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Monday, July 6, 2015

Animal Ingredients in Perfumes: More Than a Growl

Among perfumery materials few are so loaded with meaning and associations than animal-derived ones. The glamor of yore feels immersed in the cheetah print of those tailored coats that Hollywood stars wore to get the trash out and one can almost smell the Bal a Versailles parfum off their YSL Le Smoking lapels. Ah...the times when false lashes came out for a night on the town and fire-engine red lipstick was a necessary accessory rather than a summer brights trend...


Animal rights activism has (justifiably) put a lid on that. Additionally, the historical changes brought about by analytical chemistry and the since illegal poaching of some of the critters responsible for some of these elusive, magical essences have created new realities. Fragrances (and cosmetics too) use sophisticated synthetics which replicate the warm, intimate touch of something that used to come from furry behinds.

This has necessitated some detailed information on all the various aspect unto which the critical matter of animal-derived and animal-smelling raw materials touches.

For starters and for a short answer I have written an essay on Fragrance.About.com answering the simple question "Do perfumes contain animal ingredients?"
I also wrote a Musk specific article there called "Musk: Erotic Smell of Warmth & Cleanliness". You can read those hitting the highlighted links.

In the archives of Perfume Shrine over the years I have often belabored the subject as well.
You can reference for instance the following articles:

Animalic & "Skanky" Perfumes
Ambergris (natural) and its comparison with the amber "chord"
Ambroxan: synthetics amber-wood
Musk: natural Tonquin musk and synthetics
The historic Animalis base
Of Bees: Honeyed Scents of Myth (referencing both honey and beeswax, an animal product)
Parfums Fourrure (so called "fur perfumes")

Enjoy the posts!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Acqua di Parma Acqua Nobile Rosa: fragrance review & giveaway

It's pink! 

This exclamation can be taken two distinct ways. It either beckons lovers of all stuff girly
or it scares hardcore perfumephiles with their anticipated suspicion hardened through years of insipid fruity florals that would be better used as shampoo. Thankfully Acqua Nobile Rosa isn't either too fluff, nor a fruity floral. It's a pure, crystalline, airy wisp of a scent, as ethereal as wind chimes heard through an early morning breeze.


With Acqua di Parma issuing a newer interpretation of their previous Rosa Nobile in their Acqua Nobile line of scents one might expect a rehashing of the same formula, only turned lighter. But in fact Acqua Nobile Rosa is a new composition, certainly more ethereal, yet managing to differentiate itself enough to warrant testing both.

Rosa Nobile is a cool and straight-up rose petals fragrance, a ballet slipper of a smell rather than an exuberant Nahema (Guerlain) red Jimmy Choo pump or a moiré slingback in the fruity green style of Sa Majeste la Rose (Serge Lutens). It's not retro, but it's not bastardized either, the way some of my favorite rose fragrances are, i.e. sprinkled with loukhoum rosewater (Mohur extrait), dense with spice and patchouli (Aromatics Elixir, Voleur de Roses) or plain resinous goddess-like (Caron's Parfum Sacre). It's never easy making a true rose scent, so Rosa Nobile is not unworthy of mentioning as a relative success, especially given how jammy the pure absolute of rose can smell.

Acqua Nobile Rosa on the other hand is more like the air floating above a rose bush, with a perceptible citrus and blackcurrant tinge, tart and a little bit tangy. Blackcurrant buds have an illustrious and infamous history in perfumery, what with them being used to great aplomb in First by Van Cleef & Arpels (where they open the scene to the animalic smelling background beneath the posh French style perfume) and their ammoniac feel reminiscent of a kitty cat. 
But do not fear. It's pink. How wrong could it go? 

The airy, electrical buzzing (i.e. freesia) but prolonged -thanks to large musk molecules- drydown is very soft, lightly powdery (a hint of makeup aroma), lightly sweet and the rose is retained throughout; it's as if one is catching the whiff of a rose garden next door rather than hiding one's nose amidst the bushes. I'm OK with that.

Capturing the serene beauty of a stroll in an Italian rose garden, Acqua Nobile Rosa Eau de Toilette is a radiant fragrance for women. This sparkling Eau de Toilette focuses on the lighter, brighter aspects of the rose garden with notes of mandarin, blackcurrant, rose and ambergris. A veritable symphony of enchanting accords capturing both the vibrant and ethereal facets of the Italian Centifolia Rose, famed for its incomparable beauty. 

Fragrance notes for Acqua Nobile Rosa by Acqua di Parma:
Top: Bergamot, Mandarin, Blackcurrant
Heart: Damask rose, Centifolia rose, Cyclamen, Freesia
Base: Ambergris, Musk

Related reading on Perfume Shrine:


I have a full bottle of this from which a 5ml decant has been taken for a lucky reader. 
Please enter a comment below this post to enter. Draw is open internationally and closes on Sunday 5th midnight. 

In the interests of full disclosure I got this through a PR promo. 


Monday, June 29, 2015

Solidarity Sale

Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably heard of the latest developments in the Sovereign Greek Debt Crisis and the Eurozone proceedings. We're living in historic and interesting times, no doubt.

In an effort to come to terms with uncertain liquidity in the following critical days, I decided to personally liquidate part of my perfume collection, offering readers both a chance at worthwhile things (everything was personally purchased and kept in dark closet), and the satisfaction of showing solidarity. Please take a look at the things below and if any or more interest you, please email me using Contact for further details. Thank you!

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Vintage & Discontinued fragrances

Annick Goutal Grand Amour, eau de toilette 50ml 50% full, no box.

Boucheron Femme extrait de parfum, 15ml in "ring" presentation, full, new in box.

Christian Dior Eau Fraiche, 1950s vintage chypre by Roudnitska, 30ml atomiser, full. {in talks}

Christian Dior Poison, 1980s oval shaped bottle spray EDT 30ml, 90% full 

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, 10ml travel spray (original edition), 70% full.

Guerlain Metalys, 30ml glass bottle vial with screw cap. Full.

Guerlain Mitsouko extrait de parfum 8ml, 2000 vintage, "lighter" style atomiser, 90% full in box.

Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial, EDP, 40ml EDP sealed in box. {in talks}

L'Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l'Aube limited edition, discontinued, 100ml, 85% full

L'Artisan Parfumeur Extrait de Songe, vintage bottle style, collectible, 30% full, no box.

Oscar de la Renta Oscar 30ml EDT 85%full, no box.



Niche fragrances

DelRae Amoureuse 50ml 50% full, not sure on box (might have it, need to check).

La Maison de la Vanille Vanille Noire de Mexique, 100ml 70% full in box.

Pell Wall Fragrances Pretty in Pink, English-rose artisanal fragrance EDT100ml in box, 95% full

Ramon Monegal Mon Cuirelle, 50ml sealed in box.


Quirky fragrances
{Anyone who takes all three (these are not costly at all) also gets a small surprise}

Black Widow,  spicy oriental in style of old Opium, 60ml 70% full in box.

Lidl Suddenly Madame Glamour, EDP 50ml, sealed in box.

Zara Rose, modern floral woody musk (Narciso style), 30ml sealed in box.


More additions !


One of my longtime readers with an erstwhile collection is also selling some of her fragrances. I have bought off her many times and everything was top notch. Both her taste and her stash get top rating, so proceed with trust. 

Please leave a comment below the post if you are interested in any of her fragrances and you will be in touch with her. This is only hosting on my part and any transaction and/or shipping will be conducted directly with her. 


Sonia Rykiel 7e Sens, EDP 100ml, almost full. Box shows wear.

Guerlain Mitsouko extrait, tester bottle 30 ml, 60% full, 2013 batch new reformulation. No box.

Boucheron woman 50 ml edp, almost full, vintage, first version, Made in Switzerland, Bâle, rare.

Jean-Louis Scherrer 2, vintage EDP not edt,  25ml,
almost full.

Montana very first version before it was renamed Parfum de Peau, EDT 50ml, almost full, very rare, extremely beautiful. Box shows wear.

Jean Patou Joy Forever 75ml, EDP, almost full or 90% full 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Perceptions of Sweetness: Is it Only in Your Sugar-Bowl?

It seems like sweetness is indeed de riguer in modern perfumery, the sine qua non of commercial success as endless sales of La vie Est Belle, Flowerbomb and Prada Candy, say. I dare you to find something as bitter as—say—Piguet's Bandit eau de parfum or Chanel No.19 eau de toilette in the production of the last 15 years.

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Even forms of perfume which do not lend themselves to the culinary, such as the powdery softness of contemporary "lipstick smelling perfumes" built on "makeup-like" accords (enter Lipstick Rose, Chloe Love, Flower by Kenzo with their abundance of ionones) or the soapy aldehydic glow of the lathered soapy fragrances, such as Narciso Rodriguez Essence, exhibit a sweet tooth. Which serves as the springboard of another thought.

What if sweet notes were always popular, merely set in a different context?

This is the core of my article on Fragrantica, Perceptions of Sweetness: Facets & Surprises, where I investigate the many nuances of "sweet" in fragrances, both vintages such as Chanel No.5 or No.22 and modern ones such as the ones named above. I also pose a question as to what you perceive as sweet and whether it has anything to do with flavor preferences or hard-wiring in the brain. 
You're welcome to comment either there or here. 

Related reading on Perfume Shrine:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Americans Complaining of Perfume Overload: Cultural Divide or Other?

It seems like I get almost every single one of the mails complaining of perfume overload from people living on US soil. The matter had been discussed in a previous post, Americans vs French, the Culture Wars, but here are some more thoughts stemming from past discourse with interested parties.


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1. The frivolity of perfume seems ingrained in a sort of WASP mentality, the glorification of soap & water of religious significance through the "cleanliness next to godliness" axiom. Interestingly, although the phrase is similarly coined in other languages to extol the value of cleaning up, the connection is not made with the divine but rather with other values, such as social status (In Greek it's "cleanliness is half nobility" ). To further the syllogism one might say that eschewing the god-preferred clean smell of soap & water, covering it up with perfume "reeks" of suspicious motives, of emulating women of low reputation who used perfume in order to either hide the smell of other men on them or to seduce men through perfume. In a certain milieu, the use of perfume might be considered thus immoral.

2. The cubicle farm culture is most prevalent in the US rather than in other countries (although I'm not going by any solid statistic, just what I see on first "reading") which might explain why there are so many people who have complaints. It's not entirely their fault (or their co-workers'), you know, the environment induces discomfort, conflict and ennui! Someone has to be blamed and perfume is so easy. Especially so since smells invade our space and trigger emotional responses.

3. The following might not be relevant nowadays in all cases, but I distinctly recall a perfumer mentioning that American perfumes are made with a higher concentration within the established eau de toilette, eau de parfum concentrations so as to satisfy the taste to have your perfume announcing you, a form of "olfactory shoulder pads". It's also a historical fact that some of the most potent, powerful fragrances first met with success in the US, such as Narcisse Noir by Caron, due to this preference for stronger fragrances. (And we all recall Calvin Klein's Obsession and Giorgio Beverly Hills, don't we). So it' wasn't always like that. Additionally several of the modern "clean" scents of American name are so harsh that they do pierce sinuses.

 So in view of the above is it any wonder that lots of Americans are complaining? I don't think it's entirely their fault.
What's YOUR take?

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