Lists: 50 posts

Top 10 Perfumes for Reading by Candlelight

If you need something comforting, then please join Elisa as she explores her favorite winter perfumes.

In my twenties, I loved to sleep late on the weekends – till 11 was ideal. I’d luxuriate in the feeling of stirring every hour or so as the sun began to light the room, then rolling over and going right back to sleep.

These days, I consider time to be more of a luxury than sleep, and I’d much rather wake up early and spend a few quiet hours reading on the couch and drinking coffee. And more nights than not, you’ll find me in the same place after dinner, with a glass of wine in place of the coffee. I especially love curling up with a book in winter, when I can pile on the blankets and light a candle for maximum coziness.

This year’s winter list includes some of my favorite cozy, comforting scents to wear during my favorite activity. (Incidentally, a few candles I’ve enjoyed recently: Thymes Frasier Fir and Nest Birchwood Pine, both excellent “Christmas tree” scents; Trader Joe’s Cedar Balsam, an absolute steal at $3.99; and Rewined Pinot Noir, a fruity scent with a ton of throw, even unlit.)

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Best of 2016 in Scents and Teas

If I could characterize 2016 in terms of scents to which I gravitated, the main themes would be of comfort and pleasure. Whatever reasons I have to wear perfume, this year I wanted fragrances that soothed, delighted and entertained. I wore plenty of old favorites like Annick Goutal Duel, Papillon Anubis, Serge Lutens Bois de Violette, Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose, Kenzo Amour, Lolita Lempicka L, Perles de Lalique, and newer discoveries like Azzedine Alaïa.

elderflowers

The perfumes below aren’t “the best of 2016” in an absolute sense, mostly because I didn’t smell all of the new releases and compare them. They are my highlights, fragrances that stood out on the crowded store counters and that I wore enough to learn their nuances and quirks. I’m sure I missed some gems, but in that case I look forward to discovering them in your lists. Please share your favorites of 2016 with us.

Also, Andy and I couldn’t help sharing some of our favorite teas.

Victoria’s 2016 in Perfumes and Blue Teas

Galop d’Hermès

An elegant rose with a touch of saffron and dark woods. Galop was the first major launch from the new Hermès in-house perfumer Christine Nagel. If that’s the start of a new phase, then I anticipate more interesting things arriving in 2017.

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Winter Lists : 5 Books and 2 Perfumes

There is nothing especially winter-like about my list of books (and perfumes). It’s mainly about enjoyment, with a dose of something high-spirited. Some may call it escapism, but I see it as a way to recharge and tune out the world long enough for me to find my balance and plunge back into the routine. Moreover, high-spirited, entertaining and fun, whether in literature, art or perfume, can assume many different forms. Here is my take.

winter-list

Jeffrey Steingarten The Man Who Ate Everything

“Whenever I have nothing better to do, I roast a chicken,” writes Jeffrey Steingarten. The food critic at Vogue magazine since 1989, Steingarten is also the author of two of my favorite books about cooking and eating, The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must’ve Been Something I Ate. Steingarten is witty, irreverent and passionate, an irresistible combination. His essays are full of interesting tidbits and recipes, but the main reason I enjoy them is because of Steingarten’s dry sense of humor. I don’t know how many times I’ve read “Kyoto Cuisine,” but the scene in which he tries to pry off the lid from a bowl of soup leaves me laughing out loud every single time. In the same essay, he also describes the exquisite flavors of Japanese cuisine, reminding his reader that as a bumbling tourist he may have missed many nuances. With Steingarten you can visit the Nishikidori market in Kyoto, run a scientific test of ketchups, grill sardines with Marcella Hazan in Venice, perfect fries, or try cooking from the back of the box.

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Perfumes For Autumnal Moods and the Art of Japanese Garden

I came back from the south of France to a golden and grey Brussels and whatever summer memories that weren’t blown away by a mistral in Marseille faded into the damp fog of my Belgian city. I have a battery of perfumes evoking summer, but I wondered, what if I approached the theme of an autumnal perfume from a different angle? Instead of selecting a fragrance to fantasize about summer, why not let autumn be my guide? To do that, I relied on the principle of borrowed scenery, shakkei, from Japanese garden design. In my latest FT column, Autumn: The Scents of the Season, I explain how I do it and describe my choices: Serge Lutens Chypre Rouge, Bulgari Eau Parfumée Au Thé Rouge, Chanel Bel Respiro, Etro Messe de Minuit and others.

kyoto-garden-temple

One of the most interesting principles in Japanese garden design is the idea of borrowed scenery (shakkei). Using existing landscape elements – distant mountains, ponds and neighbouring structures – a creator plans the garden in such a way as to incorporate the surroundings into her composition and create her personal vision of nature. Perfumery is generally more about artifice and fantasy, but as summer fades, I too become inspired to borrow autumnal scenery for my fragrant accompaniment. My perfume choices become led by the scents of fall. To continue reading, please click here.

If you were to match autumn, its scents or its moods, to a perfume, what would you select?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, Kyoto

10 Fall Perfumes With a Retro Accent

Retro, vintage, old-fashioned. These terms, with various nuances, suggest fragrances that smell of another time. Elisa explores some of her favorite perfume examples.  What’s dated to one person is a retro classic to another.

What smells old-fashioned or,  more positively, “classic” or “retro” to any given nose is bound to change over time. In the near future, I suspect, the berry-and-peony fruity-florals and fruitchoulis that were ubiquitous in the late ‘90s and aughts will smell nostalgically old-fashioned to some, dated to others. Hillary Clinton reportedly wears Angel, and I recently heard a young YouTube star describe Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle as her most “mature” smelling perfume!

gingko

The perfumes I’ve been reaching for most this fall aren’t the all-time classics – the Shalimars, the Mitsoukos, the Chanel No. 5’s. But these scents, mostly born in the ‘70s and ‘80s, remind me of the grande dames of my youth, who weren’t in the least intimidated by unforgivingly sharp green chypres, loud and complicated florals, or deeply powdery orientals, all with massive sillage. To me, these are the new retro classics.

Chanel Coco 

When I first encountered Coco on a perfume counter many years ago, I found it confusing. What exactly was this mess, which couldn’t decide whether to be sweet or not? But now it smells complex and incredibly luxurious, especially in the parfum – all spicy, rosy florals and amber with a dry, animalic leather note cutting through. I’ve come to think of Coco as the quintessential, night-at-the-opera floriental.

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