Author Archives: Kevin

Ortigia Sandalo ~ fragrance review

Two weeks ago there was a Meeting of the Noses in Portland, Oregon. After knowing each other via Now Smell This and emails for almost !12! years, Angela and I finally met face to face. (And I’m happy to report that Angie is as witty, kind and charming in person as she is in her writing. Okay, add a dash of lighthearted roguery, as well!) One other nose was involved in our meeting, too — raconteuse Tracy Tsefalas of the Portland perfume boutique Fumerie. I forgot how much fun it is to discuss the Perfume Industry with fellow travelers.

On the shelves of Fumerie, I was thrilled to discover some hard-to-find Ortigia products. Ortigia was founded by Sue Townsend of Crabtree & Evelyn fame…

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Fragonard Verveine ~ fragrance review

This year, French perfume company Fragonard is celebrating verbena with the release of Verveine.* Much of Fragonard’s PR has to do with Verveine’s perfumer:

Céline Ellena envisioned a magical formula…. Verveine is closely tied to the cycle of nature and the daily life of a perfumer who searches for inspiration in her plant garden. The perfumer drew inspiration from the plant’s natural environment to create three worlds of scents to describe it: sun, earth, and water…

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(Mostly) Scented Father’s Day Gifts ~ 2018 Edition

I have two “kids”; both cats. If they could give Father’s Day presents to me, I know they’d be either food-focused (Teddy Caramelo Calzini: redhead, polydactyl with attitude) or toy-focused (Uncle Vanya Mandelstam: he catches birds through windows — a feat! And he insists on wearing his luxurious coat all year round…see above).

Following are some perfume-adjacent gift suggestions for your father (that I’d like to receive or already own and can recommend); no foods or toys made the list! (Unless you count booze.)

Bastide Aix en Provence Les Chevaliers Body Wash Collection: five 50 ml body washes…

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Liushen Florida Water ~ fragrance review

I’ve been called a perfume snob. Sometimes that epithet is hurled my way as a knee-jerk reaction to a negative review of a mainstream / department store scent…or to a positive review of an expensive perfume that’s hard to find. Can’t win for losing! I am not a perfume snob; I always give inexpensive colognes a try (and occasionally buy). Though I visit supermarkets about as much as Bill Gates and Oprah (that’s what husbands are for, right?), last weekend I went to Seattle’s Eastside to the Asian Food Center to buy (strangely realistic) faux ham and bacon. See, I’m not a food snob either; these (more-expensive-than-the-real-thing!) products from Taiwan allow this Virginia boy to eat “ham” without guilt…or gagging. While in the market, I dropped into the toiletries aisle to see what was new from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, mainland China and Japan. I found something new: Liushen Florida Water from Shanghai.

Liushen Florida Water is NOT related to Murry & Lanman Florida Water

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Frederic Malle Music For A While ~ fragrance review & quick pineapple poll

Allure irrésistible. At a party on Paris’ rive gauche (where the ‘intellectuals’ with black AMEX cards study…party and shop) a woman’s fur coat (SO 80s, SO démodé) is lifted from her bare shoulders, exposing her neck to the candlelight (what about her face?…tiny candle?) Aware of many eyes upon her (“What a NECK!”), she pauses, smiling to herself, before emerging like a conqueror from the shadows. (Doesn’t take much! Sounds like Kim Kardashian, doesn’t it?)

Delete the bold type and this is how Frédéric Malle PR describes Music For A While,* the brand’s latest perfume. I grunt and roll my eyes as I read the fuddy-duddy copy, but as often happens with this brand (its backstories annoy l’enfer out of me), the fragrance makes me smile and present my (non-black) American Express card at Barneys New York…

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Cinq Mondes Eau Egyptienne ~ fragrance review

Now Smell This folks, meet Sekhmet; my favorite goddess and today’s cover girl for Cinq Mondes Eau Egyptienne. If I could find an un-copyrighted image, I’d include another ‘goddess,’ too: Olivia Giacobetti, Eau Egyptienne’s creator, and one of my favorite perfumers.

Cinq Mondes describes Eau Egyptienne (inspired by ancient kyphi recipes) as an “aromatic ritual for body, hair and pillow,” a therapeutic mist to calm the mind and moisturize the body…

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Hermes Eau de Citron Noir ~ fragrance review

Following a path through the olfactory universe of hesperidia led me into a vast world, dotted with surprises, with citrus fruits. Finger lime, Buddha’s hand fruit, Eureka lemon…. So many unusual varieties of citrus appealed to me, but it was the smoky and distinguished black lime that finally stood out as the key note. — Christine Nagel

When Hermès announced Eau de Citron Noir I was thrilled. It was (maybe) full of things I love: citrus galore, black tea, guaiac wood. My nose itched for a sniff but, wisely, I didn’t just up and buy Eau de Citron Noir before smelling it. It has become my most recent and glaring example of the distance between desire and description — and reality.

Black lime (the dried fruit) as a perfume note intrigued me the most. These hard, charcoal-colored limes are used in Middle Eastern cuisine, and have a complex aroma: musty, fermented, charred, sweet and sour (think citrus-and-sugar-spiked rice vinegar); they smell like the inside of a well-used, wooden Indian spice box that’s held a variety of spices for decades…

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Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme ~ fragrance review

Gucci recently launched Guilty Absolute Pour Femme* — a new flanker to 2010’s Gucci Guilty. Guilty Absolute Pour Femme is the female counterpart to 2017’s Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Homme (which I bought and enjoy). What attracted me to Guilty Absolute Pour Femme was its blackberry note (accentuated visually by its purple bottle). I was hoping for a sparkling, natural-smelling blackberry accord mixed with rose and touches of patchouli and Nootka cypress (GoldenWood): a happy summer perfume…

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Diptyque Fleur de Peau ~ fragrance review

In ancient Greece, one myth stood out as the most passionate and sensual: the love between Psyche and Eros, the beauty’s quest to meet with her lover and the happy outcome of their union which led to the birth of their daughter, Hedone. Only one scent can convey this legend as a fragrance, that of musks. Equally legendary, they have the unique ability to enhance the skin with their arousing carnal accents. They are at the very heart of Fleur de Peau, as cottony and light as they are soft and moist. — Diptyque

With the launch of Fleur de Peau1, Diptyque celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first perfume — L’Eau. I’ve gotten so many suggestions on the translation of the phrase à fleur de peau (“on edge”) that I will use my own instinct regarding Eros and Psyche. Fleur de Peau = horny. So there. After wearing Fleur de Peau, I believe the agitated lovers are, in spirit, millennials.

In a recent New York Times article, The New Softies, Rachel Syme noted the types of minimalist perfumes (the ‘softies’) that appeal to millennials…

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Comme des Garcons Eau de Cologne & Oriza L. Legrand Cologne Extra-Vielle ~ fragrance reviews


Soon, Seattle will have its one week of spring followed by a long, hot, dry summer (such is the new ‘normal’ in the climate-changing world). As I gear up for warm weather, I start to test citrus-y Eaux de Cologne, looking for refreshing, sparkling, natural-smelling perfumes to wear when the going gets sultry. These fragrances need not last longer than 10 minutes: I use them most right out of the shower (before putting on a stronger perfume) or at bedtime (when long-lasting fragrances are verboten).

Comme des Garçons has reissued its 1994 Eau de Cologne as part of the Olfactory Library series…

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