Annick Goutal Mandragore

The best thing about Annick Goutal fragrances for me is the fact that they all tend to have this lovely light, garden flowers type of smell. The kind of fragrances that take something mainstream and improve on it. Like Guerlain often did. Mandragore

In Bottle: Fresh bright citrus, cooling mint and a lovely sweet anise note. Very fresh, nice amount of citrus and thankfully, no presence of lemon as fresh scents do tend to use that note as a crutch. Mandragore gets its freshness from mints and other citrus instead which I am very grateful for.

Applied: Citrus, mint, herb and a lot of anise. I’m really impressed with the mint and other herbal notes in this. They’re crisp and green and extremely refreshing. The anise sweetens and spices up Mandragore quite a bit. The fragrance remains fresh and bright with gentle wafts of spiciness coming in and out as the fragrance ages on my skin. The citrus leaves the fragrance some time during the mid-stage but the freshness doesn’t suffer from it. Mandragore uses those herbal aromatic notes to freshen things up instead of citrus. I’m really impressed. The dry down is a great fresh herb and woodsy ending. Unfortunately, Mandragore doesn’t last a very long time and needs to be reapplied more often than other eau de parfums. But the scent is absolutely lovely.

Extra: Mandragore is one of Annick Goutal’s more popular fragrances and with good reason. It’s got enough freshness to be a fantastic office scent, is excellent for places where you might need your scent to go on light and it’s quite a good unisex scent too. That is, if you don’t mind or like the feminine bottle design.

Design: Bottled in the same way as other Annick Goutal fragrances, in a ribbed glass bottle with a gold ribbon tying the fragrances name to the bottle. Mandragore also comes in a butterfly bottle. These things are round glass bottle with a butterfly topper. Finally, Mandragore can be purchased in a square bottle. Which is just that, a square-shaped bottle with a metal cap. Standard look if you would prefer something a little simpler in design.

Fragrance Family: Fresh Aromatic

Notes: : Bergamot, star anise, peppermint, sage, ginger, black pepper, boxwood, mandrake powder, ciste roots, labdanum.

I really love the bottles Annick Goutal presents their fragrances in. Not simple but very elegant and classic in style. Lining these things up is a great past time if you’re insane like I am.

Reviewed in This Post: Mandragore, 2008, Eau de Parfum.

Guerlain Idylle

Idylle was the first mainstream released fragrance by Guerlain’s new in house perfumer, Thierry Wasser. The lack of the Guerlinade is noticeable in this one and in its absence is a fairly plain, fairly boring, modern mainstream scent. Good for wearing, great for the office, but missing the heart of what Guerlain used to be. Idylle

In Bottle: Idylle is a pretty surface floral with a bouquet of pretty young flowers. This scent starts off smelling young and dewy and fresh. It’s reminiscent of pretty much every other modern floral fragrance that’s been released in the last decade.

Applied: I smell Idylle in a lot of places. It’s wearability is outstanding if you’re looking for a modern Guerlain that works well with the modern staple. Don’t look for anything classic smelling in this–it’s not there. I am a little disappointed with the fragrance to be honest because it’s so benign that it’s rather boring. Idylle’s opener smells of rose and lily off the bat. It’s a well blended thing that slips into its mid-stage with so much elegance that you’ll have barely noticed it until you catch the floral heart and realize your fragrance has changed for the better. The rose note is the predominant player in this but it’s a cleaned up, fresh rose. Not at all like Nahema’s deep red rose. Idylle stays beautiful and remains on the skin until the dry down where you’ll get a cleaned up patchouli that smells like scrubbed earth and polished darkness.

Extra: Maybe I’m being harsh on Idylle. It is at it’s core a very pretty and competent fragrance that will please a wide audience. After all, how I can dismiss Idylle when I loved the much loathed Champs Elysees? Or My Insolence? I by no means hate Idylle. I just don’t think it’s particularly interesting. It’s fantastic as a mainstream release. It’s like a more competent Gucci Flora. A more grown up Gucci Flora, if you will. I guess I just miss the classics and was hoping Idylle was a bit more classical and less modern. More niche and less commercial.

Design: Idylle’s marketing surrounded the concept of golden raindrops. The bottle is shaped like a golden raindrop. Despite the interesting shape, it is easy to hold and easy to spray. It looks interesting on display and is a great looking piece to add to a bottle collector’s array.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: Lily of the valley, lilac, peony, freesia, jasmine, patchouli, white musk.

Idylle is what the industry refers to as a modern chypre. A formulation that so far has been fuzzy to my understanding.

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

Montale Chypre Vanille

Shameful as it is, I do not remember how Montale’s Oud based fragrance line smells like. Not a single one. I’m working my way back in that direction though. Along the way, I’m picking up some others first. Notably, the cleaner, whiter Montale fragrances that catch that part of me that just wants to smell clean and fresh. Chypre Vanille

In Bottle: Light and green, very pleasant and clean fragrance. Think fresh out of the shower scent with a nice, light, floral mist.

Applied: Beautifully light floral fragrance that’s very quintessentially white and airy. There’s a soapiness to this that opens the fragrance and stays with it as the scent starts to age. The incense used in Chypre Vanille isn’t your typical fair. It’s been cleaned up to the point where it’s hard to recognize as it helps to dry out the vanilla, presenting this concept of vanilla that is unfamiliar but very likable. Chypre Vanille takes the sweetness out of vanilla and makes it sharp and clean, something I wouldn’t expect the note would be capable of. But it wouldn’t be the first or last time I’m wrong. There’s a powderiness to this fragrance too that lingers in the back and reminds you once every so often that it’s still there. The dry down is a nice clean and dry woodsy scent with a very heavy reminder of the vanilla that this was based on. The dry down actually reminds me a little bit  of how the classic Guerlains smell.

Extra: Montale is popular for their many different oud-based fragrances that run the gamut of colors, styles and scents.

Design: Bottled in much the same way as other Montale scents, Chypre Vanille is presented in a lovely dark blue bottle with a metal cap and sprayer.

Fragrance Family: Chypre

Notes: Vanilla, rose, amber, incense, sandalwood, iris, vetiver, tonka bean.

An interesting take on what some people cringe to refer to as a “modern chypre”. I don’t know if I like it enough for a bottle but it’s still pleasant nonetheless. Something very clean about it. Almost soapy but very nice.

Reviewed in This Post: Chypre Vanille, 2009, Sample Vial.

Dolce & Gabanna Light Blue

Dolce & Gabanna are like the masters of the inoffensive scent. Light Blue is considered to be one of the most popular most inoffensive and easily wearable fragrances available. I used to smell this stuff everywhere when everyone had a bottle. Back then it seemed like one in every tenth person was rocking Light Blue, but that phase seems to have passed and people have moved onto fruitier things. Light Blue

In Bottle: Fresh, citrus scent with a note of cedar. I can smell the apple, tart and crisp. The in-bottle scent is a bit aqueous too. This is clean, fresh, like a very nice shower gel or shampoo. Or a well made alcoholic drink.

Applied: Mojitos. It smells like mojitos! The apple and lime just combine nicely into tricking my nose. So what I get is apple, lime, mint and rum. Very slightly tart and very slightly sweet. I don’t know why I’m so happy about that but Light Blue’s alcohol base is doing its work with the citrus and aqueous notes in this. It’s like I spilled a mojito on me and decided I was too busy to wash it off. But after that initial burst of mojito, Light Blue turns toward the woodsy side of its personality. Cedar comes up, and the citrus side of Light Blue gets together very well with it. Then disaster strikes as the lemon notes comes in and bulldozes everything. I’m starting to see a trend here as lemon tends to be the obliterator of perfumes on my skin. I cannot for the life of me, smell anything but this stupid lemon now.  Once in a while that green apple scent will flair up like it’s trying to make itself known. Upon dry down there is a soft woodsy and musky quality to Light Blue that fades in and out of the loud and obnoxious lemon that eventually dies but when it does, there’s nothing else left to appreciate.

Extra: At one point I owned a deodorant stick in Light Blue scent. It smelled much more like a mojito than the fragrance. It was also a highly pleasant wake up in the mornings thanks to the sheer freshness of this. Not to mention the looks I’d get as people would think I drank before I went to work.

Design: Light Blue is bottled in a big glass rectangle with frosted glass. The cap is is an equally rectangular blue plastic affair. The bottle is a little strange to hold but it is manageable. Nothing exiting going on with the design of this bottle. There are hundreds of different fragrances that employ the big rectangle bottle out there.

Fragrance Family: Fresh

Notes: Granny smith apple, sicilian cedar, lemon, lime, bluebells, jasmine, rose, bamboo, cedarwood, amber, musk.

You shouldn’t wear Light Blue if you’re looking for something that smells unique or interesting. The time for Light Blue to be interesting ended the day everybody decided to wear it. But it is not at all a bad scent. It is highly versatile, very inoffensive and extremely appropriate for wear in an office.

Reviewed in This Post: Light Blue, 2009, Eau de Toilette.

Perfume Expiring? How to Preserve Perfumes

The bewildered look on someone’s face when you tell them perfume goes bad is one of those strange moments in a person’s life where they realize a few things:
1) Most people don’t realize fragrances expire.
2) Most people don’t know how to prolong or preserve their fragrances.
3) Most people just don’t really care that much, nor do they own so much that they should.

Here’s some food for thought, perfumes and fragrances in general have three enemies. They are, light, heat, and air. Let’s do a rundown of how these three components can work against your perfumes.

Light: Probably one of the biggest culprits that cause perfumes to go bad is light. Particularly sunlight. Most people with a bottle of perfume make the ultimate, but very common, mistake. They display the bottle on their vanity, or tabletop, and allow them to be exposed to the sun. This causes some of the more volatile components in perfumes to break down, or alter. Eventually, the fragrance will change on you and oftentimes, this is not for the better.

Now, can you really blame anybody for doing this? Some perfume bottles are downright beautiful and to not display them seems like a shame. But did you know that direct contact to sunlight can start deteriorating a perfume within a manner of hours? So while you’ve got a beautiful bottle on your vanity, that stuff inside of it isn’t doing so well.

Heat: Though heat is a big one, you shouldn’t allow your perfumes to get so cold it freezes either. Despite the logic that if heat is bad for fragrances then cold should be better. The truth is, your perfumes do best in cool temperatures and neither being too hot or too cold is good for it. One of the worst places people keep their fragrances (aside from the vanity) is in the bathroom.

The bathroom has a fluctuating temperature and humidity level. And if you’re like the average person you bathe or shower once a day. This means those perfumes in your bathroom are being exposed to rapid change in environmental temperature on a regular basis. Every time you take a shower or draw a bath, you are probably making the environment in that little room hotter and more humid. Heat can also deteriorate your fragrances like sunlight.

Air: Most people who own bottles of perfumes probably own the spray bottle type with a sprayer nozzle to distribute the scent. These types of bottles do a good job at reducing air exposure which can lead to perfume deterioration. However, if you own parfum extraits, oil pased perfumes, or splash bottles, you’re in a doozy of a time.

It is impossible to prevent air from contacting your perfume if you own a perfume bottle that requires you to open it. In addition, splash bottles tend to be more susceptible to in-bottle evaporation. Some of these types of perfumes hold up better than others. Older perfumes such as classic Carons may last for decades before losing their scent whereas a newer splash form perfume like Chanel Chance probably won’t have those kinds of–heh–chances. Bouquet Roses

Now that you know about the three major players leading to perfume deterioration, how do you know when your fragrances are going to expire? You don’t. And here’s the other kicker, you may never be able to find out because perfumes age according to how they were stored and what their chemical or natural compositions are.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s take Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfume oils as an example. These are 5ml bottles of fragrance oils that are composed from a wide variety of different scents and compositions. All scents from BPAL will eventually age and change as they age. Some age for the better (Snake Oil), others go bad (Violet Ray). The beauty of the fragrance depends entirely on the individual but most people would probably agree that a dense vanilla-like fragrance from aged Snake Oil is more desirable than a bottle of flat, scentless Violet Ray.

It is important to keep in mind and note the top notes and compositions of fragrances because you can sometimes tell which notes will go first. Citrus notes are especially vulnerable to aging. Most of these are used as top notes and top notes are extremely delicate. Generally, the stuff you get at the bottom in the base note category should be more robust but with modern perfumery, it is still hard to tell what will and will not last. Or how long your fragrance is going to stay the same one you bought and love.

So without knowing a specific use by date, your best bet to perfume use is to ensure that you store your fragrances appropriately.

1) Get them out of the light. I know how awesome some of those bottles look but leaving them out in the open is deteriorating the juice inside. One of the most convenient containers for a bottle of perfume is the original box it came in. The box can provide the fragrance an extra layer of protection against the sun. For best results, keep your perfumes in a dark place. Put them in your closet, in a drawer, a dresser, under the bed. Whatever’s available and dark. I store my fragrances in their original boxes in a closet.

2) If you must display, use up the juice inside first. I k now some people like to collect perfume bottles because they look nice and want to display them. If you want to display your bottles of perfume, decant your scents into another bottle  first. This way you have a bottle to display and don’t have to worry about the stuff inside going bad. If you couldn’t care less about the stuff inside the bottle and just want a full looking bottle of perfume to display then have a blast, I suppose.

3) Reduce exposure to heat. I know it’s hard to keep perfumes in a steady, even and cool environment. Especially if you’re like me and your home doesn’t have air conditioning. For the average fragrance lover who uses their collection on a regular basis, storage at room temperature will do fine.  Some hard core fragrance collectors who own rare perfumes or have hundreds of bottles they don’t use regularly have refrigerators that are specifically set to preserve their fragrances. The ideal temperature for fragrances seems to be around12-14 degrees C with citrus heavy fragrances preferring lower temperatures around 4 degrees C. [Source]

4) Avoid freezing and the cold. Just like heat, cold can also damage your perfumes. If you were thinking about putting them in your regular refrigerator or even in the freezer, you can start drawing up plan B. The temperature for a regular refrigerator is too cold for most fragrances. The freezer option shouldn’t even be considered.

5) Get them out of the bathroom and off your vanity. I know the vanity is a great place for display. I know the bathroom is really convenient, but they aren’t doing your perfumes any good.

6) If you don’t plan on using the fragrance regularly or feel that you may take a while to completely use everything in the bottle, opt for a spray bottle (where possible) instead to avoid the air issue. If you do happen to own splash bottles and are concerned about preservation, start using up those fragrances or get yourself a fragrance fridge. You may never win the war against air with your splash bottles but you can at least minimize the impact by avoiding light and heat.

So how long can you keep perfumes if you store them properly? Years and years. Decades. Maybe even centuries. Some fragrances are incredibly robust as there are bottles of Chanel No.5 from the 30s and 40s that still smell the same as they did all those years ago. Likewise there are bottles of classic Carons and Guerlains that smell just as wonderful now as they did when they were first made. Heck, there was that perfume residue discovered in a bottle people think belonged to Hatshepsut that could still be analyzed and probably recomposed.

Don’t underestimate perfume’s ability to stick around, but don’t overestimate it either. Take the necessary precautions to ensure your fragrances last and you can enjoy them for many years.

In short, the best place to keep your perfumes is in a cool, dark place.

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