. It’s fresh but interesting, light but present. It smells like you and how you want to feel every day. One morning, you spritz the last from your bottle and hie to the store to buy a replacement, and….it isn’t there. The fragrance is no longer being made.

What now? Here are the steps I’d follow to get my hands on more of my Holy Grail…

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Neela Vermeire Creations Rahele ~ fragrance review

You know how you only need to see a few square inches to know that a painting is a Van Gogh? Or read a paragraph to know a story is by Hemingway? Perfume brands can have a distinctive style, too. It’s wonderful when an artist has a “voice.” On the other hand, can a style become limiting — or even boring? For perfume, how do you avoid the olfactory equivalent of playing the same tune, but in a different register?

Neela Vermeire Créations’ fragrances have a definite voice: spice, a creamy density, a love of incense, wood and rose…

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Parfum d’Empire Le Cri de la Lumiere ~ fragrance review

Sometimes it’s interesting to put aside the scent of a fragrance for a minute and focus on its texture. Is it murky and thick like a dark paisley wool throw? Or maybe it’s as diffuse as silk chiffon? The feel of a fragrance can be tight and dry or roomy and almost humid. It can be too dark to parse or nearly seem to shimmer.

As its name advertises, Parfum d’Empire Le Cri de la Lumière throws light like a moonstone. At the same time, it’s as cool and as finely grained as luxury face powder. Something so delicate should crush and fade easily, but Le Cri de la Lumière is a solid number, leading me to yet another comparison: a crystal take on Brancusi’s bird resting on an end table by the window…

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Head Case, Vintage Clothing mysteries ~ book announcement

Maybe you’re mentally packing your hamper for your Memorial Day weekend beach trip and want something frothy but smart and maybe a little humorous to read while you dig your toes into the sand. Something with, oh, a retired jewel thief, Hollywood gossip, martinis, vintage gowns and a dead body. Look no further.

Head Case, the fifth book in my vintage clothing mystery series, has launched…

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Hermes Caleche ~ vintage fragrance review

Some fragrances have a knack for separating the dabbler from the enthusiast. Hermès Calèche is one. If you sprayed a scent strip with Calèche and waved it in front of people at the bus stop, you’d probably get a lot of wrinkled noses, along with comments like “old lady” and “perfume-y,” even among people who like perfume and happily stock their bathroom shelves with Jo Malone and the latest Dior flanker. Calèche is hard to love.

Unless you’re dedicated to perfume, that is. Then, Calèche is Grace Kelly with a French count for a father, a mother whose linen never seems to wrinkle, and an aunt who’s a nun with a penchant for romance novels. The fragrance aficionado might never want to wear Calèche, but it’s irresistible to explore…

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Olympic Orchids Tropic of Capricorn ~ fragrance review

Occasionally reviews describe a fragrance as smelling “vintage.” To me, it signals that the fragrance follows the conventions of a classic perfume style, like a floral aldehyde with a musk-sandalwood-vetiver base, or a mossy chypre. Besides that, it often means that a perfume simply isn’t fashionable.

Olympic Orchids Tropic of Capricorn smells vintage, in the animalic, leathery way of Caron Narcisse Noir Extrait. It’s definitely not fashionable, but it has a lot of style. This is a perfume for Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard

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Masque Milano Montecristo ~ fragrance review

“Manly, yes, but I like it, too.” Anyone remember those old Irish Spring commercials? Perfume aficionados know that “male” and “female” designations serve best simply as markers — like “rose” or “fresh,” for example — on what to expect, not whether the perfume only suits a particular gender. On the traditional male-female fragrance spectrum, Masque Milano Montcristo weighs heavily male in the leather, wood and tobacco manner, right next door to Hermès Bel Ami. Despite my earlier reference to Irish Spring, believe me, Montecristo doesn’t smell anything like soap. But I like it, too.

Montecristo launched in 2013 and was developed by perfumer Delphine Thierry. Its notes include cabreura, ambrette seeds, rum, tobacco leaves, celery seeds, cistus, benzoin, golden stone, styrax gum, gaiac wood, cedar wood and patchouli.

Montecristo opens herbal, musky and almost vinegar-like before relaxing into leather spiked with tobacco, salt, cinnamon and cumin…

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Masque Milano Montecristo ~ fragrance review

“Manly, yes, but I like it, too.” Anyone remember those old Irish Spring commercials? Perfume aficionados know that “male” and “female” designations serve best simply as markers — like “rose” or “fresh,” for example — on what to expect, not whether the perfume only suits a particular gender. On the traditional male-female fragrance spectrum, Masque Milano Montcristo weighs heavily male in the leather, wood and tobacco manner, right next door to Hermès Bel Ami. Despite my earlier reference to Irish Spring, believe me, Montecristo doesn’t smell anything like soap. But I like it, too.

Montecristo launched in 2013 and was developed by perfumer Delphine Thierry. Its notes include cabreura, ambrette seeds, rum, tobacco leaves, celery seeds, cistus, benzoin, golden stone, styrax gum, gaiac wood, cedar wood and patchouli.

Montecristo opens herbal, musky and almost vinegar-like before relaxing into leather spiked with tobacco, salt, cinnamon and cumin…

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5 Perfumes: Orange Blossom

I once heard perfumer Thomas Fontaine say he considered orange blossom an American note. (Iris and galbanum were French, he said.) Right away, I thought of bars of soap, brides, and piles of white laundered towels. Is that what Americans are about — cleanliness and innocence? Maybe I should have asked, is that what orange blossom is about?

Orange blossom is a lot more expressive than its association with laundry detergent would have you believe. Here are five relatively easy-to-find1 orange blossom-centered fragrances that explore a variety of non-Girl Scout takes on the note:

Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger: Fleurs d’Oranger kicks off as bright and juicy as a grove of Florida Ambersweets in spring…

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