Spices: 24 posts

Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb : Perfume Review



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


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.
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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Serge Lutens Bois Oriental : Perfume Review


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

Though it is Serge Lutens at his classical best, Bois Oriental from the sumptuous Les Eaux Boisées range* did not immediately appeal to me. The elegant Bois de Violette and the luscious Bois et Fruits were the more likely choices, leaving Bois Oriental to languish ignored. Yet, Bois Oriental deserves its moment in the sun as well, and it turned out to be just as complex, opulent and seductive as the rest of Les Eaux Boisées. …

Serge Lutens excels at weaving images from the Moroccan souks, Arabian Night tales and Moghul palaces. While Bois Oriental is certainly born in that tradition, it seems to possess a certain softness that I do not find to such an extent in the other Les Eaux Boisées. It flows like a tale that Scheherezade might have been told after knowing that the Sultan Schahriar had fallen in love with her, enchanted by her stories and kindness. Where the woods in Bois de Violette, Bois et Musc, and Bois et Fruits cradle a dominant note, be it a soft musk or caramelized fruit, Bois Oriental is a lavish tapestry of spices.

Wrapped into the creamy foil of vanilla, the hot spices of Bois Oriental feel warm rather than fiercely searing. Nevertheless, their opulence and harmony assure a dramatic statement. Moreover, adding to the excitement of Bois Oriental are the abstract gourmand touches, evoking the ruby hued candied quince, rose sherbet, and cardamom almond halwa. Yet, the smooth warmth of the base notes tones down the sweetness in a rather elegant manner, leaving one with only a faint impression of something delectable.

The lovers of Les Eaux Boisées and Shiseido Féminité du Bois will find Bois Oriental enchanting. Moreover, if you enjoyed Arabie for its Middle Eastern gourmand character, but found it overwhelming, you might like to explore Bois Oriental. The fragrance is very tenacious and long-lasting like all of Les Eaux Boisées, a range with a strikingly beautiful sillage. Bois Oriental includes notes of violet, peach, plum, rose, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, musk, Atlas cedarwood, and vanilla. It is available from Les Salons du Palais Royal.

Les Eaux Boisées range includes Bois Oriental, Bois de Violette, Bois et Musc, and Bois et Fruits, Un Bois Sépia, Chêne, and Santal de Mysore.

Scheherazade Telling the Tales by Kay Nielsen (1922).

Serge Lutens Rousse : Fragrance Review


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

Lipstick and candied lady apples were the first associations that Rousse, the newest Serge Lutens’s fragrance, brought to my mind. One was conjured by the powdery violet note, the other by the intensely sweet and caramelized wood. Although I loved Chypre Rouge and Mandarine-Mandarin, Rousse was somewhat of a let down. It possesses neither the distinctive presence of Lutens’s fragrances like Iris Silver Mist and Ambre Sultan nor the classical elegance that marks Rose de Nuit and Chêne. It is simply a pleasant scent, but then again, the world is full of them. From Serge Lutens, I expected nothing but breathtaking, even if not conventionally pretty. …

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