Spices: 21 posts

Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire : Perfume Review

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Frédéric Malle Vétiver Extraordinaire by perfumer Dominique Ropion is said to contain 25% vetiver—the most on the market where this herbal, grassy note is a frequently the principal note in men’s fragrances. Depending on which facets the perfumer has illuminated, vetiver can be sweet, dry, smoky, bitter, fruity, peppery, and woody. In Vétiver Extraordinaire, the note is freed like a balloon by ozone, which gives it a fresh airiness in opposition to more earthbound vetivers (like Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier’s earthy Route du Vétiver or Serge Lutens’ root-y Vétiver Oriental).

green-leaves

Vetiver is a grass that is native to India but is also grown in Haiti, Indonesia, China, Java, and Reunion.  For perfumery purposes, oil is extracted from the roots. The damp, woody scent of vetiver is so complex that it can be a perfume on its own. The note is used as a drydown accent or it can be treated as a main theme.  It’s traditionally associated with masculine fragrances like Guerlain Vetiver, but it also appears with regularity in the bases of feminine perfumes like Chanel No 19 or Guerlain Chamade.

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Fan di Fendi : Fragrance Review

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

First, please let me get it off my chest. I am angry at Fendi for discontinuing Theorema, one of the perfect spicy fragrances—it smells like pomanders and smoky roses. I am disappointed that Life Essence, a brilliant perfume of mossy cedarwood, cardamom and geranium was axed. And I still don’t understand why Asja, the spicy jasmine set in amber, had to go as well. So when Fan di Fendi landed on my local Sephora shelf, I tried my best to ignore it.

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Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb : Perfume Review

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Vrs

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

After Flowerbomb, Antidote, and Eau Méga, the Amsterdam fashion house Viktor & Rolf has launched Spicebomb, a new masculine fragrance. While the clothing by designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren is avant-garde and edgy, the fragrances feel to me driven mostly by the desire to boost the company’s profit margins. They are well-made, polished, but perhaps stay too close to current trends. Spicebomb is a pleasant surprise in the line up—a fragrance that blends gender boundaries as effortlessly as Tilda Swinton—V&R’s muse—in Orlando and that has a few dark and smoky surprises in its layers.

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Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre : Fragrance Review

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Five-Oclock-gingembre

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

Although many Serge Lutens fragrances are based on a similar oriental accord of balsamic amber, violet and pale woods, I cannot resist yet another new interpretation of Lutens’ trademark exoticism. Five O’Clock Au Gingembre fashions the darkness of amber and patchouli into a piquant morsel by building the composition around the classical gourmand notes—chocolate, honey, vanilla and sweet spices. In any other hands this would have resulted in tooth numbing sweetness, but perfumer Christopher Sheldrake (who created most of the Lutens fragrances) manages to strike a balance between oriental amber fantasy and gourmand richness. Dark and rich, Five O’Clock Au Gingembre nevertheless remains effervescent from top to bottom.

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Dry Perfume for Gingerbread : Spice Blends

For some people the frankincense and myrrh of Christmas high mass evoke the memories of holidays, but for me these memories are evoked by the smell of spices. In the Soviet Ukraine of my childhood, the New Year’s Eve celebration replaced the religious holiday and turned Christmas traditions into customs with which to usher in the new year. The children on the other side of border received their presents from Santa Claus on December 25th but my present was delivered on Jan 1st by the socialist Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) whose red nose and coterie of pretty Snowmaidens gave him a decidedly rakish air.
spices-gingerbread-sm
As much as I was looking forward to the excitement of opening the gifts, I was even more excited to help with the holiday baking. The moment my grandmother reached for her box of spices it was a clear sign that we were going to fashion flour and sugar into something special—crisp gingerbread, honey and walnut cakes layered with lemony sour cream filling, cinnamon flavored poppyseed strudels, flaky millefeuille with vanilla custard… The words ‘special’ and ‘spices’ share the same root in most languages for a very good reason—spices are indeed exceptional in the  fragrant potential they contain. Even now, when I can easily find any spice and no longer have to ration my use of vanilla or saffron, I am just as moved by their fragrance as I was as a child.

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