Union Gothic Bluebell ~ fragrance review


Spring is literally “in the air” where I live. Being outdoors is like walking in a fairy tale perfume land — I breathe in the scents of viburnum, hyacinth, scented tulips, clematis, magnolia (several species are in bloom), narcissus, lilac, English laurel (hey, perfumers, do make a perfume smelling of this beautiful floral note…I’m begging!) Frankly, I’d rather be outside than writing a perfume review!

Since Robin is living it up in Barcelona this week, I’ll take a mini-vacation myself by writing a short review of a perfume that’s perfect for this moment: Union Gothic Bluebell.

Union describes Gothic Bluebell in romantic fashion…

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Grandiflora Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine & Magnolia Grandiflora Michel ~ fragrance reviews

magnolia blossoms

I grew up in Virginia, and I wonder if there’s a state with more magnolia grandiflora trees? (Mississippi…Alabama…Louisiana…South Carolina…I know you have your share!) When I think back, it seems every house, regal or modest, every college campus, farm, mall, gas station, had its own magnolia tree…or trees. Magnolia grandifloras are from an ancient family — they were Earth’s first flowering plants; magnolias are beautiful in many ways: they produce heavy/stiff leaves, ‘lacquered’ dark green on one side, suede-like, sometimes “furry” and brown, on the other; gem-like fruits; noble seed heads — not to mention their huge, glorious-looking (and heavenly scented) flowers. No matter their location, parking lot or plantation, magnolia grandifloras are grand.

I’m betting one of the first floral smells to imprint itself on me was magnolia. How else to explain my writing a piano composition in seventh grade titled Magnolia Whispers? (My piano teacher made all her students write an original piece of music for our annual recital.) I even illustrated the sheet music with tiny drawings of magnolia blossoms. (I wish I could attach a soundtrack to this article so you could get a good laugh.) I never wrote a musical ode to other favorites — gardenias, roses, poppies or marigolds…magnolia reigned supreme…

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Parfums de Nicolai Patchouli Intense ~ fragrance review

Parfums de Nicolai Patchouli Intense, large bottle

Natural patchouli. So maligned. Always mentioned in the same breath as low-rent head shops…or hippies. Thus? Thought of as: dated, old fashioned, tired…obnoxious. Or just noxious.

Me? I love real patchouli! But the first time I wore natural patchouli I realized it was not beloved by all. During college, I remember taking my little brown bottle of patchouli oil and dribbling some oil into my palms and then rubbing it all over my leather boots (as I had read “rebels” did in the 60s). I went to work. Almost as soon as I sat at my desk I heard whispers slowly turning into boisterous shouts: “What’s that smell?” “I’m getting SICK!” “Damn! It smells like a HEAD SHOP in here!” “Is Stevie Nicks in the building?” I started to sweat…

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Hermes Bel Ami Vetiver ~ fragrance review

Hermes Bel Ami Vetiver visual

One of my most memorable introductions to a perfume happened in Mexico, when a child-shopkeeper handed me, with grace and a touch of theatricality, a bottle of original Bel Ami by Hermès. It was not love at first sniff (even though I bought a bottle immediately) but now, if some evil genie commanded I use only five perfumes for the rest of my life, Bel Ami would be one of the five…even one of three (if the genie were especially nasty and restrictive).

I was excited to try the tweaked Bel Ami — Bel Ami Vétiver — but was wondering if the light touch of perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena would make the perfume too contemporary for me. With a bottle of original Bel Ami in one hand, and a sample of new Bel Ami Vétiver in the other…here goes…

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John Varvatos Artisan Acqua ~ fragrance review

John Varvatos Artisan Acqua

John Varvatos just released limited edition Artisan Acqua1 — a flanker to John Varvatos Artisan. I was intrigued for a couple of reasons: I liked original Artisan and can always be swayed (at least enough to sample a scent) when a cologne is described as “beach-y” (especially in cool, damp weather).

Artisan Acqua is a softer, talc-y version of Artisan, with a warm, summer-y feel to it…

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