Narcissus: 7 posts

Penhaligon’s Ostara : Fragrance Review

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My tastes for white florals are indiscriminate, encompassing everything from vulgar things like Guerlain Mayotte to prim school governess types like Jessica McClintock. But even I can get tired of the genre and retreat to other pastures for a change–dry woods and damp mosses, perhaps. This is what happened for most of last year, when I was so satiated with white florals that I declared a moratorium on new acquisitions. But it’s a testament to Pehnaligon’s Ostara’s loveliness that despite my best intentions, I ended up breaking my resolve.

ostara

Ostara shines brightly to me for its surprising combination of the lush, decadent heft that makes lovers of white florals swoon and the exhilarating springtime freshness. Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour built the composition around the theme of narcissus, a flower that on a stem smells honeyed and indolic, but when turned into essence becomes leathery, musky and somber. Ostara melds both facets, but it stays on the sunny side.

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Carolina Herrera by Carolina Herrera : Perfume Review

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Elisa discovers another underrated gem and white floral beauty in Carolina Herrera’s 1988 perfume. But don’t say that you haven’t been warned about its big sillage and quintessential 80s character.

My mother has never worn perfume, so as a young girl I had to look elsewhere for scented role models. One was my grandmother, who introduced me to the wonders of White Linen. Another was my best friend’s mother, a beautiful, petite brunette who always entered the room in a cloud of womanly sillage. Her weapons of choice – I remember seeing the bottles on her vanity – were the original Escada and Carolina Herrera.

carolina herrera

They both seemed impossibly glamorous and “grown up” from that vantage point. But in my first year of full-on, post-rabbit-hole perfume mania, I remember realizing with a jolt that, as an adult woman myself now, I am free to drown myself in Carolina Herrera if I choose to. Not having smelled it in years if not decades, I picked up a small bottle of the EDP at a discount store (in the classic polka-dot box). I got it home, sprayed it on, and smiled in recognition: it hadn’t changed.

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Hermes Eau de Narcisse Bleu and Eau de Mandarine Ambree : Perfume Reviews

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When I reviewed Annick Goutal colognes recently, I mentioned that the trio would be great for those who are new to this fresh citrusy genre. The Hermès cologne collection would be my other recommendation. You can have a cologne flight starting from the champagne dryness of Eau d’Orange Verte and continuing with the white wine effervescence of Eau de Pamplemousse Rose. If you’re ready to try something more challenging, Eau de Gentiane Blanche offers a cocktail of green peppers and milky sap oozing from dandelions.

hermes-cologne

With Eau de Narcisse Bleu and Eau de Mandarine Ambrée having recently joined the collection, you have even more interesting choices. The fragrances round out Hermès’s cologne offerings with the elegant interpretation of spring flowers and sweet citrus. Both fragrances are polished and refined in a way that is typical of most fragrances by Jean-Claude Ellena, and either would be equally suited to both men and women.

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Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete : Perfume Review

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Letemps

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

There is something exhilarating and uplifting about the green notes. A whiff of crushed leaves, mowed grass or of minced herbs—and suddenly the breath of spring itself envelops you, making you feel giddy. Yet, strong verdant accords in fragrances are notoriously difficult to weave in such a way that the perfume maintains its effervescent quality without being overly sharp and aggressive. Therefore, most fragrances interpret the idea of verdancy in a rather tame manner, using the green accords as mere accents. Le Temps d’une Fête by Parfums de Nicolaï comes as a pleasant surprise—a sophisticated fragrance that presents a vibrant green theme, yet retaining a plush, caressing quality on the skin. It has the bold character of Balmain Vent Vert, while it wears as elegantly as Guerlain Chamade.

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Jean Patou Chaldee : Fragrance Review

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Chaldee

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Recognizing women’s newfound love for sun and summer sports, Jean Patou was one of the first fashion and fragrance houses to introduce suntan oil which was named Chaldée, after an ancient Sumerian city. In 1927, Henri Alméras reinterpreted Chaldée in a fragrance form with notes of orange flower, hyacinth, jasmine; narcissus, lilac; vanilla, opoponax, amber.

Composed in a classical 1920s manner, Chaldée is a blend of white flowers on an ambery base. The initial accords are dark and heavy with the oily richness of hyacinth dominating, however the composition lightens as soon as the sunny mist of orange blossom and jasmine weaves in. Powdery warmth of amber made deliciously sweet by a haze of vanilla constitutes a base upon which delicate white blossoms fall. It has an appealing richness that could translate as powderiness, however smooth greenness of hyacinth provides a beautiful counterpoint, which balances out the dark warmth.

While the EDT is well-done, I would love to try the parfum version, which I would imagine to be even more stunning. Chaldée was available as a part of the Ma Collection, a set of classical Jean Patou fragrances released between 1925-1964. It can still be found fairly easily at various online discount stores.

Update on the 2014 reissue: a warm, sweet white floral that takes on a musty, pungent twist. It’s a pleasant blend overall, but the drydown is a let down.

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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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