July 2005: 27 posts

Parfums Gobin Daude Jardins Ottomans : Perfume Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Victoire Gobin-Daudé launched her own line in 2002, which is comprised of five scents: Biche Dans L’Absinthe, Jardins Ottomans, Sève Exquise, Sous Le Buis, and Nuit au Désert. Appropriately named, Jardins Ottomans is a Mediterranean garden in the morning when the sun begins to warm up the earth, yet the remnants of morning mist still persist in the dark corners of the garden. The opening notes are of refreshing and effervescent petitgrain and bitter lemon peel. As sun rays dispel the fog, patchouli warms up the champagne like top notes lending its unique dry-wet quality. A pleasant sweetness blooms under the undulating patchouli note and grows in volume while citrus facet deepens and assumes a flowery quality. The overall effect is a lacy orange blossom with a sweet citrus twist veiled by patchouli richness.

Photo: Narenjestan-é qavam, or qavam Orangery, 19th century house with an orangery, Shiraz, Iran.

Update: The line has been discontinued.

Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Nil : Fragrance Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Continuing with the gardens theme Hermès started in 2003 with Un Jardin en Méditeranée, in 2005 Jean-Claude Ellena created Un Jardin Sur Le Nil inspired by the travel in Egypt. Jean-Claude Ellena’s is one of my favorite contemporary perfumers, along with Maurice Roucel, Olivia Giacobetti, and Chris Sheldrake, however his creations for Hermès have been somewhat less innovative than some of the fragrances he has done before. Un Jardin Sur Le Nil is a masterfuly composed fragrance, possessing signature Ellena’s trademark of presenting the fragrance form as if illuminated by opalescent light.  The scent has been my summer staple, accompanying me on my exploits in Kiev and cooling me down in July heat of Chicago.

The explosion of green grapefruit segues gently into green mango with its piney floral fragrance, enhanced by translucent sweetness of lotus. While the initial impressions are not of much more than a pleasant fruit salad, resins and ashes seep through the fruit juices in the base, blurring distinctions and distorting the pretty affability of the composition, thus managing to lift the fragrance out of the domain of predictable. While I do not envision the street leading to a Nubian village where Jean-Claude Ellena discovered the mangos that inspired him, I am reminded of heavy clusters of fruit hanging from mango trees in India. Where one association does not resurface, a score of others are eager to take its place. I would also note that this fragrance is composed to blur masculine/feminine divisions, without being a typically conventional androgynous creation.

Photo: Tom Tidball.

Chanel Cristalle EDT and EDP : Perfume Review



Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Eau de Toilette

There are some fragrances that one cannot forget, even if for one reason or another, the love affair is suspended, and the bottle is not replaced. When I moved to the US, my perfume bottles were left at the old apartment and, alas, never retrieved. Cristalle was one of them. And then recently I stopped by a Chanel counter and reached for the slim oblong bottle. As the mist fell upon my skin, I was immediately swayed by its luminous clarity. Of course, I had to have a bottle right away.

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Montale Aoud Lime : Fragrance Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Montale perfume house is based in Paris, with a charming boutique near Place Vendôme. Pierre Montale, the perfumer behind the line, created dozens of scents based on such traditional Middle Eastern notes as oud, attar, rose, sandalwood and patchouli. After having much success with Aoud Roses Petale, I became curious in Aoud Lime, especially since the combination sounded intriguing. How would the marriage of medicinal pungent oud and tangy sparkling lime develop?

The first impression is of rosewater seeping through a heap of Chinese herbs. However, as soon as patchouli warms up the composition, the moist quality vanishes like a raindrop on hot asphalt. Medicinal veil of oud is evident from the first inhale, which only intensifies turning darkly herbal, earthy and pungent. Paired with the dense richness of rose, the result is quite heady, however not unpleasant. If there is any lime here, my nose does not register it.  I would love to hear other opinions on this fragance.

The drydown is redolent of rose attar, which is a hydrodistillation of rose into sandalwood oil. Under its heavy and stilted wrap, even oud is muted, even though its pleasant pungency cuts through from time to time. I do not find Aoud Lime particularly interesting, but fleeting is an accusation one cannot make against it. It lasts for the entire day and into the night.

Available at Montale website, Aedes, Parfumsraffy, and First-in-Fragrance.

Painting: Woman with a Veil, Persian painting of the Qajar Epoch (1785-1925). Exhibition at the Brunei Gallery, London, UK.

Parfums de Nicolai Balle de Match : Fragrance Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

If citrus is associated for you with sparkling and fleeting (or worse, insipid lemony concoctions), Balle de Match will definitely be a pleasant surprise. Created by Patricia de Nicolaï in 2002, it is a combination of bittersweet citrus underscored with incense. The initial sensation is akin to biting into a grapefruit, that explosion of bitterness and juicy sweetness. The notes reveal themselves in kaleidoscopic patterns, verdant lime peel one moment and juicy white grapefruit pulp next.

The development of the composition resembles the flow of molten glass more than it does the sparkle of icy shards. The clear citrus notes do not vanish but meld into the heart laced with warm pepper and dry balsamic juniper. The citrus leitmotif persists in the base notes where it is joined by an earthy note of vetiver. Incense adds a smoky resinous sweetness that enhances bitter citrus wonderfully and gives it an exotic flair. The resulting impression is more of crushed pine needles than of pure lime peel, which I found very appealing. Balle de Match with its interesting interplay of clarity and darkness demonstrates how multifaceted citrus can be.

Painting: Wassily Kandinsky, Murnau-View with Railroad and Castle. 1909. Oil on cardboard. Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany. Abcgallery. The juxtaposition of light and dark in the composition of this work by one of my favourite artists seems to reflect visually the olfactory characteristics of Balle de Match as I experience them.

Update: Balle de Mat

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