Chanel No. 5 L’Eau ~ fragrance review

Lily-Rose Depp for Chanel No. 5 L'Eau

We should be happy. Chanel has been very careful with its legendary No. 5 and until now has only dared an Eau de Parfum and Eau Première beyond the original Eau de Toilette and Extrait. Both were careful enhancements. No No. 5 Noir or Eau de Sport or Resort Rose.

I can almost imagine Chanel executives casting sidewise glances at Guerlain. “What the heck are they doing with Shalimar?” they might ask. All those takes on the classic — Eau Legère, Light, Souffle de Parfum, Parfum Initial, Ode à la Vanille, and more — are akin to stealing Joan Crawford’s shoulder pads and eyebrows. At some point you end up not with an icon, but with a placid starlet who will please the common denominator for a few months, then be forgotten for good…

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Aftelier Memento Mori ~ fragrance review

Renaissance Gimmel Ring with Memento Mori

“I wanted to capture the musk-like smell of skin, using all naturals, which was quite a challenge,” Mandy Aftel writes of her latest fragrance, Aftelier Memento Mori. At first blush, creating a perfume that smells like skin might seem pointless. After all, aren’t we wearing skin? We should have skin smell already built in.

Think about it a moment, though, and it makes sense. Maybe you look out your window at a mountain, but it doesn’t take away from the pleasure of viewing Cezanne’s Mont Sainte Victoire. An artist’s interpretion of her subject adds value. Even an exact depiction of something can be art, because the painting is not the original object — ceci n’est pas une pipe. In the case of Memento Mori, this is not skin. It’s perfume…

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Inside the Perfume Cabinet ~ Jessica

Jessica, perfume books and perfume cabinet

In talking to Jessica — yes, our Jessica — about her perfume life, I tried to squeeze out a juicy story. Maybe her love of roses had to do with an ex-lover who brought her a dozen lipstick pink rosebuds every Tuesday? Or, maybe it’s because she won the Miss American Beauty pageant at the horticulture society? But no. The best I got was that her first rose-centered perfume was Avon Roses, Roses, and it came in a pink bottle shaped like a pig with a screw-off head.

Jessica’s path to perfumistahood will probably sound familiar to a lot of us. She grew up in suburban New Jersey with a quiet mother who wore dramatic fragrances, such as Rochas Femme and Guerlain Shalimar, and a grandmother who wore Caron Bellodgia and gave her Avon perfume in figurative bottles, including the pink pig…

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Comme des Garcons Blackpepper ~ fragrance review

black peppercorns

Coming off a heat wave, it’s hard to believe that Labor Day is this weekend. To me, Labor Day signals autumn, and autumn means sweaters, falling leaves and warmer fragrance. Comme des Garçons Blackpepper should come with “autumn” stamped on its label.

Perfumer Antoine Maisondieu developed Blackpepper. Its notes include Madagascan pepper, cedar wood, akigalawood (a spicy-woody material by Givaudan derived from patchouli), tonka bean and “musky accord.”

Say “black pepper” to me, and I think “biting, bracing, sneezy.” Fortunately, after its initial hit, Blackpepper is none of that…

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Serge Lutens Bapteme du feu ~ fragrance review

Serge Lutens Baptême du feu

For me these days, smelling a Serge Lutens scent for the first time is a loaded experience. When I first began to explore perfume ardently, the Serge Lutens line yielded some of my favorites — Chergui, Chêne, Douce Amere, Bois de Violette, and more — and others that expanded my appreciation for perfume in general, such as Borneo 1834, Serge Noire and Muscs Koublaï Khan.

But the line kept growing. And growing. And I wasn’t finding much new to appreciate. Was it me?

Last week I visited the Palais du Shiseido with the intention of smelling Baptême du feu…

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