Film Noir: 52 posts

Dark and brooding perfume fantasies

Serge Lutens Une Voix Noire : Perfume Review

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What can one expect from a fragrance inspired by Billie Holiday’s gardenia, called Une Voix Noire (Black Voice) and created by the dream team of Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake? Heady, dark, convoluted, perhaps? Well, Une Voix Noire is none of these things. It has a surprising combination of softness and warmth. Its presence is generous, but it’s not overwhelming. It’s dramatic without being heady or dense. Une Voix Noire feels velvety the moment you put it on, and it gracefully moves from one stage to another. Frankly, if Lutens said that he was inspired by ballerina Maya Plisetskaya’s Black Swan, rather than by Lady Day, I would have believed him.

I admit that this Lutens wasn’t love at first inhale the way Bois de Violette or De Profundis have been for me.  I anticipated the heady, the dark and the bittersweet, and I missed them in this soft perfume.  Nevertheless, I’m glad that I went along for the ride, because Une Voix Noire forced me to take our courtship slowly and to fall in love with it one layer at a time.

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Aftelier Perfumes Sepia : Fragrance Review

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Natural perfumer Mandy Aftel created Sepia out of an exchange with fellow California perfumer Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio.  This, the third installment of Nathan Branch’s Letters to a Fellow Perfumer project, involved each of the perfumers working with a material they had not used before.  Erickson chose black and blue hemlock spruce absolutes for a perfume that became Forest Walk.

Aftel originally selected natural alpha ionone (a violet-like smell) and a fire tree absolute for an idea she had to depict her feelings about California’s Gold Country and its ghost towns, of “the beauty of what remains after something is ravaged by time.”  Shortly into the project, Aftel abandoned both of these original materials, replacing them with flowering tobacco absolute and blond cedarwood and from this built her fragrant tone poem of both an imaginary past and a present reality.

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Guerlain Encens Mythique d’Orient : Fragrance Review

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During my last trip to the Middle East almost three years ago, my camera broke down, and I couldn’t take a single photo. At first, the missed opportunity to capture the blazing whiteness of marble buildings, the majestic and scary beauty of the desert, and the dazzle of gold displays made me wince with regret each time I came upon another beautiful scene. But after a while, I realized that maybe my camera wouldn’t be necessary after all; the scents surrounding me were so strong and vivid that today I have no trouble recalling either the aroma of ripe dates–caramel and honey!–or the heady fragrance of cardamom and rosewater flavored coffee. And of course, the perfumes! Both the men and women I encountered were exquisitely perfumed. Smoky roses, honeyed oud mixed with patchouli, sandalwood roughed up by smoky leather… I had to fight the urge to ask every other person in the street what they were wearing.

But out of their hot desert context, some of these perfumes felt heavy and one-dimensional when I tried wearing them back home. They were still beautiful, but they required a certain mood or an occasion, and for this reason I wore them much less often than I anticipated. Similarly, Middle Eastern inspired fragrances like Montale and SoOud were compelling in theory, but in practice I rarely craved them. When Guerlain announced its Les Déserts d’Orient collection, comprised of Rose Nacrée du Désert, Songe d’Un Bois d’Été, and Encens Mythique d’Orient, I was worried that it might be overly glitzy and flamboyant for me.

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Guerlain Rose Nacree du Desert : Perfume Review

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When I first heard about Guerlain Rose Nacrée du Désert, which is part of the Les Déserts d’Orient collection, along with Encens Mythique d’Orient and Songe d’Un Bois d’Été, I was only mildly curious. Had it been a part of the regular collection, I would have been more proactive in seeking out a sample, but Les Déserts d’Orient is sold at only a few boutiques, and I dislike falling in love with something this exclusive. (Can you tell where this is going?)

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To make a long story short, a sample found its way to me thanks to a kind reader, and whenever I have been wearing Rose Nacrée du Désert, I’ve been experiencing minor scented epiphanies. I may be doing something as unglamorous as picking up dry cleaning, when I suddenly catch a whiff of dark roses clinging to my skin. It’s an instant dose of chic, and on most days, I desperately need it.

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Chanel Coco : Perfume Review

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I might as well admit it, I originally disliked Chanel Coco.  I will be up front about that because now I won’t be separated from it. Coco is a good case for retesting a fragrance:  more compliments have come my way with Coco than with any other fragrance. Although created almost 30 years ago in 1984, Coco is far from being dated. It is an outgoing, definite statement scent, not a wallflower. It is a fragrance from the time when women adopted a signature perfume as bold style accessories. Consider Coco an adornment, a piece of jewelry, the finishing touch.

Classic Chanel scents reveal themselves through mists of aldehydes that always to my nose make a Chanel perfume smell high concept.  They are tailored even when they are meant to be sexy, as is the case with Coco.  The top notes are bright and brassy with ripe, fruity aldehydes, mandarin peel, and macerated raisins.  These notes ignite as if flambéed.

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Latest Comments

  • Claire in The Art of a Perfect Flatbread : Chapati: Victoria, this is SO mouthwateringly delicious-looking! I’ve always loved Indian food, I’ve been known to invite myself whenever my good friend (who came from South India) had a visit of… July 30, 2016 at 1:16pm

  • Lydia in Bath and Body Works Italian Collection : New Perfumes: Capri Seaside Citrus is one of my all-time favorites. I am forever looking for them to bring it back and I hope that one day I will be able to… July 30, 2016 at 12:46pm

  • Victoria in The Art of a Perfect Flatbread : Chapati: Thank you very much, Lynn. I was also thinking recently when we made these breads together that one doesn’t need much to create something memorable. Plus, as a French saying… July 30, 2016 at 11:35am

  • Victoria in The Art of a Perfect Flatbread : Chapati: Hope that you try it. It might be hard to get the perfect circle at first, but whatever the shape, they will taste delicious. It’s worth giving chapati a try. July 30, 2016 at 11:32am

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