December 2011: 26 posts

Best of 2011 : Fragrance Discoveries and Perfume Wishes


881! According to Michael Edwards’s database, that is the number of new launches for 2011. Basically, if you were smelling a new perfume everyday this year, you still would not have covered it all. Not that such thing is to be recommended anyway. As the year winds to a close, it is tempting to offer some sort of recap. As I jotted down my favorites in two categories that I track, niche and prestige (department store), I noticed that I overwhelmingly preferred the department store launches. Most of the niche fragrances released this year seemed to me either overpriced or simply not compelling enough to become my favorites. This is a very personal list, and I do not pretend to have smelled even half of the 881 new launches but here is what caught my attention.


Best Niche Launches

If I had to name only two 2011 favorites, I would pick De Profundis and Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum. Serge Lutens creates an elegant, touching composition by combining the bitterness of green flowers and the resinous chill of incense. De Profundis maintains an exquisite balance between rich and airy, dark and effervescent.

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Caron Cygnet Down Powder Puff : Beauty Accessory Review


Most makeup accessories I own are purely utilitarian, with looks to match. The exception, however, is my Caron powder puff. It is a feathery light orb of goose down, with a satin ribbon bow. The powder puff I selected is tinted bright fuchsia, although pastel pink, lemon yellow, peach, lavender and red were equally tempting. As I reach for it to put finishing touches on my makeup, I feel as if I am getting ready for a ball, rather than another day at the office. I do not know about you, but I certainly appreciate such fantasies to keep the weight of routine at bay.

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Candied Orange Peel (Pierre Herme Recipe) : Star Anise and Vanilla

Candied peel2

The Sugar Plum Fairy bade Marie and Nutcracker sit down while a feast was brought before them: teas, cakes and the rarest of fruits. The food was the feast, first for the eyes, then for the palate… Marie hardly had time to nibble at her sweetmeats before the next diversion was presented: the music abruptly changed to an adagio tempo. Arabian dancers dressed in gauzy veils garnished with gold medallions and jewels swayed hypnotically past… The rich aroma of coffee drifted past.  –from E.T.A Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.

The last days of each year are invariably orange hued for me: an evening spent peeling the stubborn orange peel with orange stained fingers and tossing the curls into the fire; the delicious icy chill of mandarins brought home from an outdoor winter market; the vanilla-orange sweetness of vin d’orange and slender orangettes dipped in chocolate. As I set the ingredients to make candied orange peel, I am once again a little girl watching her grandmother making this confection. To prevent me getting near the boiling sugar syrup, I would be given a large illustrated volume of E.T.A Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. To this day, the scent of oranges conjures visions of fairy kingdoms, groves made of candied fruit and coffee scented dancers.

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Rose Creams : Roger & Gallet and Crabtree & Evelyn


It is amazing how little pleasures can color one’s mood: spreading a fragrant chestnut honey on my morning toast, reading a few lines from a favorite book on my morning commute, wearing a soft red scarf knitted by my grandmother. When I get home after a long day at work, what I crave most is some low-key indulgence, preferably something deliciously scented. Among my favorite everyday luxuries are rose scented creams. I find the fragrance of rose to be relaxing and soothing. As I rub the cream into my skin, all the worries of the day vanish and somehow starting it all over again tomorrow does not seem quite so daunting.

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Happy Holidays! Thinking of New Year…


Happy holidays! I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season, filled with happiness and excitement. Hope that it ushers in a great new year. I am taking a break for a few days to spend time with my family. I will be back next week with new reviews, and of course, with the usual “Best of 2011” post. Meanwhile, I would like to hear from you if there are any specific topics or reviews you would like me to cover in the new year. Painting by Russian artist Boris Kustodiev, “Snow Covered City,” 1917.

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