Parfums de Nicolai Musc Monoi ~ perfume review

Rene Gruau for Jantzen

For many years I have been in love by the famous Ambre Solaire oil. I always wanted to create a fragrance from which I can use this wonderful smell, synonym of sunny beaches. A fragrance with a powerful sensuality that smells on your skin like a hot summer day was my main obsession! — Patricia de Nicolaï1

I’ve never smelled Ambre Solaire, the suntan oil originally released by L’Oreal in 1935 and now sold under their Garnier brand name. But most anyone will recognize Musc Monoï, the latest from French niche line Parfums de Nicolaï, as the smell of a summer vacation at the beach.

Musc Monoï isn’t meant to be a replica of Ambre Solaire,2 and don’t let the ‘monoï‘ in the name fool you into expecting gardenia…

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Top 10 Spring Fragrances 2014

daffodil on yellow

Where I live, it’s as if we fell off a cliff from frosty mornings and rain-slicked trees into yellow tufts of daffodils. Chives spring up in clumps in the vegetable garden, and my plum tree is puffed with blossoms. Heck, that guy in accounting even shaved off his beard. No question about it: It’s spring.

For my top 10 of spring, I’m going to be perfectly frank about the perfume I’ll be wearing. I’m not going to force-fit recent releases to show you how on top of it I am or sprinkle in variety for the sake of a well-rounded post. No, I’m going to tell you exactly what favorites I’ll be dragging from the back of the perfume closet. Judge me as you may.

Guerlain Chamade: As soon as I smell daphne in the neighborhood, I go straight for my atomizer of Chamade Eau de Toilette or my precious decant of Parfum — or sometimes both…

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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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Perfume: When Everything Old is New Again

Yves Saint Laurent Champagne advert

Every once in a while I open my perfume cabinet’s doors and am overwhelmed by the rows of bottles crammed shoulder to shoulder like glass soldiers. When it gets to be too much, I start giving bottles away. Rochas Tocade is an example. I bought it at an online discounter ages ago, but it was so sweet that it annoyed me. I swapped it away not long after. Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse is another example. I told myself that liked it a lot, but I rarely wore it. When I met someone who liked it better, I gave it away.

Earlier this week I found both Tocade and Yvresse (in its earlier incarnation, Champagne) at Goodwill and snapped them up. It had been so long since I’d smelled either one, and I as soon as I saw their bottles I missed them. Well, I won’t be giving them away again any time soon. Instead of cloying, Tocade smells almost golden on my skin and is just trashy enough to be fun. Champagne’s nectarine is so much juicier than I’d remembered, and its abundant moss is a deliciously fusty contrast.

Over the past six months, I’ve had a good time “shopping” in my own perfume collection and rediscovering fragrances I thought I knew…

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