Inside the Perfume Cabinet ~ Arielle Weinberg

Arielle Weinberg step shelf, perfumes

“I have no perfume memories,” says Arielle Weinberg, blog mistress of The Scents of Self and owner of the brand new niche perfume shop, Arielle Shoshana, in suburban Washington, D.C. Ari’s father lost his sense of smell in a car accident before she was born, and her mother didn’t wear fragrance.

So, what got her interested in perfume? Mascara. When Ari was 15 years old (she’s 24 now), she was looking up mascara reviews and stumbled upon Makeup Alley, which led her to the Penny Pencil’s poetic reviews. Besides mascara, Penny Pencil reviewed perfume. Ari was at first intrigued, then hooked. In D.C., where Ari lived, she didn’t have much access to niche fragrances, so she dived into the Guerlains and Bond No. 9s. For a few solid years, she wore Bond No. 9 New Haarlem, and she still loves Guerlain L’Heure Bleue

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Norell New York ~ fragrance review

Riley Keough for Norell New York

The press release accompanying my lab sample of Norell New York says that “the heritage of the campaign” is “Fusing Then and Now.” To a lover of vintage fragrances, these are dangerous words. I wonder, what’s wrong with leaving the “then” alone — why not simply offer the classic Norell made with good materials and balanced by a skilled nose? By “now,” do they mean “market-driven” (aka “pandering”)? Deepening my skepticism, the press release says “Norell New York makes you feel like ‘Each Time is the First Time’.” I groan in dread.

I’m happy to report that Norell New York does not pander to fragrance trends, and although I wouldn’t call it a dupe, it respects the original’s bones and character. Whether it’s for you is a different question…

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5 perfumes: appreciating the Big Five

Like much art, some fragrances — especially the complex classics — take time to appreciate fully. At first, you might even find them off-putting. But as you spend time with each fragrance, you begin to appreciate its peculiar nature, its singular beauty. That describes how I’ve felt about the perfumes I’m calling the Big Five.

I’ll tell you a little about my relationship with each fragrance, then I’d love to hear how you’ve come to know each of them.

Chanel No. 5

Chanel No. 5

For the longest time, I was convinced I knew all about No. 5. No. 5 was fine, full of straw-tinted jasmine, awash with aldehydes, and charming, if fusty. But it wasn’t for me — or so I thought…

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Tom Ford Noir Pour Femme ~ fragrance review

Tom Ford Noir Pour Femme brand image

Every once in a while it’s nice to throw restraint to the wind. This is why molten chocolate desserts, lipstick like red patent leather, and Douglas Sirk movies exist. To me, Tom Ford Noir Pour Femme, with its over-the-top nutty sweetness, fits this category.

Noir Pour Femme’s notes include mandarin, bitter orange, ginger, rose absolute, jasmine accord, orange blossom, Indian kulfi accord, Madagascar vanilla, amber, Australian sandalwood, and lentisque resinoid. (Indian kulfi is a rich, dairy-based frozen dessert; lentisque is an evergreen shrub; and a resinoid is the extract of a shrub.) Perfumer Sonia Constant developed it…

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Jean Patou Colony, Ma Collection & Heritage Collection ~ fragrance review

Jean Patou Colony Heritage Collection

There is now an uneasy feeling in France. The sky grows dark and rumours of war are abroad. There is a longing to be somewhere else. People dream of a warmer sun and wider horizons. As if in answer to these dreams and longings, Jean Patou produces a new scent, Colony — a scent evocative of sun-ripened fruit, the melting aroma of spices and the blue-black manes of Creole girls.

This is the description of Colony, launched in 1938, from the booklet that accompanied the 1984 Jean Patou Ma Collection set of minis of old Patou fragrances, including Colony. To me, it’s a good description of the Ma Collection Colony (assuming that Creole girls’ hair smells like pineapple, of course). I’ve never smelled the original Colony, developed by perfumer Henri Alméras.

The press release accompanying this year’s Jean Patou Héritage Collection reissue of Colony informs us that “The new fragrance will be a modern adaptation of the historic Colony scent.” Reading this sent shivers down my neck…

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