Dita Von Teese Erotique

Got a request to do a review of this one. It took me a few months to track down a sample of it, half because it was curiously hidden away at department stores where I am and half because I felt another mention of celebuscents within months of each other was a bit over the top.

Erotique

Erotique

In Bottle: Leather and smoke with a bath of wood.

Applied:  Erotique reminds me of the word “blunt”, the adjective. It comes in with leather and gives you the dyed soaking version of just that. It smells of smoke instead of incense. The smoked leather is warm, if you need something to remind you of heat in the dead of winter, I think Erotique might help. It reminds me more of a fireplace than leather at times, and at other times it’s overwhelmingly warm leather. I guess the imagery I get from this is less erotic and more comfy. Like taking a nap on a leather sofa in front of a wood burning fireplace. There are other elements of this that come and go, in less noticeable amounts than the leather and wood. There’s not too much else I notice aside from a kick of spice here and there, but what is there is a pleasant enough journey for me.

Extra: Erotique was released in 2013. Dita Von Teese, I had to look up, and discovered she was at one time the wife of Marilyn Manson whose musical stylings confused and frightened an eight year old version of me back in the 90s.

Design: For a fragrance like this, I found the bottle to be a strange juxtaposition. Its shape and color and styling would make me think “sweet and fruity!” rather than warm leathery woods. The cap is also a bit overdone, but I’d be hard pressed to say the bottle didn’t look nice. I just don’t think it looks appropriate.

Fragrance Family: Woodsy Leather

Notes: Rose, incense, leather, pepper, coriander, sandalwood, guaiac wood, cedar, musk.

Maybe it was because I had to take it easy on the fragrances for about a month, or maybe it was ten to twenty fragrances I had tested before I got this one–in a period of about three to four days but by the time I was done with Erotique, I had a pretty awesome fragrance headache. No idea where that came from, the last headache I got was years ago (from perfume anyway). I really don’t think it had anything to do with Erotique, but rather my brain telling me to ease myself back into perfumery. Regardless, Erotique is actually one of the few celebuscents that does something remotely different from everything else. If you must get yourself a celebuscent, try Erotique.

Reviewed in This Post: Erotique, 2013, Eau de Parfum.


The People of the Labyrinths Luctor et Emergo

The title of this one alone kind of made me swallow hard. Not so much because it was long and difficult, but rather I wasn’t sure how my blog would wrap that title. I love the title though, Luctor et Emergo. You saw that to somebody and they’ll probably think you’re casting a spell on them. Bonus points to this one for having some of the most interesting notes, grass, almonds and sour cherries piqued my interest the most.

Luctor et Emergo

Luctor et Emergo

In Bottle: Probably the most interesting experience I’ve had in a while with a fragrance. First spray reminded me of a very expensive rum I had once. Aged some strange amount of decades, it came out smelling very similar to this. Like woody barrels, almond and a bit of spice.

Applied:  The application wasn’t much different to me than the off-skin sniff. It smelled of that aged rum, almond, a hint of vanilla, wood barrel and a sprinkle of spice. It smells tasty, but the initial burst of rum makes way for a predominantly woodsy scent. I smell this and I think of cherries and pencils. It harkens me back to elementary school, sharpening my pencils at my desk a tube of cherry chapstick wedged in the corner of my desk drawer. I liked collecting the curls of shavings because I thought they looked beautiful. It’s a good memory, and I think a nice way for me to describe Luctor et Emergo. It’s the shaving curls off of sharpened pencils. Rolled into little ribbons of wood, collect them together and make a nice masterpiece. I get a bit of the almond in this as well, sweet and mild and working with a hidden vanilla note. The longer I let this age, the more the woods grow on me. They’re pleasant and tempered woods. Not the screaming harpy that I often associate with cedar. These woods are soft and pretty and nostalgic. I actually really love this, just for the memory spur alone.

Extra: Luctor et Emergo was released in 1997. I looked up what Luctor et Emergo meant, and the translation I came up with was “I struggle and emerge”.

Design: I have to admit, I’m not sure I’m a fan of the bottle design. Something about it reminds me of a nail polish bottle and I think it’s a part of that design sensibility that faded away a bit in the 90s.

Fragrance Family: Woodsy

Notes: Grass, white florals, vanilla, almond, cherry, precious woods.

The opinion on this one seems mixed across reviewers. I personally like it because of how nostalgic it made me feel. Hard to believe because I distinctly remember having not that greatest of times in elementary school. But I suppose the reminder of those pretty pencil shavings was something I missed. You can get Luctor et Emergo from Olfactif or LuckyScent.

Reviewed in This Post: Luctor et Emergo, 2013, Eau de Parfum.


Parfums Retro Grand Cuir

Grand Cuir was another inclusion in the March 2014, Olfactif package. Its copy tells me to expect a leather, smooth and unique. Dove right in.

Grand Cuir

Grand Cuir

In Bottle: Fresh, smooth and animalic upon first sniff. Heavy like a classic fragrance but lacking that “aged” feel you’d get from a vintage.

Applied:  I get an initial burst of freshness upon initial application. Woodsy and leathery with a lick of herbal. Grand Cuir is a chameleon, it changes before I can put a finger on what I expect it’s trying to smell like. There’s a note of stickiness to it as well, like an animal creeping around in the woods. I think that ultimately is how I’d describe this, something primal creeping around in some glorious woods. There’s a note of a flower bed, a hint of clean, and a dusting of leather. Grand Cuir fades down to a clean, light scent at the end. Complex with a good bit of throw and longevity, Grand Cuir is interesting at the very least. Not my kind of thing, but it’s something to consider if you want a smooth leather.

Extra: Grand Cuir was a more recent launch in 2013 and designed by Hugh Spencer. There’s also a rather interesting interview with Jeffry Dame about Parfums Retro you should check out.

Design: Very simple bottle, somewhat retro in design as well so I’d have to say they hit the visuals right on the mark. Good and clean, nothing garish. Well done bottle and design overall.

Fragrance Family: Woodsy Leather

Notes: Labdanum, birch tar, clary sage, orange flower, lavender, carnation, rose, violet, geranium, cinnamon, tarragon, pine, moss, sandalwood, rosewood, patchouli, musk.

No vanilla in this, but I don’t think it really needs it. At least, I got no vanilla. I was perfectly happy with the cute soda-like opening and the mellow, relaxing florals in the middle. The woods note in this is fantastic too. You can get your hands on Parfums Retro’s Grand Cuir from Olfactif.

Reviewed in This Post: Grand Cuir, 2013, Eau de Parfum.


Ineke Scarlet Larkspur

Having done very little to seemingly whittle down the remaining selection of samples I have, I really said to myself that I ought to stop ignoring my passion for smellies under the pretense that I’m “busy”. Busy doesn’t excuse the fact that I need to do something I enjoy or go crazy from nothing but work. So I went back to my notes, re-sniffed the things I meant to re-sniff and here I am, Scarlet Larkspur, months too late but better than never!

Scarlet Larkspur

Scarlet Larkspur

In Bottle: Light and pretty, cherry with a bubbling start and finish and a spicy support.

Applied:  Cherry, like red cherry cola upon application. I feel like I sprayed the essence of a classic soda I once tried. Scarlet Larkspur tickles the nose then fades into a pretty spicy floral in the mid-stage with a woodsy backing. There’s a nice clean depth to Scarlet Larkspur that I’m starting to recognize in the entire line. It’s easy to approach, gentle and not overwhelming or loud. This smells like a fragrance I wear when I want to relax.

Extra: Scarlet Larkspur is a member of Ineke’s Floral Curiosities collection.

Design: I really love the design of the entire Floral Curiosities line. Simple bottle shapes, but with beautiful literary imagery with swooping typography and a vintage motif.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: Wine, cherry, currant, saffron, florals, amyris wood, tonka bean, vanilla.

No vanilla in this, but I don’t think it really needs it. At least, I got no vanilla. I was perfectly happy with the cute soda-like opening and the mellow, relaxing florals in the middle. The woods note in this is fantastic too.

Reviewed in This Post: Scarlet Larkspur, 2013, Eau de Parfum.


Sarah Horowitz Perfect Nectar

Something rather delightful was waiting in the mail for me just the other week. I hadn’t been active much on this blog since work started ramping up again, so it was a pleasant surprise to find a package from Olfactif containing three samples of fragrances I hadn’t yet tried. Hey, smellies in my mailbox? I’m game.

Perfect Nectar

Perfect Nectar

 

In Bottle: I went with the one sample that seemed to be the most lighthearted. With a series of notes sliding around in the fruity floral arena, I felt Perfect Nectar was a good one to start off with. A light citrus opening that dives right into its white floral roots.

Applied:  I get very little else but white flowers in this interpretation. It’s quite sweet and rather heady. The white florals taking the prominent podium for the majority of the show. With no base notes to go off of, the florals are pretty much all I get. Now, I like white florals just fine. There’s a definite sense of Perfect Nectar trying to hit a sophisticated note, but it does come off exceptionally strong and a little bit lacking in the depth department. Lovely as it is, there’s not a whole lot in terms of other notes. I get sweet florals for pretty much the entirety of its lifespan and it’s got a very long lasting lifespan.

Extra: Perfect Nectar was released in 2000.

Design: Lovely simple bottle. I’m a big fan of delicate little flourishes on bottles too. No frills, and none needed. Lovely bottle.

Fragrance Family: Fruity Floral

Notes: Tangerine, blood orange, papaya, mango, ylang-ylang, green tea, white forals.

Olfactif is a fragrance delivery service where the samples you get once a month introduces you a potential fragrance love. Did I mention that they specialize in niche so you won’t be faced with getting samples of painfully obvious fragrances? I love the concept. As for Perfect Nectar, I don’t think it’s the one for me as it is somewhat one-dimensional, a little too strong in the floral note and not nearly enough of anything else to keep me interested. If you are looking for a clean fragrance with excellent staying power and throw, this might be a good contender for you.

Reviewed in This Post: Perfect Nectar, 2013, Eau de Parfum.


Some Common Misconceptions About Celebrity Perfume

I’ve heard all of these in some variant over the years and maybe it’s time to gather up all my thoughts so the next time I get a question or remark like this, I can refer to this post and copy/paste. One of my resolutions for 2014 is efficiency (sometimes laziness). In truth, I’m just tired of seeing these misconceptions about celebrity fragrances bouncing around.

Kylie Minogue's Sexy Darling

Kylie Minogue’s Sexy Darling

1. Celebrity perfume is low quality and isn’t as good as brand name perfume.
Not really true. Most celebrity perfumes are pretty generic, dull and not really worth the time to fuss over. But their quality isn’t that much better or worse than most mainstream offerings. If it’s quality you really want, you’ll have to do a bit of research and experimentation to find what really works.

2. [Insert celebrity here] designed this fragrance.
More like, the fragrance company or house that partnered up with the celebrity had their professional perfumers come up with concepts, develop the fragrances, ran the stuff through a few rounds of testing and probably a grueling revision process before they presented the celebrity (or their representatives, in some cases) with the proposed product. I’ll never find myself in a situation where a fragrance house wants to make “Eau de Kay”, but lacking any sort of formal aromachemical training, I doubt they would let me do much beyond picking one out of a batch of sanitized samples. The thought of Snooki donning a lab coat to personally formulate her fragrance does make for some interesting mental imagery though.

3. Since this perfume has the celebrity’s name on it, they must use it all the time.
Sometimes true, sometimes not. Some people love wearing the same scent every day, all day. Some people like to mix it up and change scents from day to day. It’s pretty unrealistic to presume a celebrity would wear a fragrance with their name on it all the time. I’m sure some celebrities actually wear the fragrances that they endorse. At the same time, I think many of them wear other fragrances along with the ones they endorse. Then there are those where the fragrance really was just marketing and they don’t wear fragrances at all or wear something else entirely. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t laugh if I saw, “Justin Bieber caught wearing his ‘Girlfriend’ fragrance at mall” in the news. Unfortunately, I don’t read the entertainment column.

4. I like [insert celebrity here]. So I must also like their favorite perfumes.
Nothing would sadden me more than a potential perfume lover being turned off perfumes because they found the fragrances their favorite celebrities liked didn’t agree with them. Wear perfume that you like. Problem solved.

5. Celebrity branded perfumes smell like said celebrities.
I hope not. I would personally find it very disturbing if any human being’s “natural scent” was peaches, blueberry candy, caramel and faux sandalwood.

I had originally written this months ago and kept it on the draft list. Given how much JB’s been in the news lately, I wanted to hold off on release this for a while until things settled down. Heaven knows that kid doesn’t need any more publicity–good or bad!


Ineke Angel’s Trumpet

Angel’s Trumpet was the second in the scent library sampler that I got a while ago and only just got around to now.

Angel's Trumpet

Angel’s Trumpet

In Bottle: Light and green with a refreshing melon note and a nice floral finish.

Applied: Gentle and green like it was in the bottle, the melon provides a pleasant freshness to the scent more akin to a sweet aqua note than an obnoxious candy melon note. The florals come in during the midstage (and they come in rather quickly) with a soft layer of orange and spice and an agreeable clean cedar. Angel’s Trumpet is a touch of a fragrance, very lilting and smooth and clean at the end. It’s all white florals and white musk with a bit of green and clean added in. Overall nice and very wearable.

Extra: I really need to get on my game and put in my order for a full size of one of these scents. I am still with Sweet William on this one, but Angel’s Trumpet is also quite beautiful. I wish the coupon that had come in the sampler worked on the smaller travel versions.

Design: Similar look to Sweet William, I’m rather attracted to the soft golden color of this design, it’s bright and happy and gentle at the same time.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: Orange, melon, green notes, angel’s trumpet, cinnamon, allspice, cedar, white musk.

Angel’s Trumpet is a pleasant fragrance, but I don’t find it particularly memorable. It’s lovely, of course, but there’s nothing about it that stands out to me.

Reviewed in This Post: Angel’s Trumpet, 2013, Eau de Parfum.


Hermes Un Jardin En Mediterranee

I’ll be the first to admit that I know nothing about the Mediterranean. I’ve never been, and won’t be for quite some time. Though from all that I’ve seen, heard, read and apparently, smelled, it is a lovely place. Hermes’ version of the Mediterranean, as they’ve declared, tries to capture the concept of the cool, watery, light aura.

Un Jardin En Mediterranee

Un Jardin En Mediterranee

In Bottle: Citrus, green and full with a light refreshing feel to it.

Applied:  Light citrus lots of juiciness in the opening and quite green and pleasant. I like how light handed, Un Jardin En Mediterranee starts off. It falls a little in the mid-stage, floating a floral my way very briefly before it settles into this thick cypress and cedar fragrance with a bit of green kick. This is a fragrance, I imagine wearing if I had an excess of flowing dresses and a beautiful garden behind my historical estate. As it is, wearing it while hunched over my work computer and contemplating its intricacies at a ridiculous hour makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. Like this isn’t the fragrance for me. It smells pleasant enough. Light, green, citrus and cypress and the cedar isn’t too bothersome either. It just doesn’t seem like it meshes with me in general.

Extra: Developed by Jean Claude Ellena, Mediterranee is a part of a collection. Others in this collection include Un Jardin Sur Le Toit and Un Jardin Sur Le Nil.

Design: Lovely, simple Hermes design. I’m a sucker for the specific colors they chose to do this series in. Would look great lined up in a row.

Fragrance Family: Fresh Floral

Notes: Orange, lemon, bergamot, oleander, orange blossom, fig leaf, cypress, cedar, musk, juniper.

I got into gardening over the past year, having moved somewhere that experiences more months of non-winter than “two” and discovered how fascinating growing and tending to plantlife is. It’s a real shame that I apparently have a brown thumb and maybe that’s why Mediterranee makes me feel like a fraud :-D.

Reviewed in This Post: Un Jardin En Mediterranee, 2003, Eau de Parfum.


Petrochemicals and Perfume

So something that’s bothered me a lot in recent years is hearing people complain about petrochemicals in their perfumes and how, since these chemicals are in fragrances, the fragrances must therefore be bad for you.

I’m sure when you say “petrochemicals” to someone, the first thing they’ll think of is either a barrel of oil or gasoline. Then if you link perfume to that word, people will probably imagine dabbing what amounts to unleaded gasoline on their necks and wrists. Of course, it doesn’t help when a tiny local news outlet builds on this misconception with a delightful morning segment they lovingly called, “Are Perfumes Poisoning You?”

So, are perfumes or, rather, are the petrochemicals in perfumes poisoning you? No.

Here’s the thing with petrochemicals, they’re in a lot of things and not just in perfumes. Nor are they in any significantly large quantities in perfumes compared to something like–say, a plastic bucket. I’m not a scientist and don’t pretend to be, but my understanding of petrochemicals is that they’re used in the manufacturing of a lot of products. From things you might expect like plastics, computers, electronics and furniture. Then there are the things I didn’t expect like in medicine. Then there are the cosmetics, which see a lot of petrochemical use as for a large variety of reasons.

See, the thing with petrochemicals is, you really are fighting a losing battle if you want to avoid them. If you’re on the internet, reading this post then chances are, you had to touch a petrochemical product at some point seeing as computers are made of the stuff. Heck, the chair you might be sitting in is made out of it. Perhaps even the clothes you’re wearing, or the soap you use.

When we think about how many products with petrochemicals in them or were made out of petrochemicals that we use, the numbers are really mind-boggling. I could cast my eyes around the room I’m sitting in right now and I’d actually have a harder time finding something that didn’t have a petrochemical in it or wasn’t manufactured using petrochemicals.

Years ago, a friend and I were exploring “healthy” alternatives to big brand cosmetics. We were teenagers, barely into college. We liked cosmetics though. Having read something or seen something somewhere, my friend informed me of all the toxins inside of the big brand cosmetics we were using. We promptly swore off of them and looked high and low for alternatives–the more natural the better.

Eventually, we found an all natural cosmetics line that boasted no preservatives for health-conscious individuals. The packaging was cute, done up in pastels and greens to really drive home that “nature” thing. I decided to ditch my big brand stuff and go for the natural line. Because hey, I was young, I loved make-up but I didn’t want to damage my body over it. With some of the things they say, it’s really no surprise that people become alarmed. I’ve heard everything from, “it’s an allergen” to “it causes seizures”.

Long story short, a few months later and I had the worst acne in my life and my skin was horribly dry. My friend didn’t fare that much better. It seemed the longer I tried using the natural stuff, the worse my skin got. I’m not saying every natural alternative product will do this to people. A lot of individuals use these products to great success. But making my skin dry and break out was what it did to me, and that could be because my skin just didn’t mesh well with the product.

I stopped using the natural stuff. The acne went away, the dryness got better too–but I was still out a lot of money and very disappointed that my foray into no-preservative cosmetics was a disaster. It also took a really long time to get my skin back to normal. I went back to the big brands after that. Almost a decade later and my face is still intact so I guess those petrochemicals aren’t that bad for me after all.

The thing is, when I look back at the reasons why I tossed my cosmetics and jumped on the natural bandwagon was because I was afraid of something horrible happening to me. It took a while for me to realize that people have used petrochemical products for decades or even longer and a great deal of them are perfectly fine. How much does the use of petrochemicals in our every day lives really affect us? And does it matter to me that much in the end?

How long do I expect to live if I swore off all the stuff that I enjoy because someone, somewhere (of questionable credentials, I might add) told me that it was bad for me because it’s not “nature made”? And do I really want to be around that long even after I gave up everything I like to do it? All I really know is that my face is fine and it’s been layered in petrochemical containing products a lot over the years. I’m still kicking and I’ve used perfumes almost daily for a while now. I also sometimes eat out of plastic bowls, drink out of plastic cups, sat on, laid on, stood on plenty of petrochemical-containing materials and I don’t think I’m any worse for wear.

Some more interesting read for those concerned with ingredients in their cosmetics:
Lucas from Chemist in the Bottle on Parabens
Perfume Shrine on the Demonization of Perfume
Chemist Corner on Companies Caving to Fearmongering


Ineke Sweet William

I was wowed into trying Sweet William from seeing its packaging. There are two things I can’t resist (okay, there’s actually  a lot of things I can resist, but these are the two I can think of right now) 1) perfume, 2) books. You slap those two things together and you might as well just take my money right now.

Sweet William

Sweet William

In Bottle: Sweet William opens with a sweet and spicy peach with a smooth application of clove.

Applied: The fragrance goes on so light and sweet and pretty that I feel like putting on a flowery dress and frolicking in some random fields. The peach is so uncandy-like (thank goodness!) that it almost verges on a spicy orange opening. Sweet William is girly with a dose of spice to make sure it’s not all silliness and has a little bit of sophistication as well. The mid-stage is a sweet carnation with a soft beautifully done sandalwood and vanilla waft. Its dry down marks no sharp notes, no stray and misused cedar or patchouli at all. It’s a lovely, soft, warm spicy woods. Just lovely!

Extra: Sweet William by Ineke is a part of a limited edition collection of scents called Floral Curiosities. The packaging is adorable, and I was delighted to find that the sampler collection comes in what appears to be a book.

Design: The bottle itself is fairly similar to other Ineke 75mls, packaged in a lovely box and looking very nice. I have to shamefully admit that I would rather get the travel spray just because it’s packaged in another adorable book box. I’m a little obsessed with this packaging, you see.

Fragrance Family: Woodsy Spicy Floral

Notes: Peach, cinnamon, clove, carnation, sandalwood, cedar, patchouli, vanilla.

At the time of this writing, I haven’t yet tried the other fragrances that come with the sampler (I highly recommend giving this a try, especially if you’re looking for something outside of the standard department store fare for someone extra special), but I’m already delighted enough with Sweet William that I wonder what the others will be like. If nothing else, the beautifully done Sweet William has my vote.

Reviewed in This Post: Sweet William, 2013, Eau de Parfum.