4 stars: 375 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.

Paco Rabanne Calandre : Perfume Review

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Patricia revisits Calandre, a metallic green rose with a chypre heart.

Nineteen Sixty-Nine was a year in which I watched with my family as men walked on the moon, 400,000 young people crammed into the then little known town of Woodstock, NY for a three-day music festival, and the hugely unpopular war in Vietnam was escalating with accompanying casualties on both sides of the conflict. In the same year, Calandre, an avant-garde perfume from the fashion house of Paco Rabanne and created by nose Michel Hy, was launched.

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Betty Friedan, considered by some to be the mother of the second wave of American feminism, had written The Feminine Mystique in 1963, and the sixties provided fertile ground for the growing Women’s Movement. Perfume styles were changing as well. The more formal floral style of the fifties and early sixties was giving way to more modern interpretations.

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4711 Original Eau de Cologne : Perfume Review

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Simple. Lemon with a touch of lavender and piney rosemary. Not a perfume to wear if you want a big trail. Not a perfume that will make you ponder the mysteries of life. Just a good, no-nonsense cologne that smells bracing and sharp and makes you feel clean and energized. And the name is straightforward too, just four numbers. 4711.
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When I first smelled 4711 at the now defunct pharmacy on New York’s East Side, it smelled so familiar and traditional that I could picture my grandfather slapping some on his shaved cheeks or my grandmother adding it to her bath. This was, of course, pure fantasy. 4711 didn’t exist in my Ukrainian childhood, but because the scent of a classical cologne–and 4711 is anything if not classical–has such a recognizable form, it feels as if this German cologne has always been around.

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Parfum d’Empire Equistrius : Fragrance Review

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Patricia wraps herself in iris, sandalwood and amber and talks about some of her favorite fragrances from Parfum d’Empire.

Even if Equistrius, a fragrance from the French niche line Parfum d’Empire, hadn’t been named for an outstanding competition horse, I would have been intrigued by the well-balanced combination of some of my favorite notes in perfume. Although Equistrius can easily be worn year round, I find it especially suited to early fall, when the days begin to shorten noticeably, the southward-heading robins congregate in my backyard Kousa dogwood to devour its ripening berries, and the breeze carries a premonition of the chill to come.

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Equistrius opens with refreshing green notes and violet, but eases quickly into a warm and buttery iris that is mouthwateringly delicious and demands frequent wrist to nose enjoyment. This is a soft, rather than a demanding iris, and perfume notes have included rice powder to convey this softness. What I get is more a feeling of rice paper: white, translucent, and richly grained, allowing the warm amber and milky sandalwood to show through, especially as the perfume continues to soften and develop on skin.

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Moschino Couture! : Fragrance Review

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Elisa on another perfume that’s lighthearted, easy to wear and interesting.

There are certain perfume brands that fly under the radar. They are neither so mainstream that you see testers on every department store counter (Estée Lauder, Gucci, and the like), nor do they qualify as “niche” or earn the cult status of pricey brands like Serge Lutens and Amouage. These perfumes – I’m thinking of brands like Paco Rabanne and Cacharel – are found at mall perfume kiosks and online discounters, usually for under $50 a bottle. If you know about one of these scents, you probably either bought it at a drugstore as a teenager, heard of it through word of mouth, or discovered it via pure happenstance.

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This last method of discovery was the case for me with Moschino Couture!, launched in 2004. (The exclamation mark is part of the name, but I’ll drop it from here on out.) Early on in my perfume-buying days, I had an insatiable hunger for new fragrances, but not a lot of money to spend, and I frequently blind-bought bottles when they could be had for just a few times the cost of a sample ($4 for 2 ml or $20 for 50 ml … this seemed like easy math to me). I bought Couture on a whim because I was ordering a bottle of Moschino Funny! and the site had great deals on both.

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Bottega Veneta Knot : Perfume Review

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The main argument you hear from brands launching one bland, derivative perfume after another is that consumers like this sort of thing and that it is impossible to come up with an easy to like and uncomplicated perfume that holds the attention and smells interesting. But Bottega Veneta Knot, the new fall launch, proves that this reasoning doesn’t have much merit. If you want a fragrance that is as versatile and stylish as a little black dress, then this radiant orange blossom has much to recommend itself.

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Bottega Veneta’s first perfume was a leather-moss blend attuned to today’s fashions, with emphasis on radiance, softness and bright top notes. Knot’s basic idea is sheer as tulle orange blossom edged with vanilla and musk. Orange blossom is derived from the flowers of a bitter orange tree, and depending on how it’s processed–melting the flowers in a solvent or distilling the essence with steam, the result will be different*. The former gives you orange blossom absolute with its sweet, sumptuous notes, and the latter–neroli oil redolent of green buds of spring. Knot blends both of these essences and sheers them out with citrus juice and featherweight musk. The result is as fresh as a classical cologne, but with a curvier body.

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