Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Bath & Body Works

I gotta admit, since I live in Sweden now I do occasionally think of places like BBW.  So I had a gander on their website to see what they're offering now. So I checked out the holiday offerings: eh.  Then I clicked on View All Fragrances. And as I scrolled down, I was like, "Hey! Their fragrances have started to get sophisticated!" But then my brain corrected me: It's doubtful whether the actual fragrances have, especially considering how meh most of them usually are.  But certainly the NAMES of the fragrances, and maybe the concepts, have.  Here are some I would love to smell:

-Bonfire Maplewood (Would it smell like barbeque potato chip flavor or maple syrup? Probably the latter)

-Cranberry Pear Bellini (What's a bellini, by the by? I thought it was a potato pancake.)

-Cranberry Woods

-French Baguette----this one is really intriguing to me.  Because who hasn't wanted to find the smell of fresh bread available at your fingertips??!  I can't imagine it's photorealistic, though. And my thought is: Why bother doing it if it's not? That's the whole idea of a fresh-baked bread accord--recreate a simple, beautiful smell that everyone thought couldn't be accurately reproduced. And if it reproduces the smell of the bread and the bakery (realistically), so much the better! But having gotten excited about cheap (and expensive) scents before only to end up disappointed (too often), I won't even dare thing that this scent lives up to the hype. But if it does, I would LOVE to get my hands on it! I would put it around the house, mix up experiments with it..... If there were a BBW here and this scent was good (like the Body Shop's Steamed Milk oil a few years ago was), I would buy as much as I could.

-Mahogany Teakwood---What what?!?!  Really?? That SOUNDS great. I wonder if it smells as good as it sounds. This seems like the kind of scent I would HOPE would smell a really good interpretation of wood, complex and deep, with notes heading in directions like tobacco and incense and sap---of course the reality would probably be a thin little 'fresh wood' thing, a one-note woodamber or a re-used amber-as-in-Youth Dew thing. Basically my expectations would be very low. You'd think they would exceed them, but it doesn't usually happen.

-Marshmallow Fireside--This seems like a really good concept. But when I think about how it would be executed, I'm not sure if it could be done well. It's probably more marshmallow than fireside. In fact, I would venture to guess that the 'fireside' part of it probably is just some burnt sugar nuances, maybe even from that most ubiquitous of molecules, ethyl maltol. Speaking of which, someone by now must have named her daughter Ethyl Maltol, right? It just seems like the kind of thing someone should have done by now, someone who loves loves LOVES Angel (and a lot of people love Angel). Of course there are other caramellic notes out there, one in particular that I quite love called Homofuranol, if I have the spelling right. I think it can also be called shoyu furanone. Nice, caramel, a bit maple, bready, a little burnt. I think I prefer it to ethyl maltol, and I wonder if it's as versatile. There's also a caramellic material I've smelled called Levistamel, which I think has a pine facet (or was it celery?). I would guess you could use it (or any of them) for the sappy note that Florida pine trees have. Anyone care to comment?         Oh, and since this is called Marshmallow Fireside, I guess I should mention that I quite loved the original Fireside. It didn't smell like a fire or like smoke to me--more just like dry woods with a bit of a suede quality if I recall--but it was very, very nice. I would've worn it as a personal fragrance! (I probably did, actually--I'm prone to that sort of behavior.)

-Snowed In---I love the concepts of these types of scents. The execution almost never fails to disappoint me, however.

-Winter Night--more of the fireplace with clove and conifer and incense. Could it be as good as it sounds?

And over in the home section they have something called Cashmere Glow, which I would like to smell purely out of curiosity. See, every time I see Cashmere in the name of a scent I think "Cashmeran! It must have Cashmeran!" I don't think that's necessarily true, however. But I've heard people say that the phrase 'cashmere woods' usually refers to Cashmeran as a note, and I've smelled some cashmerical things that seemed to be about Cashmeran-----On the other hand, I'm sure there are other ways to get a 'soft' feeling in a scent, if that's what cashmere should imply. Velvione, I would presume. and Iso-E Super is famous for the 'velvety' texture it can impart, but then it's probably already in everything, even your breast milk. I would think that someone would want to do a 'cashmere without Cashmeran.' Then again, maybe people have come to expect that anything with Cashmere in the title would smell of Cashmeran.  After all, cashmere wool doesn't have a smell of its own, does it? I'm too poor to know these things. Maybe it smells like lanolin?      But antyganoo... I still think it's a little strange that this musk called Cashmeran got so associated with, well, cashmere. Because if you smell it, it's so strange---I smell something piney, clean, chemical and bright, and I get the musk aspect of it but I still haven't really gotten the cashmere aspect or the red-fruit nuance. It's also supposed to support floral notes well and have what's been described as a musty aspect that people liken to wet concrete, blood and mushroom. Are these things you think of when you think of cashmere?  I just think it's funny.  I'm sure the people who branded the molecule knew what they were doing.    And now back to the scent.  The copy says something about vanilla and peach "wrapped in the softest cashmere musk." So what say you, peeps? Is it Cashmeran?

And that's pretty much it for the scents. The only thing left to mention is the design of everything. I must say I'm impressed. I love the way the packaging looks now--has it come a long way or did I just learn to expect too little?  Even the website design is good, with a section on "exploring -their- world of fragrance."  Well done.

And I know this is a post about BBW, but I wanna mention The Body Shop briefly (and whoever accused me of being coherent in my posts anyway?!). When I was in college I expected a lot from them, probably because I still had naff, crappy taste, considering I think I still owned a bottle of Passion for Men, which may have been perfectly OK in terms of smell, but otherwise is too humiliating to contemplate. At least I always thought the bottle was ghastly. I loved Leap and the Strawberry oil that smelled like strawberry ice cream. And Satsuma, with its citrus candy, none-of-the-off-notes-of-real-citrus blaze. and later I loved some of their limited edition oils like Steamed Milk and the Almond they did, which to me smelled like the most amazing coumarin note ever and just went on and on.  That one I'm sure I wore as a fragrance, although I probably put it on my clothes.  Anyway, you get the point--I used to like them. But then something happened a few years ago, before I moved across the pond. They stopped making the cool home scent oils and came out with 3 (or is it 4?) that have never changed. One is vanilla-tonka, which sounds amazing but smells nothing like either vanilla OR tonka to me. If I had to conjecture, I'd say it smelled like a marketing meeting. And, of course, they come out with 3 Christmas scents every year: their Cranberry (which I LOVE but seldom buy--it's like cranberry but deeper, with what I've always perceived as rich, grape-like notes), something with a lemony ginger that is supposed to feel like gingerbread but is more like the spice alone (maybe whoever they get their stuff from had a lot of some ginger accord left over from when ginger was everywhere and NOT exiled to the Christmas season), and something they call Vanilla packaged in a yellowy cream color. This year it's the same. The ginger is OK--it smells like all the other gingers they've put out, and probably is. The vanilla this year is odd. I like it in the body products, where it smells rich and creamy. But in the oil (and for some reason this never comes out right with their vanillas--they've never smelled as good as a simple dilution of vanillin, or even Isobutavan, would; maybe this is due to discoloration issues) it's horrid. At least out of the bottle. Maybe diluted in the air it smells fine, but out of the bottle it's very fatty and dry, a bit coconut too but more of the fatty dryness which is unpleasant. If I were highfalutin I might say that it smells 'lactonic'--that is, of lactones (obviously), but more specifically, fatty, buttery, fruity often with a coconut angle. I kinda want to buy a bottle to see what I can do with it--experiment with blending it with other stuff and seeing what happens.  But then I smell it and I can't bring myself to buy it, because it's just not pretty. And I also remember when I've bought things like that before and it didn't end in some great mind-expanding whatever, but just with a difficult scent that I can't do anything with. Also, I much prefer mixing up things that I'm certain of what they are, so if I want to mix up a lactonic thing, I could just get some Aldehyde C-18 ("so-called," for the terminology nazis out there) and play with that, even though I'm not totally crazy about the smell of it either (but it smells better than this Body Shop thing). Because with the C18, at least you know other people are blending it too, and you can google their experiences or just ask people on basenotes about them. Whereas if you're blending up Body Shop oils, well, people might just think you're a Silly Person!  So there!

And that's the gzornk for the moment.  Flerp!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


 I made a find yesterday at H&M. I love looking at cheapass scents and seeing if I could wear them or put something in them. So I was at the counter and smelled some lily thing--it was called something with Lily in the name--and found it intriguing.  So since it was 25kr, I bought it. I figured I could always give it to someone to give to their kid if I hated it. But the more I smelled it, the more I was like, "This is like a friendlier version of Amarige!" In the same way that that Body Shop summer Galaxolide thing was like a less bosomy version of Tresor. I think the lily thing had the salicylate/wintergreen type thing that Amarige has going on (because when I smell something with lots of salicylates I think Amarige), but it also felt a bit lighter, and perhaps with a kind of baked apple note or something. It was quite nice! And when I applied it simultaneously as that Zara thing that I added the entire kitchen to, it was rather lovely. A fresh apple vanilla dingleboppenelle with a musk base.  Oh yeah, and I added Auratouch to the bottle of Lily stuff.  That's the thing with cheap fragrances--you can tinker and it doesn't matter if you fuck it up.

In other bagooshes, I'm making this frankincense gadoogle for myself with frankincense, benzoin, musks, agarwood base, a flurboosh of Suederal and some other things, and I'm liking it.  But it's really not diffusive at all.  I don't understand that. Usually when I put something I wear on I can smell it (although I often don't connect it with myself--I'll usually think 'What's that amazing smell?' or 'Who's wearing that perfume with the great musk?' or 'Someone's wearing awesome deodorant!' before realizing it's me), but with this, nothing. I can smell it if I smell my hand, but it doesn't fly.  It's a mystery.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Today's Perfumed Day

So today I went to NK just to look around, but also to see if they carried original Polo, in the green bottle. That's my xmas scent, see, or at least it has been for several years. Oddly, I can't seem to find it in Stockholm, except at the Ralph Lauren boutique, where evil is born (but where they carry great candle smells). Isn't that weird? That you can find that garish "Big Pony" line everywhere and Polo Blue as well but not the best in the line? Do Swedes have no taste in perfume? (Answer: They don't have any more taste than Americans.) So today I found myself in NK. I didn't find the Polo, but I didn't look very hard. I did stop at the Byredo counter, however, which I always stop at in NK. You can't really avoid it--location, location, location, location.

And I thought what I always think when I'm at the Byredo counter: "OK, I'm gonna approach this with an open mind.  Surely there's something amazing here that I've missed. I'm going to find it." Actually, that was my second thought, when the salesperson spoke to me (and they always do). My first thought was just "I'm going to spray on the incense one and then look around," but then the salesperson makes the effort of walking 3 steps and saying something and you feel like you have to look, so I thought I'd give the brand another sniff.  

Full disclosure: I applied for some job at Byredo before I even came over here, and I put in a lot of flattery that I didn't mean. And since I wasn't really familiar with the line anyway, I'm sure it came out hollow.  So if anyone thinks while reading this, "But you said in that letter...." there you go.

So I spray on the incense one, which is OK and I peep a little at the others. You know that Byredo is a Swedish brand, right? Well, you could say that Byredo perfumes are a lot like first impressions of Swedes themselves: well put together, pretty, doesn't say much. The exception here is the M/Mink, or M/Ink--whatever it is. The name is confusing. That's quite interesting.  I'm not sure if it's wearable, but it's interesting. Further props to Byredo for actually training their staff, as the girl who told me about it noted that it had Adoxal in it.  (Note the staff is well-trained. I don't think they care about the perfumes; I think they were hired more for how they look. But I've never met anyone at a perfume counter who knew or cared much about perfume.)  But anyway, so I start gandering through the line.

There was one called Black Saffron, and I was sure it would smell like Safraleine. But it didn't. It didn't even smell like saffron to me.  I found it confusing. There was another that smelled interesting, metallic I think I perceived it. The rep told me that it had notes of plum, leather and osmanthus (there's that training again!). Kinda interesting.  Of course, it was about to be launched in Dubai, so it would only be in sthlm for a short time. You know, I would love to smell what they sell in the Middle East.  Isn't Yatagan supposed to be big there?  Do you think it's all heavy orientals and animalic smells? Maybe one day I'll find out.

So I'm then smelling the regular brand, and I pick one up that I think was called Palermo.  Something with a P. And at first sniff, I'm like, "This is IT! This is the STUFF!!" So I spray it on a tester and then walk off, thinking I'd finally discovered something from Byredo that I could LOVE. 

But it wasn't to be. (I'm really feeling paragraphy today!)

The more I smelled it, the more it seemed like a generic citrus-leaf kinda thing. I think I'd hoped it would be this amazing, zippy green blast that they made last a long time, but it wasn't. I kept thinking that I could probably make something close enough to it, maybe with a tomato leaf base and some Stemone or Z3hex.  Or maybe just dilute some Stemone in alcohol--I love that stuff.  So the verdict on Byredo remains: Competently done fragrances that you could pretty much find cheaper elsewhere, although probably without the magnetic bottle cap. Their incense is loverly, but Commes des Garcons has an incense line. I'm sure Serge Lutens has something fantastic in incense. So yeah.

So I kept on through NK, kinda wondering whether I'd reached my limit with perfumes and nothing would wow me anymore.  So I walk into Hermes.  I smell the Vetiver Tonka, and I get it now. I didn't get it before, but now I think I see why they call it that.  I get what's supposed to connote vetiver and the very general impression of tonka intended.  All in all I think it's a weak effort, and I'm not sure who the person is who is supposed to wear it.   So I go over to the regular perfumes.  Un Jardin sur la toit (forgive any name butchering, pedants): I hadn't smelled this, so I was excited. But I didn't like it.  It smelled like a rehash of a bunch of other things they've put out. That vegetal note with that rosy thing. Blah. So then I smelled Un Jardin apres la Mousson, and...


I like this.  I really, really, really like this. My immediate thought was, "Hermes does an ozone." I don't know if that was right or not but who cares.  It's amazing. It's like someone took the ozone feel of Demeter's Thunderstorm or, to a lesser extent, Rain and made a real perfume out of it. Ozone, light flowers, green notes with a peppery feel, maybe some melon-type fruitiness(?)... And it lasts! On paper! Not sure about skin yet. But the point is that it's fantastic. Watery, natural, balanced, gentle. Sometimes it veers into these 'cool floral' notes that I'm not crazy about, maybe slightly into geranium territory, but that's fine, because the rest of it is so incredible.  I want to wear this every summer. I need a holiday to wear this. Maybe Celeditude? Maybe if they come out with an orange blossom version.

So then I smelled my old favorites, Bel Ami and Equipage, and HOLD THE PHONE!!!! Has Equipage been reformulated???? This doesn't smell like all the Equipage I've ever smelled.  Strangely enough, I like it better. Today's Equipage shimmered, practically sparkled. It's like someone took that part that I've always really liked about the scent, which reads to me as something like tonka/hay/chamomile/straw/golden, and turned it WAY up. At the first sniff, it was almost sibilant. But I was very pleased with it. It does seem like a much brighter fragrance now, which also means that it doesn't seem to have that crumpled, lived-in quality that I've seen it described with before. So it's not as soft and natural-smelling. I used to wear this to job interviews, but I'm not really sure if I could do that now.  Still, I quite like it.  I'd like to have both of them, but since I doubt I could, I'll take this new one.  If indeed it's the scent that's new and not my nose. But I know it doesn't smell like the bottle in my drawer.

As for Bel Ami, I think it smelled the same. It was hard to tell. Maybe everything smelled brighter in the store.  And then I smelled Rocabar again. I've smelled this before, but never fell head over heels in love with it like I did with Bel Ami, and then later Equipage. But I was smelling it today and realized that it smells quite like Baldessarini to me! But not as round. I don't really know if it's a conifer scent or not, but it kept making me think conifer.  So then I started wondering if maybe IT should be my new xmas scent! Or, rather, a xmas-and-general purpose-scent. And even though it presumably costs more than Baldessarini (which I do still love), I think I could probably take the risk that I wouldn't like it as much as I'd hoped, simply because it's Hermes, and I've never been dissatisfied by an Hermes scent before (not one that I've bought--I wore a sample of that one named for a bag once, and it was OK, but I wasn't like staining my shorts for it. And that Terre one--I've never gotten very much into it.), and if it's one that's been around as long as Rocabar (how long has it been around? I hope it wasn't introduced 5 years ago--that could get embarrassing), then maybe there's something to recommend it.

So that was today's perfumed day.  And just as a final aside, if anyone out there really, really LOVED that old Body Shop scent that was sort of chocolatey-themed but kinda naive and not as good as the Comptoir Sud Pacifique one but better than Dark Temptation and all the Bath and Body Works stabs at cocoa, then you're in luck. Get thee to Zara and get some of the Zara Chocolate Woman, because they're practically GIVING it away! It smells just like that Body Shop one (which always smelled like it should have been a base) and you can get the roll-on thingie for only 19 SEK (priced at 49)!! I'm probably gonna try to unscrew the top and maybe add some Isobutavan or ethyl maltol to it, or maybe Auratouch. Because I can't leave well enough alone.  And because it was only 19 SEK!!!! 19 SEK!!!! That's like $2 and change, but considering that everything here costs a fortune it's practically FREE!!! But don't expect sophistication. You can't get that for 19 SEK. Go now before they run out and all that's left are the underwhelming Blueberry and Cherry!!

Ed Shepp

Thursday, July 05, 2012


I'm fascinated by Tonalide, and I've also had a couple glasses of wine, which as we all know, is the only way I can post anymore (this makes me like Courtney Love, right? Please tell me it makes me like Courtney Love! And on a related note, WOW! It's amazing how having to switch back and forth from the foreign keyboard you use at work and the American one you use at home [U!S!A! U!S!A!!!!!] will make you feel like a total RETARD!!!!!!]), so I'm posting. Umm, yeah.  So... Tonalide.  Does anyone else out there feel like it 'pushes up' a fragrance?  We all know I dabble, folks, and I prefer to dabble with pre-made scents, since it's both so hard to get perfumer's alcohol and commercial scents already have all the desirable additives.... Anyway, when I add Tonalide, it just seems to push up everything. It adds a sweet, fruity volume to everything.  And I mean VOLUME.  When I first used it, I noticed that it added a drydown very much like Downy fabric softener.  Now when I add it I realize that I can smell everything better, as if I'f turned up the volume on everything and added a fruity sweet thing underneath.  Does anyone else have this experience? If so/not, what do you find DOES 'turn up the volume' on stuff? I would hope that Cosmone would, as it's supposed to add 'cosmetic volume,' but who would know, since it's so expensive?? Velvione does not, but it adds a great, antiquated, face-powder feel. Exaltolide seems to just enhance things overall, but not really push them up. Galaxolide gives things a Tresor like feel. I can't figure out what Celestolide does. Ambrettolide seems to give a tartness, but I'm not sure what I would add it to. So what does Tonalide do? Does anyone out there find it does anything special?

Friday, June 08, 2012

Anisaldehyde, etc.

Do y'allz have those notes where you get an aromachemical and you're all like, "This is the PERFECT _____ note!!!!!" (until later, of course, when you realize that it's only PART of the note, but at the time you thought it was the Alpha and the Omega??) Well, I have them all the time.  When I get new aromachems.  For example, when I got methyl diantilis, I was like, "This is the perfect carnation!!!! This is the only thing I need! I'll just dilute this and then I'll be happy forever!" Later, of course, I got isoeugenol, and I had a similar reaction, but then it was tempered with thoughts like, 'They say this is like methyl diantilis, and it is! Only with a faint suggestion of ham!'

But today I finally got my anisaldehyde, which I feared might not get here at all, since you can make Los Drogas out of it, apparently (although my 4 milliliters couldn't possibly make much--maybe a microscopic grain of something?).  I've smelled anisyl acetate, which smells.... pink. Kinda fruity in cherry way, kinda powdery. Someone at a job once described it as smelling like a cheap perfumer for girls.  I've also smelled acetophenone (which may or may not be related, but smells very like bitter almond--strong, almondy, quick... in other words, super-awesome.  The main descriptors describe it as floral, as in hawthorn, and mimosa--I'll have to take them on their word, since I'm not really familiar with those flowers in nature. But apparently mimosa has a sweet, cherry-almond-vanilla-heliotrope type smell.  From what I can guess) and acetanisole, which I remember being disappointed in, as I expected a vanillic, hay-like, maybe spicy note that I didn't at the time perceive.

...Back to anisaldehyde.  The Good Scents Company says it smells 'anisic,' but when I first smelled it from the bottle I was like, 'This is the hay I've been looking for all my life!!!! This is the hay-tonka missing link!' Of course, 10 seconds later I realized that it could be a component, a building block, of the hay-tonka accord.  And even later I realized how cherry-almond it smells, but of course, tonka has always smelled partly almondy to me.  And since anisaldehyde supposedly lasts +40 hours, maybe it would be a good component for hay.  Coumarin + tobacco absolute + dimethyl hydroquinone + anisaldehyde? What am I missing???  Surely I'm missing something. Of course, if I actually tried (again) to make a hay thing, I'm sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that the ingredient list would swell to the thousands.  Such is how I do...

In my order today, the anisaldehyde was the only thing new.  The rest was: 2 salicylates (hexyl and Z3hexenyl), generic greenish ones, as opposed to generic floral ones (amyl and isoamyl); Florosa (I think I'm starting to get how it's a floralizer now); Givaudan's Lindenblossom base (is this in Curve Men??? Or is it the anisaldehyde or Florosa I'm smelling? Sometimes they get mixed up in a shipment; also, now that I smell this again, I'm really getting 'perfumery linden' from it now--before I just got *strong tangy green floral*.   I also get a little bit of a violet smell from it when a little gets on my hands); and Galaxolide 50%, which I've had enough exposure to that I can smell it when I uncap the bottle (until I start mixing; then I can only sort of recall it from memory. The best part about Galaxolide is that when you smell it, you think of Tresor, which has I think 21% Galaxolide in the formula.)

And that's the fragrance beep for today.  Flerp!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Truth or Dare

So I just zambled into Kicks over the weekend to spray something sweet 'n sparkling on, and what do I see? Truth or Dare by Madonna, right there for sale!  And for not too much money!  So I got it, more as an artifact than a fragrance.  And now I'm blogging about it.

Now, it seems from the online reviews I've read of it that, when you post your own review, you have to start out describing your relationship to Madonna.  Or, rather, that you "never really liked her much" or "never listened to her" or "don't know who she is."  It's pretty amazing how a completely ubiquitous cultural presence escapes some people!  On the other hand, I guess you could talk about how you grew up with Madonna and she was such an inspiration to you and blah blah blah blah.....  Well, here's my disclaimer:

I was in grade school in the 80s, so I loved Madonna music, especially the remixes. And I loved the whole Madonna mythology---I'm not very bright, so I bought it all, even the whole "drop me off in the middle of everything" thing when she supposedly came to Times Square after dropping out of college.  Or something. I guess I was a fan for a long time, but not an obsessive one, especially after American Life, which is the last album I remember paying attention. (Don't get me started on American Life, either. I've thought too much about an album so musically, and especially lyrically, blah.) (Or was it Beautiful Stranger? Was that after American Life? I can never keep track.) I never went to a Madonna concert, and now it feels like I missed the best chance to go by 20 years. (And I wouldn't go to a Madonna concert now unless someone bought me the ticket--I'm not made of money!) But I have done covers of Madonna songs, and I've seen the DVDs of The Girlie Show and The Virgin Tour a zillion times. (For some reason we had our own copy of a videotape of The Virgin Tour back when I was a kid. I remember wondering how it was possible that the person singing on stage was the same person as the one on the album--they sounded so different.)

So anyway, there's my Madonna connection.  Not that it makes any difference, because I'm sure anyone reading this will impose some hidden agenda on anything I have to say anyway.  So on to the perfume.

First of all, the packaging.  I like the black and white picture on the outer box, but it's pretty lame how the name of the scent is not embossed onto it.  It's "Photoshop-embossed," which isn't really the same thing.  The inner box is kinda ugly too.  The bottle: Ugh. It's really even uglier than it appears in pictures.  I just don't understand this packaging.  It looks really cheap and ugly. Maybe there is some symbolism I'm missing in the studs on the bottle. Am I missing something?  Ugh, so butt ugly.  Why so cheap?  But then you don't judge a perfume by the bottle. (Unless it's Estee Lauder's Bronze Goddess Capri, in which case you look at it and you're just like, "I want that on my shelf. Just to see it." Well, if you're me you think that.)

OK, the scent.  I don't like it. I've read that the idea is that it was mostly a tribute to her mother--to the perfume she always wore--with a bit of a Madonna twist. I guess I can see that.  Either her mother wore Fracas or White Shoulders, in that case. But this isn't as good as either of those, and White Shoulders is pretty wretch-inducing (it makes me think of an old Southern belle, stressing old--it's just too much for me, but I could see there being times when I wouldn't mind smelling it.  It also makes me think of looking at colleges in the Deep South--maybe that's really why I don't like it, but I won't elaborate on that now). What I get from the fragrance is a dry tuberose, but with opening notes that to me smell like Glade air freshener---that pink one that so many people seem to like.  Nils gets creamy vanilla and rose, but I can't get past this interpretation of tuberose. I can smell, distantly, how it's related to Fracas, but hedonically they're not the same at all. The opening notes in this are too sweet-in-an-unpleasant-cheap-floral way, and when they burn off you're just left with a dowdy, dry, not-particularly-pleasant tuberose.  It's dowdy, and some people have described it as "old lady"--a fair description, because this is kind of an old-fashioned style, at least to my nose.  I makes me think of Fracas (which I do like, but it's not my favorite scent), White Shoulders and Chloe. For tuberose, though, I prefer Michael, Fragile and even Kim Kardashian (I think my favorite would be Fragile).

I have to say that the scent surprises me, even as it disappoints. I did not expect this direction, and maybe that's because I wasn't paying attention. After all, the last time I remember Madonna and perfume being mentioned together, it was in some magazine (way back in the day) where it said she wore Youth Dew (talk about dowdy packaging!), which is something closer to what I would expect.  But this fragrance.... I dunno, maybe it's that whole Madonna-as-English-Lady thing, where she tries to be "classy." (Or, dare I say it, maybe this is just another one of those endless Madonna tributes to her mother that just doesn't work.  Think of that song on American Life for an example.) Being a perfume nut, I was always curious about the hypothetical of what a Madonna scent would smell like, and frankly I thought it would be something bolder: maybe a crazy animal or rubber accord, or something stark, designed to smell like metal. Or maybe something just trashy and fun, like a harder version of one of those Escada throwaway fruity things (which I kinda love, actually). Or maybe even something difficult.  But not a dowdy dry white flower thing.  Nils notes that the fragrance is strong, and I guess that at least stays true to the Madonna myth.  But if I would imagine Madonna doing a tuberose, I would think it would be bigger, more lushly creamier, maybe with big, syrupy berry notes or those super-sweet candy notes that I think smell like Smartees (the American ones, not the British ones). Or I would expect something dark and inky. (I just realized that I didn't mention Carnal Flower as one of my favorites. I suppose that would be my favorite tuberose fragrance, but it seldom comes to mind because I IS POOR, hos! It's like if someone asks me what my favorite kind of watch is, I'm not going to say Patek Philippe, cuz I can only afford the Canal Street copy.)

I'm not sure what I would change in the scent if the option weren't "everything." At the very least I would want the scent to smell like more money was spent on it. Beyond that, I personally would like the flower to be more fleshy and luxurious. Or it might be cool to make it extremely dry woody.  Or maybe even make it super-powdery, more so than anything out there.  I wonder what that would smell like--powdery beyond all extremes. At any rate, if the scent proves successful, and I think that Madonna's fan base predicts that it will, we can probably look forward to umpteen different variations on it or new offerings in the future.  Maybe those will be better.  One can only hope.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Is it me, or does isoeugenol have a kind of meaty undertone, like uncooked bacon maybe?  Or is the clove not making me think of ham? (even though clove and eugenol themselves never made me think of ham) Or maybe I am thinking of oriental lilies, which start to have a little hot dog (okokt korv, if you're in Sweden) undertone when the floraly smell starts to fade.  I guess only the sandman knows for sure.  Either way isoeuge is one of my favorite notes, along with methyl diantilis, to which it smells pretty similar.  Flerp!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Truth or Dare

Wow, chica came out with a perfume at last?? I didn't think it would happen. No, I haven't smelled it yet. Either it's out now in department stores here in Sweden, or we won't get it for a year, I suppose. But I had a gander at a fragrance blog about it.

So it's supposed to be a tuberose-gardenia monster with a vanillic drydown. Hmmmm.... I could see liking that, since I like Fracas, Fragile and even Michael by Michael Kors. But I could also see hating it, like I hate White Shoulders, which makes me think of looking at colleges in the Deep South way back in the day. And on the blog I looked at, there are comparisons with White Shoulders, and people who totally said the scent smelled "old lady." Love that. (Wouldn't it be awesome if the perfumer was thinking, "I'll put old fashioned White Shoulders-esque floral notes in here along with aldehydes and powdery nitromusky notes in here to make it smell oldladyish....)

So if anyone out there has it, send me a sample or something. I hope the scent isn't ghastly. ...like the bottle.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ralph Lauren, the Yellow One

So I'm at Åhléns tonight, and I see the new Ralph Lauren garish number thingies are out for women now. In pink, yellow, purple and something else. And they have descriptions! The yellow is Radiant Floral. The purple something like Delicious Oriental (maybe luscious oriental). I don't feel like doing a whole clinical trial, so I pick one to try out, and it's the yellow. It helps that it's a "radiant floral." I don't expect much, because the ones for men were a disappointment. At least they looked better, however, with their bold colors and bottle in the same shape as the original Polo. And the sporty number thing worked better with those. But with these women's ones, the bottles are longer and the whole thing is just hideous. Just hideous. Makes me think of the word 'chav.' Anyway, here's how the yellow smelled:

Ghastly. Just ghastly.

Actually, at first sniff, it smelled pretty much just like Ralph. At subsequent sniffs, like Ralph with a grotesque peach note grafted on. To understand the peach note, you have to understand how I smell aromachemicals.

I'm not terribly organized with my smell collection or my approach to it. All the chems are sitting in a wooden box in the closet (it used to be a paper box), and a most unfortunate thing has happened in that since they've been in this small box, they all smell exactly the same straight from the bottle--like some funk made from a bunch of aromachemicals stored in a small box. So if I want to really get their character, I have to put them on paper. But that's not important. What is important is that I don't bother to dilute them to what I really should if I'm going to evaluate their odors. I just smell them 100%, which means I don't get a good idea of what they can do. Until I mix them into something. The 'toilet smell'--the ongoing perfume experiment in a bottle which we spray when the bathroom stinks--is one of those somethings. This means that Florhydral smells like something harsh and phenolic, much the same as Florosa, cyclamen aldehyde and Lyral, more or less. Dimethyl hydroquinone smells a bit leathery. And Exaltolide smells like nothing at all (until it's blended, when it does something. I can't explain it yet, but it just does something really good). And peachy lactonic things smell like dry, awful, horrible, sour, cheap peach.

This is what I smell in The Yellow Thing. That cheap, sour peachy thing. With a melon kind of nuance. And Ralph. Which kinda always smelled like a base with an apple modification. A base like Ultrazur or Dossinia, which smells kinda like every perfume smelled at a particular point in time (Ultrazur the 'seashore' things of the 90s; Dossinia those 'eau fraiches' of today and yesterday). The mixture of these notes reminds me of something horrible I once mixed up with those fre-fab fragrance oils you can usually find at some cheapish soap/potpourri/oil store. I think I mixed up a peach with a watermelon, and maybe with some geranium. Factor in that powdery smell that you get 5 minutes after putting on any of those really low-priced single-note fragrance oils (what is that? Is it the solvent?), and you get what I made for my friend Mark, who said he liked the combination of watermelon and baby powder, something I still can't get my mind around.

A bit later the peachy note is really prominent, and still unpleasant. I wonder if I'm correct in thinking it's a peach/apricot thing. A bit later it seems to have a touch of melon, but it does not improve things.

A bit later when I hold the strips right up to my nose and concentrate, there's almost a hint of those candy cigarettes that Mom dubiously bought us when we were kids. And maybe, if my nose doesn't deceive me, a faint, faint hint of a mild clove-carnation thing that I hope will get stronger. It doesn't, and I assume my nose deceived me. And while I hoped the candy cigarette smell would take over, it doesn't. I think about what a perfume composed entirely of candy cigarette smell, maybe with a bit of Smarteez mixed in (I sometimes smell this in tuberose scents). Would I like it?

EDIT: (How could I have forgotten this?) After thinking about candy cigarettes, I tried inhaling the aroma through my mouth to see if I could get another dimension from it. I saw this in a book once and have tried it multiple times. It's never been pleasant. But I figure it will help me deduce whether there is indeed some kind of candy cig thing going on here. But I try it and am gettin nothin. So I tear off a small piece of the end of the blotter and put it on my tongue, like you'd do with a quite different type of blotter. Immediately I get a taste, which is kinda bitter and metallic, but not much of a flavor. And I keep hoping that maybe flavor will come to me, that it will be like some kind of flowery fruit punch, but it doesn't. Maybe I need to adjust the technique.

Later on it just smells like the base. With watermelon. And this reminds me of that perfume Lancaster. You could put it on for free in the bathroom at the Roxy in NYC. How appropriate.

A couple hours after the initial spray it's still that thin, base-y, watermelony smell. Horrid. Too thin. Smells like it's made entirely of synthetics. Nils says it smells like watermelon, kind of like detergent. He finds it unoffensive, summery. Yes, it's summery, but you can get summery done a million times better elsewhere.

One good thing about it: Smelling the strip and then smelling my hand, on which I've sprayed That Thing I'm Always Working On now (spicy floral coumarin thing, because those are my favorite notes, with a toosh of castoreum and wood), makes what's on my hand smell rich and complex and huge, like purple velvet curtains that go on for miles and miles.

My verdict, for what it's worth: I hate this shit. I probably won't smell the others. This smells like what one of those all-pink teenage girl bedrooms in a Mcmansion in suburban Florida looks like. Avoid it. If you want to smell like hair conditioner with peaches, just get the fake Ralph that I have--it's a roll-on called Aqua that I got at Duane Reade, a drug store in NYC--and put on some of that Claire Burke peach potpourri oil. Actually, you might smell better.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Golden Delicious

What does everyone think about the Delicious line of fragrances by Donna Karan? I smelled Golden Delicious today--I've prolly smelled it before, but who can remember with all the clones on the market today?--and I have to say that I quite like it. Is it new? It smells like a 4-star hair product. (If I hadn't had that one wash that one time in that place where it felt like a magical leafy green floral hologram appeared in the air as the girl put conditioner in, I would've called GD a 5-star.) I remember that I liked the Blossom versions from the line when I first smelled them, also thinking of them as smelling like really good hair care products, but Golden is even better. The Fresh Blossom is around a 3-star hair product. Probably the green apple one too, which smells thin. I never really liked the others, because I always hoped they'd smell more appley. More literal apple. Or Jolly Rancher kind of apple. I would have loved that. And the bottles are fantastic, but they look like they would be hard to use, like they're impossible to spray after the third use. Like Bulgari Black.

But you know what? I can't think of the perfect occasion for one of those Delicious things. Maybe at the office? Is there a perfect time to smell like a great conditioner if you don't work in a salon? And if you did work in a salon, would you spray it into the air ducts? (I probably would.) Maybe it's a good scent to spray on the walls before taking a shower--but then that wouldn't really make it a perfume per se. Hmmmmmm....

All that gnork, I would love to try Golden Delicious and see if I can find the perfect occasion for it, but not for 450 Swedish crowns. If I find it in the .5 oz size (165SEK), I'll totally get it unless I'm in a different mood, but not for the full price. It's not worth it. But for the price of, say, a Gap fragrance, I would definitely buy it. This is what Gap fragrances SHOULD smell like...

...But they don't. They smell like aromachemicals. Which is redundant to say when talking about perfume, so I'll put it differently: They smell screechy, chemical, overbright and not fleshed out enough. They smell like how you would expect 100% synthetic scents on a budget to smell. (I'm sure 100% synthy budget scents can probably smell great if done well, though. And aren't most commercial scents practically 100% synthetic anyway? If done with a huge budget, they can turn out great.) And this isn't to say that they always smell very offensive, because I kinda like some Gap fragrances, but I feel like they're better suited for the kiddies.

I saw two new(ish) Gap scents today, companions for Close (do I have the name right). They've prolly been around for years in nyc, but I just noticed them today in Sweden. Not that I've been looking. One was called Near, which I got all excited when I saw because I thought it said Pear, and I love that pear note! That pear note!!!!! The other was called, um..... Hmmmmm.... Stay! That's right. Like the Madonna song. Now, I'd been smelling something or other before I came to them, so maybe I had nose fatigue, but I could barely smell Near at all. it felt like a very faint rehash of Heaven, that sharp, synthy white flower(?) thing Gap does. No improvement, though, just fainter. Maybe I have to smell it again. As for Stay, my first impression of it was that it was salty and kind of aquatic. Then I think the saltiness started to become a Calone like thing, and it was over for me. So in short, they were disappointing. I don't expect much from Gap, though. I think their scents are composed by an app.

So I'm reading the Jean-Claude Ellena book, and it's good so far. If it sells, maybe they'll get an editor AND a proofreader for the next printing. (Seriously. Maybe have another translator look at it. I'm assuming it was written originally in French, since there's a sentence that ticks off a list of things, most of which are spelled out as A of B, except one. Which is spelled A de B.) And hopefully a new design for the cover. I have to admit, Ellena doesn't come off as much a writer--the book isn't as engaging as something by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez or Chandler Burr. Maybe it's the material--sometimes it feels like he's writing something because it was in an outline someone put together, as in "let's have a chapter on the history of perfume, since this book is about perfume." Here it can get a little textbooky. But at other times you sorta get this spark that he's talking about something meaningful to him, and talking is a good word for it, because you could kind of imagine having a conversation with him over coffee about some things. I'm thinking partly of the moments where he gets unexpectedly metaphorical and sounds like how I think a Perfumer would sound. Antyganoo, I'm only about halfway through it, but overall I'm pleased. It's cool to read a book by someone like him. It's cool that a book like this is out there. I can't wait for the next book, especially since the Frederic Malle book is, what--$300 for 32 pages? I'd read it for free if we had Barnes and Noble here in the frozen North. Hint, hint, Mr. King Man.....