March 2013: 23 posts

Aftelier Wild Roses : Perfume Review


Aftelier Wild Roses is a rose perfume with character. It smells like the Summer of Love, with a dash of sweet incense and flower-child rosy cheeks (thanks to a dose of patchouli, I think).  When I smell it I imagine walking through the Haight, the epicenter of hippy culture in San Francisco, during that trippy era, with incense wafting from the shops and a kaleidoscope of other smells—ice cream, hashish, strawberries, flowers—all mixing together in fragrant nirvana.

wild roses

The fragrance was inspired by the roses grown by its creator, Mandy Aftel, in her California garden. She must grow roses as large as dinner plates because Wild Roses smells almost surreal. To smell Wild Roses is to take an olfactory journey through the tangle one imagines in Aftel’s Berkeley back yard. As Aftel notes, Wild Roses is all about a “hundred petals unfolding: balsamic, spicy, apricot, and honeyed roses, mixed with the smell of warm earth and herbs.”

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Ann Gerard Perle de Mousse : Perfume Review


When I first smelled Ann Gérard Perle de Mousse last year on a cold winter day, this delicate perfume didn’t seem quite right. Its sun-dappled demeanor needed a white seersucker dress, a picnic basket, and a mild spring breeze. In other words, it felt like a perfect warm weather fragrance that could be both casual and elegant, a rare combination.


Perle de Mousse was created by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour for the jeweler Ann Gérard, whose warm Cuir de Nacre would tide me over while I waited for spring to come. (Ciel d’Opale is the only fragrance  from the trio that didn’t move me.) Though it’s already March, we still get the occasional snow fall here in Belgium; yet, the sun becomes more generous, prompting the freckles to bloom on my cheeks. It’s now time for Perle de Mousse.

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Orange Trout with Garlic, Ginger, and Sesame

When I think of orange, I usually think of desserts–a long curl of zest steeped in milk for rice pudding, a dash on top of bitter chocolate mousse or whipped into poundcake batter. By sweetening the orange, you highlight its floral, honeyed nuance, but what happens if you add a dash of salt instead? The effect is explosive. Salt volatilizes aromatic components, and the orange aroma becomes even more saturated. Moreover, its zesty flavor marries so well with savory notes that it’s fun to explore different combinations.


One of my favorite piquant combinations with orange is a Korean inspired dry rub for fish. Garlic, scallions, ginger, sesame and chili pepper are used with dazzling effect in Korean cooking, giving it a distinctive flavor–earthy and aromatic, nutty and spicy. I haven’t encountered orange in Korean dishes, but its sweet perfume is a harmonious touch. It brings out the citrusy nuances of ginger and softens the toasty richness of sesame. Because of their acidity, oranges are also excellent with fish, and voilà, here is my creation.

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Spring Fragrance Wardrobe and Red Magazine Article

What are your favorite spring scents? Though we may not yet be done with the snow, our cherry trees are in bloom, and I’m already thinking about spring perfumes. Spices, sandalwood, and amber are slowly giving way to everything crisp and gauzy–citrus, orange blossom, violets, and roses. I’m reaching for Christian Dior Eau Sauvage, Ann Gérard Perle de Mousse, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche (it’s the last of my vintage stock, so I ration it carefully), and Chanel No 19 Poudré. L’Occitane Rose 4 Reines was a recent discovery–an inexpensive rose that smells plush and velvety. I will save Hermès 24 Faubourg for those days when I need a warm  cashmere wrap.

Speaking of perfume wardrobes, I promised to post a link to my article, The Fragrance Wardrobe, which appeared in the November issue of Red Magazine.  It was one of my favorite writing projects last year, and it is a pleasure to share it with you. I hope that you will enjoy it. Please click on the link below to read it, or you can now find it at my Publications page.

The Fragrance Wardrobe


Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Christian Dior La Collection Privee Gris Montaigne : New Fragrance

Christian Dior has added a new fragrance to La Collection Privée. Gris Montaigne, developed by perfumer François Demachy, is a classical mossy chypre with notes of bergamot, jasmine sambac, Turkish rose, Indonesian patchouli, moss, and amber.


Gris Montaigne is currently available at Harrods in London, alongside the England inspired makeup collection:  Claridge’s 48 eye shadow palette and lip gloss, My Lady powder, Windsor nail polish. Gris Montaigne will launch at Dior boutiques worldwide later this spring. Via and

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