Oscar Oscar de la Renta

Oscar from Oscar de la Renta was released in 1978 and is described as a floral aromatic. This fragrance, to me, is like all the good parts of women’s fragrance and men’s fragrance put together to form a very classic fragrance.

Oscar

In Bottle: Sharp green and a bit powdery. I get a lot of the herbs in the bottle with a faint trace of florals in the back.

Applied: Herbs and powder, a bit of a strange mix but not at all unpleasant with the rosemary being the most dominant note. It’s interesting and definitely smells like a classic fragrance. As Oscar settles down the perfume heads into more floral territory with a smattering of herbs and green rosemary while still retaining that classic powder scent. The fragrance uses florals in a sheer way with a hit of spicy carnation to give those flowers a bit more sway. The dry down is probably my favorite part that sees Oscar head into this warm amber and spicy powder finish with a dash of full-bodied patchouli. I know a lot of younger people who will be turned off by the powderiness of this and I will warn everyone that this does smell very much like a classic. But if you’re looking to smell sophisticated, this is good stuff.

Extra: Oscar was composed by Jean-Louis Sieuzac. One its recent bottle designs was done by the famous Serge Mansau.

Design: Oscar’s eau de toilette bottle (pictured) is a tall glass with a black cap and usually silver sprayer. The shape of the bottle is a bit interesting and sets it out from other perfumes by not being a big tall rectangle. The parfum version of the bottle looks more exciting, having a Marc Jacobs Daisy meets Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps style with its flower motif.

Fragrance Family: Aromatic

Notes: Orange blossom, basil, coriander, galbanum, peach, gardenia, ylang-ylang, jasmine, tuberose, rose, rosemary, cyclamen, lavender, orchid, opoponax, carnation, patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver, amber.

I’m loving that notes list and marvel at how well the notes actually work in this fragrance. Oscar is available for purchase almost everwhere with a strong presence at internet retailer sites and can also be purchased on the official Oscar de la Renta site.

Reviewed in This Post: Oscar, 2002, Eau de Toilette.


Hermes 24, Faubourg

Hermès is rapidly becoming my new favorite friend in the world of modern designer perfumes. What they come out with is almost always good, or at the very least–decent and I have yet to smell something from their line that I found outright terrible. Let’s hope the streak continues.

24, Faubourg

In Bottle: 24, Faubourg is the fragrance you wear when you know you’re about to make a statement. Sweet, warm and gardenia straight to the face.

Applied: Airy florals with a bergamot note up top and a blend of slightly sweet peach. The mid-stage is a set of amped up and huge white florals with a predominance of gardenia. Actual gardenia, even, not that tuberose nonsense people try to pass off as gardenia sometimes and a faint jasmine note wafting around like a warm bouquet. There’s also a gorgeous layer of spices here that mixes so well, no one spice is too strong or not strong enough and it plays into the utterly pretty but very loud florals. The drydown is a warmed up sandalwood, a hint of vanilla and the sophisticated dryness of a good patchouli note. 24, Faubourg is sophisticated. It’s a perfume that smells expensive and experienced. It’s the kind of perfume you could totally wear to a formal. Projection on this is fairly good, with longevity doing very well on me.

Extra: 24, Faubourg was released in 1995 and was developed by Marcel Roucel.

Design: Beautiful glass bottle with accents on the glass that looks like one of Hermès’s famous silk scarves. The cap is a rose gold and the bottle’s shape even mimics that of a silk scarf. Beautifully designed, not at all too busy. Every element is so nicely balanced and beautifully designed.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: Bergamot, hyacinth, ylang-ylang, orange, peach, black elder, orris, orange blossom, jasmine, gardenia, sandalwood, amber, vanilla, patchouli.

I’d unashamedly say that I’d buy this for the bottle alone. Thankfully the juice inside is good too.

Reviewed in This Post: 24, Faubourg, 2006, Eau de Parfum.


Coty L’Origan

Sometimes, just because I’m immature, I like to pretend that Coty only came out with the good stuff and all the stuff they’ve made that’s been terrible just simply doesn’t exist. When I think of Coty these days, the first thing that pops into my head is Lady Gaga and everybody freaking out about her up and coming “blood and semen” perfume. I won’t mention our favorite friend from Etat Libre d’Orange but I will say that the Coty of the early 1900s could have taken “blood and semen” and turned it into something beautiful. These days, I kind of hope Gaga at least gets something that isn’t a fruity-floral. Oh, Coty.

L'Origan

In Bottle: L’Origan has that classic smell that you just can’t imitate these days. It’s dense and complex with a varying, slightly discordant mixture of big honking spices and florals up top.

Applied: Spicy on arrival with a floral touch coming up. There’s a very old-world style to the way this perfume goes on and starts to age. People have compared L’Origan to L’Heure Bleue–well,  I should say they compare L’Heure Bleue to L’Origan because Guerlain’s hit fragrance was released after this one. It’s similar in that both scents trail the same sort of fragrance with L’Heure Bleue exhibiting a much colder, more melancholy personality. L’Origan, to me, is warm and much more animalic. There’s a hint of animal in the opening there and I experienced hints of animalics throughout the livespan of the scent. It’s blended very well, though, not overpowering the scent but rather giving it a bit of sensuality and added depth. Another thing about L’Origan vs. L’Heure Bleue, it’s spicier with slightly less noticeable florals and it’s ultimately a brighter scent though its uses of the  spices are very familiar. There’s a powderiness to this that tends to show up in vintage fragrances as well as a heavy dose of clove. As L’Origan approaches dry down it maintains that spiciness the whole time the florals are totally gone but what’s waiting at the bottom is this thick, rich warmness that reminds me a bit of slick metals and mosses.

Extra: L’Origan was released in 1905 and still survives today–though in an undoubtedly heavily reformulated state. As always, vintage is leaps and bounds better.

Design: The original L’Origan was bottled in a flat glass bottle of a squarish shape with the Coty seal on it. I had a warm, amber-like color and was a bit reminiscent of Chypre de Coty in appearance. The modern bottle (pictured) is reminiscent of a flower bulb with a spiky crown for a cap. I have to say I prefer the old style better.

Fragrance Family: Spicy

Notes: Bergamot, orange, coriander, pepper, peach, nutmeg, clove, jasmine, violet, rose, ylang-ylang, orange flower, benzoin, cedar, incense, vanilla, sandalwood, musk, coumarin, civet.

Somehow L’Origan comes out as the happy side of L’Heure Bleue. These two could be best friends, though probably not sisters. I have to say, despite my love for L’Heure Bleue–I like L’Origan a bit more.

Reviewed in This Post: L’Origan, ~1950, Eau de Parfum.


Britney Spears Circus Fantasy

So I dragged my heels on this one a little bit. I’m fatigued with the whole Britney Spears Fantasy line, to be honest. Fantasy, itself, is an icon of celebrity fragrances and its flankers are nothing to be sniffed at either. Though they aren’t so unique  that if you passed on them, you’d miss out.

Circus Fantasy

In Bottle: Circus Fantasy does clean! That’s a nice mix up from the fruitiness of the other two Fantasy scents I’ve tried. It smells like a very sweet glass of lemonade.

Applied: Sweet citrus up front and the citrus is a quick fader so we get down to business rather quick. Heading into the rest of the opening, Circus Fantasy hits up a sweet berry note and falls into a pile of pretty little violets right away. The mid-stage is a more floral fragrance, doing a mixture of sweet and clean florals rather well as the scent hits up peony and orchid. It smells really similar to a bunch of other celebrity fragrances in the mid-stage with that sweet floral heart that’s so recognizable. At least it’s easy to accept and wear! The dry down is an uninspired array of vanilla and sugar with a jolt of clean dashed in there for good measure. Overall, Circus Fantasy does clean and refreshing rather well. The mid-stage bores me a bit along with the end stage but the opening was pretty good. I liked the lemonade smell and wished we had gotten more of that.

Extra: Now the only fragrance in the Fantasy line that I haven’t gotten my nose on yet is Hidden Fantasy. That’s the red one. I can’t seem to find it anywhere but online and I would like to avoid getting more than a decant or sampler spray of it so until I track it down, I’m sure Britney’s perfume line will come out with another Fantasy flanker.

Design: Still hate the bottle. Sorry guys. It will probably never look any better no matter what they do with it. Circus Fantasy is an appealing shade of blue at least, with red rhinestones set into the bottle’s glass.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: Raspberry, apricot, lotus, orchid, peony, vanilla, sugar, musk.

Move over Midnight Fantasy, Circus Fantasy’s got you beat. I really do like that lemonade opening and wish they could have just bottled that for all three stages.

Reviewed in This Post: Circus Fantasy, 2009, Eau de Parfum.


Perfume FAQ, Part 4

I’ve collected some more questions over the months along with commonly confused or misunderstood information about perfume. While I try my best to ensure these answers are correct and detailed, I am but a hobbyist and if you wish to know more the community at Basenotes is very knowledgeable along with several other smaller communities if you do a little searching.

Q. I hate musk is there a perfume that doesn’t have musk in it?
A. Probably, but very few. Now, I know that when most people say they hate musk, it’s out of a misconception that a perfume that lists a musk note smells “musky” when in actuality, these people might mean they don’t like fragrances that smell dirty and over-sensual like Muscs Kublai Khan for instance. Almost every perfume that exists out there probably uses musk in some way and you likely don’t detect it or it’s too well-blended to detect. Musk is a fragrance fixative, be it synthetic or natural, and has been used in many more scented products than perfume and it’s been used in fragrances for a very long time. It’s in the soap you use, your shampoo, your conditioner, body mists, detergents. If it’s got a scent it’s probably got some sort of musk in it. So just because a perfume might list musk on its notes list, doesn’t mean it will necessarily end up smelling musky.

Q. What would happen if I “accidentally” drank some (or all) of my perfume?
A. I have no idea how this happens but a lot of people have asked what would happen to them if they drank perfume. And not just a little either. There were people who were admitting they may have drank about half a bottle–or a whole bottle. Somehow. What are you guys doing out there? Now, once again, I’m not a doctor and can’t speak for your general health but thanks to a very helpful comment (Thanks, Nina!), if you or anyone you know decided they’d like to chug some perfume, you need to call a poison control center or get them to a medical center immediately. A person’s reaction to drinking perfume varies depending how old they are, their general health, and how much they consumed. If a healthy adult accidentally sprayed perfume in their mouth once or twice (really? Twice?), they will probably be fine. But the same can’t be said for everybody, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and get medical help!

Q. Is it okay to mix and wear essential oils as a perfume?
A. Yes. A lot of people make their own fragrances using essential oils and are very happy with the results. But, these people did their research to ensure they use the essential oils properly. Like with all oils, I highly recommend you read up on whatever essential oil you might have before putting it on your skin. Many essential oils need to be properly diluted before it’s skin safe. Some essential oils aren’t skin safe at all. Cinnamon oil is one example of an oil which can cause severe reactions on the skin if not diluted and treated properly. Finally, many people do not realize there are different grades of essential and fragrance oils. Lower grade oils are meant to be used in candles and other scented items that do not come in contact with the skin–for good reason. So do your research! I am very serious about this. You can injure yourself if you do not handle essential oils with care. Don’t be lulled into thinking that just because it’s natural that it’s harmless. If you can’t find any information about your essential oil and you’re unsure whether it’s safe to put on your skin, then file it away and don’t wear it. Better safe than sorry.

Q. I don’t want to spray perfume on my wrists or neck, can I spray it somewhere else?
A. Sure. You don’t need to put your perfume on your wrists or neck. there are no rules that state where you can or can’t apply perfume. Those are just two spots that most people tend apply perfume because they’re pulse points. You can spray perfume wherever you want on your body, you don’t even have to apply it on pulse points. Except, you may want to avoid getting perfume into orifices because I can’t imagine an ear full of perfume to be very beneficial to you. I personally like misting my arms, chest, and sometimes the backs of my knees. Go with what you’re comfortable with.

Q. I see coffee beans at some perfume counters. What are they for?
A. Coffee beans are kept around for you when you test scents to “clear out” your olfactory senses so you don’t get overwhelmed with smells. Some people who get overwhelmed with fragrances can get headaches. More often, people go scent blind and experience that funny sensation where they can’t smell any perfume anymore or all the perfume ends up smelling the same. The effectiveness of smelling coffee beans varies between person and person and some people don’t like smelling the coffee beans. Sometimes the beans don’t help at all. If you don’t want the beans, you can opt to take a few deep breaths in a non-perfumed area instead or get some fresh air. It works the same way.

Q. How come this perfume smells so different on the testing paper than it does on my skin?
A. Always test a perfume you intend to buy on your skin. The paper is there as a reference  but perfume doesn’t evolve and go through all of its phases on paper. To get the full effect and get a real sense of how the fragrance will smell on you, you need to test it on your skin. And that’s your skin. Not your friend’s. Not the sales rep’s. Yours. A testing paper will only show you some of the notes–usually the top notes–so don’t go with what the paper says because you’re missing out on most of the fragrance.

Q. At some perfume stores and in some commercials I see people with these giant perfume bottles. How come I can’t get one?
A. You actually can! These giant perfume bottles are called factices. They’re often big versions of the actual bottles and are used primarily for marketing and as displays in stores. Most factices are not filled with real perfumes but either alcohol or colored water. They are fun to look at though and many factices are simply gorgeous. There are some sellers on eBay who sell factices. But like with all things eBay-related, you should scrutinize the seller and do your research on what you want to buy. Also  make sure you get to know the terminology as factices come in many different sizes, materials and qualities.

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


CB I Hate Perfume Black March

CB I Hate Perfume (CBIHP) settles in a lovely little center of my heart as that fragrance house that did. In that, it took concepts of memories and did them and did them well. No surprise as the place is headed by Christopher Brosius. The man can make you a perfume that conjures memories you never even knew you had.

Black March

In Bottle: Earthy but fresh, like moist soil after a rainstorm where the electric charge is still lingering in the air and you can still hear thunder rumbling faintly in the distance.

Applied: Poetic opening, very unusual and very welcome to me. I get fresh, wet dirt and a cleanness that dries to scrub the earth but doesn’t quite make it. It’s like I said for the in bottle impression, this smells like the aftermath of a rainstorm. It’s a little crazy how Black March can make me picture so well, a little clearing, some sprouts of grass poking out of the dewy ground. But it doesn’t stop there, as the scent ages and heads into a mid-stage, Black March dries a little, gets a bit more dense and dark like drying soil as the sun peeks out and the faint smell of green leaves and tree trunks arrives. The dry down is much the same, sun-kissed leaves, baking earth, and tree trunks.

Extra: You might be wondering about the name of the fragrance house. This article touches upon it near the beginning.

Design: There’s two types you can get Black March in. A perfume oil that comes in a glass vial with a twist cap that looks very scientific lined up with other CBIHP perfumes. And the type I got which is the fragrance diluted in a water-base. My type  comes in a tall cylindrical glass bottle with few embellishments and the design is better that way. The minimalist artistic approach works well here.

Fragrance Family: Earthy

Notes: Rain drops, leaf buds, wet twigs, tree sap, bark, mossy earth, spring.

I think there’s a lot in CBIHP’s line that might work against people’s desire to wear them as fragrances though many people have many different ideas of what smells good and what constitutes a perfume. If you happen to love a scented candle and wish it was a fragrance too, you wouldn’t be the first one. And then there’s elements in CBIHP’s line that I can’t see myself wearing as a perfume like Black March. It’s beautiful, a fantastic little journey, but I don’t know if I would call it perfume. Which I suppose is what Mr. Brosius might be going for. I can spray this on and relive in a fantastic memory though, and I think that’s worth it.

Reviewed in This Post: Black March, 2010, Eau de Toilette.


Discontinuations: BPAL May 5

Effective as of May 5, 2011, Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs has discontinued the following scent:

  • Serpents with Glittering Eyes and Forking Tongues

Can’t say I knew this fragrance well but BPAL is forced to discontinue it due to component issues. May is shaping up to be a rough month.


Victoria’s Secret Pink

Point your nose anywhere and you’ll probably catch a whiff of this. Anywhere that a Victoria’s Secret store can be found anyway. Pink is one of those extremely lovable, innocent fragrances that’s so easy to like that it seems like you can smell it everywhere.

Victoria's Secret Pink

In Bottle: Bright and fruity floral. Sweet, obviously, and very easy to like. This isn’t too heavy, not too sweet, not to overbearing, just a really jovial blend that casts a little ray of sunshine on your nose.

Applied: So I was a little vague on the opener, that was because there’s nothing much about Pink that  really sets it aside from other fruity florals. The one thing I can say for it is how optimistic this smells. Like if you were to bottle the feeling of optimism, this is probably what it smells like to me. It’s a big flare of sweet citrus, crisp grapefruit layered sweet berries and soft violets and a pretty mix of freesia and peony in the middle. If you’ve smelled a fruity floral, Pink is a good reminder of that. The fragrance dries down to a very familiar sandalwood vanilla with a hint of clean vetiver in there to give the scent a really minor dot of sweet hay.

Extra: Pink has a lot of flankers named after it including Pink Sweet & Flirty, Pink Fresh & Clean, Pink Pretty & Pure, and Pink Soft & Dreamy. If you need it, there’s probably a flanker for it.

Design: Pink’s design reminds me of cheerleaders. Big bold letters, white on pink. Even the smell is something I’d imagine a high school cheerleader would favor. The design is a functional, if somewhat uninspired, shape.

Fragrance Family: Fruity Floral

Notes: Artemisia, bergamot, green leaves, mandarin, violet leaves, juniper berry, lily of the valley, freesia, peony, neroli, musk, vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla.

I’m not a big fan of Pink myself. The scent is just fine, of course, very nice actually. It’s just so generic. Though I suppose that might be part of its charm.

Reviewed in This Post: Pink, 2009, Eau de Toilette.


Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan

Muscs Koublai Khan is one of those fragrances perfume lovers dare each other to smell because the scent is so animalic and strong that everyone ought to try it at least once.

Muscs Koublai Khan

In Bottle: So I didn’t get much animalic at first but there is something in my initial whiff of this that told me I was in for a ride. There’s something dense in the bottled scent, a bit weird but otherwise the top is green and brown–hard to describe in terms of words but Muscs Koublai Khan smells like this mishmash of complex, dirty ideas.

Applied: Upon application that complex mishmash of ideas comes to a full realization and I’m hit right in the nose with a big civet, business-end first. Now, I’m one of those people who have to get used to the idea of a perfume before I can fully appreciate it and I don’t fully appreciate Jicky for how she smells yet. But she had a temperance with lavender–Muscs Koublai Khan is straight up dirty civet with a fecal smell that I’m having a troubling time getting over. There’s a slight powderiness to this that’s trying to clean it up a little but it’s a bit meek by comparison. It’s funny too, as there’s a layer of flowers behind the poo that my nose is trying to smell instead. Now, Muscs Koublai Khan is not the kind of fragrance you pick up and enjoy the first time for a lot of people. I didn’t expect myself to like this, but I do find it absolutely hilarious as it confuses my nose and keeps me coming back. Each time hoping it’ll transform into something else if I let it age a bit more. I can’t quite comment on anything else but Muscs Koublai Khan smelling dirty, very animalic, with a funny venting of florals like it’s trying to apologize. This is warm, it’s complex, sensual even. But it isn’t for me and I’m not sure I’m going to go out of my way to understand it much more. I already appreciate it for its concept, I think me and Muscs Koublai Khan can leave it at that.

Extra: Muscs Koublai Khan is like perfume that spent a day rolling about at the zoo then bathed itself a bit in flowered water. It’s a strange but alluring mix, very masculine a little off-putting and takes a while to get used to and love but when you do, this stuff really takes off. It just didn’t take off for me.

Design: Bottled like other Serge Lutens fragrances, Muscs Koublai Khan is presented in an unpressuming thin rectangular glass bottle with a tall cap. Minimalist approach appeases me.

Fragrance Family: Dirty

Notes: Vegetal musk, costus root, labdanum, rockrose, grey amber, vanilla, patchouli, ambrette seed, moroccan rose.

Obviously a fragrance for acquired tastes and I haven’t yet acquired such taste. Maybe in a few years, Muscs Koublai Khan, when I’m a little older.

Reviewed in This Post: Muscs Koublai Khan, 2010, Eau de Parfum.

Upon application that complex mishmash of ideas comes to a full realization and I’m hit right in the nose with a big civet, business-end first. Now, I’m one of those people who have to get used to the idea of a perfume before I can fully appreciate it and I don’t fully appreciate Jicky for how she smells yet. But she had a temperance with lavender–Muscs Koublai Khan is straight up dirty civet with a fecal smell that I’m having a troubling time getting over. There’s a slight powderiness to this that’s trying to clean it up a little but it’s a bit meek by comparison. It’s funny too, as there’s a layer of flowers behind the poo that my nose is trying to smell instead. Now, Muscs Koublai Khan is not the kind of fragrance you pick up and enjoy the first time for a lot of people. I didn’t expect myself to like this, but I do find it absolutely hilarious as it confuses my nose and keeps me coming back. Each time hoping it’ll transform into something else if I let it age a bit more. I can’t quite comment on anything else but Muscs Koublai Khan smelling dirty, very animalic, with a funny venting of florals like it’s trying to apologize. This is warm, it’s complex, sensual even. But it isn’t for me and I’m not sure I’m going to go out of my way to understand it much more. I already appreciate it for its concept, I think me and Muscs Koublai Khan can leave it at that.

Il Profumo Macadam

Macadam is like one of those orientals you can’t believe is an oriental. It’s a lighter, airier version than the likes of CK Obsession or Opium. It works so well on the skin in such a subtle way.

Macadam

In Bottle: A play up of light jasmine with a background of something deep and sweet and sensual.

Applied: The opener is a fantastic little floral bit that hits on green but doesn’t ever reach the point where you might classify it as clean or fresh. It’s a dewy green that complements the jasmine in this fragrance very well as the scent ages with a light floral heart mixed with a sweet coat of light amber and deep myrrh. Now, my description probably makes this sound like it’s quite a trip back to the 80s with the oriental explosion but the fragrance is actually rather subtle, it’s personal and one of the easiest to wear orientals I’ve encountered. The dry down is a hit of warm amber, patchouli that reminds me a bit of moss for some reason, and sandalwood.

Extra: Il Profumo is headed  by Silvana Casoli. The company has a boutique in Italy and online.

Design: Very simple bottle and design. Rectangular glass, silver cap with a slight lip for visual interest and grip. Nothing special about the design which helps when you’re trying to just focus on the perfume.

Fragrance Family: Oriental

Notes: Jasmine, peony, pitaya, white rose, amber, myrrh, patchouli, sandalwood.

I really like Macadam and and it’s light, interesting oriental personality. It’s extremely well blended and plays well on the skin. If you want a different oriental than the mainstream offerings, check this one out.

Reviewed in This Post: Macadam, 2010, Eau de Parfum.