Film Noir: 59 posts

Dark and brooding perfume fantasies

Parfums Retro Grand Cuir : Fragrance Review

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Elisa on breaking with the niche formula and on the masculine retro glamour.

There is a prevailing trend in niche perfumery toward unisex scents. Often, the “unisex” quality is communicated through a combination of (supposedly masculine) woody notes, such as sandalwood, cedar, and patchouli, and (supposedly feminine) sweet notes, such as vanilla and benzoin, to the point that when mainstream scents hit on this combination, we say they “smell like niche.” I love sweet woody scents, but this formula is starting to look like a niche cliché – mix up booze, tobacco, resins, a touch of leather and some vanilla until it’s the color of cocktails in a cigar bar. Does it smell good? Then ship it!

grand cuir

Parfums Retro is a new niche outfit that seems to be taking a different approach. Their first three scents are all clearly targeted at the men’s side of the aisle. And yet, Grand Cuir (a sample of which I received as part of an Olfactif gift box) doesn’t smell like the typical men’s offerings at department stores, radiating powerful synthetics like sexual-chemical warfare. Instead, it truly smells retro: reminiscent of the dry, bitter leathers from the first half of the 20th century, when women comfortably wore perfumes like Lanvin Scandal and pre-reformulation Caron Tabac Blond.

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Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Chypree : Fragrance Review

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Elisa on roses, moss, and brocade.

Some perfumes take only moments to love, but years to understand. Such was the case for me with Une Rose Chyprée, a perfume from the indie line created by Andy Tauer. From the first sniff, I knew it was special. But I struggled to grasp why or how. It was not, to my nose, a chypre (a mossy-woody blend) at all. It was not of the sharp, haughty variety like Paloma Picasso; not chilly and green like Yves Ssaint Laurent Y or Chanel No. 19; not, like the more recent Agent Provocateur, saffron-sour up top and musky-dirty at the bottom. So what was it, then?

tauer

After spending a few years with his collection, I realized that Andy Tauer’s true muse is amber. And Une Rose Chyprée is not a straight chypre but an amber in conversation with a mossy rose, melding into its bittersweet floral-herbal personality, but not losing its own round, full, and resinous scent.

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Black Swan, White Swan

What are your Black Swan and White Swan scents? If you’re craving a bewitching perfume, what do you choose?

When I first tried Repetto perfume, this sparkling gourmand floral made me think of the Sugar Plum Fairy, all sweetness and joy. I wished for more drama and magic, something more suitable for the Black Swan enchantress Odile.

black-swan

Some choices were obvious when I glanced at my perfume shelf. Annick Goutal Néroli is my White Swan perfume, a delicate, pretty orange blossom that wears like a sheer veil. But if I’m in a Black Swan mood, then I reach for Vero Profumo Rubj. It’s one of the sultriest, darkest florals in my collection, and it is as provocative as it is alluring.

The same duality can be found in my favorite roses: Parfums de Rosine Un Zest de Rose is a smiling, ethereal blossom, but if I want something more dramatic, then Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin would be my potion of choice. Another Black Swan rose I love is Etat Libre d’Orange Rossy de Palma, a hailstorm of earthy, spicy petals.

Etat Libre d’Orange RienClinique Aromatics Elixir, and Yves Saint Laurent Nu are my other Black Swan perfumes, mostly because they are intriguing and unpredictable. Just like Odile.

Image: a still from the film, Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman

Tom Ford Atelier d’Orient Shanghai Lily : Perfume Review

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I’ve been slowly testing the new Atelier d’Orient quarter, which was launched earlier this season in Tom Ford’s Private Blend collection. While I was enjoying Plum Japonais, Fleur de Chine and Rive d’Ambre well enough, Shanghai Lily stood out the most. I fell for it so hard that on any given day if I don’t have other perfume wearing plans it ends up on my skin. There are a few fragrances from Tom Ford’s Private Blend collection that hit the spot–Champaca Absolute, Velvet Gardenia, Cafe Rose, but Shanghai Lily is quickly becoming my favorite.

Anna-May-Wong

I like my flowers with a twist, and Shanghai Lily is a white floral with a dark mood. The jasmine and tuberose are warmed up and cossetted with plenty of spices and dark resins, which is already interesting. But the best part is that nothing about Shanghai Lily is heavy or oppressive. Instead, it sparkles from its gingery top notes to the incense accented drydown.

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Christian Dior Gris Montaigne : Perfume Review

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“These two hues remain my two favorite colors of choice in couture,” wrote Christian Dior in his Little Dictionary of Fashion. He was talking about grey and pink, the colors that inspired many of his collections and his first boutique on Rue Montaigne in Paris, where the walls, the molds, and even the Louis XVI medallion chairs were tinted soft grey. Gris Montaigne, a new perfume from the Collection Privée, is a romantic tribute to Dior’s favorite shades interpreted by in-house perfumer François Demachy.

dior-gris

I probably wouldn’t describe Gris Montaigne as grey and pink if I were to smell it blindly, but the choice of delicate rose and earthy woods makes for a polished fragrance. It’s noticeable without being loud, but it has enough character to be memorable. Gris Montaigne is a pile of wood shavings drenched in rosewater, with just enough mossy, wet soil notes to keep this pastel number from becoming too prim and proper.

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