Sunday, April 29, 2012

Amouage Gold pour Femme

One of the best aspects, if not THE best aspect, of having perfumes as a hobby is that you get to meet so many wonderful persons. I'm not the first blogger to point this out, but perfumistas are the friendliest and most generous people around and one of the most adorable ones is Suzanne of Suzannes Perfume Journal. In my opinion, her perfume reviews are some of  the best out there, full of cultural references to books, movies and music as well as references to Suzannes own life. Always written with great humour and spirit, draws me in and while I may understand that I might not like a perfume she writes about, according to the notes present, every time I still love to share her olfactory experience through thoughts and words in the blog.

A while ago, me and Suzanne did a little swap and through that swap I got my first real glimpse of the legendary Omani perfume house Amouage (that I thought was named Amourage until a week ago, well yes, I'm a natural blonde...). There were several samples in that package but the one I'm going to write about today is Amouage Gold pour Femme. It was the first Amouage creation, from 1983, and a BIG scent, intended for evening wear.

Gold starts out with a burst of aldehyde and lilies of the valley. As the soapy aldehydes fade the scent slowly opens up and softens. I do get rose and apricots in the heart and in the drydown, some 24 hours later, the flowers have morphed into the most beatiful, myrrh-like peach. Soft and sexy and utterly feminine. Now, just because I can't name that many notes does not mean that there aren't many notes, there are! According to surrendertochance, Gold is made from 120 ingredients. But they are well blended and balanced and fit together like a perfectly tailored dress. Or maybe not a dress, the feeling I get from Gold is more like a wall. A big massive brick wall built entirely out of the essence of femininity.

Sometimes in perfume reviews you see writings like "It didn't feel like I was wearing the perfume, it felt like the perfume was wearing me". Usually this denotes a negative experience. I'm experiencing exactely this with Gold, but in a very positive way. It's like it's connecting me with some feminine aspect of myself that I wasn't previously aware of. Wearing Gold makes me reach for my most elegant skirts and dresses instead of jeans. It makes me take my time putting on make-up in the mornings, going for a full skin routine and red lips instead of the usual transparent gloss. It even affects the way I paint my toe nails. Normally I go for punky neons, crazy holographics and glitters (my former favourite is a Japanese one containing tiny poodle shaped sequins). Now, I've been doing pale pinks and nudes - colors that previously made me shudder in discomfort and boredom. But when wearing Gold, they are not boring anymore, just classy and elegant. And that's the way I feel about myself as well!

Have you ever experienced that a perfume is altering your personality, in good ways or bad ways? I'm very curious to hear if anyone has had a similar thing happening! And, about the video, when I thought about Gold being a song this one popped up in my head. I love Patti Smiths voice, it's so strong and has so much personality. You don't mess with her and you don't mess with Gold.

Official notes (according to Fragrantica)
Top notes: wild rose, lily-of-the-valley and silver frankincense.
Heart notes: myrrh, orris and jasmine.
Base notes: ambergris, civet, musk, cedarwood and sandalwood.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Scents my husband hates

This weekend me and my little girl have been home alone, My not-so-little boy is off to granny and my husband is off with his mates on their annual all-guys golf trip to Spain. About my husband, he hardly ever comments on the scents I'm wearing, neither in a positive or negative way but there is this one note that I know he absolutely hates - patchouli. So I figuered this weekend would be a great time to get out my patchoulies and take them for a test drive.

The first one I've been wearing is a scent that's also, in my household, known as "that smell". My husband picks it out anywhere, on anyone, because he hates with a passion. Since he's done this since long before I became interested in perfume I haven't really given it a chance. It's a very well known perfume and I don't think you can pretend to be a perfumista without having at least tried it on a couple of times. So, I dropped by at my local KICKS, and since I was in a hurry and had my biggest and thickest winter jacket on, the only bare patch of skin I could find in a jif was my decollage, so I went for it and big splash of .... Angel.

I'd really hoped I'd dislike Angel, considering my husbands opinions on it, but no such luck. The sensation of then sitting in a commuter train and have that...thing...whafting up on me from under my clothes invoked a giggly, exhilarated feeling, a similar one I imagine a flasher might have, walking around before the actual flashing, thinking about what a surprise those innocent bystanders would have if they found out what he was wearing underneath his trenchcoat. Except, with a sillage like that the whole train car probably had a very clear picture about what I was wearing beneath my clothes with no need to take them off. Hereafter, Angel will be my own secret little pleasure to indulge in whenever husband's out of town.

And I also feel disqualified to write about what it smells like, because it smells like SO MUCH and I've just tried it this once, but please head over to  the Candy Perfume Boy who has an excellent review here.

Björn Borg
Next day I tried on ELdO s Nombril Immense. Another love that I feel is not getting the attention it deserves. The way I perceive it there are two antagonist sides, there is the an obnoxious, mothbally and penetrating patchouli set against soft, sweet balm of Peru. The dynamics of NI makes me think of a tennis match featuring Swedish tennis legend Björn Borg, wearing the colors of the patchouli because of his hairdo and alleged accusations of drug abuse. He's playing against someone I can't say because I don't know any other tennis players, sorry! In this game they look like they are be competing but it's really just a show. They're doing this in order to set each other off, look like they're engaged in a struggle but it's really just a convenient way of looking good in front of girls. I'm not sure if my rantings here makes sense to anyone, but it's a scent I enjoy wearing, nonetheless.

And then, no test round of patchoulis would be complete without Chanels Coromandel. Coromandel is one of the very few scents (I can count 3) that my husband has asked me not to wear when I'm near him. And I'm "????????" How anyone can NOT like Coromandel? But the intro can be a bit overpowering. Think about a spot where your local wicca coven might meet at full moon midnights to harvest the mandrakes needed in their rituals (see the top picture). The roots are ripped from the soil, leaving big black gaping holes in the ground. Coromandel starts like what one of those holes migh smell like. Wet, damp and very black soil. But then it changes...a lot. The patchouli calms down and along comes chocolate and vanilla, the whole concoction morphs into dessert bliss from heaven. If there is any one perfume that I'd like to see rendered as an ice cream flavour it's Coromandel. Seriously, it would be so neat to have a perfume themed dessert parlour. With Fils de Dieu Rice Pudding, Coromandel and Bois et Fruit ice cream and a few more flavours for caramel I'm close to have skeleton for an actual menu :)

Last of the patchoulis is Serge Lutens Borneo 1834. It has taken me a while to "get" this one, when I first smelled it it was to weird and bitter but now it's awsome. To me, this one is the cosiest, most relaxed scent of the ones I've written about today, it's also the one where the patchouli is most integrated with everything else. It starts out with lots and lots of tobacco. Then comes along that warm and steamy note, the same one that's present in Fumerie Turque and for a very short while in the intro of Boxeuses. In a very no-frills way Borneo 1834 smells like walking around in a small Asian country-side village. It's hot, the humidity is extreme, you can smell the dirt on the roads and the wood the huts are made of. Someone is burning old palm leaves far away, the smoke barly detectable. As it wears it sweetens and it moves toward cocoa. But it's not the obvious chocolate you get from Coromandel, this is unrefined cocoa, dark and raw, complete with a hint of camphor. Righ now, I feel like I could wear Borneo 1834 forever.

In all I have immensly enjoyed my weekend. I often set up goals like "this week I'm only going to wear citruses", or "lets have a Sonoma Scent Studio Marathon this weekend", but this is the only time I've gone through with something like that. Usually I do one scent and then I'm craving something completely differet. But the patchoulis are so NICE. I've felt relaxed and calmed. As the weather is bad I've mostly stayed at home, relaxing, thinking and playing wth my daughter, and the introverted, meditative feel of patchouli has been a great backdrop to that.

Photoes: D-addicts, Gaygroom, American Folcloric Witchcraft Blog

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lavender Sea Salt Caramels

Lavender can sometimes have butterscotch-ish facets in perfumes and for a long while now I've been thinking about how great it would be to make my own lavender flavored caramel. This weekend I finally made it and I thought I'd share the recipe here on the blog.

Lavender Sea Salt Caramels

3 dl (1,5 cup) sugar
3 dl (1,5 cup) whipping cream
1 dl (0,5 cup) light corn syrup
1/4 vanilla pod (optional, but feel free to use more as well)
5-10 drops of lavender essence (I use Mandy Aftels Lavender Chefs Essence)
2 big pinches of sea salt
1 tablespoon oil

Prepare by putting a sheet of oven paper on a baking sheet.

Throw together sugar, cream, syrup, scraped seeds from inside the vanilla pod, 5 drops of lavender essence and one pinch of salt in a pot.

At the start the caramel batter will be light tan. Boil vigorously until the color start changing toward deep amber. Stir all the time with a wooden spoon. This takes more or less 20 minutes.

Test if the caramel is ready by letting a small drop of batter drip into a glass of cold water. If the drop shapes itself into a hard roundish ball, the caramel is ready.

When you see that the caramel about to be done, taste it. Be careful, it's VERY hot. If it needs any more salt or lavender essence, add it now.

Add the oil to the caramel batter.

Quickly pour the batter onto the baking sheet. Spread it out evenly with a spoon while it's still hot.

Sprinkle on that last pinch of sea salt.

When cool enough to handle, break it into bite sized pieces.


A note about the avender essence, there are some bitter and herby notes present when smelling the essence right from the bottle but they did not make it through the boiling. In all the lavender flavour was very smooth and perfectly married the caramelized sugar. Now, I've only tried making these types of caramels with lavender but there are several other essences that I bet would be just as good. How about caramel flavoured with peppermint, cocoa, coffee or Peru balsam (I'm sooooo curious about cooking with that one)...

And, I did have an unexpected guest showing up. I'd seved him caramels if I thought he'd like them but he seemed very content just to nibble on my neibours bushes. Yep, this is another photo taken from my window. As you see the snow is melting away indeed :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Quick spritzes

View through my window on April 14, 2012

Look at the photo, that was the view outside my window a few hours ago. It has snowed ever since so now there's a 5 inch layer of snow covering everything. Spring just doesn't seem to be happening this year :(

But, fortunately, perfume does happen! About a month ago I discovered that hidden in the ugly mall next to where I take the train to and from work there are not one, but two small perfumeries. Thay both have a very basic mainstream selection, but still, they are there, just when I need a little pick-me-up-spritz after a long day of heavy thinking.

And yesterday I discovered this bus behind the house where I work, it basically takes me door to door in 5 minutes to NK, the department store with the biggest selection of niche scents here in Stockholm (it's not the nicest store, that's COW Parfymeri, but it is the biggest). So now, at any time when things at work seem to be going ugly, I just hang on to the thought that when my shift ends I'll be mere minutes away from drenching myself in good smelling juice, all for free, and then just drift away in the fumes and be happy :)

So these are some of the scents I've tried lately. My opinions here are all based on one times spritzes in stores and should not be taken as serious reviews. I've ordered them from "love at first sniff" to "worse than horrid".

L'Artisan La Chasse aux Papillons. Happy, playful and lovely mix of tuberose, jasmine and orange flowers. I hadn't expected to like it so much but it seemd to get right into my smiley reflexes after a long tedious work week, lifting both my mood and spirit. I'll be trying it again very soon and, so far, I think it's FB worthy!

Lanvin Arpège. A bright floral with a classical feel to it. Aldehydic at first, then jasmine and lilies of the valley. Felt like a great spring or early summer scent (or when you're just longing for spring very much). Must also try again soon! 

Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte. Reminds me of a very watered down version of Bandit. I get greenery and a hint of leathery rubber. It's nice, but I rather just wear Bandit.

Prada Prada (Amber). A perfectly good amber. If I ws looking for a typical amber in a pinch I might very well get this one.

Chanel No 19. A scent widely loved in the parfumista community. I do think very well put together, long lasting, distinct etc etc, but as I do admire it, unfortunately I can't bring myself to love it.

Stella McCartney L.I.L.Y. A clean floral with an aquatic feel about itself. Does it make you smell good? Yes. Does it make you smell interesting? No.

Chanel Allure Eau de Parfum. A mainstream peachy fruity floral with a vanilla base. Hm, probably smells great if you don't know what's more out there.

Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb. A nightmare! I hadn't been reading up and thus expected a big blast of white flowers, based on the name. What did I get? Cloying burnt sugar from its very worst side. The only good thing I've got to say is that it washed off gracefully, so at least, thanks for that.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Fils de Dieu Du Riz et Des Agrumes by Etat Libre d'Orange

Happy Easter everybody, I hope you've all been enjoying yourselves during the weekend! I've spent a few days with my in-laws, always nice to get out of town, get properly fed and get some help with the kids. The only complaint I've got is the weather. We had a lovely spring thing going on but then something went terribly wrong. Both on Thursday and Friday it was snowing so our view out the window consisted of dainty little spring flowers, trying bravely to stand up while covered in an icy layer of white snow. Poor little things! For compensating the cold outside I've been reaching for something warm and cheery, namely, ELdOs Fils de Dieu Du Riz et Des Agrumes, which must be one of the longest perfume names around.

It starts off with a very green and Asian feeling citrus accord. There is lime, zest of lime, ginger and shiso. I love the intro. It makes me wonder why there are no green Asian style Eau de Colognes (or are there, and I'm just not aware of them?). I'd love a perfume that was like this on and on and not just for the first 10 minutes like FdD.

But what comes next is not bad either. When the citrus fades there is rice pudding and not just any rice pudding. It's an Indian rice pudding where premium rice has been boiled in thick coconut cream, a drop of rose water added, along with a small cinnamon stick, half a scraped vanilla bean and a few cardamon pods givng the final dish just a hint of well integrated spice. At times I get a hint of something smoky as well. This is clearly a dish that will soon be crated in my kitchen!

During drydown the spices and rose disappears from my skin and I get more of a savory, plain rice smell. I'm also thinking I'd love a Christmas Edition of FdD. In Sweden it's tradition to eat rice pudding on Christmas, either with milk, cinnamon and sugar or with whipped cream and orange segments. I can imagine a FdD flanker (not that ELdO are known for making flankers, but anyway) with an orange intro and stronger spices during the heart and drydown. Yum, that would be nice...

In all, FdD is a lovely and easy-to-wear scent. I find it's both relaxing and energizing. It's unusual as it's about rice, Ormonde Jaynes Champaca is the only other rice scent I know of and that one's a floral-rice, this is a light oriental-rice. As an extra bonus, both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law both loved it!

Official notes (from Fragrantica):
Top notes: ginger, coriander, lime and shiso.
Heart: coconut, rose, cardamom, jasmine, cinnamon and rose.
Base: tonka bean, vetiver, musk, amber, leather and castoreum.