Musk: 51 posts

Cartier L’Envol : Perfume Review

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Despite dire prognoses that perfumery is dying and that “there is nothing good anymore”, this year brought a number of fragrances I was happy to discover, namely, Azzedine Alaia, Galop d’Hermès and L‘Envol de Cartier. I point out these three perfumes in particular, because I not only liked them, I wore them so much that they now can be called staples. That all three are easily available from the department store is a bonus point. I’ve reviewed Alaia and Galop here, while my discussion of L’Envol de Cartier appears in my FT column, Fragrance Inspired by Flight.

cartier-envol

“The idea of a fragrance inspired by flight has two iconic precedents, both from the 1930s. Caron’s marvellous orange chypre En Avion was dedicated to the first women pilots such as Hélène Boucher and Amelia Earhart, while Guerlain’s Vol de Nuit paid homage to the writer and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. These are fitting associations because flight is key to understanding fragrance – perfume takes off in the air the moment the liquid touches the skin. Perfumers control the effects of their compositions by using materials of different volatilities – citrus and green notes soar in an instant; musks and woods are slower to become airborne.

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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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Alaia Paris by Azzedine Alaia : Perfume Review

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Taking Alaïa note by note is complicated, but since Azzedine Alaïa became famous for his unusually structured knitted dresses, perhaps, this is only to be expected. While most fashion designers don’t convey much of their aesthetic in fragrance lines they launch (see Miu Miu), Alaïa is an exception. Fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa wanted to incorporate recollections from his Tunisian childhood but avoid any trite “oriental” references; the idea instead is to convey couture with a personal touch. For me it works.

alaia

Alaïa is a transparent modern floral, with a velvety woody-musky drydown. Alaïa doesn’t shock, but it is different from the legions of fruity bonanzas and cotton candy laced new releases: its combination of abstract flowers and mineral, wet chalk nuances is surprising; its manner of rendering animalic notes is novel, and its gauzy but enveloping sillage is alluring. It’s a promising debut.

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Jo Malone Mimosa and Cardamom : Perfume Review

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Sometimes you don’t need a grand opera perfume to satisfy your cravings. A simple composition will do. Such is my latest discovery, Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom. It makes me think fondly of the early days of the house when Jo Malone offered simple, unaffected but clever compositions like Lime Blossom & Basil and before the marketing teams and accountants took over. Mimosa & Cardamom has a bright, cheerful personality, and it, refreshingly, smells like the brand didn’t skimp on the formula price. It’s a floral cologne with a spicy twist and lots of quirky charm.

mimosacardamom

The promise of mimosa and cardamom is duly fulfilled. The mimosa smells of blanched almonds and cucumber peels, with a characteristic hint of violet, while the cardamom is lemony, metallic and cooling. Both notes are clear and bright. Mimosa is a powdery ingredient, but thanks to a generous dose of spice, cardamom augmented with pepper and citrus, it feels radiant and airy. Its unconventional character also makes flowers acceptable even to the most classically minded men.

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Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Flora Rosa : Perfume Review

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Roses have been on my mind a lot lately, and not simply in the form of rose jam and rose tea. I received a small challenge to compile a list of fruity rose perfumes for a project, and the trail behind me has been rose scented for the past two weeks. It was a challenge, because rose paired with fruit is such a common pairing that any comprehensive list means hundreds of fragrance tests. Why so? Rose essence naturally contains many nuances reminiscent of raspberries, strawberries, red currants or apples, depending on variety. Highlighting them with richer fruity notes makes for a harmonious blend.

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Harmonious is fine, of course, but how do you make it distinctive? This is the question I’ve posed often when testing fruity roses, and in particular, the latest from Guerlain, Aqua Allegoria Flora Rosa. The conclusion I’ve reached is that it’s possible if the perfumer wants to go big, bold and glamorous (think Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose with its dark raspberry) but more complicated if the aim is lightweight and pretty. Flora Rosa is all air kisses and smiles, a charming blend of red currants and pink roses.

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  • Tania in Falling In, Falling Out : Autumn is for Rekindling Old Flames: Hello Elisa, I gave a lot of bottles away on a whim, the only one I regretted giving away is Oriental Express by Thierry Mugler. I agree with spe that… September 24, 2017 at 5:17am

  • Carla in 5 Ways to Transition Into Fall: Hello, yes I have been a fan since I timidly asked a pretty girl at the “Fac” during my year abroad what perfume she was wearing and she responded Hypnotic… September 23, 2017 at 10:31pm

  • Carla in 5 Ways to Transition Into Fall: Hi Aurora, I hope you enjoyed the introduction to the Prince in the Golden Bowl. I remember Toibin said you have to read James fast and not try to understand… September 23, 2017 at 10:28pm

  • Tara C in 5 Ways to Transition Into Fall: I just bought Close Up today! It has an apple note to my nose that goes well with the tobacco note, perfect for fall. September 23, 2017 at 8:33pm

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