4 stars: 353 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.

Cartier La Panthere : Perfume Review

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Why did “the feral floral,” a tag line used by Cartier to describe its perfume, La Panthère, catch my attention? It’s not that I’m all that keen on the smell of unwashed animals; otherwise, the camel leather belt I bought for my husband in India (now banished to the outside closet) would have satisfied that craving and more. Cartier’s perfumery, on the other hand, is in the hands of talented Mathilde Laurent, and if anyone could make feral smell good, it would be her.

cartier

La Panthère was the nickname of Jeanne Toussaint, the flamboyant artistic director of Cartier jewelry from 1933 to 1968, who was responsible for some of the most dramatic examples of Cartier’s art. Named after this tremendous character, the perfume couldn’t be just another well-behaved floral, and Laurent decided on a composition based on contrasts: moss and leather; gardenias and patchouli.

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Carolina Herrera by Carolina Herrera : Perfume Review

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Elisa discovers another underrated gem and white floral beauty in Carolina Herrera’s 1988 perfume. But don’t say that you haven’t been warned about its big sillage and quintessential 80s character.

My mother has never worn perfume, so as a young girl I had to look elsewhere for scented role models. One was my grandmother, who introduced me to the wonders of White Linen. Another was my best friend’s mother, a beautiful, petite brunette who always entered the room in a cloud of womanly sillage. Her weapons of choice – I remember seeing the bottles on her vanity – were the original Escada and Carolina Herrera.

carolina herrera

They both seemed impossibly glamorous and “grown up” from that vantage point. But in my first year of full-on, post-rabbit-hole perfume mania, I remember realizing with a jolt that, as an adult woman myself now, I am free to drown myself in Carolina Herrera if I choose to. Not having smelled it in years if not decades, I picked up a small bottle of the EDP at a discount store (in the classic polka-dot box). I got it home, sprayed it on, and smiled in recognition: it hadn’t changed.

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Chanel Beige and Jersey Extrait de Parfum : Perfume Reviews

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Of the three new extraits de parfum in Chanel’s Les Exclusifs collection, 1932 seemed most promising, but it turned out that Beige and Jersey held more surprises. As I mentioned in my review of 1932, if you didn’t like the Eau de Toilette, the parfum isn’t going to change your mind, but in the case of Beige and Jersey, the richness, new accents and nuances might make a positive difference for those who were ambivalent about the original versions.

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Beige

I already enjoyed Beige for its understated elegance, and while I proclaim my undying love for Coromandel and Cuir de Russie, I wear this delicate white floral far more often. It certainly won’t turn heads the way Coromandel does or make you time travel to the Roaring Twenties like Cuir de Russie, but if you need a well-made fragrance that feels like a comfortable silk slip, Beige is perfect.

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Aftelier Cuir de Gardenia Extrait : Perfume Review

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Elisa talks about gardenia, tiare, and leather as she reviews Aftelier Cuir de Gardenia Extrait.

Searching for a natural gardenia perfume is a little like hunting for unicorns – gardenias, notoriously, don’t release a natural oil. As Victoria once put it, “gardenia, temperamental flower that she is, does not give up her essence to any distillation methods.” Accordingly, gardenia in perfumery is necessarily a re-creation, using other materials to approximate the flower’s scent: sweetly tropical, but with an earthy element often likened to dirt or mushrooms.

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I was surprised, then, when I heard that Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes was releasing a gardenia scent, since Aftel is known for her all-natural creations. As it turns out, Cuir de Gardenia is based on the Tahitian gardenia, or tiare flower, which can be made into a (costly) enfleurage (termed monoi when using coconut oil). Aftel has bolstered this material with jasmine and benzyl acetate, an isolate that occurs naturally in jasmine and ylang-ylang and is also used as a solvent in plastic and resins.

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Hermes Bel Ami and Bel Ami Vetiver : Fragrance Review

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Even for the accomplished perfumer, re-orchestrating a classic is a formidable task. Not only does the new version have to respect the original spirit, it needs to add a new, distinctive twist. In addition, it must also follow current regulatory stipulations on the use of ingredients, be on budget and make sense within the brand’s DNA. No wonder most remakes fall short of such high expectations.

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Hermès is a more respectful brand than most others of its heritage, but I was nevertheless skeptical of the proposition to rework their classics, which include such legends as Caléche and modern gems such as Hiris. The consolation was that  the new versions redesigned by in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena would live alongside the originals. The first in the series was Bel Ami Vétiver, which reinterpreted the leather chypre from 1986.

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