November 2010: 10 posts

“For Older Women Only” : Why Fragrance Shopping is Often Frustrating


Imagine if you walked into a liquor shop and found that every single bottle of wine, red or white, French or Chilean, vintage or regular table variety, was actually touted to be the best wine in the whole world. The shop assistant, instead of listening to your likes and your dinner plans, would flatly state, “Let me show you the latest thing we have received. It is my favorite. It is made from the special, “radiant golden” grapes. Men especially happen to like it.” To top it all off, imagine if all wines were haphazardly arranged on shelves, with no logical organization method. It sounds absurd, yet this is the way fragrance is sold today. Perhaps the main issue is that while the pace of fragrance launches has accelerated from about 100 in 1990 to nearly a thousand in 2009, the way fragrance is sold has not changed in decades.

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My Article on Woods in Financial Times Magazine

My article How Exotic Woods are Getting a Feminine Makeover has appeared today in the Financial Times Magazine How to Spend It. In it, I talk how the perception of what is appropriate for a feminine fragrance has changed over the years, using woods as an example. It is a topic I find quite fascinating.

Autumnal Scents and Tastes


The enjoyment of delicious food and beautiful scents are among life’s most wonderful pleasures, and in fact, these pleasures are tightly linked. Imagine holding a ripe yellow pear in your hand. Bring it to your nose and inhale the scent of its skin. The rush of fruity notes with their lemon and banana nuances will hit you almost immediately. Now take a bite. As you swallow, the caramel and milky notes become more evident. Finally, you might even notice some lingering almond nougat sweetness. Voilà, a fragrance pyramid on the tip of your tongue! To celebrate such simple pleasures, I would like to share some highlights of autumnal scents and flavors, seasonal delights that make me forget shortened days, colder nights and rainy mornings. Whether these pleasures include a luscious chestnut montblanc, quince stewed till it turns ambery-red, decadent persimmon jelly, julienned turnips tossed with pomegranate seeds or a slice of pumpkin flan, they are as much about fragrance as about flavor. I hope that this list along with suggested flavor affinities (some of which I found during my perfumery raw material training) will provide some inspiration to explore new pairings.


I find quince to be the most marvelously perfumed fruit, rivaling fresh strawberries and peaches. Its fragrance is a combination of violet, rose, caramel, apricot, and licorice with a hint of vanilla, sandalwood and jasmine. While it cannot be eaten raw, cooked quince, which turns from ivory to ruby red, offers plenty of culinary possibilities. Toss peeled halves in lemon juice, cover with a scented sugar syrup (1 cup sugar, 2 cups water, 2 cloves, vanilla, which is enough for 4 quinces) and either simmer it gently or bake it at 300F till the fruit softens. Let it cool in its juices and store in the fridge. Prepared this way, quince can be eaten Turkish style garnished with clotted cream and chopped walnuts. It is also delicious used in pies, crumbles, and sorbets; served along with cheese, yogurt or ice cream, roast duck or lamb.

Flavor affinities: sweet spices (cinnamon, clove, vanilla, nutmeg, star anise), cardamom, bay leaf, dried figs, apples, sheep milk cheese, rosewater, brown sugar, caramel, brandy, pistachios, walnuts.

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Top Beauty Blogs : Poll


I have been in the process of updating my beauty blog list, having realized that quite a few I used to follow are no longer active. Therefore, I would love to find out what beauty or fashion blogs you like to read. Please share your favorites!

Image: Natalia Vodianova in Guerlain Rouge lipstick ad, simply because I think that she is gorgeous.

Hermes Amazone : Fragrance Review and on Sophisticated Fruity Florals


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

A dyed in the wool fragrance connoisseur is often apt to look down upon fruity floral fragrances, much like an aficionado of Albert Camus might spurn the work of Danielle Steele. After all, this fragrance family is one of the most popular among the large commercial launches, and its motifs can feel overplayed and tiresome. Yet, just like one should not judge a book by its cover, appraising fragrances by their notes is misleading. A strong fruity accord woven into a floral composition can result in Jelly Belly Fruit Salad or Frédéric Malle Le Parfum de Thérèse, depending on what the creator intends. A fragrance I like to bring up as an example of an utterly sophisticated and elegant fruity floral is Hermès Amazone.

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