Cardamom: 14 posts

L’Occitane Eau des Baux : Fragrance Review

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It’s always a special thrill to discover an affordable and interesting perfume, and we love to share such little gems with you. Today is Elisa’s turn.

The easy-going, effortlessly good-looking, yet overfamiliar and somewhat unexciting chum in a romantic comedy – the one the hard-to-please heroine inevitably falls hard for in the end – that’s L’Occitane Eau des Baux. This near-perfect amber – available at your local mall for under $60 per handsome, flask-like 100 ml bottle – is so thoroughly pleasant and charming at first sniff that a hardened cynic like you or me might be initially suspicious. What’s going on here? Is this some kind of ruse? Is this “nice guy” going to let me down if I trust him too soon? Do I only like him because he reminds me of somebody else?

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After testing Eau des Baux repeatedly for several years, I finally realized it’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get situation, bought a bottle and haven’t looked back.

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Hermes Epice Marine : Perfume Review

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When it comes to telling compelling stories, Hermès takes the prize. The house’s perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena, is the author of Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent and The Diary of a Nose, and he is a natural storyteller. Perfumes in the Hermessence collection are like pages from his personal journal, some inspired  by his travels, others by his native Provence. Epice Marine, introduced earlier this fall, was likewise inspired by Ellena’s adventures, but this time it’s also marked by a collaboration with another artisan.

epice marine

The fragrance came together as Ellena met and corresponded with chef Olivier Roellinger. Ellena travels the world in search of interesting scents, while Roellinger’s quest is for spices. Back in Brittany, a fog shrouded region along France’s northern shore, he composes spices into complex bouquets. If your idea of a spice blend is a Madras curry mix, then Roellinger’s delicate, harmonious blends will come as a surprise. When I sprinkle his Poudre Sérinissima over a tomato salad, I also want to dust my skin with this ginger and saffron accented powder. Who else could be a better collaborator and muse for a perfumer?

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Comme des Garcons Incense Series Jaisalmer : Perfume Review

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Jaisalmer is part of a quintet of incense-based fragrances marketed as Comme des Garcons Series 3: Incense.  Each location-themed fragrance (Avignon, Jaisalmer, Kyoto, Ouarzazate, and Zagorsk) conjures incense as liturgical, historical, ritual or mystical.

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In Jaisalmer, which is named for the driest desert city in India, it is the spice trade route upon which the fragrance is composed.  Jaisalmer ignites with cinnamon and then burns this sweet-hot spice slowly over gaiacwood and ebony. Much as the city of Jaisalmer is not on the usual tourist trail, so Jaisalmer the fragrance is the sleeper of the Series 3: Incense line.  It’s my favorite of the set and one that I reach for each fall when the weather turns cooler.

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Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant : Perfume Review

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I love those moments when I catch a whiff of something beautiful and it turns out to be my own perfume. Kenzo Jungle L’Éléphant doesn’t unroll like a neat scroll; it undulates like ripples on water. Suddenly you find yourself catching a wave of scent–cardamom stewed plums,  smoky woods and dried orange peel, and it feels so unexpected and delightful.

Those who know Kenzo from their latest tame releases–Amour, Madly, and the like, will be surprised by Jungle L’Éléphant. It smells like something that should be called “Noir,” “niche”, and “exclusive”. Instead, Jungle L’Éléphant is available at Sephora* and online discounters. In 1996 when Jungle L’Éléphant was launched, Kenzo wasn’t the dull mainstream house that it is today, and this perfume is a great example of their previously bold and exotic aesthetic.

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Olfactive Studio Lumiere Blanche : Perfume Review

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What happens when a talented photographer and a perfumer cross paths? To figure this out, I take a close look at the striking sunshine filled image by the Italian master Massimo Vitali and apply a drop of Lumière Blanche to my wrist. The idea behind this perfume by the French niche house Olfactive Studio was to capture the intense white light saturating Vitali’s photograph of a Sicilian beach.

It’s easy enough to fall under the spell of suggestion with something as intangible as a scent and as vivid as this image, and I could tell you that I smell “white” and “radiance.” What I feel above all is just pleasure. As I press my nose into my wrist, I notice a comforting warmth from the perfume’s blend of spices, almonds and sandalwood. There is a beautiful synergy between picture and a scent, but even on their own, they are striking.

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