Almond: 11 posts

The perfumery almond can take on many forms: the creamy, soft almond which is derived from a material called heliotropine (this is what you smell in Serge Lutens Rahat Loukoum or Guerlain Après l’Ondée, for instance); the toasted almond obtained from either coumarin or tonka bean (see the discussion of these two notes), or classical bitter almond thanks to a dose of benzaldehyde (Serge Lutens La Myrrhe). Most perfumes reviewed below are the creamy, soft almond type.

Myrrh and Almonds : The Secret of Serge Lutens La Myrrhe

As a complement to my article about Autumnal Fragrances, I recorded a video about the fragrance that scented my fall this year, Serge Lutens La Myrrhe. Early into the spring lockdown, I decided to devote more attention to studying, wearing and enjoying my old favorites, rather than seeking out anything else. Partly, it was a matter of necessity–I transferred my studio to my home and I didn’t want to bring all of the fragrance samples from the office. Partly, it was influenced by my desire to pare things down to the essentials. It was a much needed antidote to the persistent commercial message of buying things.

So I would sometimes spend days analyzing a fragrance, finding its nuances and decoding the stories hidden within its accords. It reminded me of the time I was a perfumery student and would spend weeks studying a single fragrance. I can tell you that I didn’t miss anything. On the contrary, I’ve learned a great deal about fragrance over these past few months.

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Tom Ford Lost Cherry : Perfume Review

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Expensive fragrances get more scrutiny, and that’s only fair. If a brand wants you to pay over $200 for a bottle of scent, then you should be certain that you’re getting your money’s worth. In the case of Tom Ford, you’re paying for the name, luxurious packaging and the whole style factor that gives Ford an edge. That being said, the collection has a number of perfumes where even the special markup can be justified. Lost Cherry is one of those fragrances, because when Ford wants a bombshell perfume, he doesn’t hold back.

The name, only a touch less vulgar than Tom Ford’s F*cking Fabulous, suggests fruits and sweetness, but Lost Cherry is a sophisticated blend of woods in the style of Serge Lutens’s original Feminité du Bois. Lutens commissioned it as a woody fragrance for women, a request that at the time made a few eyebrows rise. 27 years later, nobody is surprised by “feminine woods,” but many brands still shy away from embracing the idea fully. In other words, woods play a secondary role to fruit, caramel, flowers or vanilla. Women who want woods, without too many embellishments, might well turn to the masculine side of the fragrance counter. 

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Parfums de Nicolai Kiss Me Tender : Perfume Review

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Gourmand is a fragrance family I love for its instant mood booster potential. At the same, many contemporary high-calorie blends can test the limits of one’s tolerance for sweetness, and if you’re looking for a luscious, but not cloying, treat, the options can seem limited. One of the good lines to explore for abstract gourmands is Parfums de Nicolaï. Its founder, Patricia Nicolaï, is an heir to Guerlain’s tradition (a house famous for its trademark accord of vanilla, tonka bean and other delicious notes), both as a granddaughter of Pierre Guerlain, Jacques Guerlain‘s brother, and an innovative perfumer in her own right.

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Kiss Me Tender, her take on the candy-smelling plant, heliotrope, could have been inspired by Guerlain’s Héliotrope Blanc (1870). It’s a dessert of vanilla and almonds, but the pastry illusion is kept in check by the realistic jasmine, orange blossom and ylang-ylang.

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Pasta di Mandorle : Cream For Lily Soft Hands

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is sitting down in front of the TV in the evening with a cup of cafe blanc and a jar of Santa Maria Novella Pasta di Mandorle. I sip my orange blossom scented drink and slowly rub the speckled brown cream into my hands, knowing that in the morning I will wake up to lily soft hands and shiny nails.

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It’s a guilty pleasure, because at $50 for 1.6 oz, Pasta di Mandorle is the most expensive cream I own. When I look at the ingredient list–sweet almond oil, grape seed oil, egg yolk, virgin beeswax, and glycerin, I think that my grandmother’s home made version might just be  as good. For the price of a couple of jars of Pasta di Mandorle, I can pay for a trip to Ukraine from Belgium so I finally decided to make my own cream.

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See by Chloe : Perfume Review

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The brand See by Chloé is a less expensive, trendy sibling to the sophisticated Chloé fashion line. Of course, less expensive is relative–a See by Chloé mini skirt goes for about €300, but if you compare See by Chloé perfume with the Chloé’s richer florals, it will definitely seem more playful. I also give props to See by Chloé for being such a clever fruity floral. Whereas most fragrances of its type take a sweet, cloying direction, See by Chloé has a bitter twist.

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See by Chloé was created by perfumer Michel Almairac, who has authored most of Chloé’s collection. Almairac is undoubtedly one of the best perfumers working today, and although I don’t always love his commercial work (his talent can do only so much against the demands of the marketplace and the fragrance managers), I admire the interesting touches he adds to the most mundane compositions.

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