Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Scent of Hope ~ fragrance review, with an aside on Jacques Fath Iris Gris

Iris

I can’t think of another fragrance that matches the mystique of Jacques Fath Iris Gris. Sure, perfume lovers scramble for vintage Mitsouko and study its qualities by the batch number, but Mitsouko is still on the market, and vintage bottles are relatively easy to find. Jacques Fath, perhaps Dior’s closest competition in the New Look years, died in 1954 at the stupidly young age of 42, and Iris Gris — even the name is mysterious and moody — disappeared soon after. Scent of Hope is a recreation of Iris Gris that indie perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz originally made for a private client.

Perfumer Vincent Roubert developed Iris Gris in 1946, just as France was shaking free of World War II.1 Thanks to Denyse Beaulieu of Grain de Musc, I’ve been lucky enough to smell a sample strip dipped in a bottle she bought unopened. I was surprised at how clean it smelled, and how rich the iris was, but of course that bottle was at least 60 years old. I cherish the amber-stained but now-scentless strip as a talisman. But how would Iris Gris smell fresh…

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Serge Lutens L’Orpheline ~ fragrance review

Serge Lutens L'Orpheline

Do you ever think of certain scents as “warm” or “cool”? I do. Amber, leather, oakmoss, and wood smell warm to me, while herbs, citrus, green notes, and ozone smell cool. Florals can go either way, especially rose. Most perfumes seem to have an overall warm or cool flavor to them, too, or they start out cool then turn warm. Serge Lutens L’Orpheline bucks the trend by straddling both cool and warm notes at the same time. In the end, the fragrance feels like a worthy complement to a rainy autumn afternoon.

In true Serge fashion, the press material surrounding L’Orpheline’s release is more mystical than practical. (I imagine members of some future cult bowing to a huge black-and-white portrait of Serge Lutens while chanting bits from leather-bound perfume box inserts.) We do know that the fragrance was developed by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake and includes notes of incense, ashes and musk…

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Aftelier Palimpsest ~ fragrance review

Archimedes palimpsest

First, a definition: a “palimpsest” is a material, such as a parchment, that’s been written on, erased, and written on again. With a palimpsest, you may see traces of the story written before. (Another word that evokes this sense of story within story is “pentimento,” the glimpse of a painting under a painting. Maybe the name of an Aftelier Palimpsest flanker?)

Mandy Aftel, Aftelier’s founder and nose, says she was inspired to create Palimpsest while she was researching her newest book, Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent. “I wanted to capture the feeling of how the past is alive in the present, but transformed into a beautiful, shadowy feeling of layered richness and sensuality,” she writes…

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Pinaud Clubman Virgin Island Bay Rum & Providence Perfume Co Bay Rum ~ fragrance review

Pinaud Clubman Virgin Island Bay Rum & Providence Perfume Co Bay Rum

Until a sample of Providence Perfume Co Bay Rum cologne showed up in my mailbox, I’d been vaguely curious about Bay Rum colognes, but not enough to track one down. I’d seen darling straw-thatched bottles of Bay Rum in hat stores by the cash register and the odd retro-looking bottle at a family-owned drugstore. But I couldn’t tell you what Bay Rum smelled like. Well, now I can. And I like it.

According to Wikipedia, Bay Rum cologne is a West Indies cologne, probably originating in Saint Thomas, made from rum, the leaves and berries of the West Indian bay tree (not the culinary bay you might be more familiar with), and spices such as clove and cinnamon. In short, it’s a warm, spicy scent that lovers of linear, spicy fragrances along the lines of L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two and Laura Mercier Minuit Enchanté might want to investigate…

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Dior or Die by Angela M. Sanders ~ book announcement and excerpt

Dior or Die by Angela M. Sanders, book cover

Dior or Die, the sequel to The Lanvin Murders,1 is out! It’s on Kindle for $3.99 and will be available in paperback for $13.95 in about three weeks. If you need something to peruse in the bathtub — a novel that won’t sprain any brain cells — you might want to give Dior or Die a try.

Here’s an excerpt, so you can see if Dior or Die is your thing. (Note: the “tiki bar” refers to an old bar the heroine, Joanna Hayworth, uses as her cashier’s table in her vintage clothing store. “Vivienne’s clothes” are three trunks of vintage haute couture Joanna won at an auction, but which were seized when Vivienne was found poisoned to death that night. You should be able to figure out the rest.) This is from Chapter Fourteen:

That night, hours after the store closed, Joanna leaned over the tiki bar to tally receipts. The student had come back for the lemon chiffon prom dress, but otherwise the day’s sales were pathetic…

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