Comme des Garcons Floriental ~ fragrance review

Comme des Garçons Floriental brand image

What does “floriental” mean to you? I think of a warm, ambered fragrance with a classic floral heart and a touch of fruit. I count on baroque flourishes and maybe even a bottle with a tassel dangling from its neck. It won’t surprise you that Comme des Garçons Floriental is none of that. Instead, Floriental purports to center itself on a flower with no scent — the cistus flower — and it is straightforward and linear with a decidedly urban edge. No tassels here.

Floriental’s notes include labdanum, sandalwood, vetiver, incense, pink pepper and plum liqueur. You’ll notice the absence of floral notes in this list, and I don’t smell anything blatantly floral in Floriental, either. Instead, I get a sharp, incense-tinged top floating above a sweet, round sandalwood base with a touch of spice. And that’s about it…

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Miu Miu ~ fragrance review

Stacy Martin for Miu Miu

In Paris I’ve been lucky to see some of the PR material perfume houses send out. Wow. Marc Jacobs Decadence’s press materials came in a gold-edged black folder designed to look like a purse, complete with tassel and gold chain handle. Chanel Jersey’s press packet was a hand-bound paper booklet with mounted vintage photos, envelopes inserted to open and explore, and close-ups of materials — all on thick, luxurious paper.

Miu Miu’s press materials are especially impressive. Prada sent out a finely made flat box slickly papered in Miu Miu’s signature red and quilted baby blue. The box opens to a sheaf of hard cardboard placards with gold edges and artful images of actress Stacy Martin working Miu Miu’s youthful jolie laide charm. The perfume bottle is darling, and it feels heavy and solid in the hand. On seeing the package, my first thought was: Wow, this is gorgeous. Second thought: This must have cost a fortune, possibly more than the perfume did…

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Annick Goutal 1001 Ouds, Arquiste Nanban & Serge Lutens Renard Constrictor ~ fragrance reviews

Montgomery Ward catalog page

When you were a kid, did you ever flip through the Montgomery Ward catalog in late summer and plot your persona for the next school year? I loved it. I studied the catalog models and chose the outfits I thought would dazzle other seventh graders, even though I’d be lucky to rate a sack of hand-me-downs and shoes from Kmart.

These days, new clothes don’t hold a lot of allure for me, but I adore perusing the new fall fragrances. I’m in Paris right now, and I’ve been lucky to sniff some of the latest releases. Even though the heat is sweltering, warm fragrances and dreams of fall beckon. Here are a few I’d love to take home that I’d never find at Montgomery Ward…

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Chanel Chance, Chance Eau Tendre & Chance Eau Vive ~ fragrance review

Chanel Chance Eau Vive

Have you noticed the trend of young women dying their hair gray? It can be startling to see a baby face capped with grandma’s hair. Sometimes it comes off as chic. But sometimes it’s an epic fail, almost as unsettling as politicians who dye their hair nut brown when Mother Nature clearly determined it should be gray — or gone. Mutton dressed as lamb, and vice versa.

To me, Chanel Chance plays this game. It doctors a big girl’s perfume for little girls by simplifying its heady oriental notes, freshening it up with citrus, and targeting its marketing to younger women. It’s like Guerlain Shalimar drawn as a kid’s cartoon and squirted with sweet musk, or like Thierry Mugler Angel with less verve and voluptuousness. To me, Chance feels off-kilter — or worse, banal. But, like dying your hair gray, it has its fans.

Chance, created by Jacques Polge, launched in 2002…

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Dita Von Teese Rouge and Erotique ~ fragrance review

Dita Von Teese Rouge and Erotique

Like drag queens, burlesque performers fascinate me. They’re courageous enough to flout convention and adopt a persona that isn’t accepted at P.T.A. meetings, and they do it all in front of an audience. Although they might perform simply for their own satisfaction, there’s a reason the house is full. Some us wish we had the guts to be ourselves in such an outrageous way.

Dita Von Teese is counting on it. Besides her first perfume, Dita Von Teese, she’s released three other fragrances playing on angles of her burlesque persona: Fleurteese, which I haven’t smelled; and Rouge and Erotique, which I review here. You may not want to put on a corset and dance in a giant martini glass, the fragrances seem to say, but give us a try for a taste of that feeling…

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