Cashmere Wrap: 33 posts

Scents that have a comforting, enveloping feel, similar to a cashmere pashima.

Scent Diary : Softness

Happy New Year! I am in the mood for softness, so I dipped into my bottles of vanilla, violet, mimosa and musk perfumes, trying to find ones with the most velvety and comforting finishes. Cacharel Noa stood out instantly for its enveloping trail of powdery flowers and vanilla, but my other discovery took me by surprise. It happens to be Miller Harris L’Air de Rien, a dirty orange blossom. Yet for all of its salacious air, it feels as soft as a cashmere wrap or a kitten’s belly.

red cat

New year means a new start to our Scent Diary. As I wrote in How to Improve Your Sense of Smell, the best way to sharpen your nose is to smell and to pay attention to what you’re smelling. It doesn’t matter what you smell, good or bad scent. The most important part is to notice whatever you smell around you. It’s even better if you write it down. You can use the space here for just that–sharing what perfumes you’re wearing and what scents you notice around you.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Yves Saint Laurent Oriental Collection Majestic Rose : Perfume Review

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It’s easy to dismiss the Oriental Collection from Yves Saint Laurent as yet another banal attempt to capture the attention of the Gulf markets. Hence, we have the luxury packaging, high prices and a trite press release. Noble Leather, Majestic Rose, Supreme Bouquet and Splendid Wood are said to be inspired by “the splendor of the East.” But overload of orientalism aside, the collection judged only on its olfactory merits is very good. The ideas are clever, interesting and well-executed. And, as I discovered when traveling in Oman, traditional Gulf perfumery is spectacular enough to emulate.

rose-india

In traditional Middle Eastern and Persian Gulf perfumery, rose and oud are important players. With the discovery of oud by European and American perfumes, dark roses have become common enough, and every line worth its prestige brand name has attempted them with varying levels of success. Blend rose with enough dark woods, and even a novice can approximate something vaguely “eastern”, but what makes traditional perfumery and fragrances like Majestic Rose interesting is their use of bright accents. Harmony, especially if we’re talking about dark, rich notes, is hard to achieve.

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Lolita Lempicka Sweet : Perfume Review

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I am what you might call an optimist. So when I read a fragrance description like “a cherry-cocoa lip accord, exquisitely transgressive, outrageously musky”, I decide to look for a sample.  The quote refers to Lolita Lempicka Sweet, and depending on your attitudes towards smelling like lipstick and chocolate covered cherries, it could be either ghastly or delightful.  I doubt you can have a noncommittal opinion about this fragrance. It will bully you until you make up your mind.

Sweet-Lolita-Lempicka

What you smell is what you get–a dark raspberry-rose accord reminiscent of retro lipstick and a dollop of chocolate sauce. This kind of directness is what attracted me to Lolita Lempicka in the first place. There is no pretense to aspire towards rarefied sophistication or sucked-in-cheeks elegance. The story isn’t about a precious Laotian resin transformed into a caramel candy. Lolita Lempicka also doesn’t mistake its press release for a philosophical treatise on happiness. No. Leave all of that to Viktor & Rolf Bonbon, Prada Candy and Lancôme La Vie est Belle. Sweet doesn’t take itself seriously, and as a result, you get an utterly charming fragrance.

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L’Artisan Parfumeur Noir Exquis : Perfume Review

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I love a good gourmand. Weaving notes of vanilla, caramel, and other delicious things, fragrances in this genre are my ultimate comfort blankets. The moment that days get shorter and mornings cold, the tray above my perfume drawer starts to fill up with my favorite gourmands–Pink Sugar, Lolita Lempicka, Kenzo L’Éléphant, Parfums de Nicolaï Vanille Tonka and L’Artisan Traversée du Bosphore.

The latter is interesting because the sweetness of Turkish delight and vanilla are balanced by a generous dose of crisp green notes and saffron. Created by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, Traversée du Bosphore is an example of contrasted gourmand I especially enjoy. Wearing it is exciting, because one moment you experience a fresh breeze and the next a voluptuous embrace. This also seemed to be the premise of Noir Exquis, a fragrance by Duchaufour that blends rich notes of candied chestnuts, coffee and tonka bean with orange blossom and citrus.

marzipan fruit

Since Noir Exquis is meant for both men and women, it doses sugar lightly and instead emphasizes the woody, balsamic layers. At first, it’s earthy and nutty, hinting at its patchouli and coffee soon to follow, but there are enough floral accents to brighten up the darkness. Based on the name, I expected something heavy and rich, but Noir Exquis is unexpectedly radiant.

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Byredo Seven Veils Perfume Review

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Elisa takes a look at Byredo.

Is there anything new or interesting left to do with orientals? You’d be forgiven for thinking “I doubt it.” They’ve been around since at least the late 19th century, and their popularity hasn’t waned; we’ve probably seen thousands of variations on the basic structure of perfumes like Coty L’Origan and Guerlain Shalimar. But perfume will always surprise you – Thierry Mugler Angel came pretty late in the game (1992) and introduced a totally new idea to the oriental genre.

byredo

Byredo’s Seven Veils is one recent perfume that completely subverted my expectations. The name refers to the biblical story of Salome’s “Dance of the Seven Veils” – an orientalist version of the striptease – and it’s fitting, because the perfume unfolds in layers. It opens with a classically rooty iris note, a big whoosh of raw, starchy carrots – which is, frankly, exactly the kind of thing I usually dislike. But I stuck with it, and within ten minutes I knew it wasn’t just another chalky iris soliflore. Rather, Seven Veils is a boozy oriental with a spicy root-vegetable twist.

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