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).


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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