Jasmine 2: 18 posts

Van Cleef & Arpels California Reverie : Fragrance Review

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San Francisco is one of the most fragrant cities. The scents of salty sea breeze and jasmine are the strongest recollections from my visits. So I’m with Elisa on enjoying Van Cleef & Arpels California Reverie, an effervescent perfume inspired by California and jasmine. 

I love the idea of perfumes inspired by a place – take Christopher Street, a leather scent named for a street in New York City known for its nightlife. Or any number of Bond No. 9 scents – the connections to the individual neighborhoods have been stretching believability for some time, I admit, but a few – like Broadway Nite, Chinatown, and Fire Island – nail the atmospheres of their respective inspirations. Then there’s a host of perfumes named after spots in Paris, including at least two simply named Paris.

california-reverie

It’s funny, on reflection, that there are so many perfumes named after New York – it’s one of my favorite places to be, but honestly, it kind of stinks. California, on the other hand, seems a bit under-leveraged in perfumery briefs. San Diego, for example, is one of the best-smelling cities I’ve been to; the air smells like sea salt, flowers, and eucalyptus trees.

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Miu Miu Perfume Review

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Launching a perfume today requires an intricate–and costly–configuration of product development, marketing, and distribution. Small brands may risk taking their own idiosyncratic course, but large fashion houses usually rely on another brand to create and distribute their fragrances. If they want to make real money, that is. For Prada’s sister Miu Miu, the partnership has been with Coty. It means in practical terms that the Coty fragrance development team weighs heavily on the finished creation, subjecting it to market tests and other scrutiny; after all, the success of it will reflect as much on Coty’s profit margins as it would on Miu Miu’s. In other words, don’t expect avant-garde or cutting edge.

miu miu

And so I didn’t. But I was still taken aback at the wan aura of Miu Miu. I am certain that in its early iterations it must have been more interesting, since it was composed by Daniela Andrier, a perfumer noted for the elegance and polish of her creations (Marni, Bottega Veneta Knot, Prada Infusion d’Iris, Martin Margiela Untitled, all among my favorites). But what I smell on my skin is pale and far from the flamboyant chic of Miu Miu fashion. There is definitely quality, there is attention to detail, but it feels like the numerous cycles of market tests stripped Miu Miu of its more distinctive parts.

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Serge Lutens La Religieuse : Fragrance Review

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“Whatever you do, just don’t be boring,” used to say my longtime ballet teacher. In her class, being off music and being boring were the worst crimes, because while everything else–a wrong arm position, an awkward turn or a weak jump–could be corrected through careful guidance, not listening to the music and not caring to excite the viewer spoke of more serious flaws. My teacher’s admonition flashed in my mind when I first smelled Serge Lutens La Religieuse.

serge-lutens-la-religieuse

La Religieuse belongs to the collection of understated compositions from the master-duo, Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake. It’s in the same polished and well-mannered corner as Nuit de Cellophane, Un Lys and Sa Majesté la Rose. If you want a pleasant fragrance that doesn’t try too hard, the type of perfume that sales associates call an “office scent”, it’s a good choice. If you want a soft, fluffy jasmine, La Religieuse will also hit the spot. But if you come to Serge Lutens to be thrilled and surprised, then you might want to pick another magic carpet ride.

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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.

meringues

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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Caron En Avion : Perfume Review

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I’m not sure why exactly I decided to revisit Caron En Avion after so many years, but it might have been inspired by my reading of Miklós Bánffy’s The Transylvanian Trilogy. An epic novel set in the Austro-Hungarian Empire just before the First World War, it paints the vanished world of the Hungarian aristocracy, the era that was quickly coming to a close. There is something equally poignant and nostalgic about En Avion, a perfume created by Caron’s owner Ernest Daltroff in 1932, just a year before Count Bánffy started writing his masterpiece.

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En Avion, as the name suggests, was inspired by the first pilot women such as Helen Boucher and Amelia Earhart. It was a luminous but dark orange, dipped in the sweetness of jasmine and the incense-like warmth of opoponax. It was spicy but also cool and mossy. The kind of fragrance that could only have been the product of Daltroff’s eccentric pairings and the era’s penchant for perfumes thick as fur coats.

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