The Great Perfume Reduction Plan

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It’s getting obscene — that is, the amount of perfume I have. Not only will I never be able to wear it all in my lifetime, the fragrances I truly enjoy are getting lost in the crowd. The other day I stumbled over a bottle of Ormonde Woman and stared at it as if I’d never seen it before. I love Ormonde Woman! But I’d forgotten it was even an option for me.

This is craziness. After all, I’m ruthless about pruning unflattering dresses from my closet. I won’t stand for a coffee mug that is just okay to drink from each morning. If a pillowcase’s texture against my cheek isn’t pure soft cotton, off it goes to Goodwill. So, why do I have so much perfume I consider “nice” or “kind of interesting” or “fine”…

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Phaedon Rouge Avignon ~ fragrance review

raspberry & rose petal

After having smelled hundreds — if not thousands — of perfume samples, sometimes it feels that many fragrances give in to the same tropes. Rightly or wrongly, it’s easy to dismiss them with a “been there, done that” cursory sniff. If I say “white floral,” you probably mentally sniff gardenia, tuberose and musk. Or, to get more specific, “beachy white floral,” “innocent white floral” and “glamorous white floral” bring to mind particular fragrance types. If you’ve smelled one, you can assume you’ve smelled them all.

So, when Phaedon Rouge Avignon was presented to me as a “rose incense,” I figured I knew what I’d smell next. After all, I’ve spent time with samples of Tauer Perfumes Incense Rosé, Terry de Gunzberg Rose Infernale and others. What I didn’t count on was a good-enough-to-eat infusion of raspberry and cocoa along with the rose and incense. It makes for an unexpected — and if you’re in the mood for it — appealing twist…

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Cartier Baiser Vole Lys Rose ~ fragrance review

Cartier Baiser Volé Lys Rose

One of the pleasures of summer is enjoying a glass of rosé wine in the backyard with a friend. Rosé varies, for sure, but in general it’s a crowd pleaser and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a touch fruitier than many white wines and makes friends with whatever summer food you’re eating, from grilled salmon to tomato salads. And, hey, it’s pink. I can’t help but think perfumer Mathilde Laurent was sipping a chilled Provençal rosé when she created the Cartier Baiser Volé flanker, Baiser Volé Lys Rose. It’s that kind of fragrance: easy, versatile, fun, and perhaps, ultimately, forgettable.

Cartier’s press release describes Baiser Volé Lys Rose (I’ll just call it “Lys Rose” from here on out) as a fragrance in which “the crystallized petals of a blooming pink lily are combined with subtle touches of raspberry to enhance the powdery and delicate note of Baiser Volé.” (To be clear, the fragrance isn’t about roses. In this case, “rose” is French for “pink” and Lys Rose is “pink lily.”)…

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Guerlain Shalimar Souffle de Parfum ~ fragrance review

Guerlain Shalimar Souffle de Parfum, cropped

At what point does a flanker stray so far from its parent that it ceases to earn the family name? Guerlain Shalimar Souffle de Parfum edges awfully close to that line. Yes, it still broadcasts its familiar vanilla, amber, and lemon, but Shalimar Souffle flouts its mother’s mystery and marches straight into “Hi folks, see you down at the mall — the fancy one with the Neiman Marcus” territory.

Shalimar Souffle de Parfum was developed by Guerlain’s house perfumer, Thierry Wasser. Its notes include bergamot, lemon, mandarin orange, jasmine sambac, “l’absolu de l’eau de fleurs d’oranger” (a material Guerlain notes it’s using for the first time), white musk (“an avalanche” of it, the French press release reads), and a combination of Indian and Tahitian vanillas.

I don’t want you to think I’m such a traditionalist that I oppose any Shalimar flanker…

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August in Paris

fashion images, Palais Galliera

Next week I’ll have a review of Guerlain Shalimar Souffle de Parfum for you, but I’m not ready to review anything today. Although I’m spending a few weeks in perfume’s heartland, Paris, I’m still getting my feet on the ground.

When I told people I’d be in Paris in August, I got a lot of “no one’s there in August except tourists,” and “isn’t everything shut down then?” Sour grapes, my friends. The truth is that Paris is wonderful in August. Sure, every street corner holds a few people unfolding maps, and a glance down the Champ de Mars shows dozens of tourists lined up for the camera pretending to pick up the Eiffel Tower while the diesel engines of rows of tour buses rumble in the background. But the mood is relaxed. People are here to enjoy themselves…

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