Fragrance

By Michelyn Camen

Beginning in October and ending somewhere around February 1st, a fragrance editor needs a break. I am meticulous about testing every scent we write about, so I personally road test at least ten fragrances a day. There are times when I feel like I cannot smell another thing.

As the new fragrance releases for Spring ’08 began to cross my desk, I didn’t rush to open the boxes with anticipation. What could possibly smell more delightful, more engaging, more experiential, or even more middling than the hundreds of scents I have spritzed these past few months —between the Holidays ’07 and Valentine’s Day ’08?

I was wrong; March is an embarrassment of riches. With one let down…

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Cruel Gardenia

Our usual instinct is to gravitate to what we think we are going to like first. I did the reverse; I chose to start with Guerlain’s Cruel Gardenia from the L’art Et La Matiere Collection. The scent of gardenia is a love/ hate aroma, and I do not care for it. It’s too heady, strong and overpowering for my chemistry. Not this fragrance however. To my surprise (shock) Cruel Gardenia is a stunning fragrance and proves the adage, “don’t judge a scent by its notes”. Damask rose, peach and neroli enter, and then gardenia, much mellowed by violet and ylang -ylang follow. Silky musks, vanilla, Tonka Bean and sandalwood should add sweetness but do not. It’s a paradoxical fragrance. But I am obsessed…creamy and luscious, as if Guerlain discovered a new species of flower. Available at Guerlain Boutiques and at Bergdorf Goodman.

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Evening Edged In Gold

The long awaited debut of Ineke’s Evening Edged in Gold did not disappoint. The fifth fragrance in their ‘letter’ serie; this new scent receives an ‘E’ for excellence. Dazzling top notes of plum and gold osmanthus are offset by Angel’s Trumpet and Midnight Candy; closing with rich base notes of saffron, cinnamon, dark woods and leather. Evening Edged in Gold is an elegant, sophisticated scent, yet warm and wearable. Available at www.ineke.com.

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Amour Indian Holi

Holi is a festival celebrated in India that begins in March, bidding farewell to winter and welcoming spring. Kenzo Amour’s Indian Holi is the second fragrance in the Amour series, and reflects Kenzo’s fascination with the month long festival filled with India’s color, joy and laughter. Kenzo Amour’s original notes of cherry blossom, rice steam, and musk are present, but Indian Holi is ‘pinker’, (remember, pink is the navy of India), as pink pepper, peony and rose accords were added. It’s a limited edition and available at www.sephora.com and at Nordstrom.

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L’ete en Douce

L’Artisan Parfumeur L’Ete en Douce introduces a new way of looking at fresh fragrances. There are no slightly acidic, co-mingling or sparkling notes. Minty and Rosy. Orange and Lime. Green Hay and White Musk. It is as easy to wear as you favorite jeans or your little black dress. You will reach for it again and again. Sold exclusively at www.barneys.com and www.lartisanparfumeur.com.

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Brin de Réglisse

What can be said about Jean-Claude Ellena that has not been the subject of legend, books, or revealed though his masterpiece fragrances? Prior to joining the revered House of Hermès as master perfumer, he created mind blowing fragrances including Bvlgari Eau Parfumee au The Vert, Amouage, The Different Company Rose Poivree, and L’Artisan Parfumeur Bois Farine. He is prolific… he is a maverick… he is a genius and with the seventh scent in his highly coveted Hermessences, Brin de Réglisse, he is off his mark. The two main ingredients are licorice and dry lavender. Notes of hay and citrus play a supporting role. Somehow, the layers of lavender, licorice (great alliteration), hay and citrus do not layer well on the skin, so the fragrance isn’t special. In fact the only way to describe the drydown is thick and then gone in a flash. The maestro dropped his baton. Available exclusively at Hermès Boutiques Worldwide.

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Aqua Allegoria Figue-iris

I try not to review two fragrances from the same perfumerie in New and Noteworthy. Unless… they are indeed both new and noteworthy. Guerlain earns this exception with its new Aqua Allegoria Figue-Iris. The fragrance was created by the master himself, Jean Paul Guerlain. Unlike the previous review, two seemingly opposing notes (fig and iris) engage well on the skin. The ripe fruitiness of fig, (reminds me of Israeli figs which taste delectable) seem to grow more fragrant when it meets the dry powdery quality of the iris accord. Of course, I detect the signature violet note that is a thread throughout most Guerlain fragrances, but it is subtle, as is the vetiver root and vanilla at its base. Available at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.

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John Varvatos for Women

Designer John Varvatos and perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux must have a Vulcan mind meld. Flores-Roux was the nose behind the two successful Varvatos scents for men and have re-united to create Varvatos’s first scent for women. John Varvatos for Women is as sexy and feminine a fragrance for women as his men’s scents have hit their mark for men. I had an opportunity to chat with Flores-Roux and he was passionate about the scent being a true floral chypre. Available in both perfume and eau de parfum there is a difference between the two compositions. The Eau de Parfum is sweeter and more fruity floral; I detect more of the floral chypre as well as amber and honey in the Perfume). There are so many wonderful notes and accords I will just list them, but the whole is greater than the sum: Aromatic Grappa, Georgian apricot, damascus plum and golden mandarin, rubrum lilies, Indian mango blossom, Egyptian jasmine and Turkish rose atta, oak moss, patchouli, tonka beans and wild honey. The bottle was inspired by an Italian grapa bottle; Varvatos engaged Lloyd & Co to reinterpret the original for the flacon which is accented with rose gold. The oval shape is sensuous and definitely a perfect compliment to the fragrance. Launching exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue and at www.saks.com

Again, March was an abundance of riches. To avoid sensory overload check back in April; I will be reviewing some more amazing fragrances including Mandy Aftel, Neil Morris, Miller Harris, and Crazylibilelule and the Poppies, along with some new surprises.

Originally published March 2008
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