Paris Smell Diary: Day Two

réligieuse

To me, the French café used to feel impossibly exotic. The rich shots of coffee, flaky pastries, slices of baguette, and cultured butter were miles away from the Yuban and white bread of my childhood. I still love cafés, but these days I’m no stranger to good coffee — better than you get in a typical Parisian café, if you ask me — and bakeries turning out decent bread can be found in most big American cities. I regularly buy cultured butter at my neighborhood co-op.

Still, traditional French cafés fascinate me…

Read the rest of this article »

Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy

Paris Smell Diary: Day One

Sightseeing map of Paris

It’s a cliche: smell evokes memory. As profoundly as I know this, it’s something I forget until confronted with a scent that brings back a past world. The smell of warm, dry pine needles reminds me of growing up in rural Northern California. On boarding an airplane, it only takes a whiff of its fetid warmth to call up the hum of jet engines to come. I forget all about the satisfaction of a bowl of spaghetti until I get a hit of oregano, tomatoes and steamy pasta water.

For the past four years, I’ve been lucky enough to housesit for a Parisian friend in August. Yesterday I stumbled, zombie-like, from a seemingly endless flight into the RER, and an inhale later, it was as if I’d never left Paris…

Read the rest of this article »

Amouage Myths Woman ~ fragrance review

Amouage Myths brand imagery

Amouage gives us two takes on Myths Woman. The first is the one-liner describing the fragrance: “Inspired by surrealism, Myths for Woman paints its floral and green facets with an expression of dark nuances shaded with an ambivalent tone.” (If you can decipher this, let me know.) The second is this video, loaded with swirling red fabric and music that reads as “Asian tribal.”

I agree that Myths Woman tells a story, but to me it has nothing to do with surrealism or swirling fabric. My impression is of Barbara Stanwyck in the pre-code classic, Baby Face

Read the rest of this article »

Amouage Opus VII & VIII ~ fragrance reviews

Amouage Opus VII and VIII

Wow! How I’ve fallen behind on the Amouages! Let’s skip the formalities and go straight to reviews of Amouage Opus VII and VIII from the Amouage Library Collection:

Opus VII was developed by perfumers Alberto Morillas and Pierre Negrin. Its notes include galbanum, pink pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, fenugreek, agarwood smoke, patchouli, ambrox, leather, ambergris, costus root, muscone, sandalwood, olibanum and cypriol. In short, it’s a rich and smooth, slightly funky, leathery fragrance. It skews masculine, but I’d be perfectly comfortable wearing it…

Read the rest of this article »

Liquides Imaginaires Saltus ~ fragrance review

Liquides Imaginaires Saltus

Who’s having trouble keeping up with new niche perfume lines? I definitely am. I’m even starting to get a little resentful about it. Enough already. It seems like every designer who fancies himself a tastemaker tosses together a branding campaign and a line of “edgy” perfumes.

I see two big problems with this. First, good design sense does not mean an experienced nose. Next, a lot of these lines are treading the same ground. They either latch onto an era or cultural mileu (the 1920s, writers, historic figures), or they shoot for the now banal take on naughty, artistic, and hip. We get a lot of sizzle for a gristly burger at a ludicrous price tag.

So, you’ll understand why I didn’t jump on sampling Liquides Imaginaires fragrances…

Read the rest of this article »