About Mistress of Scents

Perfumed Reviews and Fragrant Reflections on Scent

Marcy Goldman

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.

June 22, 2017

Rubino Perfume, Cheri Milani

Top Notes: White Rose
Middle Notes : Green Apple, Pear, Violet
Base Notes: Musk Vanilla

Milani Cultura is a lifestyle brand from Italy, by artistic fashion visionary Cheri Milaney. This exciting blend of fresh feminine design styles is also part of the concept behind the four-perfume niche fragrance offerings including Rubino, Perla, Ametista and Topazio.

Rubino is one of my personal favorites.
If you are a fan of Italian perfumes or cotton to scents that are vitally alive and almost 'watery' or juicy with fragrance, any one of the Cheri Milaney quartet will appeal.


June 8, 2017

Little Red Dress. Avon
Perfumer: Sonia Constant

Top Notes: Citruses, raspberry, plum
Heart Notes: Jasmine, rose
Base Notes: Musk, sandalwood, amber

Avon launched several ‘dress’ scents (Little Black Dress, Gold, Lace and Sequence) and Red Dress is one of the most beloved in the line-up.

Firstly, it has perfumer par excellence behind it, Sonia Constant. Constant is the spirit nose behind many luxury brands including (Flower Bomb) Viktor and Rolf, Fragonard, Burberry, Coach, Guerlain, and the newest Narcisco Rodriguez Musc de Rose, among countless others. For a berry/fruity perfume, this one floats with just amount of jasmine and rose to lighten it and keep it from becoming a syrupy ‘gourmand’. The wood notes and musk balance the berries. If I were to describe it I would say, wearing this is like being in a forest of wild raspberries, a touch of moss and deep, warm but oddly cool ‘woods’. It’s like a dewy forest that is fresh and green (is it the citrus that does that?) but surprisingly approachable for the floral and fruit notes. This is a great daytime perfume because it’s feminine without being office-inappropriate but due to its longevity – impressive – it’s not a bad end-of-day, cinq-a-sept fragrance that makes the transition from office to cocktail party or early evening violin quartet concert, complete with nibbles and wine on an summer’s evening. This is a particularly feminine perfume and while it’s sweet, it’s not cloying. For the price and the nose behind it, it’s another one of those Avon best-kept-secret ‘steals’.

May 26, 2017

Top Notes
: Lavender, Aldehydes,  Hyacinth, Lily
Middle Notes: Orris, Rose, Ylang, Vioelt

Base Notes:  Solar Accord, S
andalwood,  Moss, Ambrette
What we now call a vintage perfume is for many of us (circa baby boomers) the scent of our youth or the ascent of our young adulthood. That fragrance is encapsulated in the relaunch of iconic Babe perfume.

Originally launched in 1977 by Faberge, Babe
 was intended to capture strength in femininity, a certain assertion, happy boldness, sportiness and a sexy, can-do persona. Babe was all about beauty, the new ‘career’ woman, active and engaged but always up for romance. Actress Margaux Hemmingway was one spokeswoman and later on, aerobic guru Kathy Smith did the honors. Babe was discontinued in 1992 but happily relaunched in 2015. The expert perfumers at renown Givaudan were faithful to the original creation and Babe, circa 2015, is as beautiful as it ever was.
A quote from the company behind Babe,

After lengthy research we were fortunate enough to find the original ingredients from the public records and from collectors of the original perfume. This gave us the assurance that we could recreate the original Babe perfume. We employed the renowned French perfumer, Givaudan to develop the perfume, working with this information in their highly specialised laboratories to create numerous samples for the fans to test and eventually approve.
(Babe’s composition purports to have 118 different essences, aside from the main ones indicated above).

Babe is a startling perfume at first whiff, almost outrageous - especially if you’re just beginning to exit the world of sweet gourmands (Flower Bomb, La Vie Est Belle, Angel) or were brought up on light white florals. But then it settles in and suddenly you are in an oddly warm and cuddly forest of greens, moss, florals and an anchoring of sandalwood and sweetness of honey. The silage and longevity are excellent.

I think Babe is sexy for 2017 as it was in 1977 but this time, the sexiness is not a façade but the perfume and the woman that wear it are not just a veneer or Madison Avenue ad campaign but an ‘earned’ earthy, contemporary fragrance that is age-proof. (Plus you don’t have to be an 80’s career woman to wear it; start-up gals and millennials and boomers wanting a fragrant trip down memory lane will adore this revival. 


June 3, 2016

Acqua di Parma
Iris Nobile

Younger than springtime is this fragrance....

Iris Nobile, launched in 2006, opens with the freshness of citrus (mandarin, orange, bergamot) laced with star anis. It blossoms into a bouquet of orange blossom, ylang-ylang and a chorus of tuberose, mimosa and cedar nuance in the heart, anchored by amber, vanilla, oakmoss and patchouli.  It is a delicate, cool and feminine fragrance that captures the elusive iris like no other house has been able to do. Airy and romantic, it does feature some unique warmth in the woodsy accords. This is a one-of-a-kind iconic fragrance that only Acqua di Parma could create.

Top Notes
Citrus, mandarin, orange, bergamot
Star Anise
Orange Blossom

Heart Notes
Woodsy Cedar

Base Notes

May 17, 2016

Marina de Bourbon Romance and Sophistication

Marina de Bourbon

Years ago I bought a perfume the perfume shop keeper said would elicit a marriage proposal. I am still single but I am newly in love with the brand. I have the Marina Classique and also have branched out to try their gorgeous Marina Tendre Reverence.

French perfumes are notably sophisticated and complex, exemplifying impressive perfume history and tradition. On occasion, they are also sexy and sensual but none are all that, as well as innately romantic and feminine as the Marina de Bourbon line.Here’s my two current favorites, Marina de Bourbon Classique and Marina de Bourbon Reverence.

Marina Classique is the iconic flagship perfume and it’s kept current and utterly delightful. It is fruity and floral with a light touch and is almost effervescent with fragrant charm. It suits girls and women and that elusive feminine persona in-between.

Top Notes


Heart Notes

Passion Fruit
Ylang Ylang

Base Notes
Raspberry Vanilla
Exotic Fruits

Marina de Bourbon Tendre Reverence is a sensual stroll into juicy fruits, gorgeous classic florals and a rounding warm notes of musk, sandalwood and vanilla. This is less playful and innocently flirty; it is rather seductive and assured and a perfect late day and evening perfume.

Top Notes

Heart Notes

Pink Peony
Frosted Violet

Base Notes

May 16, 2016

The Body Shop Black Musk Perfume

For quiet seduction, Black Musk is the perfect potion.

Who isn't a fan of The Body Shop? They make great products and have more than one amazing cause they stand behind and fully support. They care about their consumers and they care about the global village and the planet.

The Black Musk Perfume is for the quiet seductress, Captivating, feminine notes of bambinella pear, intensified by pink pepper and bergamot. Embraced by heliotrope with an aphrodisiac lilt of luscious liquorice. This eau de parfum is further deepened by black vanilla and black musk accords. 

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

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

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

 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


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.

Vanilla Oil from Bigelow Chemists


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.

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.


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!

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.

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.

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

French Vanilla by Dana

Love’s Soft White Vanilla

Delicious Vanilla

No longer available but amazing….
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