Elizabeth and James Nirvana Rose & Nirvana Bourbon ~ fragrance reviews

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Rose & Nirvana Bourbon

A few years back, I was enjoying cocktails with friends at an upscale, old-school hotel bar on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and I saw one of the “Olsen twins” seated nearby with two older male companions in suits. I was intrigued by the sight of this former child star evolved into a successful entrepreneur, this waif who swathed herself in layers of urban-bohemian black clothing for a meeting with two executive-looking men in such a traditional setting. Her eyeliner was generously applied, yet her demeanor was serious, even somber. It was an interesting set of contrasts.

I’m having a similar response to Nirvana Rose and Nirvana Bourbon, the two new fragrances from Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s Elizabeth and James brand. I liked Nirvana Black and Nirvana White, both launched in late 2013 (and followed by matching roll-ons, perfume oil, solid perfume compacts, body oil and dry shampoo), so I was curious about these latest offerings. I’m happy to report that Rose and Bourbon are two more smart fragrances that straddle the line between “grown-up” and “free-spirited”…

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Imaginary Authors Memoirs of a Trespasser ~ fragrance review

Imaginary Authors Memoirs of a Trespasser

The early exploration writing of Philip Sava bent the limits of post-modern fiction, revealing fantastical worlds that fooled many into believing they were, in fact, real. Sava’s kaleidoscopic collections, of which Memoirs of a Trespasser is the undeniable centerpiece, drew upon true experiences from his exotic travels but were infused with a hallucinatory inventiveness that set his work apart from others in the genre.

Though Sava had associates all over the world, he spent most of his time living in solitude on a ranch in southern Madagascar. When interrogated by the press on his cloistered lifestyle he notoriously answered, “Who needs love when you have cognac?”

When I reviewed two fragrances (An Air of Despair and A City On Fire) from indie niche line Imaginary Authors back in June, I asked people to name their own favorites from the brand in the comments. Memoirs of a Trespasser garnered the most mentions, and now that I’ve smelled it, I can see why…

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Aroma M Geisha Vanilla Hinoki ~ fragrance review

Shiraike Jigoku of Beppu Jigokumeguri, Beppu, Oita prefecture, Japan

The independent perfume house Aroma M has just released Geisha Vanilla Hinoki, the first addition to its Geisha collection since 2011’s Geisha Amber Rouge. (Just for reference, my personal favorites from this line are Geisha Violet, Geisha Marron and Geisha Noire.) Vanilla Hinoki includes notes of vanilla, bergamot, clove, cardamom, nutmeg, cedarleaf, lavender, leather, patchouli, amyris and cedarwood, and it was created to evoke “the cloudy, floating, sybaritic sensation” of resting in a Japanese hot-spring pool.

Aroma M has never offered a gourmand fragrance before, unless you count the cocoa note in Geisha Violet (really more of a “fleurmand”). I was surprised to see that this new Geisha was vanilla-themed, and I have mixed feelings about vanilla perfumes…

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A Lab on Fire Mon Musc a Moi ~ perfume review

A Lab On Fire Mon Musc à Moi

A Lab On Fire’s new fragrance, Mon Musc à Moi, sounded reasonably tempting. It was developed by perfumer Dominique Ropion, and it’s from a brand that’s done more than one fun gourmand (What We Do In Paris Is Secret, Paris*LA). The ad copy was a little silly, but it usually is, and while I couldn’t say exactly what they mean by “contemporary retro”, it sounds like it can’t hurt, right?

As it turns out, Mon Musc à Moi smells entirely contemporary to me, and I probably would have liked it better with another dash of retro…

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Aftelier Vanilla Smoke ~ fragrance review

lapsang souchong

Autumn and the scent of smoke seem made for each other. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of the season’s first wood fires, or a taste of peaty Scotch, or the steaming pots of smoky Lapsang Souchong tea that sound so good on a rainy afternoon, but for me it’s hard to separate smoke and November. For that reason, I looked forward to sampling Aftelier Vanilla Smoke.

Not that I didn’t have my concerns. After all, not all smoke is good smoke. Would the smoke be toasty or touched with cumin (like real wood smoke can be) or acrid? Worse, would the vanilla smell like cake batter? Fortunately, with Mandy Aftel we’re in good hands…

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