2013 launches: 55 posts

Balmain Ivoire : Perfume Review (Vintage and Modern)

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Ivoire de Balmain, like many classical fragrances, entered my wardrobe via a thrift shop find. I love browsing antique stores for treasures like old perfume bottles, fake pearl necklaces and copper cake molds, and while more often than not, I leave with nothing but dust on my fingers and clothes, occasionally I find a gem. Several years ago it was a small bottle of Ivoire parfum. It was still sealed, and the fragrance was exquisitely beautiful. Even when later I bought a bottle of new Eau de Toilette, I still was smitten with Ivoire’s fragrance of crushed green leaves and skin washed with jasmine soap.

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Ivoire was  created in 1979 by a great team of perfumers, Francis Camail and Michel Hy. For reference, Camail created Estée Lauder Aliage and was one of the perfumers responsible for Giorgio Beverly Hills, while Michel Hy gave us legends like Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and Paco Rabanne Calandre. Balmain was one of the top French fashion houses, and Pierre Balmain was still at the helm. “A garment made by Pierre Balmain was the very quintessence of haute couture,” famously said the Vogue editor Diana Vreeland.

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Serge Lutens La Vierge de Fer : Perfume Review

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I don’t know why I expected a perfume called La Vierge de Fer (The Iron Maiden) to be the olfactory equivalent of punk rock*. Serge Lutens is as enigmatic as ever in his description and sources of inspiration. The fragrance was inspired by Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. It references a lily, a flower traditionally associated with the Virgin Mary. The website blurb also mentions instruments of torture. Oddly enough, this kind of eclectic mix appeals to me, and I was curious to see what scented shape it would take.

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I dabbed the pale, grey tinted liquid on my skin and took a deep breath. I inhaled jasmine; its green twigs, yellow pollen and crinkly petals unfolded one by one as I stood with my nose pressed to the pulse point on my wrist. Every time I’ve worn La Vierge de Fer since then, I’ve noticed other elements–the fizzy, silvery sparkle, the waxy lily petals, the warm musky sweetness, but I still can’t shake off my initial impression of being wrapped in a soft jasmine veil.

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Le Labo Ylang 49 : Perfume Review

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Andy takes Ylang 49 from Le Labo to task.  

I sprayed on Le Labo’s new Ylang 49 with many expectations. As my first introduction to the Le Labo line, I wasn’t sure what to anticipate. But surely, with a brand name that evokes scientific paraphernalia and sterile-looking packaging to match, I reasoned, this “floral chypre” had to be some kind of cleaned-up, angularly modern twist on the classic genre. As it would turn out, I was pleasantly surprised—instead of whisking me through a laboratory, Ylang 49 took me on a nostalgic walk through a shady, rain-drenched garden on a spring morning.

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True to its name, Ylang 49 opens with a glimpse of its namesake note, pairing the spicy floral with a touch of rose and some cool earthiness. I am reminded of the damp scent of a garden after a rainstorm, but as the fragrance warms up on skin, the rose takes center stage, and the damp earth transforms into a hint of warm, slightly mossy patchouli.

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Reviving The House of Atkinsons : New Fragrances

The venerable house of Atkinsons is back in business after many decades of oblivion. In presenting its new range of perfumes, it draws upon its heritage and “200 years of English eccentricity, style and impeccable manners.”  The current collection includes five perfumes (24 Old Bond Street, The British Bouquet, The Odd Fellow’s Bouquet, The Nuptial BouquetFashion Decree), bath and shower products, and scented candles.

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24 Old Bond Street

“The emblematic fragrance of the house, 24 Old Bond Street is an extremely English cologne of tremendous personality. Its devastatingly aromatic cocktail of juniper, rose and black tea is deepened with a gorgeously eccentric note of smoky, oak casked whisky. Bracingly fresh yet warmly embracing, it is the definitive last word in English elegance.” Created by perfumers Christine Nagel and Violaine Collas.

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Comme des Garcons Blue Invasion : Perfume Reviews

Incense, sandalwood and citrus are to niche perfumery what ruffians, loners and chain-smoking philosophers are to French New Wave cinema. Incense, with its dark connotations, can be made either sultry or brooding. Sandalwood is the wood of choice to imply anything mysterious, while citrus is versatile enough to be twisted into anything you wish. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Comme des Garçons the Jean-Luc Godard of the perfume world, and as its three fragrances, Blue Santal, Blue Cedrat and Blue Encens, in the Blue Invasion collection demonstrate, it’s possible to discover something new even in very familiar themes.

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In traditional perfumery blue is the shorthand for masculine, and if you ever see blue juice in the bottle, 99% of the time, you’d be right to expect a men’s cologne. Unless you’re holding a bottle of Thierry Mugler Angel, of course. Comme des Garçons doesn’t quite do the kind of about-face that Angel performs, but all three fragrances are comfortably androgynous.

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