Estee Lauder Spellbound ~ fragrance review

Estee Lauder Spellbound advert

Down at my local Nordstrom this week, to my surprise I found the classic Estée Lauders packaged in new bottles among the regular perfume offerings. In the past, if I wanted to sniff Azurée or Estée, for instance, I had to ask at the cosmetics counter and hope there was a tester hidden away somewhere. But now, here they were, lined up like little perfume soldiers in plain sight. I asked for a sample of Spellbound.

I chose Spellbound because a few commenters on my post on Old School Chypres mentioned it. To me, Spellbound isn’t a chypre at all, but a massive warm peach- and orange flower-infused oriental that probably draws boatloads of fans, and leaves as many people holding their noses in disgust…

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How to Choose a Signature Scent, Part 2

Parfums Carrere Signature

Now that we’ve deepened your understanding of perfume in preparation for finding your signature scent (see part 1), it’s time to get down to strategy. Store shelves groan with perfume. How do you choose “the one”?

My guess is that most people duck into perfume shops and department stores and try whatever catches their fancy at the moment, hope they’ll be struck will love. That might work. Possibly. Maybe providence will toss a perfume in your path that will grab you and demand to be worn everyday.

But maybe it won’t. A surer path would be to explore the offerings of a single perfume house, then to apply whatever you learn to finding the fragrance that resonates with you most…

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How to Choose a Signature Fragrance, Part One

Carrere Signature

When people learn that I write about perfume, I can usually count on two questions: “What’s your favorite perfume?” and “Can you recommend a fragrance for me? I want a signature scent.” Forget about naming a favorite perfume. That’s a moving target. But for everyone who’s asked me to recommend a fragrance, this post is for you.

Before heading off to a boutique to find a signature scent, it’s helpful to know a few things about perfume. To me, it’s most important to understand that perfume is an art, like music or painting. Just as you probably winced the first time you heard opera and puzzled at your first Jackson Pollack, there’s a good chance you won’t initially appreciate all of a fragrance’s subtleties. When a perfumista friend raves about Guerlain Mitsouko, all you might smell is “grandma” — or worse, “rotting grandma.” That’s okay. Part of the fun of finding perfume you love is exploring a whole new art form…

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The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown ~ book review

The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown, book cover

I understand why creating a perfumer protagonist is catnip for novelists. Perfume is glamorous, and the art of creating fragrance holds more mystery than, say, playing the cello. But so many novelists butcher perfumery. Often they portray noses as bloodhounds who can sniff a sprig of mint down the block, but they ignore the heart of creating a perfume — beautiful, effective composition.

In The Perfume Garden, Kate Lord Brown avoids this pitfall. Thank you, Brown, for not spending paragraphs having your perfumer heroine wax on about the smell of a carrot that was raised in a field fed by spring water run off through alfalfa fields where a gassy Doberman frolicked…

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Ann Gerard Perle de Mousse & Ciel d’Opale ~ fragrance reviews

Ann Gerard Perle de Mousse & Ciel d'Opale

For months now, my backyard has been a dull landscape of pea gravel and weeds with a naked plum tree in the middle. Practically overnight, the garden — I see it from my desk right now — has erupted in color: shocking pink peonies and rhododendron, purple iris, yellow roses and pale, newly green leaves. It’s the perfect time to drain my samples of two tender, warmer weather fragrances, Ann Gérard Perle de Mousse and Ciel d’Opale.

Perle de Mousse and Ciel d’Opale (along with Cuir de Nacre) were created by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour and released in 2012. To me, the Ann Gérard perfume style is classic, subtle and sophisticated…

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