Crabtree & Evelyn Indian Sandalwood Cologne ~ fragrance review

Ah, the wonderful, long-ago days of fragrance, when perfumers used real Mysore sandalwood (santalum album); now, I only get to smell it in my vintage perfumes — where delicious, irreplaceable Indian sandalwood appears like a ghost, a reminder of a loved one long departed. I probably won’t live to see the return of Mysore sandalwood, if it ever returns — the best sandalwood oil comes from trees fifty years or older. The Indian government’s effort to save surviving, old-growth sandalwood trees is in disarray (with trees, even almost-worthless ‘teenage trees,’ being chopped down all the time on government and private property by thieves who trade in sandalwood oil).

Crabtree & Evelyn says the sandalwood in their Indian Sandalwood Cologne1 (formerly named Sandalwood, and presumably tweaked) is from sustainably harvested sandalwood trees…

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By Kilian Sacred Wood ~ fragrance review

Shiva as the Destroyer of the Three Cities of the Demons

Sacred Wood, along with Imperial Tea, finishes off the Asian Tales fragrance collection from niche line By Kilian (we’re still expecting at least one more scent for In The Garden of Good and Evil, and the next series is reportedly to be called Addictive State of Mind). Sacred Wood was inspired by the Indian tale of Savitri and Satyavan from the Mahabharata, and promises “the olfactory impression of an authentic Sandalwood from Mysore”.1 As most perfumistas know, real Mysore sandalwood is no longer used in perfumery due to its scarcity.

Like Imperial Tea, Sacred Wood was developed by perfumer Calice Becker. Sacred Wood opens on citrus-y, spicy wood; it’s not a dead ringer for my long-time love, Diptyque Tam Dao, but it reminded me of Tam Dao right away…

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Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black, Nirvana White ~ fragrance reviews & quick poll

Elizabeth and James Nirvana advert

Ashley and I are really into oils, and those were the notes we were really attracted to. — Mary-Kate Olsen, talking to Women’s Wear Daily.

Remember way back when — about 20-odd years ago in perfume years — when Sarah Jessica Parker launched Lovely, and everyone was talking about exactly which perfume oils it was based on? It was the first thing I thought of when I smelled Nirvana Black and Nirvana White, the new fragrances from Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s Elizabeth and James lifestyle brand. Lovely, it turned out, was inspired by Parker’s own layering blend of Bonne Bell Skin Musk, Comme des Garςons Avignon and some Egyptian Musk oil she bought from a street vendor, but as translated into something marketable by Coty, Lovely was far tamer and more wearable than you might have expected from the original mix.

Nirvana Black and Nirvana White come closer to walking the walk…

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Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle ~ fragrance review

Dries Van Noten, runway shot 1dries-2dries-3dries-4

Dries Van Noten par Frédéric Malle is the first entry in a new collection from the Frédéric Malle brand: XXX par Frédéric Malle, in which Mr. Malle promises to “translate the world of people and brands that [he admires] into scents”.1 The Belgian designer Dries Van Noten is up first, and most long time readers could probably guess that I don’t know Dries Van Noten from Adam, but after reading in Wikipedia (where else?) that Mr. Van Noten does not do haute couture because “I’m a little naive but I don’t like the idea of showing things that you don’t sell in a store”, he has already stolen my heart.2

Reportedly, it took 18 months for Malle to translate the Van Noten universe into scent, working with perfumer Bruno Jovanovic:

Then I tried to make Bruno understand the essence of Dries’ world. I spoke about the different themes and recurrent materials that my hero often uses: Indian embroidery, XVIIIth century engravings, or the very graphic and colorful prints that he juxtaposes to create unexpected harmony — just like a perfumer does…

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Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule ~ fragrance review

Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule

Somewhere between the over-spiced/overpriced, under-sandalwooded Serge Lutens Santal de Mysore and the nuclear-strength, feminine, flowers and fruit of Santal Blanc (now residing in exclusivity, in Paris, smart thing!) is an open slot for a perfect Serge Lutens sandalwood perfume. (Or at least a sandalwood with charm, balance and a carefree attitude.) When I heard Lutens was releasing a new sandalwood fragrance, Santal Majuscule*, I was interested…but cautious. It’s been a long time since a new Lutens fragrance has tempted me.

Santal Majuscule goes on smelling mildly/vaguely spicy with aromas that remind me of candied orange peel and immortelle (and is there something “minty” in the background, too?) Quickly, the perfume becomes denser and gives off the aromas of shortbread cookies (on the verge of burning) in a wood stove — incensy, and not at all unpleasant. Then, unexpectedly, a rose scent mixes with the toasty wood notes (and for a short spell, smelled on the air, not up close, Santal Majuscule smells like a richer version of Cartier Déclaration d’un Soir). As the perfume develops I get hints of brown sugar/molasses and sweet cocoa…

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