Hamsa Perfume and TokyoMilk Destiny No. 79 – Love Shorts

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To the Loved and Those Who Love – Happy Valentine’s Day weekend!  While I can’t say I did anything particularly exciting myself, the passing of Valentine’s Day did get me thinking about the strength and fragility of love and the vast space that lie between them. Love can mean safety without numbers, an intangible inner strength that can shield us against the sometimes harsh realities of our daily lives. Yet, it is so delicate and at times so fleeting, that all we can do is treasure and savour as much as we can before it, or we, return to dust.

Hamsa Perfume

I was recently kindly sent a sample of Hamsa Perfume for consideration. Their website describes it as “an exquisitely pleasing scent, carefully crafted with essential oils from cultures around the world….The combination of the healing powers of essential oils and the good fortune from the Hamsa symbol make Hamsa Perfume more than just another fragrance.” Its combined notes of white lotus, frankincense, blackcurrant and coffee is supposed to represent Eastern, Western and Middle Eastern cultures. Each note also apparently has its own healing properties, described in more detail here. The concept of “Hamsa” is derived from the palm-shaped amulet that adorns its bottle and used as a sign of protection.

If Hamsa Perfume was love, it would be an innocent fleeting love. It starts off with the mild floral of white lotus and a definite fruity concoction, with the promise of a new beginning. I was hoping for some of its listed darker notes to come in to ground and temper the scent, but they never eventuated. Nor does its sweetness intensify. Instead, it remains quite happy to skirt around full blown passion, choosing instead to stay within its being, never quite pushing outside of comfort. Within an hour or two, the fragile corridor passes and I’m left with only a whisper.

TokyoMilk Destiny No. 79

Never having much luck with TokyoMilk, I was surprised that several scents within their Dark series caught my attention and I found myself purchasing Destiny No. 79 (in a rollerball dispenser) on a whim when I was at Sephora in New York last November. Of course, smelling it now, I realise why I purchased it – it smells almost identical to scented beads that came to my possession when I was a child. I guess I never really outgrew some of my first loves. Apart from Destiny’s listed notes of freshly cut ginger, honeysuckle, jasmine and davana, a milky tea undercurrent seems to round them altogether. The scent stays linear with decent projection but I often just roll it on my wrists, simply for my own enjoyment. This is the scent of my childhood, the scent of what my feelings were all about, when I still could trust only with my heart.

Hamsa Perfume image taken from http://www.hamsa-perfume.com/concept.html

Carine Roitfeld Forgive Me – What’s In A Name?

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23_carine_roitfeld_paris_fashion_week_autumn_2011

Carine Roitfeld is an undoubted force in the fashion world. I was intrigued when I read on fashionista.com that she trademarked a fragrance and beauty range under the name “Forgive Me”. I can’t quite remember a perfume name in recent history that packed such a powerful punch. It practically drips with sentimentality and emotion. Grace, remorse, regret, it has it all.

Are perfume names important? Sure, I sometimes get a chuckle or two from Etat Libre d’Orange’s perfume names like Fat Electrician or Delicious Closet Queen. I also love CB I Hate Perfume wonderfully evocative fragrance names like At The Beach 1966 or Memory of Kindness. But none of them have made me want to seek them out as much as Forgive Me might. Looking at my own collection, it seems that the majority of them have descriptive names more than anything else.

Now that Forgive Me has my attention, it’s of course left me wondering what it would smell like. Gucci has given us Envy. But forgiveness? What would you imagine forgiveness to smell like?

Image taken from iwanttobearoitfeld.com

Serge Lutens Santal Blanc – Pencil Me In

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IMG_0031It actually reached 45.8℃ (114.4℉) here in Sydney on Friday, the hottest ever recorded weather. It was also coincidentally the day I decided to write about Serge Lutens Santal Blanc. Wearing any of Serge Lutens’ scents in warm weather seems to me about as appealing as eating bark off a tree. So it was quite a pleasant surprise that it didn’t all end in disaster.

Santal Blanc is by no means a new scent. Created in 2001, it translates to “white sandalwood” in English. Like many other Serge Lutens fragrances, its scent is intense with considerable longevity. If you break it down, Santal Blanc really is quite a complex fragrance. Starting off with a sweet muted cedar note on a floral (rose in particular) background, pepper, cumin and cinnamon soon join the mix. Cumin is a tricky note that rubs me up the wrong way when used heavy-handedly, as it simply reminds me too much of curry (à la Serge Lutens Serge Noir). I love eating curry but not smelling like it. Fortunately both the cumin and cinnamon notes in Santal Blanc function to add an interesting edge to the otherwise overly sweet scent, rather than dominate it. Like many others, I do often find a “candied fruit” note common in many of Serge Lutens’ more intense fragrances. I remember smelling Santal Blanc for the first time half expecting that note to pop up, but it never did. As the scent wore on during that very hot day, its sweetness slowly dissipated, leaving behind a more traditional sandalwood note, staying close to the skin, never cloying.

What I do find amazing about Santal Blanc is that all its individual notes come together in some crazy perfume mathematical formula to eventually conjure up… pencil shavings. And that’s why I love it! I’ve had a stationery obsession for as long as I can remember and Santal Blanc simply reminds me why I love the smell of pencils so much.

Huitieme Art Sucre d’Ebene de Parfum – Ohm

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Huitieme Art Sucre d'Ebene Lucky Scent SampleFirstly, a big Happy Holidays to everyone. I hope it was immensely enjoyable and refreshing. 2012 was a year of firsts for me, including writing about scents and moving to live in Sydney. You readers have been so nice and supportive of me that I’d like to say a sincere Thanks to you all. Your feedback and interaction always make me smile. My resolution for 2013 is to write more often: scent of the day, samples, single fragrances, scented products, the occasional rant… to put more thoughts to words!

I’ve abandoned my original idea (more on that in a later post) and decided instead to talk about Sucre d’Ebene de Parfum by Huitieme Art. As I eagerly sniffed through my latest LuckyScent samples, Sucre d’Ebene immediately stood out from the lot. At very first whiff, I was immediately transported back to a shop that I used to frequent during my university days. It sold all sorts of incenses, fragrant oils, accessories and clothing that can probably be best described as colourful potato sacks. I guess you could call it a hippie shop. But it was there that I learnt to differentiate between petitgrain, orange blossom, cedarwood, frankincense and countless other fragrant oils. Sucre d’Ebene strangely enough conjures up an almost exact replica of the entire shop’s scent and for that reason alone already holds a special place in my heart.

As a fragrance though, Sucre d’Ebene is certainly odd possibly because I associate it more with an actual place rather than something I’d like to wear. It’s a sweet benzoin, which is normally right up my alley but there are certainly other spices lurking that adds to its quirky character. More sprays result in a scent not too far off from Fresh’s Brown Sugar, albeit a darker cousin. It certainly scores points for being different from other incense-themed fragrances that I’ve encountered. The packaging of the scent looks handsome too and unusual, definitely highly covetable. If anyone has seen it in person, I’d definitely be curious to hear your thoughts on its looks and feel.

redimlive.php.htmlImage taken from http://uk.huitiemeartparfums.com/creations_2_sucre-d-ebene__parfum-sucre-ebene.html

Estee Lauder Azuree Soleil Eau Fraiche Skinscent – Sweet Surrender

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Tom FordIf there’s anything I detest more than hot weather is humidity. Unfortunately, Sydney has been experiencing them both in abundance lately. I lather myself in sunscreen before heading out and inevitably, search out for fragrances that play nice with my trusty sunscreen rather than vice versa. Typical hot weather friendly citrus fragrances tend to at best get engulfed by the metallicness of my sunscreen and at worst, turn into something not entirely too far off from stale lemons. So, it’s during weather like this that I reach out to Estee Lauder Azuree Soleil Eau Fraiche Skinscent, a fragrance released as part of a limited 19-piece makeup collection by Tom Ford for Estee Lauder in 2007. I haven’t checked out other pieces in the range including the much talked-about body oil and had to practically pry the last remaining bottle off the Estee Lauder salesperson in 2008 before it disappeared off the shelves permanently.

I so often pair Azuree Soleil with sunscreen that it seems like a new scent to me now reviewing it on its own. Azuree Soleil smells mainly of creamy coconuts and white florals. Gardenia, jasmine and magnolia combine to evoke a lushness set against muted citrus notes. Caramel and soft wood notes surround the tropical heart but never quite permeates it. Worn on its own, the creamy floral notes remain strong and lasts several hours. Worn over sunscreen, the citrus notes fade away more quickly but the remaining scent seems to last even longer.

The blue of Azuree Soleil’s bottle seems to allude to the beach. “Tropical” does spring to mind, perhaps because of the creamy coconut note. But the beach? Perhaps less so for me. I don’t detect the salt-water note that many others seem to detect, yet I often pair it with sunscreen. So perhaps there’s something in that theory. Incidentally, the turquoise blue of the bottle also makes me think of it as a precedent to Tom Ford’s other sea / coastal-inspired scent Neroli Portofino, though of course the latter is a completely different scent, housed in an even more luxurious dark turquoise bottle with a price-tag to match. I like Neroli Portofino but not as much as Azuree Soleil. There’s just something in it that makes me actually almost want to lose myself in the heat and humidity of Sydney’s summer. Almost.

Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle En Passant – The Soliflore Florist

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Olivia Giacobetti

Amongst all my perfumes, Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle En Passant reminds me the most of a visit to the florist, where apart from the obvious beauty of so many different flowers, I enjoy being engulfed by the heady mix of blooms, freshly cut stems, leaves and water.

Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle En Passant When writing about a scent, I usually make notes of all I smell as the day progresses before continuing with some research on the scent. The following day, I then spray the scent on again then start writing about what I smell, referencing notes from the day before. Looking at my notes, well, what can I say? It didn’t really help me very much at all this time. I can’t detect any cucumber, bread, wheat, or orange tree leaves notes as in other reviews (Now Smell This, I Smell Therefore I Am, The Scented Salamander). Very much like Olfactoria’s Travels review, all I detect is lilac. But what a lilac it is. It begins indolic but soon morphs into the scent of old-school florists: blooms, water-soaked and freshly cut stems, with a hint of grass. More than anything, it smells damp, the way I always remember lilacs smelling and it stays this way for several hours.

The scent is strong too. Two squirts on me is plenty, three squirts becomes slightly suffocating. At the end of the day, when shower water runs down the part of my neck where I sprayed En Passant, the scent is revived again and for a while, it strangely smells and feels soapy. In fact, this soapiness has such tenacity that it takes some scrubbing to completely remove all traces of it from my skin. Far from being a scrubber though, I enjoy wearing En Passant, on cloudy days, summer days, or simply to re-create my own hyperreal florist.

The author behind En Passant is Olivia Giabcobetti. Looking at a list of her work, I am amazed by how many of her perfumes I have unknowingly amassed or coveted over all these years. I guess it just took Frederic Malle and his exceptional Editions De Parfums line to really shine a spotlight on Olivia Giabcobetti’s talent and make me a true groupie.

Serge Lutens Fourreau Noir – Dark Paradise

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Eau de Parfum, Les Salons Du Palais Royal Shiseido Jardins Du Palais Royal

I was determined, I really was. I did my research, tested as much as I could and decided to limit myself to only one fragrance when I visited Les Salons du Palais Royale in Paris. Unfortunately, the lure of Serge Lutens was more than I could bear and Fourreau Noir was amongst the damage. At least I didn’t inexplicably find myself leaving that store with one of their limited editions bell jars.

On first application, Fourreau Noir immediately brought about a wave of nostalgia. Wafts of sweet tobacco swirl and swirl around lavender and incense.  Months later, it finally dawned on me that this actually smells of my dad. Dad was a lover of fougère colognes. In fact, he would douse himself with so much cologne that his clothes would still smell of whichever scent he wore after it was laundered. He also smoked. Fourreau Noir reminds me of how he would sometimes smell, a kind of lavender scent weaved into smoke. I usually dislike (to put it mildly) the smell of secondhand cigarette smoke and don’t even get me started on cigar smoke. But, I am strangely compelled to fresh tobacco and sometimes the lingering scent of cigarette smoke on clothes.

Eau de Parfum, Les Salons Du Palais Royal Shiseido Jardins Du Palais Royal

Post-purchase, I’ve come to learn that Fourreau Noir means “black sheath”. Now I’m pretty sure that references a black dress or clothing material, but the first thing that came into my mind was a black leather sword sheath. Although I think the latter would be more appropriate, I can definitely see the allusion to a black dress. Fourreau Noir after all calls out for a more dressy occasion. Its melancholic character almost deems it impossible for it to be worn on a bright sunny day. Although that said, I’d happily wear it just pottering around the house. There’s also a sweetness to Fourreau Noir that makes the dress allusion appropriate, though the “candied fruit” aspect common in many of Serge Lutens fragrances is played down here. Instead, sweetness comes from myrrh and tonka beans, that becomes more prominent after the initial smoky phase. Almond is also listed as a fragrance note but that has always been a note that eludes me.

I cannot of course speak about the Serge Lutens exclusive line without any mention of the bell jar glass falcon. I simply adore it, the look of it, the act of dabbing on scent from the stopper, the substantial weight of the glass bottle… I could go on for quite a while. But of course, on the flipside, it definitely makes it a stay-at-home scent since travelling with it is virtually impossible. Being a worrywart, I’m also alarmed how I can still smell the scent up close even when the stopper is completely jammed into the opening. In fact, there’s enough of the scent to fill up any small enclosed space where I store the bottle. Is the precious juice actually slowly evaporating away? Also, has anyone noticed sediments settling at the bottom of the jar?

Eau de Parfum sediments

Speaking of juice, I find the actual colour to be quite fascinating. It mostly appears a warm amber but in dim lighting, it takes on an autumnal-leaves olive brown. Quite appropriate really, as I find myself often reaching out to it in cooler months or nights. Despite its dark nature, Fourreau Noir to me is a pretty straightforward scent that only brings out blissful memories. And on that note, cue in Swing Out Sister, a band I absolutely love but has sadly and quite unjustly in my opinion faded into music limbo. There is often a longing in their music that reminds me very much of Fourreau Noir.

SixScents Series Three No. 5 #087 – Black and Blue

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N. Hoolywood & Stephen NilsenWith the turn of the seasons over here in Australia, the weather is becoming increasingly erratic. The heat and humidity one minute followed by spells of rolling thunderstorms the next has battered my sinuses senseless. It also makes me feel blue enough to finally sit down to slowly explore SixScents Series Three No. 5 #087, a collaboration between fashion designer N. Hoolywood and perfumer Stephen Nilsen.
N Hoolywood Stephen Nilsen perfume packagingThe entire Six Scents concept seems pretty complex: “Annually, a group of six emerging fashion designers are selected to create a series of six fragrances with six celebrated perfumers in order to raise awareness and funding for a deserving charity…. Our goal is to create a new way for people to engage with fragrance through creativity with a conscience.” In its third series, Six Scents focuses on memories, “an exploration into the nature of childhood memories and the influence of adolescence on identity”. Each perfume is made in a limited run. Mine is bottle number 807 of 3000. Each scent also comes with elaborate packaging. A thick slider box houses the scent, a DVD enclosed in a portrait of the fashion designer and a 34-paged booklet. In that, it extensively outlines the Six Scents concept, the fragrances’ background stories, profiles of designers and perfumers and artists, in addition to full profiles and credits of the short films included in the DVD. Well… I did say that I had to be in a certain mood to fully explore all that was included with the scent.

I’m a sucker for packaging but less so with “extras”. Give me a stunning scent in a beautiful bottle instead any day. The DVD contains features of each scent in the series as well as ten short films. Features about the scents itself were interesting enough and did make me feel like revisiting some of them. But the short films, mostly three to four minutes long, were completely unrelated to the fragrances. I didn’t pick up on any common running theme apart from them being mainly moody, abstract pieces that wouldn’t go out of place as video installations in many modern art museums around the world. The SixScents concept also leaves me ambivalent. On one hand, proceeds to charities is never a bad thing but as for its lofty ambitions of being “an experimental project challenging boundaries of perception, intersection of senses, emotions and intellect”? Well, broken down, the fragrance is ultimately not unlike other fragrances, a collaboration between a perfumer and a designer, based on a certain concept. Including unrelated visual pieces doesn’t quite translate to me as challenging the other senses.

I’m unsure of the popularity of SixScents perfumes but I did manage to try many of them when I was in Hong Kong over the years but was never really tempted to purchase any besides #087. Mostly, it was too difficult to keep up and smell them all. As for the ones that I did, the actual scent unfortunately didn’t seem to live up to their often intriguing back stories or listed fragrance notes. When I did try #087 though, something felt different. On first spray, a soapy note immediately brought about some sort of familiar comfort. It took me quite a while to realise that it actually smells of engine oil, which I happen to adore, for better or for worse. Hinoki woods and rounded fir-balsam notes add some strength to the scent along with hints of incense and herbs. The volatile fumes then slowly dissipates into a rounder softer scent as it wears on, emphasising the sweet-salty aspect inherent in engine oil.  On the whole, it feels modern but not necessarily edgy. Its counterparts would probably be CDG Synthetic Series scents or Bulgari Black or even L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing.

Daisuke Obana of N. Hoolywood talks about the scent in the DVD feature, of how often in the busy city, we can’t have places or environments that we can get relaxed in and so the perfumer Stephen Nilsen created a juxtaposition of memories of engine oil in Daisuke father’s car against the scent of nature, resulting in a “scent to relax”. As for me, #087 doesn’t cause me to be nostalgic but instead allows me to ease and surrender myself to the blues.

Tauer Perfumes Discovery Set – Colour Me Tauer

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Look at what arrived in the mail today! I’ve purchased Tauer fragrance samples before but never directly from the Andy Tauer website. If you can’t tell, I’m pretty excited because I really didn’t expect the Discovery Set to be housed in such gorgeous packaging. Ok, so I’m a sucker for all things that look nice. You can pick and choose five different scents for the set. I chose a mixture of some that I’ve sampled previously like Lonestar Memories and Incense Rose and others that are new to me, Une Rose Chypree, Orange Star and the collectible, Zeta.

Tauer Perfumes samplesThe Discovery Set is housed in a sturdy and smart metal box that ensures all its contents remain in mint condition.
Tauer Perfumes samples

The metal lid then cleverly slides open to reveal spray cards, five individual scent descriptor cards and the perfume samples housed under them.Tauer Perfumes samplesThe turquoise in the inner case is a nice touch. Slight indentations in the case hold the vials in place. How impressive is the packaging!

First thing that came into my mind (apart from “wow”) was “thoughtful”. The Discovery Set really houses everything in perfect condition and is so easy to use and store away. How refreshing as well to find all the scent notes provided for each scent, as head, heart and body notes, as well as ingredients listings. To top it all off for me, spray vials… yes! Unlike other perfume sample vials, this means that I don’t need to fiddle around with those little plastic stopper things that inevitably gets precious juice all over my fingertips and/or spilling all over those miniature vials.

The Discovery Set was very reasonably priced and I’m excited to be able to sniff more Tauer scents. More on the actual scents later but for now, suffice to say, a full bottle of an Andy Tauer fragrance seems almost imminent.

Fresh Brown Sugar – The Sweetest Rush

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Eau de Parfum, Perfume, Fragrance

When the house is filled with sunlight, sans humidity, all I want to do sometimes is just douse myself with Fresh Brown Sugar. It’s everything you would think it’ll be, light and cheerful, infinitely wearable.

One spray delivers a hefty dose of juice. Lemon and sugar hits you immediately, with some light florals and amber to add warmth to the dry down. More than anything, it smells more like lemonade without the fizz. Like most Fresh scents, tenacity seems to be a bit of a problem. Even for an Eau de Parfum, Brown Sugar’s projection becomes surprisingly weak after two hours, though a warm lemon scent does linger on the skin for quite a while more. No matter, re-spritz away!

I was curious as to how Brown Sugar actually compares to the real thing so I took a big sniff of a pack of brown sugar in my pantry. If anything, I was reminded of how complex the smell of actual brown sugar is: a sweetness rounded with the warmth of caramel and a slight bitter edge. Especially compared side by side, “Brown Sugar” seems to be a bit of a misnomer as it becomes more obvious that it lacks the depth of the scent of molasses present in the natural substance. I actually don’t mind this one bit and appreciate its simplicity. In fact, there’s an innocence about it that tends to conjure up childhood memories for me.

I always find myself lured to Fresh counters by their myriad of pretty little bottles, scented candles and soaps, all laid out there just pleading to be sniffed. I often spritz the scents on tester strips and sometimes on my skin. I must be the most annoying customer because I always leave empty-handed, because as pretty as their scents are, many of them are just too sweet, almost to the point of cloyingness. Still, considering my inexplicable fascination with all things Fresh, I’m quite happy to be proven wrong though…. any takers?

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