Lists: 58 posts

Green, Green, Green : A Selection of New Perfumes

Green accords in perfumery are infamous for being difficult. Difficult to create and difficult to enjoy. Balmain’s Vent Vert, the iconic green fragrance, is praised by perfumers as one of the most innovative and daring, but it was eventually reformulated to become tamer and milder. What is it about green fragrances that makes them so polarizing? In my new FT column, On Green Scents, I explore the new spring launches and point out my favorite verdant composition.

Perfumers rely on different classes of ingredients to produce these green accords, some natural and some synthetic, and finding the right harmony can be complicated. Freshly cut grass, its aroma so appealing on a warm day, can turn metallic on skin, while certain herbs can overwhelm delicate notes. Tom Ford Vert de Fleur is notable in that it not only conjures up a vivid verdant effect, but also preserves the nuance. It smells of dew-covered iris petals, damp earth and vetiver roots. To continue reading, please click here.

Where do you place yourself on the green spectrum? Do you like a touch of green? Or is it, “We want a shrubbery”?

Photography by HTSI

Three Ultimate Iris Perfumes

Once, as I was telling Maurice Roucel how much I loved his Iris Silver Mist, a perfume he created for Serge Lutens, he laughed and explained that Lutens kept asking again and again for more iris, so he ended up using all the iris aromatics in the catalogue of his company and essentially “mixing them together.” Roucel can be refreshingly self-deprecating about his work, but I knew that achieving the precise harmony of Iris Silver Mist took much more than just blending all irises in sight. For me, it evokes the cool, frozen beauty of this complex note in a way that few other iris perfumes can.

In my recent FT column, I examine three iris classics, describing what makes them compelling and memorable. Above all, iris as an ingredient deserves attention because it’s one of the most layered, rich but difficult materials available to perfumers.

The first time I smelled iris essence, I stood for a few minutes with a perfume blotter under my nose before I regained my senses. In an instant it conjured up frozen petals and snow-covered trees, and while this image of a winter garden was vivid, I couldn’t easily describe the fragrance. It was like nothing I had encountered before, and pinning down its radiant but surprisingly potent scent proved difficult. To continue, please click here.

What are your ultimate iris perfumes?

Bitter and Fresh : Citrus Colognes for Winter

In my new FT column, Sublime Citrus Scents, I talk of Napoleon, bitter oranges and an iconic fragrance family, colognes. Contrary to usual recommendations, I prefer colognes in the winter, and it’s not simply because I don’t believe that scents are seasonal. The freshness of colognes is uplifting on dark winter mornings.  The zesty aromas linger in the cool air and I start noticing new facets even in my summery staples. Finally, while I enjoy winter, even in its grey and rainy Belgian variant, cologne can bring a beguiling reminder of spring.

“Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have used litres of cologne, even when on his military campaigns. While my ambitions don’t reach as far as world domination, fragrances suffused with citrus nevertheless feature prominently in my perfume wardrobe. Few aromas are more uplifting and rejuvenating, and their versatility makes colognes an easy fragrance type to adapt to various moods and occasions. To continue, please click here.”

Please let me know what citrus fragrances you prefer and whether you have favorite winter colognes.

Image via FT

Top 10 Perfumes for Reading by Candlelight

If you need something comforting, then please join Elisa as she explores her favorite winter perfumes.

In my twenties, I loved to sleep late on the weekends – till 11 was ideal. I’d luxuriate in the feeling of stirring every hour or so as the sun began to light the room, then rolling over and going right back to sleep.

These days, I consider time to be more of a luxury than sleep, and I’d much rather wake up early and spend a few quiet hours reading on the couch and drinking coffee. And more nights than not, you’ll find me in the same place after dinner, with a glass of wine in place of the coffee. I especially love curling up with a book in winter, when I can pile on the blankets and light a candle for maximum coziness.

This year’s winter list includes some of my favorite cozy, comforting scents to wear during my favorite activity. (Incidentally, a few candles I’ve enjoyed recently: Thymes Frasier Fir and Nest Birchwood Pine, both excellent “Christmas tree” scents; Trader Joe’s Cedar Balsam, an absolute steal at $3.99; and Rewined Pinot Noir, a fruity scent with a ton of throw, even unlit.)

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Best of 2016 in Scents and Teas

If I could characterize 2016 in terms of scents to which I gravitated, the main themes would be of comfort and pleasure. Whatever reasons I have to wear perfume, this year I wanted fragrances that soothed, delighted and entertained. I wore plenty of old favorites like Annick Goutal Duel, Papillon Anubis, Serge Lutens Bois de Violette, Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose, Kenzo Amour, Lolita Lempicka L, Perles de Lalique, and newer discoveries like Azzedine Alaïa.

elderflowers

The perfumes below aren’t “the best of 2016” in an absolute sense, mostly because I didn’t smell all of the new releases and compare them. They are my highlights, fragrances that stood out on the crowded store counters and that I wore enough to learn their nuances and quirks. I’m sure I missed some gems, but in that case I look forward to discovering them in your lists. Please share your favorites of 2016 with us.

Also, Andy and I couldn’t help sharing some of our favorite teas.

Victoria’s 2016 in Perfumes and Blue Teas

Galop d’Hermès

An elegant rose with a touch of saffron and dark woods. Galop was the first major launch from the new Hermès in-house perfumer Christine Nagel. If that’s the start of a new phase, then I anticipate more interesting things arriving in 2017.

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From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • 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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