Victoria: 1869 posts

Yves Saint Laurent Oriental Collection Majestic Rose : Perfume Review


It’s easy to dismiss the new Oriental Collection from Yves Saint Laurent as yet another banal attempt to capture the attention of the Gulf markets. Hence, we have the luxury packaging, high prices and a trite press release. Noble Leather, Majestic Rose, Supreme Bouquet and Splendid Wood are said to be inspired by “the splendor of the East.” But overload of orientalism aside, the collection judged only on its olfactory merits is very good. The ideas are clever, interesting and well-executed. And, as I discovered when traveling in Oman, traditional Gulf perfumery is spectacular enough to emulate.


In traditional Middle Eastern and Persian Gulf perfumery, rose and oud are important players. With the discovery of oud by European and American perfumes, dark roses have become common enough, and every line worth its prestige brand name has attempted them with varying levels of success. Blend rose with enough dark woods, and even a novice can approximate something vaguely “eastern”, but what makes traditional perfumery and fragrances like Majestic Rose interesting is their use of bright accents. Harmony, especially if we’re talking about dark, rich notes, is hard to achieve.

Continue reading →

Frederic Malle Dans Tes Bras Perfume Giveaway

Happy Thanksgiving! Today we have a wonderful giveaway thanks to one of our readers. Alice would like to find a new home for her bottle of Frederic Malle Dans Tes Bras (50 ml, 1/2 full, no original packaging). As Alice explained, “After I had my daughter a year and a half ago my tastes changed. I can’t wear anything sweet or powdery anymore and Dans Tes Bras sits on my shelf unused. I’d like to send it to someone else while it’s still fresh. I learn a lot from your comments and I would like to share with you.” Alice can only ship her bottle to the US, but I will make a package of samples for those who are in other parts of the world (especially if you live in a small town and don’t have access to good perfume shops). I will include a selection of samples from different lines, including a sample of Dans Tes Bras.


It goes without saying that we are not responsible for leaks or damage during transit or for lost packages. 

To participate, please tell me where you’re based (the USA or elsewhere; no need to mention a specific country if you don’t wish to, a general region is fine) and then please answer Alice’s questions. I will draw two winners.

1. What’s your favorite perfume with woody notes?
2. What perfume would you have liked to receive as a gift this holiday season?

The contest is now closed. I will announce the winners in this spot this week.

Books From Around The World

It’s fair to say that much of my recent reading has been inspired by your recommendations left in the comments, often under articles that had little to do with literature (you have such eclectic interests!). Since it shall be a slow week with my US based writers and readers celebrating Thanksgiving, I thought that it might be a good chance for all of us to share more favorite books, especially those written by the less well-known authors. (This, of course, is relative; Eka Kurniawan may not be a household name in the US, but he’s famous in his native Indonesia.) Of course, please don’t feel bound by this and share your favorite writers, poets or essayists.


I will start with The Girl From the Coast, a novel by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Pramoedya is so famous in Indonesia that he’s usually referred to only by his first name. The story is about a girl from a backwater village who is married off to a Javanese aristocrat without realizing that she’d only be his “temporary wife” to be sent back home whenever he gets tired of her. The characters are outlined with humanism that pervades Pramoedya’s other novels, and the plot develops swiftly. It’s a good introduction to Indonesian literature, and I thank my readers who recommended it to me.

Continue reading →

The Quest for Essences : Rose, Jasmine and Bergamot

Where do the perfumery ingredients come from? How are they produced? What do they smell like? Out of all aspects of fragrance, the composition–or rather, what’s exactly in a bottle of perfume–remains the most mystifying and interesting. While the following films from Dior are heavy on marketing, they nevertheless give a glimpse into some of the most classical ingredients in a perfumer’s palette–rose, jasmine and bergamot.

If you don’t see English subtitles, click on the CC button under the video, next to the volume controls.

Unsurprisingly, my favorite film is the one dedicated to jasmine. You visit fields in India with Dior’s chief perfumer François Demachy who explains the difference between jasmine sambac and jasmine grandiflorum. “Sambac has something animal and powerful about it. A slightly orange-like and more sensual quality. Grandiflorum is more delicate, more radiant.” He then takes you to a flower market, a place every visitor to India finds exhilarating.

Continue reading →

Uplifting Power of Beauty

“In the small bag that seldom leaves his shoulder as he traverses the dusty thoroughfares of his surrogate hometown, Younis carries a bottle of aftershave, a photographic portfolio and a copy of his CV.” When a reader sent me The Guardian article about a budding photographer and journalist, this sentence caught my attention. Younis, the protagonist of the story, is 19 years old; after he and his family fled Syria, they ended up in Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp.


Reading about refugee camps in the news rarely conveys the reality on the ground. One, of course, realizes that life is difficult in the camp conditions, because the opportunities are limited, especially since most countries hosting refugees don’t allow them to move freely, to work, or to attend school outside whatever is provided inside the camp. In addition, relief agencies are so severely underfunded that many have been forced to cut food rations and close clinics. It means millions of displaced people suffer from malnutrition and illness.

Even more difficult to convey is the sense of loss and psychological suffering that people fleeing from their homeland experience. Although my family left Ukraine voluntarily and adjusted to life in the US, I still feel the lingering pangs of separation that will probably never disappear. After more than 20 years, I can describe in precise detail my old room, the pattern of shadows on the windowsill made by the grapevines and the exact smell of the bookshelf (dark chocolate and smoky vanilla).  Sometimes I dream of walking through the apartment my parents and I shared with my grandmother and uncle–the cramped, Khrushchev-era flat was no paradise lost, believe me, but I still wake up in tears from such dreams. I can’t imagine the magnitude of this pain when one is forced to leave everything behind and when the road back may not be possible.

Continue reading →

From the Archives

Latest Comments

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2015 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved.