About Mistress of Scents

Perfumed Reviews and Fragrant Reflections on Scent

Marcy Goldman


Bakers
are alchemists of another ilk. As a master baker and pastry chef and cookbook author, I've dealt with flour and flowers for a long time. To me, both are just starting points to seduce the senses and bring solace to the soul. What starts in the kitchen can end in the boudoir or infuse a home with well-being. Join me on a fragrant path; become inspired by scent. Learn, dream, inhale and awaken your sleeping senses. If it has anything to do with fragrance - world class perfumes, essential oils and earthy organics, potions, tonics and elixirs, you'll find it here.


January 12, 2014

Lilac and Jasmine and Guerlain. Run, don't walk, to buy this bouquet.


Top Notes: lemon, peach, apricot and plum
Middle Notes: Rose, jasmine, lily of the valley, ylang-ylang, tuberose and orange
Base Notes: sandalwood, vanilla, amber and musk



Trust Guerlain to do lilac in their own Guerlain style. Under the Idylle banner, Guerlain launched Idylle’s Duet but in Lilac/Jasmine (previous incarnations have included Rose Jasmine) as the two main notes.
Thierry Wasser is behind this new creation and here’s my warning: if you love it, buy it now! It will disappear as Guerlain only has special editions for a shor time. And anything in lilac, especially by pros like Guerlain is worth sniffing out.

This beautiful, feminine perfume is a bouquet of purple lilacs with fresh jasmine. It’s a bit cool and crisp for winter but it can also serve to make you feel springlike and hopeful, no matter what the time of year.

If you love Guerlain, or jasmine, or lilac or lily of the valley, and a hint of wisteria and patchouli (to calm things down) you will love Idylle’s Lilac Jasmine Duet. Run, don’t walk, to buy some.

A Lilac Path, Pretty and Subtle by Estee Lauder

Aerin Lauder, Estee Lauder’s granddaughter, founded her lifestyle brand in 2011 and has since been popular for her cosmetics, home items, jewelry and purses. The house is expanding their offer to include perfumes and in Oct of 2013 she has launched five of them including  Gardenia Rattan, Amber Musk, Lilac Path, Ikat Jasmine, and Evening Rose
The Inspiration behind Lilac Path is the lilac bush which blooms at her late grandmother Estée Lauder’s summer cottage. The perfume blooms with galbanum, creamy jasmine lactones, angelica seed oil and orange flower.

Lilac is one of the hardest scents to capture since it is impossible to distill down enough lilac ‘oil’ naturally to have the base of a lilac perfume – so lilac perfumes are necessarily the result of other floral combinations and a lot of lab work. Often, lilac scents are ‘in-your-face’ and/or somewhat old-fashioned. At worse, they can smell like insect spray.

Lilac Path by contrast, is done with a light touch. It’s feminine, has scents of jasmine and even a sense of lily or hyacinth although it’s not officially in the mix. 
This is for people who love lilac but a more subtle lilac that is memorable but not the lilac oil of the 60’s – definitely upscale and beautifully executed.

December 8, 2013

Gourmand Perfumes or The Scent of Vanilla Perfumes (and sugar, berries and cream)






As a pastry chef, it’s a no brainer I’m fond of perfumes that fall into what the fragrance world categorizes as the ‘gourmands’ group of perfumes. This means foodie notes – and predictably, that often includes vanilla, fruits (peaches, grapefruit), berries, caramel, chocolate, coffee, tea and often times a healthy dose of sugar or honey. It can also include spices. At the least, if you choose a vanilla or gourmand perfume, it’s low calorie indulgence.

But there’s nothing more heartwarming, especially in the chilly holiday season, than vanilla-based perfumes. More often than not, when I’m stopped and asked 'what I’m wearing'. Yes, I live a red carpet of scent – the ‘what are you wearing’ to me is never about Gucci or Zak Posen, and my answer is usually, I'm wearing Guerlain, Chanel and other perfumers). Nothing is more flattering than to wear a scent that doesn’t overwhelm or upstage but instead, has people stopped in their tracks and asking you what your fragrance is.

Of course, a lot depends on which vanilla perfume you choose (no one wants to smell like a cookie or cupcake….or do they?) but if you are open to it, you’ll find there’s something in the vanilla/gourmand spectrum that’s sure to please. There’s pretty well a vanilla scent for every personality out there or your many moods or personas. I’ve worn every perfume on this list and I’ve also been known to tuck a vial of vanilla oil in my purse for a quick dab, en route to tango or touch my wrists with Nielsen Massey Double Strength Madagascar Vanilla).

What’s remarkable about vanilla perfumes and their fruity, sugary cousins, is the various approaches perfumers use on the pathway to perfumes that are warm, sensual, comforting and simply….delicious. There’s also a price-point vanilla perfume to suit every budget from the most bargain priced vanilla perfume oil (Bigelow) to the most extravagant (Guerlain’s Spiritueuse Double Vanille).

If you like vanilla perfumes, there’s no need to stop with one. I’ve adopted a posse of great vanilla scents – as well as sugared berried treats that to my mind, fall into this same luscious category. Here’s my stash of vanilla favorites.

Perfume Supplier: www.FragranceNet.com; I’ve included direct links to the products at that site). Otherwise you can find these at their brand sites (if not carried by FragranceNet.com)

Angel Perfume
 http://www.fragrancenet.com/angel-perfume/thierry-mugler/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/00103

Top Notes: Bergamot, Mandarin Middle Notes: Passion Fruit, Peach, Apricot Base Notes: Patchouli, Vanilla, Chocolate, Caramel

When Thierry Mugler launched his famed Angel perfume in 1992 the love affair between this iconic gourmand fragrance and its devotees was like most great love affairs: instant and durable. The fragrance notes of Angel as per perfume descriptions on perfume sites and what fragrance counter representatives will tell you is only part of the story. There's also rumour of vanilla, caramel, sandalwood, patchouli, blackcurrant, fresh citrus, melons, peaches and plums.  What is agreed on, across the board, is that this is angelic perfume that you almost want to lick off whoever is wearing it or drink it straight from the bottle. To say it’s for the hedonist is no understatement – and to suggest it takes it’s fragrance notes from home comforts and recipe books on classic desserts – is not far off the mark. This is a fragrance for the food fanatic – and the sort who eats dessert first.




Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanilla
http://www.fragrancenet.com/serge-lutens-un-bois-vanille-perfume/serge-lutens/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/21251

For a vanilla perfume, this Oriental classic is as nice on men as it is on women (or so it seems to me). This is an adult, gently leathered vanilla, by nose Christopher Sheldrake (2003), and is delivered via a route of caramel, bitter almond, coconut milk, beeswax, benzoin, tonka bean, guaiac wood, musk and sandalwood. It has almost an incense-like tone to it and it warms and evolves the longer you wear it. Sweet, girlish vanilla –this is not. It's serious but warm and lingering and definitely about being a woman who knows what she knows.





Guerlain’s classic Shalimar, is also rife with incense tones and a good (and balanced) dose of vanilla http://www.fragrancenet.com/shalimar-perfume/guerlain/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/02147.

There’s also Guerlain’s special edition Shalimar, Ode de Vanille. This gorgeous scent is not as easy to procure but stay tuned, Guerlain might have some news. Here again, Guerlain house perfumer Thierry Wasser developed a new, vanilla-enriched Shalimar Ode à la Vanille; it includes fragrance notes of lemon, bergamot, rose, jasmine, iris, incense, opoponax, tonka bean and two types of “infused” vanilla: Madagascar vanilla and Mayotte vanilla. As Shalimar Ode à la Vanille segues from middle to base notes it becomes amber-y-floral — first, with dark vanilla, opoponax, a hint of frankincense, some tonka bean and leather-musk notes, then with a vanillic flower accord.

Guerlain’s Spiritueuse Double Vanille
http://www.guerlain.com/fr/fr-fr/collections-exclusives/lart-et-la-matiere/spiritueuse-double-vanille-eau-de-parfum-vaporisateur.html.

 Introduced in 2007, is almost a perfume collector’s vanilla because it's both exceptional and it’s not always easy to find but it’s worth it – and is described as the queen of ‘boozy’ vanilla fragrances. That’s not the full story – this glorious vanilla masterpiece also has some wood, spice and a heady pear offering to make this the stuff of a femme fatale. Beware of women wearing vanilla – not all vanilla is innocent and this one is sensual, sophisticated and wrapped in mystique.






Falling In Love, Philosophy
Blackberries, bit of musk and vanilla – people fall in love with you (for a moment) when you wear this innocent (not so long lasting but then, love is like that) scent. http://www.philosophy.com/fragrance/falling-in-love/C216,default,sc.html






Flowerbomb

by Viktor and Rolf, launched in 2004 has become a classic. It’s as romantic a sweet perfume as you can fine and combines hints of tea, freesia, jasmine, rose orchid and me thinks, a hint of vanilla and/or orris root which reminds of vanilla in an incense sort of way. This is a fluttery, sweet scent that (a lot of) men swoon for. It was banned at my tango class – so that tells you something. http://www.fragrancenet.com/flowerbomb-perfume/viktor-and-rolf/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/08819


Jean Paul Gauthier Classique is a sweet, fruity, vanilla and musk are the main wafts and yet done, as only the French can do such combinations, with total sophistication. I smell a bit of apricots, sugar and orris root which makes the whole concoction magical.
http://www.fragrancenet.com/jean-paul-gaultier-classique-x-l-eau-perfume/jean-paul-gaultier/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/23017


Vanilla Oil from Bigelow Chemists

http://www.bigelowchemists.com/c-o-bigelow-perfume-oil-vanilla.html

If you like your vanilla straight up, pure and seductive, this amazing, iconic little amber bottle of Bigelow Oil of Vanilla is addictive. I sense a touch of musk or patchouli but it’s mostly vanilla. People swoon when I wear this.



Yves Rocher Organic Bourbon Vanilla
Totally affordable vanilla that’s very true to the scent. It’s not long lasting but then it’s not offensive either. A nice introduction to vanilla sort of perfume.
http://www.yvesrocher.ca/control/parfums/eaux-fruitees/eau-de-toilette-vanille-agriculture-bio/?cmSrc=Search



Pink Sugar by Aquolina

Introduced in 2004, this is becoming a classic. It’s a lively, flirty vanilla that is wrapped in cotton candy, raspberries, licorice, strawberry, along with a touch of bergamot, caramel and warm woods. This is just happy vanilla and sugar and no one is immune to it’s balanced sweetness. http://www.fragrancenet.com/pink-sugar-perfume/aquolina/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/05465



Sexual Sugar by Michel Germain
Proudly Canadian (Quebec on top of it!), this warm, quietly seductive sugar scent boasts top notes of wildberries, sugar coated orange zest which is followed by passion and orange flower water, jasmine and anchored with fresh roasted almonds, vanilla crème brulee and sandalwood – a pastry chef’s perfume paradise. This is easily a signature scent if you’re into gourmands but don’t want to overwhelm people – it’s subtle, sweet and simply, lovely. http://www.fragrancenet.com/sexual-sugar-perfume/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/23027

Hanae Mori by Hanae Moriis a Oriental fragrance for women.Hanae Mori was launched in 1995. The nose behind this fragrance is Bernard Ellena. Top notes are black currant, wild strawberry, blackberry and blueberry; middle notes are jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose and peony; base notes are sandalwood, Virginia cedar, Brazilian rosewood and almond tree. All in all, it’s fruity and warm but the overall bouquet, has a touch of that wonderful vanilla vibe – but it’s really more woods and berries.

http://www.fragrancenet.com/hanae-mori-perfume/hanae-mori/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/01119

Nothing is more pleasant than apricots with vanilla and this classic from Comptoir Sud Pacifique is a gem. It also comes in Vanilla Extreme and Vanilla Coconut.
The only drawback is it's lack of holding power but it's so inviting, lightly floral and still sweet with vanilla and mellow apricots, it's easy to forgive it.
http://www.fragrancenet.com/comptoir-sud-pacifique-vanille-abricot-perfume/comptoir-sud-pacifique/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/02935 (Comptoir Sud Pacifique also has a sublime Coconut Vanilla scent)






The Body Shop Madagascan Vanilla Flower http://www.thebodyshop.ca/en/shop-by-line/vanilla/madagascan-vanilla-flower-perfume-oil.aspx
 .

This is lovely but no where near as amazing as the Body Shop’s previous vanilla oils which were deeply vanilla with bits of musk and florals. But then the Body Shop is famed for discontinuing beloved products without a warning. Perhaps one can learn to love Madasgascan Vanillia Flower sooner than later and stock up!




http://www.memoireliquideperfume.com/
AMOUR LIQUID
One of the newest of vanilla scent offerings is Memoir Liquid's Amour, a most gentle, feminine, warm vanilla from Memoire Liquide's quartet of bespoke perfumes. With notes of incense, tonka bean and Madagascar vanilla, this is not for those wanted a complex vanilla but more of a pure and simple, without being banal or candy-like. This is for any age and it brings a lot of compliments and double-takes.



http://tinyurl.com/mdv6f9k
Warm Vanilla Sugar by Bath and Body Works is a Oriental Vanilla fragrance for women. Top notes are floral notes and vanilla; middle notes are coconut, vanilla and rice; base notes are sandalwood, musk, vanilla and heliotrope.





http://www.bykilian.com/us/home.php
LOVE, by Kilian









For those that like their vanilla a bit dark and beguilingly complex, Love by Kilian, is an option. It's vanilla but dark, moody, nuanced and sophisticated and disproves the naysayers who think vanilla perfumes are too sweet or simple. This is a big girls only, woman-on-a-mission perfume.


And yet some more vanilla treats (not tested but worth trying, in which case, there's always Ebay for sample vials you can get before you commit)

Coty’s Vanilla Fields
http://www.fragrancenet.com/vanilla-fields-perfume/coty/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/02381

French Vanilla by Dana
http://www.fragrancenet.com/french-vanilla-perfume/dana/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/01002

Love’s Soft White Vanilla
http://www.fragrancenet.com/loves-white-vanilla-perfume/dana/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/01548

Delicious Vanilla
http://www.fragrancenet.com/delicious-vanilla-perfume/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/23165?houserec=234905



No longer available but amazing….
www.Kiehls.com
A classic from Kiehls that is gorgeous, sweet and warm. But Bigelow Chemist Vanilla Oil is very similar and available.

October 23, 2013

Si, by Giorgio Armani
Elegance, Modernity and Femininity in One Bouquet



Top Notes
: Sicilian Bergamot, Mandarin Oil, Cassis

Middle or Heart Notes: Rose de Mai Absolute, Neroli Absolute, Egyptian Jasmine Absolute, Freesia, Water Jasmine

Base Notes: Patchouli Oil, Blond Woods, Amber, Orcanox, Vanilla Absolute

Miscellaneous Notes
: blond woods, floral, citrus, oakmoss, brown sugar, mint and amber

Let me start defining or otherwise describing Giorgio Arman’s Si by saying it is a fruity floral (cassis and rose makes the case) or gourmand (the warmth of Vanilla Absolute and a touch of brown sugar).  Then let me back up and suggest it’s also a modern chypre (which means somewhere in the mix there’s wood, floral, citrus, oakmoss, mint and amber or a classic ‘chypre accord’) or romantic, musky ‘wood’. This by itself, is an impressive pedigree and in the end, it makes for a scent that is romantic, soft, sweet but subtly complex, memorable and long-lasting (for a subtle scent). There’s definite holding power to this gentle (slightly powdery) bouquet that would suit any age and any occasion (except maybe, the board room – if those still exist). A woman who wears Si is the woman who means business and will get things done, her way but with a charming persistence that apolitically correct could be called….seduction.

Si suggests an elegant woman in a three-piece suit but a suit made of the softest wool and cashmere so there’s no hard edges and no telling where one seams fuses into another – such is the mastery of the nose behind Si, Christine Nagel. There’s also a curious balance of a scent that is feminine and slightly mysterious along with a quiet animalistic or jungle sensibility which is probably whatever Jungle Essence (listed in the PR sheets) is and the essential oils combined with fragrance oils.

 If you’re drawn to florals, a touch of fruit, like vanilla but not intensely a one-note vanilla, and appreciate a slight nod to woody warmth, this perfume is for you.

Si works as a daily scent or evening-out scent and is perfect for end of summer, or when fall segues into winter or for a late spring. This is to say, it’s a signature scent for your wardrobe and/or a perfume than handles transitions well –whether you are between seasons, men, or times in your life.

If I had to choose one word for Si, it would be: grace. It has grace and it is graceful – almost balletic and yet like the best of dancers, strong-cored with a certain intent that stays in the room, long after the dance is done. 
wood, floral, citrus, oakmoss and amber
wood, floral, citrus, oakmoss and amber

August 5, 2013

La Petite Robe Noire, Guerlain's Perfect Black Dress Perfume

Top Notes: Black cherry, bergamot, red berries and almond.

Middle Notes: Bulgarian, Turkish roses, licorice, smoked black tea.

Base Notes: Aniseed, tonka bean, vanilla, iris, patchouli.

Before I wax lyrical about Guerlain's La Petite Robe Noire, let me preface this review with two bold statements: 1) you can do no wrong to choose any and every Guerlain perfume, regardless of your taste in scent; 2) Guerlain is in its own class as a perfume maker - few, save Chanel, Patou or the house of Caron come close. Why? Thierry Wasser for one thing - the nose behind more than one Guerlain scent and one of the scent the perfume world's most masterful noses. You could have no innate taste at all and choose Guerlain (any Guerlain perfume) and come out, well, smelling like a rose.

But now to La Petite Robe Noire - it is indeed a perfect black dress perfume - suitable for day or night and for women of any age although it has a definite flirtatiousness about it. It starts sweet and fruity, mellowed with almond nuttiness, segues to floral sophistication of a twin bouquet of roses (Turkish and Bulgarian) and then is rounded out on accords of vanilla, another lashing of licorice (in the aniseed, which is always sporting whimsy and a pleasant candy note) and a quiet drum beat of sultry patchouli. It all leaves an impression of a femme fatale, certain of her own charms - wearing crinoline and black ribbons and underneath has a leather bodice-thing going on, intended for a later discovery. In other words, this is an exceedingly pretty, feminine, deceptively innocent perfume with the spine of a knowing temptress.

For those who hedge at sweet perfumes, relax. If anyone can bring sophistication to a sweet perfume, it's Guerlain. Moreover, the sweetness is so balanced, there is almost a litchee like watery-ness to whole affair that only adds to a feeling of sheer ripeness.

La Petite Robe Noire is in one of Guerlain's vintage shaped bottles, has a youthful black frock on the front and casual script lettering - graphic styling that only makes the potion inside that much more surprising. If you're a Cool Water or White Linen type, La Petite Robe Noire is probably not for you. If you adore being a girl - look no further.

April 12, 2013

Ralph Lauren's timeless take on Romance


The nose behind Ralph Lauren’s romantic, quietly opulent Romance scent is Harry Frémont
.

Launched in 1998, Romance comes in an aptly romantic pink carton and inside is a simple, clean, almost pure decanter that is square and resolute, without frills. Not too romantic at a glance but the bottle is feminine and fresh - and ok - totally fetching in its way.

At its time, many perfumes smelled similar (Curve is often mentioned as a comparison) but as time has gone on and most similar perfumes have disappeared, it leaves Romance as the best of its genre, still around – making it somewhat of a classic.

The perfume opens with a lush floral waft and it settles down into both warm and powdery notes making it great as a date perfume or daytime, office perfume. It has enough citrus to make it upbeat but enough wood in it, to tone down any edginess.  It’s fresh more than sweet and more 'mature' romance rather than the sheer giddiness of a light dalliance. I often cannot really hone in on what’s beguiling about this perfume but I find myself returning to it nonetheless. The rose notes are cheering and the musk and patchouli warm things up just a bit. All in all, one feels feminine and optimistic setting out for the day, sporting this lovely scent.

August 26, 2012

Unconditional Love, what's not to love?


Philosophy
Unconditional Love


Unconditional Love, the sequel to Philosophy's Falling in Love



Notes:
Black Currant
Florals
Cashmere Vanilla

It’s hard to discern (from either the company or the scent itself) what else is going on in Unconditional Love other than Black Currant  and ‘florals’, a touch of citrus (I suspect) and some vanilla to round it all off. It is a fruity, predictably sweet fragrance that fades away quickly but while it is in effect, the effect is indeed: unconditional love. For some reason, both this scent as well as Philosophy’s Falling in Love produces an afterglow of well-being. Sweet it may be, but it’s not cloying and it has this happy innocence to it that manages to turn heads. It is, much like Clinique’s Happy Heart, an equally instant mood booster. 

August 25, 2012

White Linen, Best Aldehydes Since Chanel #5


Estee Lauder
White Linen

Top Notes:
Aldehydes, Citrus notes, Peach

Middle Notes: Rose, Jasmine, Lilac, Orris, Muguet, Ylang-Ylang

Base Notes: Cedar, Honey, Amber, Civet, Sandal, Tonka Bean


Fresh as cotton, White Linen is a salute to aldehydes or better yet: an extravaganza of aldehydes – a perfected fragrance note ensemble, most famously demonstrated in Chanel #5.

White Linen is fresh as laundry out drying on a summer clothes line with a breeze going through the bras and panties – which is to say – it’s fresh, clean and feminine in an innocent way – which is why it’s a great fresh perfume for a work day in a traditional office (do they still exist?). That said, there is something unique about the aldehydes which are in full force, alongside a generous bouquet of spring flowers. First whiff is laundry, soap, ferns and other greens. Then it warms up like a ray of sunshine in a emerald green meadow.

I don’t often encounter this or would admit it (in a woman’s perfume) but White Linen could probably be worn by a guy with great success. That said, it is a disservice to suggest this is a masculine perfume – it’s just amazingly fresh and floral – and in its own class – especially these days, when sweet and fruity, or patchouli rule – along comes suds, lilacs, bud roses, and a spray of green.


Classique X
Jean Paul Gaultier
Same old bodice bottle, fresh new scent .......




Top Notes: Mandarin and Bergamot
Heart Notes: Peony, Orange Blossom
Base Notes: Vanilla and Iris

I am a great fan of Jean Paul Gaultier’s various incarnations of Classique . This particular version is a bit airier and edgier than the others (especially the Classic Jean Paul Gaultier which is all powder, apricots and vanilla) and this could be partly due to having something as ethereal as Iris in the bottom notes. Suffice to say, this is a somewhat fresh take on a sweet scent. It is great for summer or for younger bodice-wear-ers (so to speak – and I speak of the decanter/bottle). But if you are fond of collecting every version of JP, this is still one not to be missed.

Youth Dew, Classic, Elegant, Still Doing Its Strut


Youth Dew
Estee Lauder

Classic, Complex and Feminine – Youth Dew is still a potion to be reckoned with

Top Notes: Rose, Jonquil (daffodils), Lavender

Middle Notes: Jasmine, Muguet (Lily of the Valley), Spices

Base Notes: Moss, Vetiver (lemon/lime), Patchouli
(With hints of musk, carnation, amber and benzoin)

Created in 1953, and classified as Oriental Spicy, Youth Dew was the first perfume launch of Estee Lauder and as it comes round to its 60th anniversary year, it is still elegantly marching forward with die-hard fans and new devotees alike. Why? It is complex, regal and yet still approachable; it is the epitome of what people think of when you think: perfume.

What first wallops you is the rose, and then the Lily of the Valley, spice (carnation?) takes over. Youth Dew creates an aura around the wearer (even a bit of drama: let’s be honest – it makes an entrance) and truly is one of those perfumes that take on a different personality with everyone who wears it. Shalimar, bless its heart, smells like Shalimar on everyone (and it is a stunner –no mistake) but Youth Dew (and it is an unfortunate name, alas) has a bit of je ne sais quoi to it – You can’t quite tell if it is a perfume or which one it is or if it’s not just the scent of a woman, freshly showered with soap and herself. Now that’s cunning!