Cashmere Wrap: 26 posts

Scents that have a comforting, enveloping feel, similar to a cashmere pashima.

Aedes de Venustas Grenadille d’Afrique : Perfume Review

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When Serge Lutens came up with an idea for Shiseido’s Feminité du Bois, he was asked so often about his “vision of a woman” that he got exasperated and said that he wasn’t making a perfume that smelled of any woman, that he merely wanted the smell of Moroccan cedar. That was in the early 1990s. I’d wager that today few briefs will surprise a perfumer, even as in the case of Aedes de Venustas’s Grenadille d’Afrique, the request is for ebony, “from crackling sap to balmy resin and from smoky wood to sun-heated stone… [and] also the primal landscape in which it grows.” For this, we have to thank Lutens and other niche pioneers.

grenadille-aedes

At first glance, Grenadille d’Afrique is a classical Aedes perfume–dry woods, peppery spices, amber, a hint of incense. With seven fragrances in its collection, the New York boutique has put together a coherent, well-edited lineup. Even if it’s famously enamored with incense, its touch is delicate enough, neither the church nor the ashram. Grenadille d’Afrique, however, brings a new element that I haven’t noticed before–retro glamour.

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7 Mimosas and Carmen

The scene: Brussels, an early evening cast in grey light. A woman walking slowly down the street. Behind a window covered with condensation she sees It. If it were a French New Wave film, the woman would have met the love of her life with whom she’d spend the next hour and a half exchanging meaningful glances and an occasional quote from a postmodern philosopher. But being my life, this is an evening when I find mimosa.

mimosa and tea

No flowers make me lose myself the way these fluffy yellow pompoms do. I’m not the only one–a heavily pregnant friend once traveled from Brooklyn all the way to Manhattan just because she heard that one florist shop on the Upper West Side might have received a shipment of mimosas. When I walk home, my arms filled with the bouquets, even the darkening light seems to radiate the same lemon yellow color.

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Penhaligon’s Ostara : Fragrance Review

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My tastes for white florals are indiscriminate, encompassing everything from vulgar things like Guerlain Mayotte to prim school governess types like Jessica McClintock. But even I can get tired of the genre and retreat to other pastures for a change–dry woods and damp mosses, perhaps. This is what happened for most of last year, when I was so satiated with white florals that I declared a moratorium on new acquisitions. But it’s a testament to Pehnaligon’s Ostara’s loveliness that despite my best intentions, I ended up breaking my resolve.

ostara

Ostara shines brightly to me for its surprising combination of the lush, decadent heft that makes lovers of white florals swoon and the exhilarating springtime freshness. Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour built the composition around the theme of narcissus, a flower that on a stem smells honeyed and indolic, but when turned into essence becomes leathery, musky and somber. Ostara melds both facets, but it stays on the sunny side.

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Scent Diary : Softness

Happy New Year! I am in the mood for softness, so I dipped into my bottles of vanilla, violet, mimosa and musk perfumes, trying to find ones with the most velvety and comforting finishes. Cacharel Noa stood out instantly for its enveloping trail of powdery flowers and vanilla, but my other discovery took me by surprise. It happens to be Miller Harris L’Air de Rien, a dirty orange blossom. Yet for all of its salacious air, it feels as soft as a cashmere wrap or a kitten’s belly.

red cat

New year means a new start to our Scent Diary. As I wrote in How to Improve Your Sense of Smell, the best way to sharpen your nose is to smell and to pay attention to what you’re smelling. It doesn’t matter what you smell, good or bad scent. The most important part is to notice whatever you smell around you. It’s even better if you write it down. You can use the space here for just that–sharing what perfumes you’re wearing and what scents you notice around you.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Yves Saint Laurent Oriental Collection Majestic Rose : Perfume Review

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It’s easy to dismiss the 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.

rose-india

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.

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