4 stars: 387 posts

4 stars means “very good,” a fragrance with enough character to be memorable, and enough tenacity and diffusion to be noticed. It may either lack that ineffable “spark” that makes a perfume truly outstanding for me or else it may simply need more time on the market to determine its staying power.

Chanel Les Exclusifs Misia : Perfume Review

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Misia Sert and Coco Chanel shared deep affection for each other. Sert comforted Chanel when her lover Arthur Boy Capel died in a car accident. She inspired the designer and introduced her to a glittering circle of artists, writers and musicians. Misia’s salon in Paris attracted such luminaries as Marcel Proust, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Odilon Redon, Paul Signac, Claude Debussy, Stéphane Mallarmé, and André Gide. She was a talented pianist, captured by Toulouse-Lautrec at the piano, but she was also a cultural icon and a muse. In this last role, the spirit of Sert returns to the house of Chanel in the form of a new perfume, Misia.

misia sert
Imagine a vintage silk purse that still holds the aroma of violet bonbons, rose scented lipstick and rice powder. This, in a phrase, is Misia. Tender and romantic, the fragrance settles on skin in a soft powdery layer, and if it suddenly makes you feel like painting your lips a retro crimson and watching The Red Shoes, I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s a perfect vintage vignette fantasy.

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L’Occitane Eau des Baux : Fragrance Review

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It’s always a special thrill to discover an affordable and interesting perfume, and we love to share such little gems with you. Today is Elisa’s turn.

The easy-going, effortlessly good-looking, yet overfamiliar and somewhat unexciting chum in a romantic comedy – the one the hard-to-please heroine inevitably falls hard for in the end – that’s L’Occitane Eau des Baux. This near-perfect amber – available at your local mall for under $60 per handsome, flask-like 100 ml bottle – is so thoroughly pleasant and charming at first sniff that a hardened cynic like you or me might be initially suspicious. What’s going on here? Is this some kind of ruse? Is this “nice guy” going to let me down if I trust him too soon? Do I only like him because he reminds me of somebody else?

eaudebaux

After testing Eau des Baux repeatedly for several years, I finally realized it’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get situation, bought a bottle and haven’t looked back.

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Aedes de Venustas Copal Azur : Perfume Review

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Andy on his love of incense.

If there’s one thing I smell to feel better, it’s frankincense. Whether I need a break from typing, am feeling stressed, need to be jolted awake—I often simply reach for my pouch of frankincense tears and take a deep whiff. Even if I rarely find the time to conduct an incense ceremony all my own, just a brief inhale of frankincense has come to feel like a special, private ritual to me. I mention my habit of smelling this special resin because Aedes de Venustas’s Copal Azur, created by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, captures every element of frankincense I love, from brisk piquancy all the way down to rich, balsamic sweetness.

copal azur

Soon after Copal Azur melds into the skin, it emanates with the sparkle of citrus zest and spices, calling to mind the act of crushing peppercorns and cardamom pods together in a pestle. As this initial fiery sizzle begins to soften, the frankincense starts to shine through with a nearly pine-like, aromatic freshness. The overall effect is bracing and crisp, uplifting enough to widen one’s eyes for a moment, but devoid of any rough edges.

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Parfums de Nicolai Kiss Me Tender : Perfume Review

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Gourmand is a fragrance family I love for its instant mood booster potential. At the same, many contemporary high-calorie blends can test the limits of one’s tolerance for sweetness, and if you’re looking for a luscious, but not cloying, treat, the options can seem limited. One of the good lines to explore for abstract gourmands is Parfums de Nicolaï. Its founder, Patricia Nicolaï, is an heir to Guerlain’s tradition (a house famous for its trademark accord of vanilla, tonka bean and other delicious notes), both as a granddaughter of Pierre Guerlain, Jacques Guerlain‘s brother, and an innovative perfumer in her own right.

meringues

Kiss Me Tender, her take on the candy-smelling plant, heliotrope, could have been inspired by Guerlain’s Héliotrope Blanc (1870). It’s a dessert of vanilla and almonds, but the pastry illusion is kept in check by the realistic jasmine, orange blossom and ylang-ylang.

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Burberry Brit Rhythm for Women : Perfume Review

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Burberry has done all it could to sink Brit Rhythm for Women. The awkward name, the cliched marketing lingo of sexy, rock-n-roll, and edgy, and its place of honor as the nth flanker to Brit don’t inspire much excitement. This is a shame, because Brit Rhythm is a sophisticated, quirky lavender wrapped in peony and sheer amber. It’s the most interesting and distinctive fragrance in Burberry’s collection, although you’d never guess so based on its bland trappings.

Burberry brit

If your idea of elegance is casual and understated, Brit Rhythm will be a good fit. At its core is a complex lavender accord, a brave choice for a feminine perfume. A common presence in masculine colognes and skin care products, lavender has acquired a staid and dull reputation. That lavandin, a harsher, brasher note, is often used instead of real lavender doesn’t help matters either.

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