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).


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.


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