The New Hermes Iris Ukiyoe Perfume

Jean Claude Ellena fans will not be disappointed by this newest addition to the Hermessence perfume line.

Parfums de Nicolai: Weekend a Deauville Perfume Review

A detailed perfume review on the limited edition (and now discontinued) Week-end a Deauville by PdN.

Vintage Perfume Shopping

Lovers of vintage perfumes should check out this report on local Antique Shopping in Florida.

Chanel Perfume Photos

Photos of a few Chanel perfumes, include Cuir de Russie in pure parfum and Cristalle eau de toilette.

By Kilian Releases Incense Oud

By Kilian's newest addition to their upscale line is a high quality combination of oud and incense (but too pricey for most budgets).


La Chase Aux Papillons (L'Artisan)

As part of my Christmas list, I requested samples from Aedes and L'Artisan Parfumeur. Among the list was La Chase Aux Papillons, which I am quick sampling this morning...

First thoughts: It's very light and seems very familiar. Within a few moments, I realized that the Marc Jacobs (black cap) perfume is very similar to this... though this might be slightly less sweet and sharp. La Chase smells less like a perfume and more like a floral scent, which is a big compliment. This would be more likely to elicit the comment "You smell good" rather than "What perfume are you wearing?"

Sillage is light, and it's pretty and innocent smelling in the top notes. Very nice. Since I already have Marc Jacobs from my pre-niche perfume days, I'm not sure that I need this too, but I am very glad to have the sample. It makes me feel differently about Marc Jacobs, actually.

Standout note: Tuberose
Other notes: lime blossom or lemon blossom (but not pure citrus) and very very light spicing.

Image from the L'Artisan Parfumeur website.


Casmir Chopard - Quick Review

In a recent swap with an MUA'er, I received a sample of Chopard Casmir, which I've been thinking might be a good wintertime comfort perfume. I'm wearing just a dab this morning, but I really like it, particularly after the first 15 minutes. The top notes are similar to the late 1980s perfumes, though it was launched in 1990; there's something synthetic and "perfumy" about the top notes, which thankfully fades pretty quick.

Fragrantica classifies it as a "vanilla oriental", but I would classify it as a woody, vanilla, smoky scent. From the list of perfume notes (which vary according to which source you use), you would expect something far more fruity. So I'd say: ignore the notes in this case. The main discernable notes are:
  • vanilla (slightly sweet but not foody)
  • sandalwood
  • amber
  • incense or smoke
  • a touch of spice (patchouli? cinamon? it's hard to say)
Though I'm a huge fan of slightly spicy woody fragrances, and I love smoke, I wish that there was less spice in this one (even though the spice is very slight in this one). I think my issue with the spice in this, as opposed to the spice you smell in L'Artisan Tea For Two, for example, is that the spice note in Chopard Casmir is slightly bitter and not sweet. Though that might have been a purposeful move, meant to tame the sweetness of the vanilla and amber, it doesn't blend well with the rest of the composition.

That said, it's still a comforting creamy scent.

(Image from Fragrantica)


Sarah Jessica Parker: New Perfume in 2010

Word around the perfume blogosphere is that Sarah Jessica Parker is launching a new perfume sometime in 2010. I was a huge fan of Lovely before I became a perfumista. I went through two bottles in three years, loved the rollerball, and felt enveloped in warmth and beauty whenever I put it on. When Covet debuted, I was actually counting down the days until I could smell it in my local Macys and remember my disappointment when I sprayed it on. I've always felt that I didn't give that perfume enough wear time to really grab my attention, but somehow, it just wasn't what I hoped for.

There's also a less expensive line by SJP (also produced by Coty, I believe) called the "Sarah Jessica Parker Perfume Collection" which features three perfumes: Endless, Dawn and Twilight. Apparently, the new perfume won't be anything like this style. I keep reading quotes on the various celebrity blogs that this perfume will smell like body odor. (That's sort of odd, right?) And one of my favorite bloggers (1000 fragrance's post here) says that it might be named Twilight, just like her previous one. He's hardly ever wrong, but I wonder if that's true...

I haven't seen any releases which talk about the actual notes of the new perfume, but will update when I have more info for you.

Vintage Perfume Commercial

On MUA, someone posted a link to this vintage perfume commercial that is just perfect. It completely resonates with me, as an advertiser, a perfume lover, a working woman, and a person who is continually in awe of those women who manage to do everything, while still having coiffed hair and perfect lipstick.


Ellie Nuit Parfum Review

Let me start by saying that I would NOT pay $180 for 1/2 an ounce (15ml) of this perfume. However, since it's a parfum concentration, the sample would last you quite some time, and I'd recommend Ellie Nuit to anyone seeking a sweet, dense fig fragrance on a bed of wood.

Having obtained a sample of this just a few days ago (and not having very high hopes for it), I put a tiny bit on before my morning run. It was cold outside, and the scent is warm and comforting. Gourmand and slightly sweet, but not overly so, and not candied at all. I would definitely put this in the fig family, and say that it is a distant, denser cousin to Un Jardin en Mediterranee by Hermes. It is more "perfumery" than UJeM, and sweeter and more feminine as well. I liked it quite a bit, though I won't be running for the nearest online vendor. There's a slightly plasticy note that many of the fig fragrances develop. It isn't as green as Diptyque's Philosykos or as floral and soft as L'Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier.

Perfume Review: Ellie Nuit
Perfume House: Ellie D
Creator / Nose: Michel Roudnitska
Year: unknown
Classification: Woody Fig (classic style)
Perfume Notes: (From Luckyscent) Sandalwood, cashmere wood, coriander seeds, violet, rose, fig, musk, blackcurrant, oak moss
What you mostly smell: Sweet fig, on a pleasantly feminine woody base. This smells like a classic, without smelling "old lady like"
Lasting Power: Very good, as would be expected from a pure parfum
Similar to: Hermes Un Jardin en Mediteranee, without as much wood, and with a denser, more feminine base.
Overall impression: A dense fig fragrance, sweet and feminine.

Image from Luckyscent, where you can buy Ellie Nuit and other Ellie D fragrances.

Serge Lutens: An introduction

I have just recently climbed aboard the bandwagon of Serge Lutens followers.

I first tried Serge Lutens in my first batch of samples from Aedes, and this was a mistake. I tried A La Nuit which was far too sweet on me. Since then, I've discovered that Serge Lutens has a very high ratio of misses to hits, because his fragrances are risky. In fact, they may be more "smells" and "scents" than traditional perfumes.

Since then, I have tried a few others, and am now planning on writing to his boutique in France for the famous wax samples, so that I can try more (his samples, even on Ebay, are notoriously expensive). I like Serge Lutens Five O'Clock Au Gingembre the best of his line thus far. Though listed as a unisex fragrance, it's very masculine to my nose, particularly in the deep drydown which reminds me of a classic, 50s style aftershave. But the top notes are divine, with tea and clove and cinnamon blending for a perfect comforting winter scent. I would put it in the same category as L'Artisan Tea for Two.

I specifically wanted to share a Serge Lutens video that I found on youtube, which I believe is for Chergui (it's hard to read the label). Serge Lutens latest fragrance called L'eau Serge Lutens (described affectionately as a anti-fragrance and a huge departure from his standard design) also had a very interesting advertising commercial, which can also be found on youtube.

Niche Sample Reviews: Rose Opulente by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier

Rose Opulente is a pure and simple rose solifore scent. There seems to be no other notes--- just a classic rose. It reminds me in some ways of the rose perfume that I used to wear in my teens from Victoria's Secret, except slightly less sweet. I've tried several other fragrances by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, which were all more complex. Not my favorite.

Image from FourSeasons, where you can buy this and other Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier fragrances.


Lys Carmin by Van Cleef & Arpels - Perfume Reivew

I was lucky enough to score a sample pack of the new Van Cleef and Arpels Collection Extraordinaire which was released in September, and I split the samples to send to a friend yesterday. In doing so, a tiny bit of the Lys Carmin got on my fingers, and I realized that though I've had the sample set for about a month, I hadn't actually tested this one yet.

The marketing materials say that Lys Carmin is a blend of Lily, Pink Peppercorn, Ylang Ylang, Vanilla and Sandalwood. In the top notes, I was struck by a slightly soapy quality. In the first minutes, I thought of flowers and a really expensive shampoo. Since there was so little on my fingers, I didn't get the opportuntity to really test it out. I decided to wear it today.

So, I reapplied to skin this morning. This is a slightly soapy, powdery perfume and the only one in the Van Cleef and Arpels Collection Extraordinaire that reminds me of another perfume. Specifically, it is VERY similar to Parfums de Nicolai's Juste un Reve. Looking at Luckyscent's list of notes for Juste Un Reve, I am puzzled at why they smell so similar; it's listed as jasmine, rose, iris, hyacinth, and monoi.

I plan on testing side by side in the near future, with what's left of the sample. What's really puzzling is that in this moment, I think I might like the Van Cleef Lys Carmin version more than the Patricia Nicolai version-- and I'm a huge fan of hers. This version has more complexity, with moments where there is a slightly minty/herbaceous note in the background.

Image from Fragrantica, one of my favorite perfume sites. However, I don't think that this image really does the packaging justice. The bottle is small (75ml) but is hefty and very well designed.


Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne Perfume Review

What a disappointment!

As a big fan of Yves Saint Laurent's earlier fruity floral In Love Again, I had big hopes for the new Parisienne perfume launch. I read earlier reviews that noted that it was mostly cranberry, rose and sandalwood with a vinyl accord -- and the vinyl perfume note sounded interesting and innovative, so I had high hopes.

I liked the bottle, though I didn't love it. Pink and crystalline, it's feminine and elegant-- far more refined than most of their perfume bottles (I don't really care for the In Love Again, Opium, or Elle bottles; Paris is okay but does not seem practical to me).

So what does it smell like? I mostly smell cranberry on a base of soft white musk. It's a tart cranberry, less sweet than you'd find in an Escada scent. More red/burgandy than pink. Since I already was expecting rose, I can pick that note out as well, but if I hadn't been told it was there I don't think I would have found it. I don't smell "vinyl" like the ad campaign states, but I do smell acetone. And sure, acetone is an interesting note. It manages to steer clear of smelling like nail polish remover. The sandalwood blends well with this note, and the acetone is my favorite part.

Overall, it smells like a beauty store to me. I'm disappointed. This is a great perfume house, but this will be a short lived fragrance. Unlike Opium, Elle and Paris, I don't see Parisienne becoming a staple in their line.

Image from Sephora, where I smelled the YSL Parisienne for the first time.


Dior Escale a Portofino Review

Wow - I can't believe that I waited until the end of summer to try out last year's new release from Dior: Escale a Portofino.

I know. This is not a new release. I'm quite late to the party on this one in two regards: first, it debuted over a year ago and had to be one of the best perfume releases in 2008, and secondly: it's a summer scent! And it's September! But I can't help it. I live in Florida, and I am new to the hobby. Thankfully, it's almost always summer here, so I can enjoy this citrus scent even though it's already fall in the rest of the country.

Escale a Portofino launched in limited release in 2008, so it's new to me. This year's release in the same triology (Escale a Pondichery) seems equally limited edition, since it wasn't in Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue or Nordstroms when I last went sniffing a few weeks ago. It's the first installment in a travel triology. The notes include Bergamot, petitgrain, almond, orange blossom, juniper berry, cypress, cedar, white musk, caraway and galbanum. It's a feminine take on the classic eau du cologne / citrus splash.

I first sniffed it in Saks, straight from the sparkling, textured bottle. From that sniff (not even sprayed), it seemed to be a shape shifter focusing on lemon, lime and grapefruit, with a floral undertone. I was overwhelmed with all the things to try on paper and skin and decided not to even test spray it. Just from smelling it in the bottle, I was convinced that it was decant-worthy. And truly- what can you really tell when sniffing a fragrance on paper or skin in a department store? That's really unfair to a good perfume-- you need time for it to develop on skin, with far less commotion. So, once I determine that it's decant-worthy, the name goes on my list and I don't need to test further in the store. However, I should add that I loved the bottle (photo from Fragrantica's website).

Through a lovely MUA'er, I managed to swap a decant of my full bottle of Eau d'Hermes for a decant of Escale a Portfino, which arrived earlier today, in time for my trip to North Carolina. I ripped open the package in the car ride home and eagerly dabbed from the bottle onto my wrist and... was a bit disappointed. This was not the high pitched lime/lemon/grapefruit that I sniffed in the store. This was far softer, slightly soapy, with a focus on orange blossom and something... soft. Later, I realized it was the almond, which creates a milky, creamy underbelly.

It reminds me of something that I can't quite put my finger on, but I'll report back. On the perfume itself, let me say that the lasting time is quite disappointing, but the quality of the juice itself is excellent. It's sophisticated, feminine, soft and citrusy, with a very pleasant dry down (which I can only still detect by putting my nose to my wrist). I'm a bit dissapointed in the sillage... but I wear the perfume for me, and not others, so I don't care if it doesn't fill the room. Unlike Hermes Pamplemousse Rose, which I wore in a state of ecstacy all weekend, Escale a Portofino is not tart and there's no grapefruit (I have no idea where I got the idea that there was grapefruit). It's much softer, with rounded edges. I worried that I'd only need one and not the other... now I worry that I will of course need both.

If I had to describe it to someone who had never smelled it, I'd say that it smells like 60% Lemon Pledge, 20% Dove Soap and 10% white musk, and 10% magic. To me, it smells like spring. But I think it could be worn anytime. It's not risky, but the melding of bitter almond and orange blossoms and lemon is lovely and well done.

Buy a big decant. You'll be reapplying often, but enjoying every moment.
Perfume Review: Escale a Portofino
Perfume House: Dior
Creator / Nose: Fracois Demachy
Year: 2008
Classification: Citrus Aromatic
Perfume Notes: Lemon, Orange Blossom, Bitter Almond, White Musk, Cedar, Cypruss, Galbanum, Bergamot, Juniper Berries and Caraway
What you mostly smell: Orange Blossom, Petit Grain, Almond (slight presence of white musk in the dry down)
Lasting Power: Shockingly short. It has a great presence in the first hour, but is gone in two hours on my skin.
Similar to: Lemon pledge + classic Dove hard soap (though this makes it sound less lovely that it smells on skin)
Overall impression: A soft, feminine citrus cologne.


Hermes Rose Ikebana (Perfume Review) - compared to YSL In Love Again

Hermes Rose Ikebana was instantly one of my favorite perfumes. I still recall when I first tried it: it was a sunny Sunday in the spring, and I was standing in my bathroom when I first sprayed it on my arm. In the first 10 seconds, it was incredibly strong, with three main notes punching out and struggling forward as if they were each racing to monopolize the scent. I immediately smelled the sharpness of grapefruit, the warmth of rose petals (sans the powder you find in fragrances by designers other than Jean Claude Ellena), and the damp tug of black tea to tie the two together. And then, perhaps the most critical addition, the rhubarb is there. It was not a singular, detectable note in that first sniff—because truly, how many among us can recognize the scent of rhubarb? In the beginning, I believed it to be an odd lemon, combined with the grapefruit, which was sharp and neither sweet nor sour, and remaining incredibly tart throughout the drydown. Only later would I discover that it was rhubarb with the tea that made this Hermessence so unique. Rose Ikebana was, in those top note moments, a powerful scent.

Then, as I recall, it seemed to fade for a moment. I wondered if the fragrance would be that fleeting… but later in the day, I continually sniffed my arm and caught whiffs of Rose Ikebana on the air around me. It has excellent sillage, in fact, so it’s a fragrance that you can smell in the room, even when you are the wearer.

I also found myself yearning for more of it. It was an odd sensation—I wanted to drink the perfume, wanted to cup it in my hands and keep it pressed to my face and my nose. Because somehow, that fading feeling never leaves the scent for me. It always feels just slightly out of my grasp (though do not take this as criticism in any way). I’ve often wondered if I am anosmic to one of the notes, and if maybe that anosmia is the cause of the feeling of Rose Ikebana rushing away from me. It’s a feeling I have not yet had with any other perfume. It’s even harder to understand when paired with how strong and sharp the notes are: grapefruit, rose and tea are not delicate in this perfume’s composition. And yet, the feeling remains after multiple wearings: it’s a perfume that plays and flirts and dances slightly out of reach, refusing to be owned and fully known by the wearer. It’s a lovely characteristic that I haven’t again experienced.

Haven’t smelled Rose Ikebana yourself? You can get a slight inkling of what it’s like by comparing and contrasting it with other fragrances that you might already know. It has the rose of Hermes Kelly Caleche edp, but is missing the leather entirely, and has the addition of grapefruit and tea. Therefore, you might find them somewhat slightly similar, but they remain drastically different. For your collection, you’ll definitely need both.

I find Rose Ikebana most similar to the now-discontinued Yves Saint Laurent’s In Love Again. Jean Claude Ellena was commissioned in 1998 to create In Love Again as a limited edition perfume to celebrate Yves’s 40 full years as a fashion designer. Remember, this is several years before Ellena was hired to be the exclusive perfumer for Hermes—long before Kelly Caleche, Rose Ikebana or Un Jardin sur le Nil were born. In Love Again is deserving of it’s own full review, which I will post in the coming weeks, but in short summary, I can say that it is one of the best fruity florals that I have found. The main top notes are rose and grapefruit, but several other notes play a critical role, since grapefruit itself can smell too much like cat pee when done wrong, and rose can be so powdery and dull. JCE added black currant to the top, to create that slightly-sweet fruity quality, and sandalwood and musk to the base. If worn in heat, the drydown begins sooner and lasts much longer, with the musk developing larger. I’m not a huge fan of musk, but in the drydown of In Love Again, it remains clean and woody. In fact, the drydown reminds me of the last few moments of the later-created Un Jardin sur le Nil, if both are compared on skin and in the heat. Listed on Fragrantica, Tomato Stem is also listed in the perfume base for In Love Again--- though I admit that I don’t detect it in that perfume at all. Instead, I sometimes think I find it in the middle notes of Rose Ikebana, and it is all the better if true (though I’ve never seen tomato stem listed as a note for Rose Ikebana anywhere).

So, how do Rose Ikebana and Yves Saint Laurent In Love Again compare? Quite simply, In Love Again is the younger version of the same composition. If they were women, I would say that Rose Ikebana is In Love Again all grown up, after she went to Harvard, hired a stylist, and had a nose job. Rose Ikebana is incredibly similar, though lacking the musk in the base, and with the addition of rhubarb instead of berry/currants, and the damp addition of tea. The critical exchange is rhubarb for berry/currants, making it far less fruity. In fact, I don’t think you could classify Rose Ikebana as a fruity floral at all. Rose Ikebana is more formal, and she loves you less. She doesn’t quite trust you and she’s not very intimate. You’ll always love her from arm’s length.

Update: 3 hours in: no tea detectable at this point: mostly pink grapefruit, a tad bit of rhubarb, and rose. Remarkably similar (though less musky by a few hairs) to ILA.

Here’s a surprise: Fragrantica classifies Rose Ikebana as a Woody/Spicy perfume. Perhaps the person performing this classification was only reading the notes, because indeed, it does list Pink Pepper (but it also lists magnolia, which I don’t detect). But it’s hardly a woody/spicy perfume (this calls to mind something more like Poivre Sacremande). I am not sure how I would personally classify this perfume. Tart floral? Citrus floral? It’s a unique niche perfume, defying easy classification.

Rose Ikebana has decent lasting power. I’ve read that others were unhappy with how long it lasts, but maybe it’s because they expect the top notes to last all day, which of course they don’t. On skin, the perfume develops. It looses the tea, develops a very, very slight wood in the base, and mainly keeps the sparkly effervescent grapefruit/rose/citrus/rhubarb qualities. If you would like to extend the top notes, I’d suggest spraying it on fabric. On fabric, Rose Ikebana perfume wafts all day and remains all top. You can still smell the tea two days later. Plus, you can wear a different perfume and keep this gem tucked into your desk all day, or by your bedside, when you get a longing for something beautiful.

Perfume Review: Rose Ikebana
Perfume House: Hermes
Creator / Nose: Jean Claude Ellena
Year: 2004
Classification: Woody/Spicy, according to Fragrantica.
Perfume Notes: Rose petals, peony, magnolia, pink peppercorns, grapefruit zest, green rhubarb, vanilla, honey, and black tea.
What you mostly smell: Rhubarb, rose at a distance, balanced with tart grapefruit, and black tea
Lasting Power: Moderate
Similar to: Very similar to Yves Saint Laurent In Love Again
Overall impression: A tart floral perfume: formal, beautiful, and brilliant. A must-smell for any fan of Jean Claude Ellena and perhaps the most remarkable out of all the Hermessence line.


Hermes Pamplemousse Rose: More than just another rose & grapefruit perfume

It's September now, and I am trying Hermes Pamplemousse Rose again after several months of it laying forgotten (but organized) in my large perfume sample stash. I received a spray sample of it as a birthday gift from my mother, and I liked it enough when I tried it initially, but it paled in comparison to Rose Ikebana (which had inspired me to seek out the other rose and grapefruit fragrances created by Jean Claude Ellena).

But now, after several months of letting it sit idle, I am sampling it once again. Why? Because Pamplemousse Rose just hit the discounters, just 4 mere months after it's initial launch, and I wanted to see how that could happen. Plus, there's an additional 20% off sale through Labor Day, meaning that I could score a 3.4oz bottle for just $50. That's roughly half what it initially sold for at Hermes boutiques.

It's an eau de cologne which comes in a large splash bottle, and according to JCE, is meant to be splashed and not sprayed. Rather than a true rose and grapefruit scent, on me, Pamplemousse Rose is a tart sparkling pink grapefruit scent, with hints of orangle, grapefruit pulp, orange rind, and a slightly sweet floral touch. It's labeled unisex, and I would agree-- much more so than the other Hermes which I enjoy. However, like other Hermes fragrances, I find that "unisex" means something different than with other houses: on a woman, I would find this feminine. On a man, I would find it crisp and clean. And the smell of it reminds me of my grandfather, who ate a pink grapefruit nearly every morning of his life, along with a large cup of tea.

Grapefruit is a tough note. On many people, and in many compositions, you'll get the dreaded "cat pee" smell. Guerlain's Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune did this on me. I found it completely unwearable.

But the Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse Rose is quite different. It never veers towards cat pee. It reminds me slightly of the Frederick Malle Bigarade Concentree. There's something slightly... sexualized... in this perfume. I would estimate that comes from the ingredients creating the "orange" accords. But it's cleaner and less softer than Bigarade Concentree, and more feminine.

Where before, I felt I could live without it, I've spent the entire day today with my nose glued to my wrist, sniffing and reapplying.

Perfume Review: Eau de Pamplemousse Rose
Perfume House: Hermes
Creator / Nose: Jean Claude Ellena
Year: 2009
Classification: Citrus Aromatic
Perfume Notes: Grapefruit pulp, orange rind, lemon, pink grapefruit and rhubofix
What you mostly smell: Mouth water, tart grapefruit (with a hint of not-yet melted sugar dusting the top)
Lasting Power: Sadly Short (it's an eau de cologne) but a joy to reaply
Similar to: Distant cousin of Bigarade Concentree, with a cleaner and more metrosexual happy tartness
Overall impression: A refreshing, tart fragrance that would work equally well on either gender. True pink grapefruit.


Kelly Caleche by Hermes: EDT vs EDP Perfume Review

I consider Kelly Caleche to be a fantastic perfume—one that all perfume lovers must try. I tried the edt first, which was the only version available when I read about it in "The Guide" by Luca Turin. I purchased the Kelly Caleche edt from The Perfumed Court in a lovely spray 1.5ml decant (which is almost empty now, what a shame). I don’t know if I would have had the same impression from the standard, dab-style 1ml sample vial; I think that this is a fragrance that needs to be sprayed. I loved it immediately, and had been thrilled by the ad pictures, which you'll see below. The magazine ads for Kelly Caleche show a woman (who I imagine to be in her mid 20s). She's fit, walking with her back turned away from the camera, held head high. Off her back, she carries a whip which curls around a pink bottle of Kelly Caleche. She wears leather boots, leather pants, leather gloves, and a leather belt. Like the ad, the perfume is pink but has the unmistakable scent of leather. But the leather is light, and Kelly Caleche is sometime referred to as a "leather for beginners" niche fragrance.

Hermes Kelly Caleche Perfume Ad:
(image from Team Sugar website, where the ad won an 83% approval rating by readers)

Kelly Caleche EdT Explored

The edt was a lovely introduction to leather (so light) and rose, to effervescent well-designed frags in general, really. And a fantastic perfume by Jean Claude Ellena. It is the distant cousin of Rose Ikebana, which is truly my favorite Hermes at the moment. Rose Ikebana is significantly less green, without leather, and without the vanilla (which on me, when combined with the other elements, smells much more like wood, specifically whatever wood is in Hermes Un Jardin un Mediteranee). Kelly Caleche edt is sparkly and not nearly as pink as the bottle and ads and jus would imply. In fact, I think that this is more green and more brown than pink and could be worn by a man easily. The edt has power and lasts all day on my skin. But there is something slightly mentholated (almost minty, it’s so herbaceous) on my skin. It makes me think of broken fresh greenery, stomped under earth, growing next to a piece of wood. The crushed herb would have hard a thorny, splintery texture to it. I think of stinging nettles. There is of course rose, as well, but it’s so soft that I would not have picked it out as rose. In fact, it may be more similar to the Osmanthus scent in Osmanthus Yunnan. Overall, my first impression is the herbaceous quality and the slight wood. The edt stays incredibly green on me at 10am. I consider it such a slightly odd smell, that I do not want to wear it to a place where a stranger would be in close contact (say, the doctor, or the dentist). And though the green is cool, I wouldn’t want to see how this smelled if I was sweaty. It’s lovely for the office and a personal perfume: I wear it so that I can smell it on me.

Kelly Caleche EdP: A new interpretation
As a moderately new perfumista, I must say that the edp was a surprise to me. From mis-informed sales associates, I had previously thought that edps were simply stronger versions (longer lasting) than their edt counterparts. The edt just seemed to have more water. In this case, the edp is another interpretation of the same perfume. I was intrigued after reading about the edp on my favorite perfume blog (NST Perfume). There’s also an extrait, but who can afford it and where could I try it? It was an intellectual pursuit when I put it on my birthday list, as I didn’t really love Kelly Caleche edt. Or rather—I loved it, but I didn’t exactly what to smell like it.

The edp is pinker, with softer corners. It is still strong, but I might have suspected that the edt was actually the edp if “strength” and “pow” alone were the testing factors. S agrees that between the two, the edp is the better fragrance for me, and I have stalked it on ebay where it frequently sells for $9.99 plus $3.99 shipping from a singular seller (image of the slender, tall bottle shown at left). The edp is far more feminine (though perhaps a man might wear it, I think it’s far better suited to a woman than the edt) perhaps only because it lacks the woody accord and the isn’t nearly herbaceous. It’s also slightly sweeter and more rounded, though the sweetness is slight and still a bit sharp (grapefruit here, I believe accounts for the lovely sharp quality).

Both are perfumes which are in focus, cut to a fine point, and cristaline clear. Despite the strength, they both appear lightweight. This is a characteristic I hardly ever see in any perfume except for those by JCE—most perfumes that are very strong are also heavy in proportion. Think of Odalisque by Pdn.

By 12pm (4.5 hours after application): The EdP is more pink but definitely far lighter (and this is two spritzes vs 1 of the edt). The Edt is a softer green/blue than it was earlier and more feminine/unisex than before to me. Very, very clean. At this point, the edt is not at all odd. It makes me think of cool blue green water. EDT has more sillage at this point. Simply by what the sales associates have told me, I would have expected the opposite. But then, it was hot on the day that I tested this, and I was sweaty from an overally exhausting day. I plan on retesting an updating on a day where I spend the entire time in a cool environment, in front of the Tv or computer.

Perfume Review: Hermes Kelly Caleche
Perfume House: Hermes
Creator / Nose: Jean Claude Ellena
Year: 2007
Classification: Floral Woody Musk, according to Fragrantica. Also often referred to as a "beginner leather" or a "floral leather".
Perfume Notes:
Kelly Caleche Eau de toilette (EdT) Perfume Notes: iris, lily of the valley, mimosa, tuberose climbing rose and leather. Classified as a soft floral leather. Designed by Jean Claude Ellena
Kelly Caleche Eau de Parfum (EdP) Perfume Notes: Barenia calf leather, sheep leather, rose and violet, and vanilla
What you mostly smell: This is a very complex composition, in both the edt and edp. In the edt, you'll smell mostly the rose, leather and a slightly herbaceous/green motif. In the EdP, your nose will focus more on the flowers and leather.
Lasting Power: Very long lasting
Linear? No. Kelly Caleche, in all of its versions, seems to go through several unique selections.
Similar to: Incredibly unique. At this point, I haven't found any perfumes which are similar.
Overall impression: Stunning floral perfume which could be worn by a woman or a man (and yet: distinctly feminine). A great beginner fragrance for leather. Stunning.

Other Kelly Caleche Perfume Images:

Image from the Hermes website. So beautiful, right?


Jean Claude Ellena: Perfume Creations, Interviews, Info from the Nose of Hermes

Jean Claude Ellena is one of my favorite perfumers. After reading Chandler Burr's book A Perfect Scent, which followed Jean Claude Ellena's creation of Un Jardin sur le Nil for Hermes, I have sampled most of his creations and am compiling information about his perfume creations and launches, interviews, photos, and other information. I'll begin by listing all of the perfumes of his which I have smelled, and add reviews as I can. Image of Jean Claude Ellena taken from WSJ article on him (very good!) listed below. Be sure to check it out!

Perfumes Created by Jean Claude Ellena:
* Van Cleef & Arpels First
* Hermes Jardin sur le Nil
* Hermes Jardin en Mediteranee
* Hermes Jardin Apres Mousson
* Cartier Declaration
* Hermes Kelly Caleche
* Hermessence series:
* Hermessence Rose Ikebana
* Hermessence Osmanthus Yunnan
* Hermessence Vanilla Galante
* Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse Rose
* Hermes Eau de Gentiane Blanche
* Frederick Malle Cologne Bigarade (inspired by Eau d'Hermes)
* L'Artisan Bois Farine
* Paul & Joe Blanc
* Sisley Eau de Campagne
* Yves Saint Laurent - In Love Again

Compiled Information on Jean Claude Ellena:
* Wall Street Journal Online Article (items compiled from an Interview)


Hermes Perfume Reviews

The iconic Hermes brand is known for far more than just designer niche perfumes, but it is the fragrances that made me an Hermes follower. Jean Claude Ellena is now the in-house perfumer for Hermes and has developed a long line of popular unisex and feminine fragrances for the house, including the infamous Jardin line. I consider the Hermes line to be one of the most innovative and luxurious perfume brands on the market today, and it was this brand which really hooked me into the hobby.

Hermes Perfume Reviews:

Hermes Perfume in my Collection
  • Hermes Iris Ukiyoe
  • Hermes Rose Ikebana
  • Hermes Osmanthe Yunnan
  • Hermes Ambre Narguile
  • Hermes Eau d'Hermen
  • Hermes Hiris (designed before Jean Claude Ellena joined them)
  • Hermes Un Jardin sur le Nil
  • Hermes Un Jardin en Mediterranee
  • Hermes Un Jardin Apres La Mousson
  • Hermes Kelly Caleche
  • Hermes Voyage d'Hermes


Perfume Commercials and Ads: Christian Dior - J'Adore

Oh, the infamous marketer and his manipulation of our pocketbooks. The critique of perfume ads and commercials deserves a much longer post, but I wanted to share a thought about how ads have affected me and my perfume purchases.

I admit these days that I spend a great deal of time reading blogs and the reviews of fellow perfume lovers--- but I hardly ever actually watch any of the perfume commercials or look through ads. After all: I don't watch cable, I don't subscribe to Lucky or Vogue or any of the glossy mags with full page perfume ads. I'm mostly protected from that sort of advertising. But every once in a while, I'll watch one of the ads on one of the perfume blogs or check out which celebrity is lending her face to which company. For the most part, I avoid the blogs that focus on the celebrity side. I remember my shock when I saw a Tom Ford Perfume Ad for the first time-- these were graphic, even though the perfume bottles took the place of actual sexual images, as shown in the ad at the left.

I saw that Charlize Theron lent her face to Christian Dior for J'Adore recently. That disappoints me. I remember in high school (or early college) that I asked for J'Adore for Christmas-- unsniffed. My desire was based solely on the perfume commercials, which I thought were utterly brilliant. The original french model was beautiful, and the bottle went well with her neck gear of interlocked gold bangles:

I loved this perfume commercial, received J'Adore as a Christmas present, and it was one of the few perfumes that I ever finished a full bottle of. (ad from You Tube)

But most perfume ads really disappoint me.

Some of my favorite perfumes (like those of the Hermessence line) have neither ads nor perfume videos. The juice itself if good enough to increase sales.

Skanky Perfumes: Scents for the Sexy, Dirty Man

It's often said that Americans like their perfumes "clean and fruity" and that the French like to smell dirty. While I am completely American in my love of twice-daily showers, deodorant and antiperspirant, I have discovered that a fragrance that is well designed and which has a tough of skank, if worn on clean skin, is a wonderful beckoning thing-- like a big white sign with red lettering that says "Come Hither". While I sometimes like it on others, I myself prefer to smell clean. Parfums de Nicolai's fragrance Eau d'Ete is one of my favorite clean, skin scents.

But, on the right occassion, something else is called for. In those moments, I look to the famous French perfumers for help; after all, they have decades of inspiration to pull from. It is said that Napoleon wrote to Josephine saying,
"I'm returning home in three days. Don't wash."
In "The Emperor of Scent", Chandler Burr quoted Luca Turin as saying,
"The idea that things should be slightly dirty, overripe, slightly fecal is everywhere in France. They like rotten cheese and dirty sheets and unwashed women. Guy Robert is about seventy, a third generation perfumer, lives in the south of France, used to work for International Flavors & Fragrances, created Caleche for Hermes. One day, he asked me, 'Est-ce ques vous avez senti some molecule or other?' And I said, no, I'd never smelled it, what'd it smell like? And he considered this gravely and replied, "Ca sent la femme qui se neglige.'"(It smells of the woman who neglects herself.")

It's a lovely quote, that translation. But can I explain this idea, this desire for that? No, I can't. I like to believe that I neglect nothing in my life, least of all my body. The very idea that some man standing a few way away could catch a whiff of something so personal--- this terrifies me. Such intimacy should be preserved for one or two people in a lifetime, I think. That would not be sexy-- that would be an invasion.

And who would like this? And why? We are trained to like bodies that are well washed, well manicured, hair just so and body sculpted by hours at the gym. So why the fascination with things that smell 'neglected'?

While I love the quote, I'm not sure that it's what beckons me. And I don't want to smell unkempt or unclean.

But I must admit... it's a strong calling, to catch a whiff of something like this on a man that I am already attracted to. There's no language for this. There's no way for me to put it in words. So instead, I've scoured the web for photos that might capture it.

The images above capture that sense (the sex appeal, the disconect, the intimacy, the emotional hole) quite well. I'm looking for fragrances that capture these moods.

Niche Perfumes With Skank Appeal:
* Frederick Malle Bigarade Concentree - Created by Jean Claude Ellena for Frederick Malle. This was the first fragrance that made me realize that it can be good to smell dirty. To me, the seville (bitter) orange in this is (un)comfortably close to sweat. It's an experience to smell. The sex note is just under the service, can almost go unspoken. It is said to be inspired by Eau d'Hermes.

Others I'd like to try:
* Frederick Malle Musc Ravageur
* Eau d'Hermes
* Declaration by Cartier
* Bigarade Cologne for Frederick Malle

Notes of cumin, lemon, and orange combine to create the effect. I'll report back on my findings. Both images taken from Le Mepris (the french movie). Grain de musc (one of my favorite perfume blogs) recently used one of the images to describe Musc Ravageur and it has really intrigued me about the perfume.

Image: A Better Way to Review a Perfume

There are times when showing someone an image can be a more effective way of communicating to them someone else experience of a perfume, than using words. There have been images posted on other blogs and tied to perfumes by the reviewer, and the image is so compelling that I have to rush out and try the fragrance. In fact, one of the reasons I chose a multi-media approach to perfume reviews (this perfume blog) was because I wanted to be able to post images and explain which perfumes they call to mind, and use multi-media to show someone what a perfume is like. After all, you can't scratch and sniff the computer screen.

Earlier today, I was looking at images online and saw one (a still from the movie "Mostly Martha"). This particular image is truly fitting of what it is like to experience a perfume for the first time, without having first read reviews. You close your eyes. You are blind to what is coming. You try not to use your intellect to dissect it. Instead, you push away the world and your worries (work, the overflowing laundry basket, your stack of bills, your hungry dog) and reduce yourself to a singular sense: your sensual sense of smell.

There is something very personal and very intimate about experiencing a perfume. Scent is not something you can see or touch. Without a list of notes, some perfumes are hard to dissect on that intellectual level where notes and ingredients lay. You are in a quiet, personal moment with the nose, the creator of that perfume, who made it just for you and this moment. Never again will it smell like the first time. Later, your nose will be more familiar with it. It will experience it differently. And those first few moments of the top notes won't last. You are like the woman in the picture, sitting across the table from a unseen and expectant artist, who is feeding you an experience. You, your body, the perfume, and the perfumer.

How I fell in love with Niche Perfumes

Patricia Nicolai and Jean Claude Ellena are my two favorite perfumers, and I am obsessed by the perfumes they have created.

I got into niche perfumes when I read Chandler Burr's groundbreaking nonfiction book titled "Th Perfect Scent" which follows the creation of two niche frags (one for Coty and one for Hermes). The first, Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker, had been one of my favorite perfumes for several years. At that point, I was solidly grounded in mass market frags, and I considered Lovely to the best one out there. Burr described how she developed it, and explained the deep and dark and rare perfumes that inspired it. My interest was peaked as he described niche fragrances. He then followed JCE as he developed a far more upscale, niche unisex fragrance called "Un Jardin Sur Le Nil".

Burr described how the perfumes were developed, and he wrote about the perfumes that inspired Jean Claude Ellena, including Eau d'Hermes. I was burnt out at my marketing job at a local real estate firm and needed to think about something else. So I googled the perfumes discussed and discovered The Perfumed Court (frequently referred to as TPC by those in the hobby), where I could order samples and decants of full bottle luxury fragrances by Hermes, Coty and hundreds of brands I had never heard of or seen. I googled further, and discovered "Make Up Alley" where perfume addicts wrote up reviews and referenced other perfumes. Soon I compiled a list of fragrances that I had to try, based on the book and the reviews of others. I put together an order from TPC: Un Jardin sur le Nil, Un Jardin de le Mediterranee, CB I Hate Perfume Revelation, Ava Luxe Figuer, Annick Goutal Un Matin d'Orage, and more. A week later, my three packages arrived from TPC, and I set out on a new fragrant journey. Within moments of opening that package, I was hooked. I read every perfume book and review I could get my hands on, and I set asside money from each paycheck to feed my hungry nose.

A sample set purchased on ebay was my next big splurge. Since I was new, the 100+ samples and niche decants were all new to me. In them, I found over 50 indie perfume company's best offerings. Soon, I had a swaplist on MUA and was sending packages across the country, and receiving those packages in return. I quicky found that Hermes (and more specifically: the works of Jean Claude Ellena), were really the best fit for me. I also discovered Patricia Nicolai, the granddaughter of the man who started Guerlain and in house perfume (aka: Nose) for Parfums de Nicolai in France. My breakthrough scent from her line was Eau d'Ete: clean, comforting, effervescent.

I soon began frequenting the top perfume blogs: NST Perfume, Perfume Posse, and Perfume Shrine. That's how this entire hobby got started.

Image from the MDCI Perfumes website. My reviews of their excellent ultra niche fragrances to follow soon.


New Blog on Perfumes

Today, after many months of research, I am starting a new blog that will focus on niche perfumes and my obsession with them.


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