Hermes Eau d’Orange Verte

Eau d’Orange Verte is a fresh little number that doesn’t smell like the year it was released. In 1979, the House of Hermès unleashed this simply constructed, but beautiful little idea. Eau d'Orange Verte

In Bottle: Fresh lemon and mandarin combine to make a really nice, juicy orange-like scent. This smells like orange trees, it smells like someone taking the skin of an orange and squeezing out a spray.

Applied: Orange and lemon, very pretty, a little sweet but mostly sharp citrus. But not that annoying too-sharpness that I get in other fragrances with a lemon note. Methinks this lemon is a bit more tame and I like that. this smells like a pleasant airy citrus, fresh fragrance. There’s a brief  introduction in the equally brief mid-stage where a slight fruitiness peaks through and then dissolves into a beautiful very close and intimate green scent with patchouli. There’s not a whole lot of surprise or complexity in Eau d’Orange Verte but some simple fragrances get it just right and the fragrance is excellent no matter how simple it is.

Extra: Hermès dates back to the late 1800s as a French high fashion house with its headquarters currently in Paris. You might know them better, in the fragrance world anyway, from their very popular Terre d’Hermès scent.

Design: Eau d’Orange Verte comes in a beautiful and very thick textured orange box that you open much like a shoebox. There’s no silly flaps to get in the way here. This is one of the better packaged fragrances with the bottle inside being a green tinted glass with a rounded plastic cap. It was particularly delightful to note that Eau d’Orange Verte’s bottle is refillable. Meaning, once you’re done with the juice, you can easily unscrew the sprayer and refill the bottle with more Eau d’Orange Verte or use the bottle for another fragrance.

Fragrance Family: Fresh

Notes: Lemon, mandarin, papaya, mango, oakmoss, patchouli.

Being an Eau de Cologne, Eau d’Orange Verte is a very light fragrance that you’ll need to layer or go heavy on the trigger for. I go through this stuff like crazy, which is probably why the scent comes in soap and other flanker product forms as well as a gargantuan 200ml bottle.

Reviewed in This Post: Eau d’Orange Verte, 2009, Eau de Cologne .

Diptyque Tam Dao

Indian Sandalwood used to be a very popular addition to fragrances, and other applications everywhere. So popular, in fact, that the sandalwood tree has become an endangered species. Tam Dao is Diptyques homage to the precious sandalwood tree. Tam Dao

In Bottle: Dry spicy sandalwood with a hint of creaminess and a sharp blare of green floating on top.

Applied: Cedar and greenness with a mild hint of sandalwood coming through. The greenness adds a rather jarring experience but it’s a quick fader and it helps with the mid-stage where the spiciness and dry sandalwood shines a bit more. This is a pure, nicely done sandalwood scent. It has a nice and deep aroma to it, a very familiar scent thanks to how much sandalwood is featured in fragrances but I have to admit my disappointment that the scent doesn’t do much else but sit at sandalwood. I can appreciate it for its simplicity though as its focus is to remain simple and pure and present the wearer with a sense of calmness in a dry, spicy, amber-suspended sandalwood fragrance.

Extra: Often you’d think people illegally hunting animals when you hear the word, ‘poaching’. But poaching happens to trees too like the sandalwood.

Design: Bottled in the typical square-ish Diptyque style. That is a square glass bottle with a metal cap. The cap slides off rather nicely, the sprayer works just fine. I’m a big fan of the uniform and simple-looking Diptyque labels which often remind me of a mixture of art deco and woodcuts.

Fragrance Family: Woodsy

Notes: Goa sandalwood, rosewood, cypress, ambergris.

Tam Dao’s longevity was a bit weak for my liking, fading within five hours. It’s  a decent time period but I did expect a bit more from a woods-based fragrance.

Reviewed in This Post: Tam Dao, 2007, Eau de Toilette.

Victoria’s Secret Delicate Petals

Victoria’s Secret has a line of fragrances based off of a garden of flowers type of motif. Their first fragrance that I reviewed in this blog was Love Spell, a confusing conundrum of a fragrance that reminded me of sweet herbs and slippery banana. Love Spell, it should be noted, was my least favorite of the Secret Garden scents. Delicate Petals, on the other hand, I love. Delicate Petals

In Bottle: I am a big fan of roses and rose-based perfumes (when done well of course) and Delicate Petals is a cute, sweet, light take on the celebrated rose. In the middle it is a light, mildly citrus rose fragrance. Not a classic rose, but a very nice one all the same.

Applied: Yep, cute, sweet and rosey. This is no where near Guerlain’s Nahema rose with its dense, rich, dark complexity. Delicate Petals is–well, delicate. It opens with a slight citrus to clear the area and sort of impart a clearing of the slate before the rose comes up pretty much immediately. There’s very little complexity to this scent as I mentioned as most of it is heavily relying on the rose to do its job. It’s the kind of rose you would find in a pleasant soap. A modern and cute rose that won’t offend anyone and smells good in a variety of situations. When Delicate Petals dries down, I’m left with very little as the fragrance just seems to drop off entirely with a very sheer (or non-existent) base note.

Extra: Delicate Petals has been likened often to Stella by Stella McCartney, but once again, I have to give the prize to Stella because she’s just a little more complex. As for me, I’d say Delicate Petals resembles Juliette Has a Gyn’s Lady Vengeance a bit more. It’s the same clean, fresh, cute rose concept. Though Lady Vengeance has a smooth, soapy quality to it that I prefer.

Design: Delicate Petals is bottled in the same way as Love Spell and the other eau de toilettes in Victoria’s Secret’s Secret Garden line. That enough secrets for you? It’s a relatively simple glass cylinder with a clear label depicting an appropriate flower and the fragrance’s name as well as Victoria’s Secret on it. You will find the perfume’s identification stamp (and lot serials) on a sticker on the bottom of the bottle. The cap is a metal and is usually gold.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: Tangerine, velvet rose, musk.

I do get tired of rose fragrances eventually and as a result can’t keep wearing rose scents day after day. It’s strange, like rose is one of those now and then treats and if I use it too often I get bloated and sick of it for a while. But Delicate Petals helps assuage this a little as it’s so light and clean and plain old peppy!

Reviewed in This Post: Delicate Petals, 2009, Eau de Toilette.

Vera Wang Glam Princess

Glam Princess is the latest in what’s becoming a long line of sweet and floral designer perfume royalty. It’s about as competent as the other princess fragrances but at the same time suffers from a rather glaring problem. It smells really, really, really generic. Glam Princess

In Bottle: Indistinct sugar floral, a bit of a toasted sticky marshmallow note in the bottle. Weird because the marshmallow is supposed to be a base note but Glam Princess isn’t the kind of gal to go by steps I guess.

Applied: Super sweet and fruity top notes with a hint of florals. As the scent ages it digs deeper into the floral territory and the old familiar sweet foody floral from original Princess surfaces. The scent is smooth, creamy, very sweet fruity floral in the mid-stage. Not at all special or unique but it’s a pleasant enough fragrance. Glam Princess smells like a lightly flowery foody scent that, like the original, is reminiscent of cake batter. Only there’s a notable lack of the dark chocolate note in the original here. You get white cake batter in this time instead of dark chocolate cake batter. We also get sticky marshmallow that injects itself right into the teeth to save some time on the whole cavity-inducing thing. The dry down isn’t much more exciting as we get sweet floweriness until it disappears entirely.

Extra: If you liked the original Princess fragrance, you’ll probably like this one because the two are built on the same very familiar formula and they do sort of resemble each other in that they’re both sweet gourmand florals. If you loved that dark chocolate note in the original Princess, though, you might want to sit this one out. I really liked that chocolate note in the original. The lack of it in this flanker just makes it smell really generic.

Design: Bottled in the same heart-shaped thing as the rest of the Princess line, Glam Princess is adorned by a string of star designs on the glass. The bottle itself is a golden-yellow, the crown cap is gold with multi-colored jewels set into it. I’m still not a fan of the bottle design. I don’t think there’s anything you can do to a big glass heart to make it appeal to a woman in her mid-twenties with a penchant for simple aesthetics.

Fragrance Family: Sweet Floral

Notes: red berries, guava, pear, orange blossom, vanilla orchid, ambrette, marshmallow, cashmere wood.

Maybe this line of princess fragrances just doesn’t appeal to me. I can see how it’s cute and girly and stuff but the bottles just don’t speak to me and neither do the fragrances.

Reviewed in This Post: Glam Princess, 2010, Eau de Toilette.

Givenchy L’Interdit 1957

L’Interdit, the original, was discontinued then reformulated and re-released in 2002. Then slightly reformulated back to the classic version and released again in 2007. What it became in 2002 was a generic scent. Reformulated 2002 L’Interdit smells nothing like the classic, the 2007 version is closer but I still thought it lacked a certain daring feel that the original possessed. I had the chance to smell L’Interdit 1957 and the bar has been raised. L'Interdit

In Bottle: Aldehydes, very strong. Sharp and sparkling, and astringent. It’s approaching that point where it smells like urine as the aldehydes are just so strong in this. I think this may have something to do with the perfume’s age making the aldehydes stronger than they should be.

Applied: More aldehydes! The sharpness and sparkle are fleeting on the skin though as they start to evaporate but never quite leave, lending L’Interdit a constant status of glitz and high perfumery. The fragrance calms down a bit into a soft floral with touches of fruit here and there giving it a sweetness. It’s gentle like a like touch, and easy to wear. It doesn’t smell clean or fresh, just warm and gentle. The mid-stage is dominated with floral notes as sheer and light as the non-aldehyde notes in the opener. L’Interdit is  so easy to love as it approaches the dry down with a splash of incense over a bed of flowers and powder. It ushers out with a final flare of woodsy incense.

Extra: L’Interdit was composed in the 1950s for Audrey Hepburn. They released it for the public on 1957 with Hepburn  endorsing it. L’Interdit was composed by Francis Fabron. The man who created Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps. You may find it difficult to find the original L’Interdit in stores today but a recent reissue in 2007 of L’Interdit smells as close as you’re going to get.

Design: Simple glass bottle with a red label and a metal cap to protect the sprayer. L’Interdit knows it doesn’t need to impress you with a flashy bottle and it really doesn’t even try. I can appreciate the bottle for its simplicity though and its high contrast design.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: : Aldehydes, galbanum, peach, bergamot, jasmine, rose, narcissus, lily of the valley, incense, sandalwood, benzoin, tonka, amber, musk, vetiver.

I didn’t get an exact date on how old this bottle of L’Interdit was so we compromised with a reasonable year.

Reviewed in This Post: L’Interdit, circa 1970, Eau de Toilette.

Perfume FAQ, Part 2

Part 2 of the Perfume FAQ for common questions that keep coming up regarding perfume. You should not, by any means, stop your research at this page. If there’s a topic you’re interested in, Google  has opened up a very good resource for research and knowledge. If you have a perfume related question, please leave a comment.

Q. Why do perfumes give me headaches?
A. I’m not a doctor and cannot diagnose what might be a more serious condition that you have but in my experience, related entirely to perfume, people who get perfume headaches may have smelled a particularly large dose of perfume or a particularly strong perfume. If all perfumes give you a headache, you may be sensitive to scents. Some people also get headaches from perfumes that are too sweet or cloying. Others might get headaches from perfumes that are too spicy, or sharp, the list goes on. We’re all different and so are our perfume headaches. It should be noted however, that a perfume headache does not necessarily indicate a perfume allergy. Allergies can sometimes cause headaches but if all you experience when you smell a trigger perfume is a migraine an allergy may not be what you have. It should be reiterated that I am not a medical doctor and you should consult with a licensed physician if you are having any physical ailments.

Q. What’s the deal with old lady perfume?
A. I don’t know what the deal is, but here’s a run down. Poor Chanel No. 5 often gets accused of smelling like “old lady perfume” but I find that most people who often say this are also the kind of people who have never actually gone out of their way to smell Chanel No. 5 before and are just repeating a public misconception. Old lady perfume is whatever you want to make of it. Some people will call anything over-applied an old lady perfume. Some people call any perfumes old lady perfumes. Many people equate old lady perfumes to floral heavy perfumes, lavenders, nerolis, jasmines, powdery scents, bitter scents, earthy scents, cloying scents, tuberose scents, sometimes incense-heavy fragrances get lumped into this classification too. In fact, we’d save time by saying perfumes that smell like candy, cookies, cakes, or chocolate brownies, sweet fruits, massive infusions of citrus, and giant mountains of vanilla ice cream are pretty immune to being classified as “old lady”. Many of the vintage classics made earlier than the 1980s suffer from this derogatory label. If you ask me, the phrase, “old lady perfume” should be stricken from the records as it’s an ignorant classification of a certain group of people as well as an equally ignorant classification of a huge selection of fragrances and fragrance history. For a more eloquent entry on “Old Lady Perfume”, check out Perfume Shrine >>

Q. Are designer perfumes better than non-designer?
A. No. Not necessarily. Designer perfumes are sold as a brand. Unless brands matter to you, wear what you like to smell and don’t worry about it. The composition of most designer perfumes versus non-designer such as Victoria’s Secret or celebrity fragrances are not all that different.

Q. I think I have a counterfeit fragrance on my hands, how do I confirm my suspicions?
A. Get on a fragrance forum like Basenotes or Makeupalley, take several clear photographs of your suspected fake and ask people if they can identify whether or not you’ve got a counterfeit on your hands. I personally cannot identify every single bottle as I have not seen, held, or owned every single bottle of perfume available. Therefore, I may not be able to tell you if you got swindled or not but other people might.

Q. Why is there Arabic writing on some of my perfume boxes or bottles and what does it say?
A. Your perfume was imported from another country. Possibly grey market but not necessarily counterfeit. Just to re-iterate; Arabic writing on your perfume box or bottle is not one of the indicators of a counterfeit. As for what that says, I can only assume it might say something like, “For external use only” or something equally unexciting. So rest assured, you did not stumble upon a secret message that will lead you on a journey of self-discovery and hidden treasure. That would be pretty neat though. To read about the difference between grey market fragrances and counterfeits, go Here >>

Q. Someone told me that all perfumes expire after two years. Is this true?
A. No. Perfumes do not have a set expiry date. Some last for much longer than two years, other expire in even less time than that if they’re not stored properly. How long your perfume lasts depends on how well you take care of it and what kinds of components it was made with. A bottle of citrus-heavy fragrance for instance, is more volatile and prone to spoilage. Generally, the two years to spoilage date is given as a precaution, not a hard and fast date that all perfumes will expire by. The rule of thumb I go by is, if the liquid is clear, it hasn’t changed color, and it still smells the same then it’s probably fine to use. I also recommend keeping perfumes out of the sunlight and in an environment with a relatively stable temperature to prolong their lifespan.

Q. Why do people say it’s bad to spray perfume in your hair or on your clothes?
A. I’m not a hair or clothing expert but I assume spraying hair is a no-no due to the alcohol base in most perfumes which can dry out or damage your hair. As for the clothes thing, perfumes contain coloring agents so I assume if you spray enough you might stain your clothes.

Q. Is it true that perfumes contain ingredients that come from a deer’s butt?
A. You won’t believe how often this gets asked. “Deer’s butt ingredients”, more eloquently known as, natural musk,  used to be widely present in perfume. In some rare instances, musk, and other such natural animal-based ingredients still are but the use of natural musks and animal ingredients is rare in modern perfumery due to the versatility and efficiency of synthetic musks.

Q. How do you train your nose to pick out individual ingredients in scents?
A. Picking out individual smells in a fragrance is a purely subjective exercise for a hobbyist like me. But I find that as I smell more perfumes, fragrance oils and essential oils, I start to recognize these same smells in certain perfumes and can sometimes pick them out. So it’s just a matter of the more you smell, the more you know.

Got any questions not addressed in this FAQ? Please leave a comment.

BPAL: Sea of Glass

Having been knocked out of the game by a cold for a while, I was sad not to be able to do very many reviews of Black Phoenix’s fragrances. I always go back to BPAL for a simple smell adventure. The fragrances might not be complex in make and mode, but they are lovely things to test and train a nose. Useless said nose is congested. So I was happy to get over this blasted virus and get back to smelling. Nothing quite like the sinus clearing Sea of Glass to harken me back to health. Sea of Glass

In Bottle: Sea of Glass is just what its name implies. It is an aquatic, sharp and strong and slightly stinging as it rockets up the nose like taking in a breath just as your head goes underwater. It settles in the nostrils and declares itself aquatic queen of the land but the queen’s got some tricks up her sleeve too.

Applied: Blast of aquatics that will remain a steady theme throughout the fragrance’s lifespan. As Sea of Glass ages on the skin some more notes come up out of the foam and I get a faint whiff of light white florals dancing on the water with a gentle blend of sweet mandarin citrus and a kick of green. Sea of Glass reminds me of the color emerald and what that should smell like. Crisp, clear, and sharply clean. It has an aquatic edge to it with a subtle floral interpretation in the mid-stage. The dry down sees the fading of the aquatics and a bit more white floral representation with a sweetness that helps to smooth out the fragrance a little bit.

Extra: I’ve had people liken Sea of Glass to a number of other aquatics based fragrances before. It’s been compared to Acqua di Gio on more than one occasion of which I have to disagree. Acqua di Gio has more of a sweetness to it as well as a more predominant woodsy quality. Sea of Glass is a clearer aquatic with a floral heart.

Design: Bottled in the same way as other Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab general catalog scents. It is presented in an amber colored glass bottle with a screw on cap that holds approximately 5ml of perfume oil.

Fragrance Family: Fresh

Notes: Aqua, mandarin, white florals, green notes.

No notes listed with this one so I took my best guess at it. Sea of Glass is a nicely interesting aquatic based scent such as Bleu de Chanel. If you love that kind of stuff, give this one a try.

Reviewed in This Post: Sea of Glass, 2009, 5ml Bottle.

Burberry The Beat

I’ve been wearing The Beat almost every day for about four months now and I think it’s time I finally gave her a review. She’s pretty, though more coveted on the shelves than on my skin because she’s a very typical scent in that ‘smells so fresh and clean’ type of way.  What I mean is, I wanted The Beat–badly–when I saw it on the shelves. It smelled excellent whenever I tried it. But now that I own 50ml of the stuff, it’s a forgettable scent in how ordinary it is. The Beat

In Bottle: Pink pepper with a mandarin kick and a cedar underbelly. The Beat uses a light handed approach to cedar so that I can smell it but it isn’t overpowering like other fragrances that tend to blast the cedar out like some sort of Deus ex Machina of the perfume world.

Applied: Pink pepper, sharp citrus and cedar immediately on application with the citrus sticking it out for a respectable amount before fading as it lets the cedar settle in close to the skin. This cedar that sticks to my skin plays a major part in not  overwhelming me with the cedar-y goodness. As The Beat ages, it grows softer, a little more floral with a brush of tea and a gentle smudge of iris layered over bluebell. It makes The Beat smells very fresh, very spring and summer with how bright and cute and vibrant it is. The dry down is a typical affair, with that close to your skin cedar blended in with an earthy cleaned-up vetiver.

Extra: The Beat is perhaps most well-known for having fashion’s “It Girl”, Agyness Deyn, be the face for the fragrance. It’s supposed to evoke an edgy, hip, alternative young audience. They got one out of three right so that’s okay. There’s nothing edgy or alternative about The Beat. It’s very pedestrian. Lovely, well-behaved, but ultimately pedestrian.

Design: The Beat’s bottle design does much better than Burberry Brit (that tartan brick of a thing I can’t seem to stop complaining about). The bottle is a nice clear glass with the Burberry tartan. The juice inside is a very lightly toned pink and the cap is a pretty metal affair with a dangly bit hanging off the side of the bottle with a metal plate that reads “Burberry” on it. Cute, lovely little bottle. Definitely not something I’d be tempted to build a wall  out of like Burberry’s other design.

Fragrance Family: Fresh Floral

Notes: Bergamot, mandarin, pink pepper, Ceylon tea, cardamom, bluebell, iris, white musk, vetiver, cedar.

Funny that the tea came through so lightly in this fragrance because if it had been a little heavier, I would have been a little more in love with The Beat. But as it is, it’s a good “standing in the elevator” fragrance with a well-behaved cedar note.

Reviewed in This Post: The Beat, 2010, Eau de Parfum.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Vanilia

Still on the look out for another lovely vanilla. Preferably one that can replace Spiritueuse Double Vanille because I refuse to be shackled to a limited edition fragrance–even if it’s awesome. This time, it’s Vanilia by L’Artisan Parfumeur, a pretty green vanilla plant of a thing. Vanilia

In Bottle: Sweet, green vanilla with a floral mixture and a nice white woodsy scent. Nothing at all what I was hoping but still very pleasant.

Applied: Sweet vanilla with a topper that reminds me of sweet powder and fruits. Not too sweet, in fact the sweetness is really subdued and appropriately used and the fruits are a pleasant blend that recedes into the background rather quickly. You won’t get a toothache from this. As Vanilia settles down, it releases a pleasant waft of green floral and spice mixed with a pleasant smoky floral. Very strange mix but it works out really well. Vanilia is a fantastic morpher as it’s one of the nicest smelling vanillas with a rich and complex composition. It is not your run-of-the-mill gourmand vanilla with the fruity, bubbly, candy personality. This is a sophisticated vanilla. The airy greenness mixed with the very pleasant ambery powder vanilla adds a great dimension to this fragrance.

Extra: L’Artisan Parfumeur is a niche house established in 1976s and based in Paris. Vanilia was released in 1978.

Design: Vanilia is bottled in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s now iconic seven sided glass bottle. It has a nice weight to it, looks pleasant–if somewhat sparse to me–but the real show stopper is truly the juice inside.

Fragrance Family: Spicy Fresh

Notes: Fruit, rose, jasmine, amber, patchouli, vanilla, sandalwood.

For some reason, Vanilia is a very difficult to find fragrance for me. No stores carry L’Artisan Parfumeur in my general area and my usual haunts online don’t have this fragrance represented.

Reviewed in This Post: Vanilia, 2007, Eau de Toilette.

Robert Piguet Fracas

If you want tuberose, you usually don’t have to look far. The fragrance industry is inundated with tuberose scents. From the highest end to the shower gels. Sometimes tuberose is even masquerading as gardenia. But if you want a really bold, really classic, very true tuberose, you get Fracas. Fracas

In Bottle: Powerful hit of sweet tropical, juicy, slightly rubbery tuberose. Fracas is very strong. I want to come out and warn you of that right away or I would feel bad. Aside from its strength it’s a lovely thing. It smells like the times must have been like back then, elegant and classy with a bold streak.

Applied: Wet rubbery tuberose with a sweetness added to it. This smells like a giant bouquet of flowers with a dominant tuberose the size of a skyscraper. The flowers, despite all their best efforts, are secondary to the tuberose that’s so massive and appealing that it can’t really scream any louder than it does in this fragrance. Unlike most people, and you shouldn’t go by what I say, I don’t consider tuberose as a sultry flower. It smells like slick rubbery floral to me and that’s about as far as I can take it. If you do happen to think tuberose smells sultry, then Fracas is sultry in a bottle. As the scent progresses, you start to wonder if it will ever end as not only is Fracas fantastic in terms of projection, its longevity is to be complimented too. There’s a subtle spiciness to Fracas if you wait her out long enough which gives the tuberose something to talk to as up until that spiciness, all I had was a big white floral.

Extra: Fracas was released in 1948 and is a classic by all accounts and purposes. It has become the go to scent for tuberose and its reputation is well deserved. It has survived this long as a reference and a piece of history and I’d like to believe it’ll survive for a good six decades too if you never wash it off.

Design: The eau de parfum is bottled in a fairly plain black bottle with hot pink lettering depicting the fragrance’s name and house name. Not Earth shattering in appearance but you don’t buy Fracas for the bottle.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: Green notes, mandarin, bergamot, hyacinth, geranium, peach, tuberose, jasmine, orange flower, white iris, lily of the valley, violet, jonquil, carnation, coriander, balsam, vetiver, orris, sandlawood, moss, cedar, musk.

If someone hadn’t pointed me to that massive list of notes, I never would have believed it. Just as a point of interest because I know someone might be looking for this, you pronounce Robert Piguet like, “Row-Behr Peeg-Gehy”. You pronounce Fracas as, “Frah-Cah”.

Reviewed in This Post: Fracas, 2002, Eau de Parfum.