2012 launches: 129 posts

Givenchy Dahlia Noir Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette : Perfume Reviews


I can probably be forgiven for the erroneous assumption that Givenchy Dahlia Noir might be somehow dark.  After all, the name means “Black Dahlia” and what does this suggest but a grisly Hollywood murder?  Come to think of it, Givenchy seems the last house one would think of as conceiving a scent to match the name. Most of their names are meaningless and arrive somewhere between sounding good (Dahlia Noir) and sounding silly (Oblique Rewind).

dahlia noir

Dahlia Noir Eau de Parfum turns out to be a chypre based on rose, iris, and patchouli.  With a big citrus opening, it isn’t terribly dark, though.  Instead, it is intensely powdery, with the powder intended to describe the “femme fatale” allure of the marketing copy. To me though, the drydown of iris and vanilla is too strong on baby-powder. In its heightened use of this iris and vanilla, Dahlia Noir is somewhat similar to Guerlain L’Instant Magic.  Ultimately, the eau de parfum reveals a rosy center and a creamy patchouli base.

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Issey Miyake Pleats Please : Fragrance Review


Most perfumery output today can be divided roughly into the children of Angel and the children of Light Blue: Angel, as in Thierry Mugler and Light Blue, as in Dolce & Gabbana. On the fringes of the Angel and Light Blue families, you have an ever popular white floral clan that once upon a time was sultry and dark like Hermès 24 Faubourg and is now pretty and coy in the manner of Juicy Couture and Elie SaabIssey Miyake’s Pleats Please belongs with that group, even though it speaks with a Light Blue accent and also has Angel’s patchouli. It’s a cosmopolitan perfume counter citizen.


Pleats Please was created by Aurélien Guichard, the same perfumer who interpreted peach as a decadent dessert in Bond no 9 Chinatown and made lilac modern in Gucci Guilty. The opening is a mix of juicy apple and orange. Imagine chilling apples in the fridge near the freezer compartment and then taking a bite out of the icy, crunchy fruit.

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Aftelier Wild Roses : Perfume Review


Aftelier Wild Roses is a rose perfume with character. It smells like the Summer of Love, with a dash of sweet incense and flower-child rosy cheeks (thanks to a dose of patchouli, I think).  When I smell it I imagine walking through the Haight, the epicenter of hippy culture in San Francisco, during that trippy era, with incense wafting from the shops and a kaleidoscope of other smells—ice cream, hashish, strawberries, flowers—all mixing together in fragrant nirvana.

wild roses

The fragrance was inspired by the roses grown by its creator, Mandy Aftel, in her California garden. She must grow roses as large as dinner plates because Wild Roses smells almost surreal. To smell Wild Roses is to take an olfactory journey through the tangle one imagines in Aftel’s Berkeley back yard. As Aftel notes, Wild Roses is all about a “hundred petals unfolding: balsamic, spicy, apricot, and honeyed roses, mixed with the smell of warm earth and herbs.”

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Ann Gerard Perle de Mousse : Perfume Review


When I first smelled Ann Gérard Perle de Mousse last year on a cold winter day, this delicate perfume didn’t seem quite right. Its sun-dappled demeanor needed a white seersucker dress, a picnic basket, and a mild spring breeze. In other words, it felt like a perfect warm weather fragrance that could be both casual and elegant, a rare combination.


Perle de Mousse was created by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour for the jeweler Ann Gérard, whose warm Cuir de Nacre would tide me over while I waited for spring to come. (Ciel d’Opale is the only fragrance  from the trio that didn’t move me.) Though it’s already March, we still get the occasional snow fall here in Belgium; yet, the sun becomes more generous, prompting the freckles to bloom on my cheeks. It’s now time for Perle de Mousse.

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Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay : Perfume Review


The latest Jo Malone fragrance—Blackberry & Bay—is categorized by the maker as “fruity,” but on my skin it’s far more interesting than that.  Blackberry & Bay fully succeeds in conjuring a fantasy English countryside and more precisely a rambling walk down a country lane, with healthy flush to the cheeks and solid walking shoes for skirting muddy patches. Somewhere along this dream excursion there is naturally a hedgerow from which appear fat black berries, their juice tart and edging on sour, their leaves green and sharp.  Just when I found a hole in my fragrance wardrobe, just when I lamented finding a fragrance that would uncannily recreate a specific holiday sensation, up pops this beauty from Jo Malone.


I will confess that I don’t pay all that much attention to the Jo Malone line.  While I love the Red Roses bath oil, I often find the colognes to have standout notes that don’t do much for me, whether that be the smell of stables in Pomegranate Noir or the strong citronella (mosquito candle) in the aforementioned Red Roses.  I wondered if Blackberry & Bay would not be a sweet and musky thing but hearty and possibly “masculine” thanks to a dose of bay leaves.

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