Monday, December 20, 2004


Archipelago MonogramsArchipelago is really making some good candles. Over the weekend I stumbled across two of their lines that I hadn't closely looked at before. The first was Archipelago Monograms soy candles. They come in pastel boxes, one for each letter of the alphabet, and the fragrances to some degree correspond with the letter. My favorite fragrances were:

  • E--eucalyptus and sweet basil (sweet, fresh, but not mentholic, like eucalyptus can often be)
  • B--bouganivillea and tuberose (full, soft floral)
  • O--olive blossom and white fig (tangy, unusual)

    Those were my favorites, but all of the candles smell spectacular. Most of them were soft and floral. Most of them also smelled almost like fine perfumes. The only drawback, at least at the store I saw them, was price: they didn't carry any under $40! So basically they're an extravagance at this point. I don't think I'd buy one for myself, but maybe I'd buy one as a gift for someone, if I knew they LOVED scented candles and I wanted to buy them a really nice one.

    The other line I noticed by them was Archipelago Wood. There are 5 scents in this line: Ebony Wood/Vanilla, Linden Wood/Fig, Orange Wood/Spice, Fruit Wood/Cassis and Walnut Wood/Espresso. The scents smell much like the descriptions: the Orange Wood/Spice smells like spiced orange with a wood note; the Fruit Wood/Cassis like a fruity cassis with a wood tone. Ebony Wood/Vanilla smells very cedar-y. My favorites were Walnut Wood/Espresso (dark coffee-like smell with a wood backdrop) and Orange Wood/Spice. The design os the candles is simple and elegant. And the best part is that they come in a variety of sizes, so you don't necessarily have to spend $40. All the scents are sophisticated and widely appealing.

    I noticed one other line by Archipelago that I found amusing, because it looks like a virtual copy of the Henri Bendel line. It's a line of candles with names like Amber, Expresso [sic], Juniper [smells quite lavendery], Clove and Vanilla; and the design of the candles practically replicates the Henri Bendel line at Bath & Body Works. I found it funny. The scents are OK; not as good as the Monograms line. I don't get the need to put out the line, frankly. Perhaps the Henri Bendel line is doing SO well that it's spawning quite literal imitators.

    And that's the scent beep for now.
  • Thursday, December 16, 2004

    It's Beginning to Smell A Lot Like Christmas

    Here's my brief survey of fragrances for the holidays (which really means Christmas, since I simply don't know enough about Chanukah, Kwanzaa or any of the others to even look for fragances for those festivities). Basically I just looked around at the candles or sprays that I came across and noted what they smelled like and if I liked them. Generally Christmas scents tended to fall into 2 categories: the Christmas tree type and the orange spice/cinnamon type. Occasionally there were gingerbread or peppermint accords offered, but the preponderance of holiday scents are pine or orange spice. Let's get started.

    But first, I should mention my favorite holiday scent, one that I buy every year: Noël, by Crabtree and Evelyn. It's a blend of frankincese and Siberian fir, orange and spiced cranberry notes. It's simply wonderful. And strong too. I always get the potpourri refresher oil--you only need to put a few drops here and there (on a cloth, light bulb ring, sofa, anything) to completely fragrance the room. And it's long-lasting as well. Truly an excellently made fragrance. And now on to the survey.

    Yankee Candle
    As expected, they have a wide variety of holiday scents from which to choose. Here they are:
    • Christmas Wreath - In terms of sheer odor, this is far and away the best holiday scent I've encountered. It's an exquisitely natural fresh-cut pine scent (I'll use the word pine to refer to any coniferous, Christmas-tree type scent) and is head and shoulders above most of the competition. I actually bought the candle for this (the large size!) and several tarts. I've had good results before with the tarts; last year I used them and they filled the room well. The only problem was that the smell seemed to fade quickly. But that was the first time I'd used them, so I could've been using them improperly. With the candle, I've had less success. I bought the candle when I went home last year, and it performed disappointingly, not filling the room with fragrance. (I was quite surprised, as I had the Sage & Citrus candle, and it performed exceptionally well; I assumed the Christmas Wreath would too.) Rooms are different in the way they perfuse with scent, however; things like air circulation and humidity can affect it. I bought the candle this year for my party, and, regretfully, I had the same relatively poor performance in terms of fragrance output. Alas. So I'm left to conclude that while Christmas Wreath is a lovely fragrance, it's not as effusive as I'd like.
    • Balsam Fir, Balsam & Cedar - Balsam Fir is quite pleasant. It's deep and woody, darker and sharper than Christmas Wreath. It smells quite a bit like fresh cut pine branches. I burned the tarts, and unfortunately they didn't prove too effusive, but that may be the room. It's a nice odor, though, and if you like something woodier and stronger than Christmas Wreath then this is the way to go. Balsam & Cedar is a pine note similar to the Balsam Fir but with the addition of cedar; I don't find the cedar pleasant. I think that Balsam Fir is the better of the two.
    • Holiday Bayberry - This is a typical bayberry scent - sharp and minty fresh. (Does bayberry smell of mint or spice? I've never been able to piece it apart in my head) It's also effusive and seems to be quite popular as a holiday scent. It also mixes well with the pine scents.
    • Mistletoe - This one has been around for some time, and Yankee Candle has apparently made it, along with Home for the Holidays, their signature holiday scent. I like it, but I don't see how it should be at the forefront of the holiday season. As a matter of fact, I commented on the Yankee Candle site to ask them why they chose it as their holiday forerunner; I was actually wondering whether there was something I'd missed in the actual aroma, whether Mistletoe indeed is so superior a fragrance, or whether it's something more about sensitivity (I assume one wouldn't want to really push a product with the word Christmas in the title, risking losing the patronage of someone who doesn't celebrate the holiday. That said, I can't imagine that Yankee Candle has a large following in the Jewish, Wiccan, or whatever else community). Of course I got an email saying that decisions about product naming and promoting are done in the corporate office (well, duh) and that they'll get back with me. No response. Oh well. I guess if I want responses I can buy from Bath & Body Works. But that's another story.
      Mistletoe basically smells to me like evergreen notes, perhaps around a core of a berry-type scent. It also smells slightly moldy, for lack of a better term, but the effect is interesting. I like to burn the Mistletoe tarts with the Christmas Wreath ones. I should also point out that the Misltetoe candles and tarts smell dramatically different from the oil. The oil starts out with the same green notes, but they vanish very quickly, leaving a peculiar fruity, berry-like scent, one that you don't smell with the same prominence in the candles. Overall, the scent isn't one for everyone, and if you're looking for a straight coniferous smell, you'd be better off going with Christmas Wreath or Balsam Fir.
    • Home for the Holidays - This is largely a cinnamon scent, but there are balsam notes. If you like the smell of cinammon candles, then this is pleasant enough. I think that there are better options, though. Mainly a cinnamon orange one. In fact, for an orange spice note, Clove Bud & Citrus by Yankee Candle is an excellent choice.
    • White Christmas, Snow Angels - Both of these struck me as very abstract. White Christmas smlled kind of like toilet paper, and I couldn't really detect any of the 'evergreen' notes that I'd read were in it. Snow Angels was so abstract it just smelled like nothing to me.
    • Christmas Berries, Christmas Eve, Hollyberry - The first is basically a berry scent-- no surprise there. The second struck me as very berryish as well. The Hollyberry struck me as slightly berryish, with perhaps a bayberry note or a woody nuance, very like what one expects from a fragrance called Hollyberry.
    • Peppermint Cocoa, Cranberry Peppermint, Jack Frost - I'm not a big fan of peppermint scents, but all of these are superb. Peppermint Cocoa is a lovely mint chocolate type smell, very much like a cup of hot chocolate with a candy cane in it. Cranberry Peppermint didn't sound very appetizing to me when I first read the name, but when I smelled it I was surprised and quite pleased. Tangy cranberry with cool peppermint--it really works well. Jack Frost seems to be a blend of peppermint and vanilla; it actually smells like a flavor of Velamints (back in the day, when they had flavors other than chocolate). It's the most pleasant peppermint-dominant scent I can think of; and the design on the candle is fun too.
    • Hot Buttered Rum, Christmas Cookie - The first is a sweet, heavy butterscotch scent (I found it similar to peru balsam), very pleasant. The second is your standard confectionary vanilla type scent. I've always thought it was superior to the original Vanilla Cookie, although I'm not really sure if there's any difference.
    The holiday scent that I didn't get to smell, in spite of the fact that I've been to 2 separate Yankee Candle stores, was Holiday Twinkle. I really wanted to smell this one, because it's a pine accord with citrus and spice. But alas, I've not been able to find it anywhere. Also, as an aside, today I discovered a candle called Crisp Spruce, which I hadn't seen before. It seems to be a much greener coniferous smell, with herbaceous tones. And for some reason when I smell the candle I think of Chinese food.

    Votivo has such a great line of candles, so I was excited to see their holiday line. They have three scents: Christmas Sage, Joie de Noël and Gingersnaps. Christmas Sage is obviously the pine type; I found it a little too sage-y and not pine-y enough, but I give them points for doing something different. The Joie de Noël is a pretty standard orange spice scent, and it's quite pleasant. Gingersnaps I didn't find done so well; gingerbread/gingersnaps is a scent that's pretty easily done well, and I didn't find this scent all that pleasant. It was too dark for my tastes. I'd prefer a warmer scent.

    Bath & Body Works
    I've mentioned their Perfect Christmas line before, but it's worth revisiting a little. Winterberry is a lovely blend of berry and pine, Cookie is a good vanilla confection scent, Spice is a passable cinnamon scentm, and Tree is a fine pine scent, with a hint of cedar. I've since tried the plug-ins for Tree, and I must say I quite like them. The scent from the plugin doesn't strike me as too cedar-y; in fact, it smells pretty much how I'd like a Christmas tree scent to smell. And it's moderatly effusive, too. I'm very pleased with it. The other offering from Bath & Body works to pay attention to is the Henri Bendel holiday candle, Bitter Orange. It's basically an orange spice scent, but it's superbly well done, very natural and suave. It has notes of orange, musk, clove and bay rum. If you're willing to pay more for a high-quality orange spice candle, this is definitely the one to buy. Also good for the holidays is the Henri Bendel Firewood candle, which is an excellent scent (and smells a bit like the Helmut Lang cologne Cuiron). Unfortunately, it's only available as a candle, where the Bitter Orange is also available as a spray.

    • Archipelago Botanicals: Two holiday scents: Joy, in red, is an orange spice blend, and Spirit, in green, is a blend of bayberry, pine and clove (the bayberry is very evident). Both excellent, and what's more, the glass jars that hold the candles are subtle, sophisticated and very aesthetic. This brand probably wins for most aesthetic candles. They also have a gift boxed candle called Joy of the Season (orange spice); the gift box itself is irresistebly cute.
    • The Thymes: Their Frasier Fir is a wonderful pine scent.
    • Aromatique: They have a red scent, The Smell of Christmas, that is an orange cinammon and is very heavy on the cassia scent; it's not as sophisticated as it wants to be. The green, The Smell of Christmas, is a pleasant, dark pine smell. And incidentally, while I wouldn't call it a holiday scent per se, you almost always see their Cinnamon Cider scent stocked with the Christmas ones. It's absolutely ghastly, and I don't recommend it at all.
    • Slatkin & Co: They have a pleasant scent called, simply, Holiday. It has notes of orange, spice, wood and eucalyptus. The eucalyptus gives it a bayberry tone.

    And there you have my holiday fragrance survey for 2004! Whew! Beep.

    Textures by Maison

    Unfortunately, I can't find the li'l piece of paper where I scratched my notes on, but I came across an impressive line of candles the other day at Bed, Bath and Beyond. It's called Textures and it's by Maison (the people that make the great Blood Orange and Tobacco & Bergamot candles). I believe there were 4 or 5 scents, but 2 really caught my nose: Smoke, a blend of pine, birch and oakwood which actually smells smoky, like wood burning (although I wouldn't exactly call it firewood per se), and one that melded vanilla, cocoa and espresso in such a way that it smelled like a frappucino or coffee smoothie. There was also one in the line with a prominent fig note that was pleasant. I really wish I could remember the other scents, cux as a whole the line was quite nice. I hope they introduce more fragrances for it in the future.

    I must add here--I think firewood is really up-and-coming. Could it be the next Cucumber Melon? It's showing up everywhere--it used to be that you could only find it in expensive, high-end brands, but it seems to be filtering down quickly. Soon we'll see firewood scents everywhere. And that's a good thing. Hopefully a cheap but true-to-life firewood scent will come out, maybe by Glade (although most of what they do is such crap, I doubt it). Coffee scents seem to be breaking out too. I noticed it with those Votivo Murano candles, with the Venetian Coffee scent, and now in this Textures line. I wonder if they'll catch on. It seems unlikely to me, but I guess time will tell.

    And that's the fragrance beep for now!

    Wednesday, December 08, 2004

    Wired Blurb

    A blurb from Wired news about downloading scent. Not exactly critical news, since this type of thing has been talked about for some time, but interesting nonetheless:

    A new service being tested by NTT Communications sends out smells according to data received over the internet.

    Users attach a device to their laptops that resembles a crystal ball with a nozzle. The device receives aroma data from the central server and exudes fumes from the nozzle in accordance with that reading.

    NTT is considering the system as a commercial product for aromatherapy, testing incense or just plain fun.


    Friday, November 12, 2004

    Here's the Story

    I came across the holiday disc for Febreze Scentstories the other day in KMart. What a disappointment. I'm no closer to wanting to buy one of those players than I ever was before. Here are the scents on it:

    1. Mulling Cranberry Cider
    2. Baking Holiday Pies
    3. Lighting a Mulberry Candle
    4. Making a Gingerbread House
    5. Cookies Warm from the Oven

    How lame. They should've listened to my suggestion for what to put into a holiday disc. What they've come up with is a big yawm. It starts out well--spiced cranberry is always a good idea for the holidays, and the holiday pies thing is also good, if unimaginative. But then they go to this 'lighting a mulberry candle.' If this were a real story, as in a written narrative, that would be the point at which I threw the book in the garbage. I mean, how is that supposed to fit into an interesting holiday narrative?! And do you light the candle for 30 minutes?!?! More importantly, however, mulberry is LAME. It's the ultimate cheap shizzly scent--that's the reason why you can find a mulberry candle in every Wal-Mart and discount store in the country. Personally I think most mulberry scents smell like a bathroom--they remind me of those urinal cakes with the unpleasant odor, for some reason. But furthermore, if you already have a cranberry-type fragance, why would you then do a mulberry-type one for the next 'movement'??! It's stupid. Then the disc moves to gingerbread and then cookies. It seems like this scent category should've been covered in the holiday pie part. In fact, there shouldn't have been a holiday pie one--maybe gingerbread should've been there. If they were going to put another gourmand type scent, why not spiced eggnog? As for the disc as a whole, WHERE is the pine?!?! You'd think that pine would be a necessity, right? Even if you're trying to appeal to people of every religious stripe, pine is still a benchmark of the holiday season--it's in all the stores; there's even a pine wreath in their marketing!! (And let's be serious here--who is possibly buying these Scentstories things, anyway? I really doubt that a huge part of the market for it is Jewish and Muslim families. Personally I think the people who are buying it are married women in middle America who wear those homemade holiday sweatshirts and vastly self-identify as Christian.) And while some might consider a pine scent hackneyed, I would argue that a really WELL DONE one (like Yankee Candle's Christmas Wreath) isn't trite, but rather, it's timeless. So the Febreze people really dropped the ball on this one. The job they did is especially pathetic considering the plethora of scents they could've chosen from for a holiday disc: clove-orange ("making a pomander"); peppermint ("making candy canes"); cocoa ("making holiday cocoa"); bayberry ("standing under the mistletoe"); 'hollyberry' ("making a holiday wreath"), etc.... All in all I'd give their holiday effort an F, because it lacks any semblance of imagination or even boldness (they could've put interesting, lush scents in there, but they played to what was safe). I can't see that I will ever buy one of those scentstories contraptions now; they're destined to be permanently lame--hopefully they'll be withdrawn from the market within the next 6 months.

    In other news, I caught the commercial for Chanel's No 5 last night, the little mini-movie with Nicole Kidman. The 'movie' itself is quick-cut and attractively shot. I think it moves a little too quick to be understood--it comes off as a bit incoherent. I think it's supposed to be moving; it's not. Interestingly, Nicole Kidman doesn't look as pretty as she should in the commercial. You'd think that since it was produced by a beauty company, they would make her look even more luminescent, which is what usually happens when an actress does an ad campaign for a cosmetics company. Not this time. Part of it is that butter-yellow blond hair she has in it, which doesn't really look good on her. The rest, I guess, is the makeup. (Or maybe she's just too thin.) Does the commercial do a good job of selling No. 5? Well, it works about as well as their magazine ads, and if it intends to make younger people interested in wearing the perfume, then I suppose it's successful. Was it worth the $12 million they paid Nicole Kidman to do it? Probably not. But then if you're Chanel, I guess that kind of $ doesn't really matter, does it?

    And that's the fragrance beep for today.

    Monday, November 01, 2004

    Blips from the Aside

    This weekend I trekked out to Yankee Candle to get a bunch of Christmas scents--Christmas Wreath, Home for the Holidays, etc. I went to early because the only Yankee Candle I know of is out in New Jersey, and I hate making the trip, so I decided I'd get it over with (imagine my delight when they told me at the store that there's a Yankee Candle at South Street Seaport in Manhattan now). I ended up getting a bunch of the simmering tarts, in various flavors. It was a productive trip. However, I'll write about those scents later, as I want to post a survey of the different holiday scents out there. So for this entry, I'm just putting up some quick blips about other interesting stuff I found.

    While I was at that mall with Yankee Candle in it, I popped into Bath & Body Works to look around. Mostly to smell the holiday scents again and see if I still had the same opinion on them as I did at first. Tree still smells just a bit too cedar-y, but it might work; also, I was right about Winterberry, in that it does have an evergreen note in it. I like that one best. After looking at the holiday scents, I moved on to the Henri Bendel collection. They had a greater variety of scents there than I've seen at the stores in Manhattan. Some scents I haven't seen before were Lavender Leaves, a nicely natural lavender smell; Birch, a really well done light woody and slightly earthy smell; and White Pepper, a pleasant scent. I don't recall if I've seen it before (I don't think I have), but there was also one called White Lily, a really wonderful scent reminiscent of certain floral oils I've smelled before (synthetic repros of orange blossom or pikake), but with a depth, fullness and softness that made it a truly wonderful scent.

    The store didn't have the Jeff Leatham candles, which was disappointing. They also didn't have that food-scents line that I saw on their website the last time I visited. I know this because the person I asked about the Jeff Leatham line thought I meant the food-scent line. She mentioned a specific candle from said line that I wasn't aware of: Mashed Potatoes. She said that it really does smell like hot buttered mashed potatoes. Interesting.

    The other little blip to mention is a candle I saw at a different store back in Manhattan. I was looking through the scents from The Thymes collection, and I smelled one called Agarwood Incense. I'm not sure if I've experienced this one before; maybe I did and it smells different to me this time around (it happens). Well, I wish I'd smelled it better before, because it had the right type of odor that I wanted to use for my Hallooweegan party. It struck me this time around as very cistus-labdanum, very deep, hay-like, with a hint of a certain leather kind of smell. It would have been nice to use. Alas!

    And that's the fragrance beep for now.

    Monday, October 25, 2004

    Weekend Update

    This weekend I found myself at Bath & Body Works, and was pleased to see that they have some new stuff there. I looked at their holiday scents for this year and a line of mostly body products they have called Tutti Dolce.

    Their holiday line is called The Perfect Christmas. It includes candles, sprays and assorted decorations. The scents include Tree, Winterberry, Christmas Cookie and Spice (at least I think those are the names; the web site only has Tree). They're all pleasant, but there might be better scents out there this year. Tree was nice, but heavy on the cedar - I'm sure I could find a better pine scent. Winterberry was the most interesting - the typical berry note, but seemingly with coniferous tone, like a piney Christmas-tree type smell with a berry like note behind it. I might actually get that one. Christmas Cookie and Spice are both pretty predictable, with Christmas Cookie being the more pleasant of the two.

    The Tutti Dolce line is basically a line of gourmand scents and body products. All of the scents are dessert scents (probably inspired by Jessica Simpson's Desserts line). They're all pleasant. The scents are as follows: Crème Brûlée, Lemon Meringue, Sugar Wafer, Angel Food Cake, Cinnamon Frosting and Chocolate Fondue. My favorites were Angel Food Cake and Cinnamon Frosting (even though I don't think I detected any cinnamon in the latter; that and the fact that they smelled much the same, with Lemon Meringue standing out from the rest). Sugar Wafer was the only one available in an eau de toilette, as far as I could tell. The scent from the creams, which are very rich, stayed on my hand for some time, but it didn't smell as rich and gourmand-y on my skin as it did in the jar. I think that if you like a subtle, light foody scent, then you'd probably like this line.

    Incidentally, as I was writing this I clicked on Bath & Body Works' web site to check on the names of the lines, and was surprised to see a couple lines of products that I did NOT see in the store: Most importantly, the Jeff Leatham line of candles. It must not have been at the store I visited yet (Broadway & 4th, I think). I'd really like to smell those candles, though, because the names and descriptions look quite interesting: Green Carnation, White Arum, Lotus Fruit... They look great, and their packaging implies that they're meant to be of the same quality of the Henri Bendel candles and BBW sells, which are spectacular; moreover, the scent descriptions imply that they're complext blends. So I can't wait to see that line. I'd also like to see the Henri Bendel body collection, which I didn't see at the store. I wonder if the scents come off as good as the candle line. Another line on the web site that I don't recall seeing at the store was the True Temptations candle collection (although the name sounds familiar. From the looks of it, just another line of food scents, but sometimes those can be good. Scents like Butterscotch Icing and Cinnamon Coffee make it sound tempting indeed.

    Another place I dropped into over the weekend was Pottery Barn, where I smelled their scents. Since I haven't been there in forever, I don't know if anything is actually new. I know, however, that I've seen Citrus Cassis and Paperwhite before, and I love them both. This time around I also saw Fresh Cut, which I quite like (I think it had notes of lime, cilantro and grass, if I remember coreectly), and Cranberry Spice, which was simply wonderful. In fact it might be the holiday scent to use this year. It even seemed to have pine notes in it, which makes me wonder whether I simply am smelling pine notes in all these cranberry fragrances. (I don't think so, because I don't get that tone from The Body Shop's Cranberry oil, which I love too--it's a very deep cranberry smell, and seems to have notes of grape in it. It's much better than most cranberry scents I've smelled.) I may decide to get the Cranberry Spice candle--my roommate had one of their candles before - Moon Grass - and it proved, unpleasantly, to be very strond and effusive; so I have high hopes for the Cranberry Spice as well.

    And that's the scent Beep for today.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2004

    Invent Your Scent at the Body Shop

    I was at the Body Shop the other day, checking to see if there's anything new out, and there is. On the home fragrance oil front, I noticed two scents I hadn't before: their version of holiday pine, which I wasn't sure would work in my Christmas fragrance aesthetic, and chocolate orange. The chocolate orange is pleasant. I would have liked to see how it evaporated, though, and they had no scent strips at this particular Body Shop. Chocolate scents can be problematic: I've had a couple oils before that smelled initially like Milky Way or cocoa, but upon burning they collapsed into a smell that perfectly reproduced pipe tobacco. A very pleasant smell, but also a very unchocolatey smell. I never got Body Shop's old chocolate oil (except for their chocolate mint perfume oil once--it doesn't last long enough on the body, but it does pretty exactly reproduce the aroma of Thin Mints), but it always seemed to perform well in the store. I have high expectations for this chocolate orange oil, even if I don't buy it for myself. The bath & body products didn't smell as luxurious as the home fragrance oil. As for the pine, it was largely unremarkable, and I couldn't decide whether it was close enough to a Christmas-tree smell to merit using during the holidays. I'll have to smell it again, but usually when a scent doesn't register immediately, it's a bad sign.

    When I finished looking at the oils, I didn't expect to find anything new, but I looked around anyway. Sure enough, there was something new, and I found it exciting. What I found was a new line from them called (I think) Invent Your Scent. It's nine light scents in different colors to match different moods. The idea is to mix together different fragrances to create your own unique one, or one to match your mood at the time. The marketing material even gives you a 'grid' that describes the 'character' of each of the color scents. Citrella, the yellow scent, is "innocent, sassy, free-spirit, seductive and zesty." Beleaf is "enchanting"--so is Velique. Both Aztique and Zanzibar are "wild." The card also lists some of their "favorite combinations," ones that don't immediately come to mind as complements. One of their choices is Beleaf (a leafy green one) with Amorito (a gourmandy one): they describe it as 'captivating,' noting that it's: "Graceful and irresistible, you'll be the focus of everyone's attention." They sell the different scents individually in small bottles (I think they were an ounce or less; I didn't think to check), or you can buy all nine in a packet of what amount to trial sizes. The later seems like the more prudent option if one is really going to blend them like the company would like.

    First off I must say that the whole color thing reminds me of something that I think Clinique did back in the 80s, when they had a line of different color scents out with the same idea: to match a color to your mood or personality. I don't think the different colors had names, though: I think they were just called 'purple' and 'green,' etc. The line must not have done well, because it didn't last for long. I always liked the idea, however, and I remember being sad to see it go, because the character of those fragrances was different from perfume and cologne--it seemed lighter, more versatile, more something that regular scent wasn't.

    The Body Shop scents seem to have the same light, unperfume character. I smelled all but Citrella, because it wasn't set out, and they all were pleasant, relatively light, naïve and unimposing. But they shouldn't be too imposing if they're intended to be mixed. My favorite far and away is Beleaf, because it has this great green-leaf, foliage smell that stays remakably consistent, although I thought I was detecting a geranium-like note as it dried down. I'll prolly buy that one, because I love that green foliage note. I also found that I liked Minteva--it opens with this fresh, salad-greens mint note that unfolds a little bit into that anise-like note that you sometimes smell in basil-type scents. Aztique is pretty generic: not very memorable, apparently, because I can only attempt to describe it by saying it's light floral-fruity. Amorito is a gourmandy scent: vanillic, maybe nutty and cocoa-y; a predictable inclusion. Velique didn't make much of an impression; it's described as floral and romantic. Zinzibar, described as spicy and chic, stays true to it's name: it's heavy on the ginger (which I find amusing, as ginger's scientific name is zingiber). Chymara is their musky/sexy scent, and Altaro is the oriental, and it struck me as woody and vanillic.

    A few things I like about this line: I like the colorful marketing card and the different colors of the bottles. I like the name: Invent Your Scent. I like some of the language--with words like 'sassy' it's clearly targeting young women. I also like the idea of wearing a fragrance to match one's mood. I think it's a valid way to wear fragrance. (It's not the only one--you could wear one signature scent; you could wear scents strictly seasonally...) I rotate colognes according to my mood, although I usually like something more complex than what's in these, and more subtle (I find Cartier fragrances to be good 'moody' fragrances; they often reflect for me subtle shades of feeling, if that makes any sense; and if you're not into fragrances it surely doesn't). I find it interesting that the Body Shop actually TELLS the customer what fragrance fits which mood (on their 'grid')--I would think that people could figure that out on their own. I also like the fact that they give the customer blending suggestions. There's nothing about the line that leaps out at me as something I DON'T like--I think it's a really well put-together line for who it's targeting. It would be intriguing to see if they'd do a mens line, but they wouldn't, cux it likely wouldn't sell. Young men don't have the same attitudes toward fragrance as young women. Will the line succeed? I don't really think so. I get the feeling that part of the idea behind it is that people will buy more of this line because they want to mix and match and create 'unique' blends. I don't really see it. I could see people buying them for a little while, but not more than 2 and not for very long. Also, I don't think that when most people smell Beleaf, say, that they smell something 'innocent' or 'enchanting.' I think they're going to say 'That smells like leaves.' I think people are going to pick one or two of the fragrances they like and stick with those, if they buy the line at all. I can't see someone buying Amorito AND Beleaf, like the marketing card suggests. Those scents are very different and would seem to appeal to different people (then again, that's probably the point of recommending them together). Of course, that's just my 2 cents. I'd love to see the line succeed--I'd love to see what comes out of it.

    And that's the fragrance beep for now.

    Monday, October 18, 2004


    I was at Sephora the other day and gave Curious by Britney Spears another sniff. I'd smelled it a coupla weeks ago when it came in some Macy's catalog, but I decided to smell it again in another context.

    It's an OK perfume, if not exactly dazzling. To me it smells quite a bit like Carolina Herrera at first, but without the musky drydown. It seems to start out velvety with a faint hint of cassis or something berry-like, almost cotton candyish. It does have a magnolia tone to it as well, which if I remember correctly becomes more pronounced as it dries down. All in all the scent is pleasant but not ecstatic, and I still can't really place the situation which would be appropriate for wearing it. A spring day? To me it smelled like what it presumably is: a scent for teenage girls to wear to school and the prom.

    Not much else in fragrance has caught my eye recently. I can mention that Renuzit has some holiday scents out in that cone air-freshener that they do. The usual suspects: a cranberry type and a pine type. But this year there's also a fresh-baked type, which I think is called vanilla cookie. It's nothing to get excited about. (Crabtree & Evelyn's Patisserie was something to get excited about, at least when it was still available in a spray, which would smell fatty and almost rancid when you first sprayed it but a few seconds later would smell like cake or Belgian waffles. Now it's available only in a candle, I think. If you want that Belgian waflle smell, though, get the plug-in from AirWick called Grandma's Cookies. It's amazing--it really does smell like Belgian Waffles, and it's STRONG as well--actually a little too strong, because it has a high note that's piercing and almost makes your nose hurt, but if it's diluted enough it smells unparalleled. AirWick really got it right with that one.) It smells like buttery vanilla, heavy on the buttery. I imagine it might work well as a complement to another vanilla-type smell, perhaps Kitchen Spice from Bath & Body Works, but it isn't up to enough on its own.

    And that's my scent beep for now.

    Monday, September 27, 2004

    The Weekend's Expedition

    My roommate got 2 new colognes the other day, but nothing that I might have hoped he'd get. His favorite cologne is Acqua di Giò, because it's very fresh and bracing, which it is, but without a lot of depth. He doesn't have a very informed appreciation of fragrance, calling any musky or woody undertone in a fragrance "that Pakistani cabbie B.O. smell." He's even intimated that a Cartier fragrance smells like that. I don't think so -- you can pretty much trust everything that comes out of Cartier. Anyway, the colognes he chose were predictable: L'Eau D'Issey by Issey Miyake and Vera Wang for Men, two sweetish, fresh fragrances also without a whole lot of depth to them. I'm not fond of VW. I've written about it before--it smells like a fake DKNY for women oil I used to have; and I'm not exactly crazy about L'Eau D'Issey either, but that's mostly cux I'm just tired of it.

    So while I prolly won't be sneaking spritzes of any of those scents anytime soon (especially since for me colder weather demands something more fiery and impetuous), something good did come out of his purchase: samples. Unfortunately two were for VW, but the OTHER, the cologne he said he didn't like, was for L'Eau Bleue D'Issey pour Homme, which I didn't expect much from but found that I rather like it. At the very first sniff I thought it smelled like black pepper, fading into a cucumber note, and similar to Polo Blue. But later as I tried it again I noticed that it was much woodier than I first perceived, and that indeed, it smelled just like the fresh woody notes that open Joseph Abboud, but without the unpleasant drydown. So in fact as it happened I quite like this fragrance. Not enough to run out and buy it, but I do like it nonetheless. And it might even be light enough for summer wear, although I'd really have to 'get to know' it to be sure. Still, it was a pleasant surprise.

    Other weekend happenings: I stopped in this shop in SoHo next to the Starbucks to look at candles. Votivo apparently has a new line out: the Votivo Murano Collection. I think they intended the packaging to look more high end, but in fact the candles look like oversized candy bars. The scents are as unimpressive as the packaging: Venetian Silk, Venetian Coffee, Venetian Leather and Venetian Pear. The Silk one is far and away the best, but I'd still rather receive any of the regular Votivo candles as a gift. The Silk has a subtle, almost lineny (as in White Linen by Lauder) quality to it, but it also kind of smells chemical. The others are perfectly banal. Should it comfort me to know that coffee in Venice smells just like it does here? And why should I buy a coffee candle when simply heating up some coffee beans, or making coffee, will give me the EXACT SAME effect? If there was a complex bouquet in the candle, I didn't detect it. Also, the Venetian Leather smells like any other leather oil I've smelled. Maybe they should have called it Venetian New Car Smell. This is a shame, because there aren't really, really good leather candles out there, ones that smell like suede or a leather jacket or that scent they ever-so-faintly put on the Coach catalog. There was the possibility for something spectacular here, but mediocrity prevailed. Venetian Pear--do pear trees grow in venice?? I didn't understand the logic behind this scent choice. Further, there wasn't anything remarkable about the scent.

    Overall, I'd have to rate the Murano Collection low. The quality of Votivo candles being so high generally, this line is quite a disappointment. I expect better from them.

    There was a line of candels right beneath the Votivos that were quite nice: Bluewick. I got a chance to write a few notes about them before someone came up to me and asked me something like 'What line do you work for?' and then I felt I had to leave, so as not to break the spell of my apparent mysteriousness. But what I jotted down, which now that I look at it I can barely even decipher, was that the ginger-jasmine one was spectacular, the Rain scent worked very well (all 'Rain' scents should work this well), and that while there's room for improvement in the brand, it's off to a great start.

    And that's my beep for now.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2004

    L'Occitane et L'Et cetera

    lavenderThe other 2 fragrant places that Jason and I visited on Sunday were the L'Occitane store in SoHo and a place called Enchantments in the East Village. L'Occitane (the name might actually be "L'Occitane en Provence") was pretty predictable, but then I've been there a few times. I like some of their scents, but overall the line doesn't really impress me much. I think their scents could be a bit more ambitious--more complex, or combining more unusual notes, or just using more unusual single notes. As an example of the last suggestion, why couldn't they have made some home fragrance products for their Immortelle line, instead of just beauty products? I think it would be more interesting than, say, lavender or clementine, which they offer. Most of their products involve single notes or combinations of two, and they're relatively predictable: lavender, cinnamon orange, amber, winter pine.... Their newest product is an apple spice scent (more apple than spice). Snooooozzzzzzzz. One of their relatively new single note lines out now is interesting, though: miel (honey). It really does smell like honey, unlike too many of the honey scents I've smelled before. I thought it might blend in well with my spice-wood-hay fall fragrance aesthetic, but I wasn't sure, as their miel, while it does smell like honey, doesn't smell quite like beeswax absolute--their offering is more floral. So floral that I didn't think it would blend as well, or rather I just was too unsure. Their mens fragrance line bears mention: a lot of wood going on there. Their Cade scent smells pleasant, if you like the only-dry-woody-smells-a-little-cedary thing, which I sometimes do (it would be nice to wear under something else). Their L'Occitane for men fragrance is more complex and is nice, but none of the mens fragrances really have much to say. It's a pity that all these shops (L'Occitane, the Body Shop, Bath & Body Works, etc.) that could make an interesting statement with mens products end up making something pedestrian and boring, something that if it says anything, too often says "I was inspired by the fresh, crisp smell of mass-market deodorant."

    Enchantments was a place I'd never been before. I'd walked past it, but I'd never thought to look in for oils or fragrant stuff. I wish I had. It's one of Jason's stores, so he brought me there, and he said they might have tonka beans, after we'd discovered that Aphrodisia was out of them. We went in, and it turns out that Enchantments was also out of tonka beans, but they would probably get more in soon. However, they also had a wide variety of fragrant oils, among which were: tonka, deertongue (which they had called "deer's tongue," I guess for the 'witching' effect--it's a witchcraft store, after all) and civet. I was excited. The tonka I didn't find up to much. It smelled like frankincense. The deertongue, however, when you smelled it from the bottle smelled just like tonka is supposed to--sweet, coumarinic, whatever. On the skin it smelled a little different--like a blend of almond and something underneath it, maybe something coumarinic underneath it, dunno. But I was excited that it at least bore a resemblance to tonka, so I got some for use in my autumnal blend. The civet was probably the most exciting. Of course it was synthetic--you can't get real civet, and all the fragrance oils were synthetic that I mentioned. But what made it so special was that it did not smell pleasant. It's not supposed to. Neither is musk or ambergris, but everytime I've encountered those in an oil form they smell vaguely like cologne, which is not what they're supposed to smell like. Full strength, they're supposed to smell like shit, literally in some cases. They're supposed to be super strong and absolutely unbearable. It's only until they're diluted to an extreme degree that they begin to give a warmth and a rounding off to a fragrance and make it smell pleasant. I didn't expect the civet to pack much of a whallop, but I was hoping that it would at least smell unpleasant. And it did! I can't really describe the odor, cux it was hard to smell it for more than a second, but the girl behind the counter remarked that it smelled like 'old person.' I suppose it did. That or B.O. Or something like that. It would be very interesting to see what it smelled like in a blend. I wonder how much one would have to dilute it to make it work, or if you'd have to dilute it all that much anyway (since who knows how it would behave--presumably it wouldn't behave like the civet-type odors used in professional perfumery. I'd like to get some one day just to experiment with it. And it's also good to know where you can get something so stinky, in case you ever have a use for it.

    And that's the rest of Sunday's beep.

    Monday, September 20, 2004

    Myne Trippe to Sephora II

    SephoraContinuing from Part I...

    One of the standout fragrances of the day was definitely Magnetism by Escada. I always expect a violently fruity note from Escada perfumes, ever since I smelled Tropical Punch, and then everything after that seemed to have a dominant fruit note, either papaya or guava or melon, married to a light and unassuming floral body. Really, for a while, most of those new Escada fragrances just kind of blurred together. I don't even remember the names--Island Kiss, Ibiza Something-or-other.... Sentiment I guess would be the exception among those perfumes, however, with its berry note above the lush florals; but apart from that they were all pretty much the same. So that's what I expected from Magnetism. But it pleasantly surprised me. It is fruity, though, and bombastically so: it opens with this bodyslamming cherry/cough drop note that I find incredibly pleasant, but which others might not be very partial to. I would say that it follows into a floral body, but by the time I got around to smelling it, there were too many fragrances in the air and I couldn't spend a lot of time following it. Still, the opening is quite nice, and it recommends the perfume quite well. I could see someone wearing this perfume for a romantic night out, but then again I could also see how that would be problematic. The intense cherry-ness of the scent might conflict with a really romantic mood.

    These little Dior scents, the ones in the small cutesy bottles that seem to only be around a few months--are they made for teenagers? I'm thinking they are, because they always have these light, fresh scents that are very young, and the marketing seems geared to the very young. The ones I sampled yesterday were CHRIS 1947 (these ones seem to be pushing the envelope as far as names--that's a good thing), a wispy, young light floral, and Forever and Ever, a fresh fruity floral. The bottles are very cute and the scents themselves are pleasant, but I don't think they would do much for a grown woman. These are scents to keep in mind when giving a gift to a younger cousin or someone like that. They almost seem like 'starter' perfumes.

    The Sud Pacifique line has new stuff out now, and it's incredible. I first noticed that line when I smelled their Amour de Cacao, Kumquat and Vanille Abricot, so I associate them with food scents. Here are the ones I noted: Vanille Coco--I thought at first it was cocoa-vanilla, but after I smelled it I realized it meant vanilla coconut. Pleasant if you go for coconut; I don't. I think there are plenty of cheap vanillic fragrances out there that end up smelling like coconut anyway. And if you really, really like coconut, you can just spray coconut car air freshener on your clothes; or wear some Coppertone. Vanille Canelle--I was excited about this one. Vanilla Cinnamon! How can you go wrong? Well, they did. There was too much vanilla, not enough spice. It was disappointing. Vanille Banane--this stole the show. Vanilla Banana. I thought it was such an incredible sensation; but then I love the smell of banana cream. I can't imagine when I or someone would want to wear it, though, but if you really like those smells you can't go wrong with this one. In fact, this one might would actually work best as linen spray or something like that. I just can't imagine when I'd ever feel like wearing it as a scent, unless I combined it with other things. There was also Vanille Pitahaya (papaya?), which I liked but Jason didnt, and Vanille Passion, which I didn't think was up to much, compared with the others. I would liked to have seen a stronger spice, and perhaps a vanilla caramel or a good berry vanilla.

    Speaking of foody scents, I smelled Hot Toddy by Demeter as well. I liked it, but since I don't know what's in a hot toddy, I didn't really know what to sniff for. to me it simply smelled like a synthetic carnation oil to me, which is actually a pleasant smell, but nothing I'd necessarily wear.

    I smelled 2 scents from the CLEAN line, Baby Girl and Fun. Baby Girl smelled familiar, but I couldn't conjure up what exactly it smelled like--baby powder? Johnson & Johnson's Baby Shampoo? I couldn't figure it out. Fun , which was a roll-on oil, smelled terrible, like fruity smells wafting through a car garage.

    And the last one, the only mens fragrance I took notes on that day, the new offering from Hugo Boss: Baldessarini (named after a former Boss chairman. It's thanks only to basenotes that I'm able to spell it correctly, since the name is in a cursive that I wasn't able to completely decipher. As for the fragrance, I like it. I found it coniferous and spicy, and definitely not something I would have expected from Hugo Boss. I'd have to smell it again and look at the drydown to see whether I really, really like it, but my first impression was that it's a quite nice fragrance, although not a really groundbreaking one.

    And that was my Sephora experience! Beep!

    Myne Trippe to Sephora

    Methinks this picture is of the Sephora in San Francisco, but I'm not sure.  I've been to that one.  It's nice.I went to Sephora yesterday with Jason on an attempt to describe some of the new fragrances I've seen but not yet experienced. I went and took a bunch of notes, which I'm sure as I type this will seem woefully inadequate; at least I'll have a better idea of what to write down next time. We also went to L'Occitane in SoHo and a couple other places, but I'll split this entry into 2 parts and talk about that in the next one, I suppose. I should say about Sephora that it's terribly disappointing that they took out the perfume organ that they used to have. That thing was the coolnerest thing ever, and it made me want to work at Sephora just so I could play with it. Anyway, it's been gone for years, so that's that, I suppose.

    Mostly this expedition concentrated on women's fragrances, cux I haven't smelled anything new in them for what seems like forever. Here are just a few notes:

    There are a lot of li'l fresh florals out there that smell pretty much like each other and aren't really up to much. True Star by Tommy Hilfiger, Lauren Style by Ralph Lauren and Attraction by Lancôme come to mind. They're all relatively light and pleasant. They'd probably make good gifts, but they didn't strike me as anything all that noteworthy. Also light and fresh are Blush by Marc Jacobs, Pure by Jil Sander, Eternity Moment by Calvin Klein and Simply by Clinique. I liked these a little better, for the most part. Blush I liked--it seemed floral fruity, with maybe an apricot note, and had the slight hint of Kool Aid to it. Pure was actually a big disappointment--it being by Jil Sander I assumed I would love it, but honestly, I couldn't even smell it! Perhaps it was all the other scents clogging the air, but I could barely detect anything from the scent strip I was sniffing, so I deduced that it just smelled something like hairspray. I'll have to smell it in a different environment to see if it in fact has any odor at all. Eternity Moment is a light floral that might work well for a late spring/early fall day; it's a young woman's scent (but not necessarily a girl's). Simply I'd smelled before, and I only mention it because it's just so pleasant. It seems to be a light floral with notes of peach and tea. It's a quite pleasant and very versatile scent. I could easily see giving this one as a gift. It's a Spring-like scent, but versatile enough to wear every day. It's peachy note isn't as pronounced as Trésor, so it's not quite as lush, but that's fine; the tea note gives it a naturalness and wearability that is disarming.

    One fragrance had some notable packaging: Flower by Kenzo. Firstly, there were two packages of it: a white box and a red one, and I couldn't tell whether the difference was that the red was the parfum and the white the eau de parfum, or whether the red was actually some slightly different fragrance. (Cux all the houses seem to be making endless variations on their fragrances, instead of actually launching new ones: Tommy Girl Summer, Eternity Moment [an odd word pairing], Pure Poison, White Linen Breeze, Pleasures Intense...) So that was a mark against it. Although the red one smelled quite nice, very vanillic if I recall--I didn't write anything down for it. Secondly, there was a 3-miniature set which was quite attractive-looking. The front of the box was clear, and it showed the 3 little boxes next to the bottles, which area very cute--clear, rounded with a flower design in/on them. The miniature set looks like it would make a splendid gift (for one person or as 3 stocking stuffers); although I think you'd have to give it to a group of 3 people--mother, daughters or something--for it to work. Cux what use would one person have with 3 different bottles, unless s/he collects them? It would seem more prudent (albeit less aesthetic) to simply offer one bottle with 2 refills.

    ...And since this entry is getting really long, I think I'll split it here. More in the Part II section to come!


    Hermes Rocks the Noodle

    AK!!! I've just read on basenotes that Hermès is coming out with a fragrance this year called Hermèssence Vétiver Tonka. I must say, that certainly sounds promising! It's not on their site yet, so I'm presuming it's not out yet. I wonder what it will smell like--since vetiver has that grassy, rooty smell and tonka (which smells like autumn happiness) has that rich coumarinic smell, I imagine it might be a refined, high-end version of those Grass scents that start out with the sharp, green, fresh-cut note and then have the warm coumarin note beneath it. Or maybe it will be more of a fantasy tonka smell. Tonka bean smells sooooooo incredibly wonderful; I wish I could find a just-tonka-bean scent. Or for that matter, tonka bean oil, which once upon a time I was able to find, but for years has completely eluded me. (Enfleurage doesn't carry it; Aphrodisia doesnt; Angelica's Herbs seems to not know of it; and other places don't seem to have heard of it. Speaking of Angelica's Herbs, they tried to tell me that beeswax absolute doesn't exist. I can't stand it when these people try to tell me about fragrance when they don't know about it themselves.) So I can't wait to smell this one. I wonder when it's coming out.

    Speaking of Hermès, I got some Equipage the other day. I was going to buy it online, cux I didn't want to spend the Sephora price, but the more I looked around, the less confident I was in purchasing it. I saw it on some eBay store for $20, but when I read the reviews, focusing on the negative ones, I realized that it was too risky. The reviews complained of bottles that leaked or lacked tops, and also imitations (not just of fragrances). They talked of informing eBay and the authorities. So I decided hells no on ordering from them. (I disregarded the positive reviews cux I figured half of them were probably put up by the company or their sympathizers.) But then I went to this perfume shop in Union Square and got it for a very good price there. We'll see if I still like it as much come December. It was still, even as I was getting it, a toss-up between Equipage and Bel Ami, because they both had good prices (and I love Bel Ami), but I went with Equipage cux it has a carnation note and is more versatile.

    Continuing to speak of Hermès, go look at their site if you haven't before. Gak, the photos--they're just breathtaking. They oughtta be--Hermès is high-end enough. Just look at some of these:

    Now that's some good product display, there.

    Last thoughts on Hermès: you know, I realized the other day that just a few years ago I would never have really liked a Hermès fragrance. I liked them more synthetic, sharp, sweet and dazzling; whereas Hermès fragrances seem to be to be more natural, balanced, subtle, refined and understated. I guess my fragrance aesthetic has matured. The scents I prefer now tend to be Cartier and Hermes, whereas before they were Calvin Klein and the like. And I still like the other fragrances (I keep trying to compare it to music, with Calvin Klein et al being poppish and Hermès et al. being something I can't describe quite well, something more acoustic or substantial. However, my attempt at comparison keeps failing and I keep deleting what I type), but they just come off as really loud now (even Mont Blanc's Individuel, which I loved when I first smelled it, now seems to unnecessarily shout with its berry notes) much of the time. And when I actually purchase a scent, I gravitate more to Carter and Hermès. It leaves me to wonder whether I'll be wearing Creed in the future. But then I haven't smelled enough of Creed to have that much of an opinion on it.

    And that's my beep for now.

    Concentre d'New Scents at Sephora!

    I was at Sephora today, and gaZOW!, are there a lot of fragrances out that I haven't seen yet. Mostly women's fragrances, cux at Sephora they didn't have the mens fragrances that I really wanted to see (Reaction, Beyond Paradise). There was one fragrance that definitely caught my eye: Hermes has one out now called Concentre D'Oranges Verte, which is basically just a stronger version of Eau D'Orange Verte. That irked me a little, cux I bought and used up my bottle of Eau a few months ago, and I would totally have bought the Concentre if it were available, cux the Eau dissipated FAR too quickly. Interestingly, the only other colognes I want right now, at this moment, are from Hermes: Bel Ami, which smells like cistus labdanum/leather to me (a PERFECT autumn scent; it oughtta be, it's $100 at Sephora) and Equipage, which smells to me like a new-mown hay scent with cinnamon. (If you mention new-mown hay to someone who's supposed to know about fragrances and they don't know what it means, they don't know about fragrances. Period. It doesn't help that it's almost impossible to explain what it smells like--tonka bean, hay, etc.... You just have to say it smells 'characteristic'.) So if anyone wants to buy it for me, I'll accept it, without conditions of course (so why on earth would anyone buy it for me?!). Anyway, I have to go back to Sephora next weekend and write down all those new perfumes and say something about them.

    I was at Target over the weekend. Their autumn candles are out. Pumpkin spice, cider, maple pecan (smells a bit like slightly burnt pancakes), etc.. Predictable, but they're all pleasant. Unfortunately, there's no hay or teakwood or anything like that, but that's probably a good thing, as their Target-brand Sandalwood candle smells like shit. Powdered shit. I spotted the new Downy fabric softeners as well, the vanilla & lavender, water lily & jasmine and morning glory & honeysuckle. They're not up to much. The lavender one is ABYSMAL. Horrid. Smells like shit cheap drugstore vanilla perfume. A travesty. The others are OK, but nothing to write home about. One smells like a fresh garden. but they're not all that. The best fabric softeners out are actually the Target's Method brand. The have two out, as far as I could tell, one that if a 'fresh air' scent and smells just great. The other I don't recall the name, but it's in green and has something of a green grass smell. But then everything that Method puts out is good, from their almond-scented wood cleaner to their cucumber cleaning products. (Unfortunately all the cucumber products seem to be listed as bathroom cleaners--I'm sure they're all-purpose cleaners, but when something says 'bathroom' on it people get weirded out. I'm sure my roommate would only use it in there, and not on the kitchen counters, where it's likely to be smelled. Alas!!)

    And that's the beep for now.

    Vanilla Anecdote

    Here's an anecdote: The people at Enfleurage are out of stock on vanilla absolute - they only have the oleoresin. Why? Because someone bought up all the vanilla in Madagascar. Who? Coca-Cola, for, of all things, Vanilla Coke! Who knew?!! And who knew that any vanilla actually made its way into Vanilla Coke! You can't tell cux of the taste. I don't believe that whole vanilla extract is being used to flavor the beverage - it's got to be vanillin. But maybe it's vanillin from vanilla, so they can put 'natural flavor' on the label. But then can't vanillin be gotten cheaply from something else? And surely, can't it be synthesized even more cheaply? Hmmmm. What a shame that there's no more vanilla absolute. They're also about to run of of another essential oil, but I don't recall which one. Alas!

    And I found a link to that old aroma disc player in the 80s. I'm almost positive this is the same thing: The Remigton Aromance Aroma Disc Player. This is apparently an image of the user manual. Fascinating.

    And that's today's beep.

    The Body Shop

    I popped in to the Body Shop the other day to see if the new home fragrance oils for autumn were out yet. They were. Not much new in their offerings for this year, nothing terribly exciting. Here's what they had:

    Pumpkin Nectarine: This is what they've had for a number of years now. It's nice, pumpkiny with that ubersweet orangey zing. I think I've got a bottle every year since I discovered them, which was probably the first year I got into NYC. It's autumny but very sweet; it blends well with Realm for Women, by the way. I like it, and it's clearly their big seller for the fall, cux they keep bringing it back every year. I would like them to also offer a just-pumpkin scent, or a pumpkin pie/pumpkin muffin/pumpkin coffee/pumpkin spice scent, but they don't. They did one year--they had a pumpkin scent with a couple other scents, but it was only available in a 3-oil set; I didn't buy it then cux I was PO, but I would this year, even though I'm still pretty po.

    Spicy Berry: I bought this one once thinking I might start liking it, but I never did. It's quite terrible, neither 'spicy' nor 'berry,' but coming close enough to one or the other for them to name it that. It's also far too sweet, but I find that it can be useful in creating blends, if used very, very sparingly. On the other hand, it's extremely powerful (all the Body Shop oils are strong, but this one especially so), so if you like that kind of thing (and generally I do, but mostly when it's a pleasant fragrance) then this might work for you.

    Mulled Cider: This oil is actually an excellent apple-spice scent. I recommend it. Although their apple offerings were more interesting last year, this is a fine scent.

    Pear: I didn't smell this yesterday, cux I've smelled it before and it's excellent. It's hard to go wrong with pear, but I've smelled oils that did. This one is nice, however, and I recommend it. I'm not even sure if it's for autumn per se - it might be a year-round fragrance. If you can't find a cheap $3 pear oil at Target (and you might be able to), then pick this one up.

    Autumn Morning: This is hideous, just abysmal. It smells like nothing. It just smells, I dunno, aldehydic or something. It just smells like weird synthetics. It certainly didn't evoke anything of autumn to my mind. Two years ago they put out this oil called Autumn Leaves, which was wonderful. It had a dry, sorta woody, similar to frankincense odor, and did smell autumny. I like to say that it "smelled like regret." Then last year they came out with Autumn Breeze, which smelled a little like the original Autumn Leaves but worse; they finnucked it up a bit. Now there's this Autumn Morning, which is nothing like Autumn Leaves and is absolutely horrid. I can't imagine what the perfumer was thinking. Someone from a tropical nation that doesn't have autumn must have created it. It doesn't smell woody or haylike or earthy or any of that -- it just smells like some cheap old drugstore perfume I smelled too many years ago.

    Needless to say, I wrote them an email at the Body Shop, as this has lately become my wont. Someone actually responded to me, and it's not a form letter! Of course that doesn't mean the email I received actually says anything, though. It's formulaic enough to be a form letter, but it gives the impression that a real person actually wrote it (part of that is perhaps due to the clumsy language of some of it. Here's a the meat of it:

    We are sorry you feel that some of our fragrances are not to the quality level you would wish. Also, it is a personal preference as to which scent is more inviting to each separate individual. What may smell nice to one person may smell the complete opposite to another.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to express to us your opinions and suggestions for the Autumn fragrances we currently carry. Also, please know that your request for our discontinued lines have also been documented for future reference! Feel free to contact us again if you have any further questions or concerns about the products or customer service at The Body Shop.

    Anyway, that's the beep on the Body Shop's fall home fragrance oil line.

    When Febrezes Attack

    Febreze air fresheners So Febreze has air fresheners now. I saw them the other day in Duane Reade and picked up the floral one. It's nice. Smells just like the floral Febreze, but stronger. It's a nice scent - very hyacinthy - I just wish it lasted longer. But that's no big whoop, cux it's pleasant. I was just looking at the Febreze site also, and it turns out there are more scents for the air freshener than there are for the odor eliminator; in the air freshener line they have scents for citrus and for summer fruits; there are no corresponding scents for the odor eliminators.

    Also on the Febreze site, I saw that they're the company doing these ScentStories things. I'd heard a li'l bit about these things before, but haven't seen them yet. Apparently it's something that plays a CD of odors instead of music, giving you 30 minutes of scent and then moving on to the next scent. I guess it's similar to that aroma thing that came out in the early 80s (can anyone remember the name?) that played scent disks and was, unfortunately, a colossal failure. It's a shame, too, cux I never got to try it out, as I was just a tot and couldn't afford it. I'm sure fragrance technology has advanced quite a bit since then, though. Still, I don't have really high hopes for this Febreze thing. I can't imaging that the scents are going to be terribly good or interesting. Like the disc 'exploring a mountain trail'--are any of the scents really giong to smell like a mountain trail--earthy, dry, woody, firlike notes in the air? Or are they going to smell like 'mountain-inspired' air freshener type scents? And this one called 'wandering barefoot on the shore'--how do you recreate the smells of 'walking in the sand' or 'splashing in the waves'?? Is it going to smell salty, with hints of fish and urinous notes, like the ocean often smells? Or the tones of rotting seashells that are vaguely present? Or will the whole thing just be that icky, 'fresh' aldehydic stuff that perfume companies claim are 'marine' scents? 'Strolling through the garden' sounds nice, cux the odors are clearly deliniated: peachy freesia, lilac, honeysuckle, rose... Unfortunately the rose is bound to smell disgusting, as most synthetic rose smells do. And also, I wonder if there will be the earthy, soil-like undertone or a fertilizer note. 'Shades of vanilla' sounds just stupid. And where is the autumn story?! It could have 'chapters' like caramel apples, pumpkin pie, leaves blowing in the wind, sitting by the fire and taking a hayride. That would be nice, but of course it would surely smell like shizzle. I'd like to see one that really reproduces natural odors well, like woody odors, complex earthy accords, leafy notes, etc. I wonder if they'll come out with a Christmas one: It could include: 'putting up the tree' with your basic xmas tree accord; 'making the wassail' with notes of orange, cinnamon and mulled wine, 'christmas cookies' with the familiar smell of sugar cookies, buttercream and hints of ginger and cinnamon, 'christmas dinner' with smells of turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie' and 'sitting by the fire' with firewood notes. (I'm all about the firewood smell.)

    At any rate, I'm definitely going to try this thing out, provided it's not insanely expensive. I'd like to see a higer-end fragrance company start doing it. Interestingly, aromaplayer thing is an idea that I used to fantasize about since college, but I never thought that anyone except scent-lovers like me would want to buy something like it. Furthermore, when I would fantasize about it, I envisioned something a bit more complex--my metaphor was more of a symphony than a story. And I envisioned something that would weave odors in and out of each other more often than 30 minutes, something that built from one odor and traveled through several more before climaxing and fading out, of course around a particular theme (with autumn, obviously, being my preferred theme). I think I also envisioned lights and perhaps music coordinating it, but for the most part it was the odor symphony. How interesting that something like this is coming out now. (How disappointing that it's coming out from a company like Febreze--not exactly world-renowned for their mind-blowing scents.) I guess I'd like to see Yankee Candle do something like this, or those French candle people who make that Feu de Bois one I like. Or Votivo. Or even a fragrance shop. Cartier makes spectacular fragrances--it would be great if they did something like this. Or Ralph Lauren, whose home-fragrance line I adored beyond measure way, way back in the day (I think around 10 years ago) when it was out. He had this stuff out once with notes of leather and hay and a horse stable, maybe even horse shit--it really worked, though, and smelled better than all the other home fragrances. (Interestingly, the horse-shit note probably made it smell even more high-class--walk along 5th avenue on museum mile. That's some of the most expensive real estate in the world, and yet most of it smells like horse shit, cux of those horse-drawn buggies that are always going through Central Park, which borders it.) I would really like to see that come back, but like too many really good fragrances, it failed miserably. On the other hand, maybe Erox could make something like the aromadisc, spicing it with human pheromones. They did such a good job on Realm for Women, I can't imagine they wouldn't do it well. Lastly, Demeter would be an instant choice to produce the aromadisc, cux they have/had so many interesting fragrances, which were nearly impossible to wear cux of the lack of fixatives in them. But fixing the fragrance in an aromadisc wouldn't really be an issue. Again lastly, I would buy a Christmas aromadisc from Crabtree & Evelyn, but only a Christmas one, as their other fragrances are really too cloying.

    And that's my beep for today.

    Caldrea in the City

    Caldrea White Clover Fabric SoftenerI am LOVING this stuff, this Caldrea line of products. It's a line of finely fragranced cleaning and body products. Scents include lavender-pine, citrus-mint-ylang ylang, sweet pea and white clover. I especially like White Clover, and bought the hand lotion over the weekend. (It was actually a toss-up between the hand lotion and the fabric softener, but I went for the hand lotion.) the white clover has a full, soft and sweet fresh-cut-grass smell, not too sharp, almost floral, and without that coumarinic undertone. It's really quite nice. I bet it would go OK with vetiver oil, if I were the type to wear vetiver oil anymore (There used to be a day when I would wear Gap Grass with a li'l vetiver oil under it. I also liked the combination of Gap Grass with this Carnation perfume oil that I used to get. It smelled great. You can't find Gap Grass anymore, but you can still get a fake oil of it at that place on 106 & Amsterdam, Scentsations I think it's called.) I also like the lavender-pine a lot - I should definitely get some of those cleaning products. It would prolly smell better than the orange-scented cleaning products we have now. I'm not as keen on the other fragrances, except for White Tea, which I like, but not as much as white clover; but the whole line is pleasant enough.

    In cheap candles news, I saw a Glade 3-in-1 candle that I'd not seen before at KMart the other day. I forget what it was called, and the Glade site, typically, is of no help (it's a really shitty site, this Glade one is). My guess it that it would be Evening at Home. It's one that has, and I don't remember this all that well, Chamomile Tea on the top part, something called Comfort something in the middle (with an accompanying graphic of a leather chair--is is supposed to smell of leather?!), and then Warm Hearth on the bottom (with an accompanying graphic of firewood). It looks like it could be really something, but smelling it didn't reveal much. I suppose I'd have to burn it at home to see what it really smelled like. Also, Glade fragrances always look promising, but then when you actually use them, they tend to smell like shit. Case in point: their Gingerbread Spice candle. I don't know what it smells like, but it certainly doesn't smell like gingerbread. And that's perculiar, because I've seen plenty of cheap gingerbread-scented oil that smells spectacular. And that Grandma's Cookies scent from Airwick smells divine, like Belgian Waffles, and it has a ginger accord in it (that I can't really smell, but it says it does). So why can't Glade make a scent as easy as Gingerbread Spice?! But anyway... I'm excited about this candle, cux if the base really does smell like firewood, then maybe they'll come out with a firewood-scented candle on its own, and that would be GREAT! There's nothing like that out there that's affordable. I think I've said before that there's a candle out there going by the name of Feu de Bois that smells incredible, just like firewood, but it's $45. And the only other alternative is the Firewood candle from White Barn Candle Co., which is quite nice but more of a bouquet (it smells a little like Helmut Lang's Cuiron). So it would be cool if it actually smells nice.

    And that's the fragrance beep for today.

    Incense Is Best!

    I went gandering over the weekend for scents for fall, and it hit me that a great way to create that smoky, burned smell that I associate with autumn would be with, duh, incense! So I thought I'd snoop around and see if I found any incense that's actually good quality, and lo and behold I did! Votivo makes incense, so I was looking at their wood scents, cux what better way to create a firewood smell than with wood incense? I settled on 3 of their scents that I think would work for a smoky, autumny scent: Teak, Mahogany and Tumbleweed. Teak seems to be a dark, dry wood (it also seemed to have an almost moldy note), one that maybe has a whisper of a smoky character anyway. Mahogany seemed to be a richer, fuller wood scent. Tumbleweed was kind of a dry earthy scent, which smelled a little like this synthetic vetiver I found once; it seemed like it would work for a dried leaves kind of smell. I ended up getting Mahogany, and spending more than I should have on it--in this place on Avenue A they had the Teak incense for $12, but they didn't have Mahogany, so I ended up spending $19(!) on it at Details in the West Village. So if you're in the mood for Votivo incense, especially the Red Currant one (cux that's the one everyone has shitloads of), buy it in the East Village. I just wish I could remember the name of the store.

    At this store, they also had that line of really expensive candles with the French names that textwrap on the label (which I think is a little precious in the pejorative sense). I wish I could afford them, cux their Feu de Bois is second to none. I'm assuming it means 'firewood' cux the words and scent convey that. It really smells quite natural. It oughtta, though, for $45!! (!!!) The room fragrance for the feu de bois, interestingly, is terrible. There's a weird mossy/moldy/off note in there somewhere, and it doesn't really smell like firewood. Their Tubereuses candle is also top-notch. Once I was at Sephora, when they still had the perfume organ, smelling stuff--the woman gave me a sample of the West Indian Tuberose; it was the most amazing thing I've ever smelled--it was a rich, full and sweet floral that actually smelled like that candy Smartees. I thought it was the most amazing scent; and interestingly, it smelled NOTHING like the tuberose absolute/essential oil you can buy, which has the vaguest hint at something floral but is mostly a peculiar oily green scent which isn't all that pleasant (a lot of essentail oils are like that--why does the Carnation oil at Enfleurage, for example, not smell like honey-clove-floral-green?! Why does the Narcissus not smell like much of anything?! Osmanthus is supposed to have a cherry-almond-leather note mingling with a spicy floral, so why doesn't it smell like anythying?! Jasmines are the only thing that are very impressive--even Neroli is crap most of the time you smell it! I've only smelled ONE Neroli Bigarade oil in my whole life that really smelled like the blooming orange groves of my youth). Anyway, their Tubereuse candle smells like the West Indian tuberose oil that Sephora had. It's quite amazing, really. They have a new one too--a New Mown Hay smell (I can't remember the French); unfortunately, it doesn't smell like new mown hay to me. It doesn't really even smell like coumarin, seemingly. It smells like powdery honey. I thought new mown hay was supposed to smell like, well, hay, or at least tonka bean, which smells incredible and pretty much can't be found in New York anymore. (Everyone says you can find everything in New York--well, you can't find tonka absolute; neither can you find beeswax or really good floral absolutes. An aromatherapy-addicted friend of mine has never even heard of cassie; and the only time I've ever seen genet was a long time ago in a line that Aveda discontinued. Until recently, in fact, it was difficult to find a good vanilla!) So the new-mown-hay thing is a bust.

    Speaking of new-mown-hay, that's becoming the theme for that fall home-fragrance oil I'm making for myself. Well, more like Wood Masquerading as New Mown Hay with Spice Notes. Basically it just involves putting some warmer notes in it, which on the whole give a new mown hay type nuance. Anyway, we'll see how the blend turns out.

    And that's it for today.

    Autumn Breezing Through My Mind

    Out of the blue: I don't know why this blog is listed in the Yahoo! Australia/New Zealand directory.

    Sigh. Making a fall blend is something that occupies my mind every year. Just something to occupy my mind. This year I want to make some kind of scent blend that's autumny and combines dry woody, firewoody, hay/tonka-like, and spicy notes. And other fall-like notes. So I'm thinking I want to combine lots of cedar into possibly a tonka base and mix in other notes, including clove and chamomile. I'm thinking there should be earthy notes and the like in it as well. I was smelling stuff at Enfleurage the other day, and here's what I think would work:
    Virginian cedar, carrotseed (for the earthiness), perhaps juniper wood, frankincense, hay, cistus labdanum absolute (I smelled one that smells just like Bel Ami by Hermes), perhaps ginger CO2-extraction, and maybe Peru Balsam. And of course some kind of synthetic amber/leather/suede/firewood scent. Basically lots of cedar with hay/tonka/dry notes and some spice thrown in.

    And that's it. Damn I'm bored.

    Autumn Notes

    tonka beansJust a quickner note. I want to mix up some kind of autumny scent with oils, but I want it to be dry, woody, hay-like, firewoody, with hints of spice. I'm guessing that notes like cedar, hay, tonka, cistus, balsam, frankincense, carrotseed, leather/suede/firewood, helichrysium and clove would work well. I think chamomile would work well too. Last night I mixed up some clove and chamomile (since I actually own some of both) and it worked spectacularly. And that's all I wanted to say; that clove and chamomile blend very well together. And if you don't think so, you STINK!


    Oops. I've worn too much cologne today. I guess I should have showed a little more restraint, considering I am wearing Halston Z-14, which can be pretty strong. I know I'm wearing too much cux it's making my own nose tickle a little. Oop. However, the people on the subway weren't coughing and theater-sneezing, as they usually do when I put on too much. Yet I'm pretty sure I overdid it. Well, it's been on for over an hour, so it should be quickly losing its maximum piquancy. And I did just wipe a little off (I hate doing that).

    The problem with wearing too much cologne is not that it might set off peoples' allergies (and much of the time I don't think said allergies even exist; you can see this in the staged, exaggerated way that people sneeze and cough when they know someone is wearing fragrance, usually cux someone told them. I've noticed that if no one tells them, and the fragrance isn't strong enough to be detected from miles, then these people don't react). It's that someone might come up to you (especially at work) and ask you to stop wearing cologne cux they can't deal with it. And what choice do you have then?! You (usually) have to stop wearing it. So the objective is not to wear so much that people get to put on the whole I'm-a-victim-of-cologne show.

    Since I'm talking about overcologning, I'll just say it: I wear too damn much anyway. Cux I wanna smell it! I know you're not supposed to be able to smell your own fragrance (and that you still can on a level under your conscious awareness), but what's the point of wearing it if you can't smell it at least a little?! (This is why I've been known to put some kind of scent on my chin [vanilla oleoresin/absolute is good for this] or on a scent strip that I affix to my glasses, to have a smell in my personal space.) Maybe it's lameazoid, but I'm a fragrance fiend, and I have to wear them! So gnak! If only my nose were more sensitive, I wouldn't have to wear as much. Sigh.... Oh but for a harmless pill that would enhance your sense of smell (not to mention hearing and sight).... Sigh....

    There are exciting new air freshener thingies out with unexciting scents! I saw some over the weekend--one that is battery operated and sprays a scent throughout the day (or something like that). The unfortunate thing is that it's by Glade, and it has the same tired, never-all-that-great, focused-grouped-into-nothing scents that they always have: the 'outdoor green fresh' accord and the 'vaguely floral buy really synthetic smelling' accord. And I think I saw some by Oust too, but they're similar: the vaguely green outdoor fresh scent and the citrus-but-weirdly-metallic scent. I would love to see a battery-powered air freshener that sprays scent all day in a scent that's pleasing and works with the home. Some suggestions: teakwood; cedre & santal; firewood; tonka/coumarin; fresh cut grass; vanilla cookies; freshly-baked bread; suede; clove/allspice; fig; tomato leaf; frankincense..... There are so many other scents; why do Glade et al. always make their products so pedestrian?! (I actually just sent them a note from their website about that.)

    Oh, and talk of firewood and suede reminds me: Bath and Body Works had their Wallflowers plug-in units on sale for $5 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) for last weekend only. If I hadn't been spending a small fortune on my party, I would have bought 10 (OK, maybe not ten; probably 4, though). The Wallflowers and their candles are actually made by The White Barn Candle Co., and the quality is superior. I bought two Wallflowers, one in Sweet Cinammon Pumpkin for autumn (I can't get enough of the smell of spiced pumpkin; it's my favorite, no matter how synthetic or decadent it smells) and Kitchen Spice to add to the vanilla/fresh baked/confection fragrance aesthetic of my housewarming party. Kitchen Spice isn't really a spice scent; it's more of a gourmand scent, with notes of vanilla, mocha, buttercream and hazelnut, and touches of nutmeg - it's nice. I would have gotten cucumber melon, but it's so hackneyed; I did not get spiced cider, because it's really not that pleasant. But that sale's over; there are, however, other things to check out: they have a car scenter now, in most of the usual fragrances, but there's one that's new and I think it's called suede. There wasn't a tester to smell, but the people behind the counter had an opinion on it: they didn't like it. They said it smelled 'burned.' Interesting. 'Burned like burnt rubber or like firewood?' I asked (cux I've smelled a cheap 'leather' oil that smelled like burnt rubber, kind of like lower Manhattan after 9/11), and they replied that it's like firewood. That sounds wonderful! One day I might try it, but I really have to smell it first. As far as their other products, their new higher-end candles are stunning. The Basil scent is complex and very sophisticated. If I wasn't po-as-hell I would get it. But the others are just as nice: the firewood one is fantastic, if it does smell somewhat like Cuiron by Helmut Lang. The Clove could certainly be more clove-y and, well, just more all around (I mean, Esté Lauder's Spellbound can be read as a clovelike scent, and it's unbelievable); the Orange Flower is an interesting bouquet, very full. I forget the other scents, but the point is it's a great line.

    Another always-superior line of home fragrances is the Pier One line. Harvest Pumpkin Spice (formerly Harvest Spice; I guess pumpkin consciousness is raising, since they added pumpkin to the name) is out again; it's the bestest fragrance ever ever ever!! Don't let autumn slip away without buying some of this! You can even use it as a linen spray; in fact, that's prolly the best use, cux it fades less quickly. Or, rather, get a candle. Duhr. Along with Harvest Pumpkin Spice comes Cinnamon Bun, an OK attempt. They're actually doing quite a bit of gourmand scents now - buttercream vanilla, caramel vanilla, spiced pear. Well, it's good to see it. They have a new Clove out too, but I forget the name. This one smells more like traditional clove bud. The original, titled simply Clove (and with the candle is GREEN(?!?!)) didn't really smell anything like clove buds. It must have been over my head. I wish they'd come out with a banana bread candle. Maybe they have, who knows.... I also like their First Bloom candle. And I'm sure some great Multiples candle involving pumpkin spice will come out in the autumn, as there was one last year (I'd not seen one before last year). Can't wait to see what it is.

    And that's the fragrance beep for now.

    Halston Gets Discounty at KMart. Film at 11:03

    Just a quick post. I was @ Kmart the other day, the one in Penn Station (not Astor Place), and picked up a bottle of Halston Z-14, which, surprisingly, was priced at only $12. But with the 30% off-lowest-price of all fragrances there, it clocked out at $9. Not bad! And I love the scent! It's lush, citrusy-mossy-lush, opening with a powerburst of sweet bergamot, drying down through mossy notes underlined with tonka and amber and earthy notes. It's really nice, and it is an old-line fragrance, with that older-man smell. But I don't care. I like it. I think it's that marriage of mossy notes with amber that does that. But fragrances of that time were good, you know. I think I still perfer Aramis (which I don't have) for the kind of smell, but Halston Z-14 seems to be richer. And of course it has that great bottle. I'm thinking that since Z-14 is so nice, maybe I should pick up a bottle of 1-12, which they had at Kmart. From the description I read at, it seems like 1-12 would be similar, but less spicy and warm (less benzoin and tonka) and more coniferous/fresh (it has notes of pine, lavender, galbanum and 'green notes'). I'll have to drop by and check it out. At those prices, how can you lose, really?. Also, with everything 30% off, it might be a good time to look at other fragrances, just to see what they cost.

    Well that's that. Beep.