Thursday, May 22, 2008

Eau de Victoria's Secret

Image by j. morrison

The fact that their best seller is called Dream Angels(TM) should have clued me. Nearly everything is a loud gourmand Angel knock off. Fruity Sparkle Angel, Watermelon Lysol Angel, Sexy Powder Depilatory Angel, etc. No matter what's on top, everything has a strong vanilla base-note to go with their vanilla-pink-thong kink.

Actually I take that back. Their Beauty Rush line lacks vanilla and smells more like old Laffy Taffy stuck under a school bus seat.

The least offensive were the Pink (TM) body mists which smell like Bonne Bell lip gloss and lemonade. I find that endearing.

And their Sexy Little Things (TM) is an amusing fruity/marshmallow/wood thing that would be a perfect scent for Hello Kitty. It's what Momoberry should have been.

But I still give the props for understanding scent as an accessory. After all, what scent would you say goes best with sparkle shorts in imported polyester/spandex?

Please pardon the hate. Finals are almost over and with their passing I can return to the scents I love (such as Frederic Malle's French Lover which I had to try after reading Marina's fantastic review. For our moment of Zen, a reminder that Eros and scent have been linked since time immemorial.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Eau de Vie - Pina Colada

I found this one on sale at Sephora for $5 and almost bought it unsniffed because at $5 the price was right. There was no tester so I opened up a box, sprayed a blotter and sniffed. Nice enough if a bit sweet. I also tested out the coconut on a blotter and found it to be sweet and creamy with toasted notes. Not bad.

I browsed a little, and then thought, do I really want to smell like a cocktail? Lets see what emotional response I have to actually wearing it.
This is where the magic happened! Trust me, Eau de Vie is a party in a bottle if you fancy the Roman sort.

On skin the sweet pineapple notes morphed into an impressive gastric juice accord. And the coconut had a new phlegmatic meets semenic tone. Secretions magnifiques indeed!

I was initially surprised that something so corporeal could come from the Luxcon Group - makers of Aquolina Pink Sugar, and the Chocolovers line. I actually find inexpensive Chocolovers to be one of the better chocolate accords - the orange notes prevent it from the synthetic tootsie roll scent many chocolate accords fall prey to. Still, their official ad copy is special:

"Its chocolate for the entire world, waiting to be enjoyed by you and your partner. Blended with sex notes of bergomot, orange, hazelnut, parchouly, vanilla, malt, and vanilla absolute. Enjoy it alone or share it." (sic)

Luxcon Group seems to be something of a renaissance company. According to their website they also manufacture something called Lubrigyn.

In the spirit of the Classic approach to understanding the body, I guess a classic song would be appropriate.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Escada's Chiffon Sorbet

Macaroons from L'

Chiffon Sorbet was launched in 1993 as the first of the Escada seasonals. Considering that "Grunge" was in full swing at the time, this sweet meringue accord seems like an odd choice. It smells like something that would make an excellent corporate gift in Paris or Tokyo. All sugar fluff, vanilla and almonds it seems innocent enough, but there is a lychee note that foreshadows the "fruitini" years of the late 90's. Following on the heel's on 1992's Angel, Chiffon Sorbet is a quiet step in the direction of Escada's current neon bombast.

I found that it went on initially fruity for about 15 seconds and then faded down to an invisible musk that I thought might be Dave's beloved "sexy butts" accord. When Dave came home he said the house smelled very fruity so I might be anosmic for whatever this stuff is, but Dave said it smelled distinctly like the white powder coating on generic gummy fruit candies.

A sweetsy musical analog might be Juliana Hattfield, but let's fast forward a few years to a different sweetness, an age of Go Sailor, Cub, and across the Atlantic, the polymorphously perverse Momus.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Axe Phoenix, Clix and Kilo

My friend said her boyfriend wears Axe body spray, and knowing him to be a man of refinement and taste (not to mention a world class ukulele collection) I sniffed down the deodorant Isle at my local CVS.

I was surprised at how likable most of the axe scents were. Sure, Vice smelled like the custom van my ex-con school bus driver used when the bus was in the shop. But none of them were any weirder than the Chai Latte Secret women smear in their armpits.

Ann Gottlieb is the nose behind Phoenix and Kilo as well as Calvin Klein's Euphoria and Sara Jessica Parker's Covet. It seems she has either personally created or art directed several scents at Estee Lauder, so it's not surprising that a few of the Axe scents are quite wearable. Phoenix and Clix are very similar - Phoenix is more of an abstract ozonic/aquatic style of a classic cologne in the early 90's style of Acqua di Gio, Cool Waters or Eau d'Issey. The semiotics are a little confusing to me: does a phoenix smell like water? Maybe someone put him out with a garden hose. According to the top notes are: Citrus, Lavender, Geranium middle notes: Warm Violet, Earthy Notes, base notes of: leather and musk. As far as I can tell, Clix is the same thing with more citrus and possibly some mint.

Kilo smells pleasant, though I am also confused about the name. It smells of sweet leaves with possibly a hint of coconut. What is the intended visual association? The vast jungles of Columbia? Piles of powdered sugar on a glass coffee table? Who can say. Either way it smelled of teen-boy video-game fueled rebellion.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale

From William Eggleston's Graceland, 1984

Amidst the woody leather scents at Bergdorf Goodman, this one stood out. Rootbeer! Or more precisely it smells like a cold glass of Dr. Pepper, consumed in the wooded study of Graceland.

From William Eggleston's 10 D.70.V2 portfolio

This is what I wanted to smell in Andy Tauer's Lonestar Memories. Sushi Imperiale is a cold Dr. Pepper at a Dairy Queen half way between Houston and Austin, in a small dusty town where the low scrub grows. It's sugar sweet brightness in a dark library. It would be camp if it weren't so fantastically good. I don't quite understand the sushi reference, my guess is that it's supposed to be like eating pickled ginger in a Kyoto temple because I get a variety of spices including ginger, cinnamon, pepper, orange, verbena, vanilla and woods. It manages to be cozily familiar and refreshing at the same time, just like my lonestar roadtrip favorites the Old 97's and the King himself.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cereus Pour Homme No. 4

A friend of mine was looking for a good gastroenterologist. She finally found one near Prospect Park, the archetypal old man in a white lab coat. He told her to eat nothing but grated green apples for two days. She's had diarrhea for the past three weeks, and presumably the pectin will help the contents of her bowels congeal like strawberry-apple jelly.

And speaking of apples: Cereus makes some lovely light mens scents. Number 4 is a fresh green apple accord with the strange tart crunch of a slightly under ripe Granny Smith. Perfect for summer, it's cool, almost chilly and precisely the sort of thing I would like, except that for some reason it doesn't quite work. Chandler Burr thought it was a rehash of D&G Light Blue. I thought it was an off key combination of bright citrus notes, like listening to the Go-Go's coming from the iPod of the person sitting next to you on the subway. It's a fresh green apple that's being chewed near our ear.

And speaking of diarrhea, their ad copy is fantastic. Accoording to Now Smell This their press release states that their brand targets "affluent men aged 35 and older". Classy.

Almost enough to gel your poo into soft serve.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Eau Imperiale by Guerlain

Mike Kelly @ the LACMA

For a long time I couldn't remember which of the Guerlain Eaux it was that I liked. Eau de Guerlain and Imperiale are similar, but the former has more herbs that make it kind of macho while the latter dries down to a soft jolly etrog-like yellow glow that makes me smile. I was looking for one of Mike Kelly's demented bananas to illustrate the point but the images I found looked so mildew-poopy-gross that I was afraid they'd give the wrong idea.

I think New York playes a big role in my olfactory choices. In the summer, in an air conditioned subway car, it's a nice treat when someone starts eating an orange. Everyone turns around and smiles. This is a bottled version of that, an antidote to whatever else may be going on. I suppose New York is in a perpetual dialog between Mr. Happy Banana and Mr. Poopy Gross, but I vote for more Mr. Happy.

Note that Imperial doesn't smell anything like bananas. I hate the synth-banana smell, and it reminds me of the high school chemistry lab where we turned moth balls and HCl into banana scented esters. This actually smells awesome, like some kind of magical super-lemon with a goofy grin that's been cheerfully blunted.

Monday, May 5, 2008

With Love, Hillary Duff

The mature wood composition is less sweet than most scents for the junior set, and it lacks the sycophantic vanilla accord in most celebrity scents. A 12 year old in heels, but she seems so blasé about it that somehow it's charming.

Nina by Nina Ricci

I remember Luca Turin finding this one somewhat agreeable for a fruity floral, but the combination of sweet fruits and woods is like a 12 year old in a thong. Don't bite that apple kid. It's poison!

Speaking of barf, I also tried the new Clean Wellness and Harmony - the ones in the purple bottles. Utter dreck. From the pretty purple bottle I would guess that this might succeed as part of a new age pyramid scheme.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

100% Love

I love it! A scent with it's own MySpace page! A delicious sticker-book accord of tootsie rolls, strawberry scratch n' sniff stickers and rose jam. It smells just like one chocolate scratch and sniff sticker I scratched an odorless groove into before I gave into just licking it.

"I dream of cherry pies,
Candy bars, and chocolate chip cookies"

Un Jardin après la Mousson by Hermes

I didn't realize the great Now Smell This had already reviewed this one, but it makes sense since that's where I first learned of it's existence.

After dropping off my health paperwork, I took the Madison Avenue bus through the Friday fog up to the Hermes store. Mousson was a wet foggy haze. It struck me as dark and aquatic, ominous, like the sky in Houston before a flash flood. You could almost smell the wet wood of the Menil, and the people kayaking down route 59. There was even just a little touch of decayed earth, and a bit of spice but none of the flint from Terre d'Hermes. It seemed to inflate and grow and upon the dry-down I finally smelled the overripe melons. A good scent for listening to Bring Back the Guns.

Friday, May 2, 2008

future scents

I was thinking about how Christopher Brosius already has accords of Doll's Head and Baby Aspirin to placate my desire for the chemical. Today I am wearing a blend of Demeter's Tarnish and Quince which read to me as a dressy meal at my beloved aunt's house.
On a nostalgia trip I thought I'd list a few more scents I adore:

dried grass
hot pavement, Queens edition
the bare paster walls of the Cy Twombly gallery
the smell of air conditioning inside Baskin Robbins on a humid day

Hello Kitty Solid Perfume

Maybe it's Murakami show at the Brooklyn Museum combined with the pink cherry blossoms next door at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens but I have been nostalgic for the scent of Sanrio circa 1984-1994. Not too long ago they had a shop at FAO Schwartz, which in junior high was the go-to place for nylon wallets, and a glittery nailpolish color called Super Lame Pink.

I was missing that unique cherry-blossom/Smarties/vinyl smell, and was excited that the Sanrio store on 42nd street carries Kello Kitty perfume solids. I bought Rose, Lemon and Lavender, and I'm happy to say that Rose and Lavender beautifully recreate the fruity vinyl scent of Strawberry Shortcake heads, stickerbooks, Petit Nate and glow in the dark things you could send away for from the back of 3-2-1 Contact magazine.

Ananas Fizz vs. Bahiana

Both Annas Fizz and Bahiana are available on Luckyscent.

I tried on both at Aedes on Christopher Street while waiting to meet up with Dave. To date, Carnal Flower and Moon Sparkle have been the only scents that really caught Dave's attention, and his preferred accord is that of "sexy butts". I thought the coconut basenote of Bahiana would be the sexy butts he describes but he said it was "too literal, too much like crushed fruits". I enjoyed both and thought they both could be the lemonade antidote to the smell of New York in summer. They were quite similar but with a sweeter guava/coconut accord in the feathered bottle compared t the abstract citrus fizz of L'Artisan. Either one could happily be the Go-Go's "Vacation", water-skis and all.

Serge Lutents: Five O'Clock Au Gingembre

In high school, my friend Sophie and I once went indow shopping at the downtown Barneys. We were expecting to be ignored but instead we were swarmed by sales associates in empty palacial store. A little embarassed we told them that we were just having a look around and couldn't afford any of the Costume National and Comme des Garcons fashions on the racks. The associates giggled and started bringing out jeweled catsuits for us to try on. We got fully decked out and Sophie pointed out that the store soundtrack was the best mix of girlgroup songs we'd never heard, and quickly a dance party ensued.

The uptown Barneys is somewhat more inclined towards commerce and as such I don't go very often because the sales associates treat me like week old herring when I browse there. The other day, I stopped in on my way to Bergdorfs and mentioned to the dour associate at the fragrance counter that I had just started a scent blog. Immediatly he vanished and the sweetest, most cheerful associate appeared and started chatting with me about scent fandom, Sniffapalooza and he new scents he had on hand. He suggested I try Five O'Clock Au Gingembre. The great Perfume Smellin' Things has just reviewed this scent, but my experience was completely different. Maybe my impressions are clored by my pleasan encounter with the sales associate but I found Five O'Clock to be absolutely beautiful and a little bit rough, like crystallized ginger. Unlike most spice scents which hang close in a hot red velvet haze, this one was lovely and dry. Just a little bit dusky, it still had the fresh qualities of Ginger that I love so much in Demeter's Ginger Ale. As music it could be a harpsichord fuge or a slightly louche Parisian accordion ballad.

Update! Now available at Luckyscent

The JAR experience

A few days ago I went on an excursion to Bergdorf Goodman's to sniff around. They have some of the most fun sales associates around. I was browsing the Killian scents, when I was asked ina very soft voice by a sales associate if I was familiar with... "JAR". And the JAR experience began.

Others have described the experience thoroughly, and in the interest of maintaining some mystery I'll keep it brief. It's really much more about the experience than the individual scents, though I will say that Jardinia originally reminded me of a cheese cave, but was a heady overripe floral on my hand, redolent of the browning crushed magnolia petals that collect underfoot at the end of springtime. Still, JAR comes as close to my David Lynch curtain-room fantasies as any place in NYC. (In part, because the perfume oil soaked shammies smelled to me like like kinky feet.) And along with De Verait is one of the best examples of that great New York City art form, Shopping Theater. A soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti would be appropriate.