Small (Scent) Business Saturday

Small (Scent) Business Saturday

Happy weekend, fragrance friends! Today is “Small Business Saturday”, an opportunity to shop locally, and support small independent businesses — like many of the perfumers and fragrance retailers we all love. Some have special discounts this weekend; others simply offer the same reasonable prices many have year-round. The list below is somewhat arbitrary, but most are websites I have used myself.

Discounts (some started yesterday):

DSH Perfumes: sparkle2018 (20% off sitewide); gifts with purchase also available.

Indigo Perfumery: blackfriday2018 (20% off full bottles)

Le Jardin Retrouve: free shipping worldwide this weekend

PK Perfumes: PKCYBER30 (30% sitewide and free shipping)

Shelley Kyle: THANKFUL (30% off sitewide)

Smell Bent: WONDERFUL (40% off sitewide)

Twisted Lily: THANKYOU2018 (20% off entire order)

Independent perfumers (mostly in the US) who sell directly:

Aftelier Perfumes

Dame Perfumery

En Voyage Perfumes

Eris Parfums

Lili Bermuda

Providence Perfume Company

Sixteen92: various codes for discounts depending on purchase

Solstice Scents

St. Clair Scents

Independent perfumeries (retailers):

Aedes Perfumery

American Perfumer

Arielle Shoshana

LuckyScent: special Black Friday sample set

Perfumology

Smallflower Apothecary (Merz)

The Perfumed Court (samples and decants)

Twisted Lily perfume store in Brooklyn NY

Twisted Lily store; image from http://www.timeout.com.

May Muguet Marathon: Virgin Lily of the Valley

May Muguet Marathon: Virgin Lily of the Valley

Eric Buterbaugh has long been a “florist to the stars” with a renowned flower shop in Los Angeles. Some years ago, he branched out (pun intended) into fragrances and other lifestyle products like candles and gifts. He launched his fragrance collection, EB Florals, in 2015 with eight scents based on the flowers he knows so well, one of which was Virgin Lily of the Valley.  And here is where I am very thankful, specifically, to Scentbird. I was able to snag a nifty 8 ml sprayer of it through my monthly subscription, which was the only way I was going to own it, as a 100 ml bottle retails for $295! So although I don’t own the gorgeous bottle — which is clear and curved like a large drop of dew — I do have enough of the fragrance to try it out really well. The Eric Buterbaugh website says this:

Pierre Negrin conceived this delightful Lily like a tower of glass, where all is visible from the start, from top to bottom. The tingle of a citrus, the beauty of the Lily and the softness of musks, are all present at once. The result is a Lily floating in the air, in all its white purity.

TOP NOTES
Linden, Quince, Litchi, Fleur de Narcisse Absolute, Nectarine, Natureprint
HEART NOTES
Fleur de Oranger Supra SFE, Fleur de Tiare, Jasmin Sambac Firabsolut
BASE NOTES
Osmanthys, Tuberose Absolute, Muscenone, Ambrox
Notice that neither muguet nor lily of the valley is listed, despite the fragrance’s name! This is a very dewy floral, watery and fresh, not intensely green. It is very pretty, but I’ll confess that I don’t smell much lily of the valley at all! So I think the name is misleading; this is a fantasy lily, not a muguet. Interestingly, the notes listed on Fragrantica are quite different, though I’ll take the company’s own website’s word for what they are. Fragrantica lists top notes as bergamot,  palisander rosewood, and orange blossom; heart notes of lily of the valley, ylang ylang, and amaryllis; and base notes of sandalwood, musk, and ambrette.

Scentbird had a brief interview with Mr. Buterbaugh earlier this year. He described the link between his floral designs and his fragrances:

I first look at a floral composition as an overall shape. For me, proportions matter most, which is why I mostly like to work with one or two species of flowers only in each composition. If you mix too many kinds of flowers, you lose control over texture, dimensions, proportions. I spoke at length with the Perfumers about this concept. It fits well with the idea we had from the start to celebrate one flower per scent. Which doesn’t mean creating monolithic soliflores. Our creations are layered and complex. But they are articulated around one specific flower every time.

The opening and early stages of Virgin Lily of the Valley remind me of Lily by Lili Bermuda, probably because of the fruit notes combined with flowers. As it dries down, though, I do smell the musky basenotes, including a semi-woody, herbal note that I think is the ambrette (or Ambroxan), and I like the combination.

However, I am really intrigued by EB Florals’ new “muguet”: Floral Oud Lily of the Valley, one of a collection of floral scents combined with oud. Here’s the description:

This union of opposites opens with a fruity/ spicy combination of bergamot and cassis buds, but the lily soon starts weaving its way into the mix, supported by a subtle hint of Tuberose. The oud is there almost from the start, but tamed in a way that allows for the floral notes to breathe and blossom.

The rest is amber and sandalwood, all the way to the end.

A delightfully original creation.

Original indeed — who would think to combine muguet with oud? And talk about a gorgeous bottle:

Black bottle of EB Florals by Eric Buterbaugh, Floral Oud Lily of the Valley

EB Florals, Floral Oud Lily of the Valley; image from http://www.ericbuterbaugh.com

So now, having satisfied my curiosity about Virgin Lily of the Valley, I can only hope that Scentbird arranges to carry the new Floral Ouds, especially this one. Because I am really interested in trying this combination! Have any of you tried any of the EB Florals, and especially the Floral Ouds?

Fragrance Friday: The Scents of Easter

Fragrance Friday: The Scents of Easter

Easter is my favorite holiday. Yes, I love Christmas too, but Christmas involves more work over a longer period of time than Easter, and it has been so commercialized that it’s hard to hear the church’s messages over the din of jingle bells and cash registers. We seem to have managed to keep the focus on the religious meaning of Easter; the secular hasn’t taken over as it has with Christmas. After all, as our minister said on Sunday, no one even likes the song “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.” (Although one small boy piped up from the congregation, “I do!”).

I know one of the reasons I love Easter so much is that it comes with the start of spring, a particularly beautiful season in my part of the world which calls to my gardener’s soul. Flowers and trees blooming everywhere, days getting longer, sunnier and warmer — plus there is chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Especially in my house. The scents of Easter and spring are my favorite ones: hyacinths, daffodils, lilies of the valley, Japanese magnolias, even an early rose or two. Lots of fresh greenness bursting from the earth. We always have a pot of Easter lilies in the house for the holiday, and pots of forced spring bulbs. Our church’s floral guild goes a little crazy and blankets the entire church in garlands of roses, lilies, and other fragrant flowers.

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It should come as no surprise, then, that this is the season when I happily break out my favorite floral fragrances: Penhaligon’s Ostara, for instance, named for the pagan goddess whose name is also the root for the word “Easter.” I’ve also been wearing Chanel No. 22, a heady concoction of white roses and other flower notes, Jo Loves‘ White Rose and Lemon Leaves, Berdoues’ Somei Yoshino (cherry blossoms), Jo Malone’s Lily of the Valley and Ivy, Lili Bermuda’s Lily, and others. I’m hoping to make our annual spring visit this weekend to an amazing private garden that is home to tens of millions of daffodil bulbs planted up and down hillsides:

Woodland daffodils, GIbbs Gardens, March 2016

Daffodils at Gibbs Gardens, March 2016

I love the sheer over-the-top exuberance of these floral outpourings, and that is what the whole season of spring is like here, all over our city: flamboyant azaleas in Easter egg hues layered under the floating white and pale pink blossoms of dogwoods and Japanese magnolias, underplanted with all shades of yellow and white narcissus or extravagantly bright tulips, combined with swaths of the light blue starflowers that spread here like weeds. Welcome, Spring!

Green nymph Fantasia.gif

Scent Sample Sunday: Crowd Pleasers

Scent Sample Sunday: Crowd Pleasers

I have a few fragrances that I think of as “crowd pleasers.” My “crowd” these days are usually my husband and teenaged son, who are patient testers of wrists extended with the request to sniff and tell me what they think. They prefer what my son calls “laid-back” scents: straightforward, more on the subtle side, nothing too strong (tuberose, I’m looking at you!) or challenging. And I have some very pleasing fragrances that fit the bill: some by Jo Malone, some by Lili Bermuda, some by Penhaligon’s, even one by Montale when applied lightly (Intense Cafe).

The crowd-pleaser I wore today is Berdoues Grand Crus Vanira Moorea. The only notes listed on Fragrantica are:  petitgrain, brazilian orange and madagascar vanilla. I’m sure there’s more going on with it, but those are the notes one smells the most. It opens with that citrusy sparkle and moves quickly into vanilla territory. I’ve noticed that many men seem to like the vanilla note in women’s fragrances if it is prominent enough for them to notice. Some commenters find Vanira Moorea sweet, but I don’t — at least not enough to think of it as vanilla gourmand. It always draws nods of approval from my “crowd” when I wear it. It’s a comfortable, comforting scent without being heavy or cloying.

CaFleureBon‘s Gail Gross wrote a lovely review of Vanira Moorea, around the theme of the South Pacific:

This new cologne, created by perfumer Alexandra Monet and introduced in July 2016, is at once vivid, saturated and crisp. With the initial spritz the slightly bitter, leafy petitgrain lifts the vanilla right off the ground. As the cologne drifts and swirls though the air, bright sparks of sweetness are carried on a green, misty essence of twigs and leaves.  This unisex, effervescent refreshment lasts for about an hour before the fragrance melts and settles onto the skin with a sensuality reminiscent of oranges and sunshine.

I think it is this sunny, cheerful warmth that makes this fragrance a true crowd-pleaser. Which fragrances of yours would you put in that category?

 

Scent Sample Sunday: Lazy Sunday Morning

Scent Sample Sunday: Lazy Sunday Morning

Yes, I’m having one of those: a lazy Sunday morning. And this week, I also took part for the first time in a “freebiemeet” on Now Smell This, an amazing fragrance blog and community. So in honor of that, and with gratitude to kind NST member Katrina, who offered up a “mystery grab bag of samples; some mainstream and some niche. Absolutely no rhyme or reason in what’s in the mix!”, here are my thoughts on one of the several she sent me: Maison Martin Margiela’s Lazy Sunday Morning, one of the Replica line of fragrances. It was such a treat to open the package and discover what was inside — it really made my week, which was somewhat sad because of the unexpected news the week before of the death of a former student, and planning a memorial with his friends.

Lazy Sunday Morning is meant to evoke the sense of awakening on a sunny morning in a bed of white linen sheets, skin warm, in Florence, Italy. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting Florence, so I can’t speak to that, but the fragrance includes notes of iris, the quintessential Florentine flower. However, for me the dominant floral note is lily of the valley, or muguet, which I love. That is one of the top notes, with aldehydes and pear. The combination of a soft, light, fruity note with muguet reminds me a bit of Lily, by Lili Bermuda, which combines pear with lily of the valley among its heart notes.

The aldehydic opening is light but noticeable, then the scent moves quickly into floral fruitiness that stays light and fresh. It’s very pretty, but it doesn’t smell to me like Sunday morning in bed, unless one’s bedroom window opens onto a bed of lilies of the valley and one wakes up to a glass of fresh-squeezed juice. (Which, by the way, I wouldn’t object to finding by my bedside …). However, if I am spending a lazy Sunday morning in bed, I’m much more likely to have coffee by my side, as one Fragrantica commenter noted!

Lazy Sunday Morning also reminds me a bit of Jean-Claude Ellena’s last Hermessence fragrance for Hermes, Muguet Porcelaine. I would say that it is brighter, less of a subtle wash of watercolor, and with fewer nuances. In fact, the image that comes to mind is a set of bed linens by Lilly Pulitzer, the quintessential Floridian brand with its bright pops of citrus-inspired colors on its fabrics, which ties in nicely with the orange flower that is also a heart note in Lazy Sunday Morning.

Pillow cases and bed linens by Lilly Pulitzer with lily of the valley print in bright colors

Lily of the valley bed linens, by Lilly Pulitzer

I really don’t smell rose or iris at all, even as it dries down, although they are also listed as heart notes and other commenters have felt they come through strongly. The white musk that lends a “clean laundry” aura to Lazy Sunday Morning emerges during the drydown and is very soft. All in all, this is a very pleasant, fresh fragrance. It doesn’t remind me of my own Sunday mornings in bed, but it is very pretty, and I’m happy to have a sample of it! Thanks, Katrina and NST!

Any other thoughts on Maison Martin Margiela’s fragrances?

Perfume samples in glass vials

Perfume samples

Perfume Tourism, 2017

Perfume Tourism, 2017

via Daily Prompt: Perfume

Two years ago, I became fascinated with perfume and fragrance. I was writing a screenplay about two rival perfumers and was doing research to capture some of the details and nuances of those characters’ thoughts and actions. I picked up Chandler Burr’s book, The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industryand I was hooked. It is the story of the development of two perfumes, Hermes’ Un Jardin Sur le Nil, and Coty’s Lovelycreated with and for the actress Sarah Jessica Parker. The book follows the perfumers as they work on their assignments, or “briefs”, all the while explaining the arcane workings of the perfume industry.

Advertisement for Hermes Un Jardin Sur le Nil, bottle of perfume resting on lotus leaf against background of Nile River

Un Jardin Sur le Nil; photo from hermes.com

The book also describes a journey, a form of “perfume tourism”, taken by Hermes’ then-new in-house perfumer Jean Claude Ellena and a team of Hermes executives to Egypt, specifically the Nile river, to try to capture the atmosphere of a “garden on the Nile”, which was the chosen theme for the new perfume. As poets and others have noted for centuries, fragrance and scent seem to link directly to human memories and emotions in a way that only music approaches; even so, scent is the more visceral line of communication between our senses and our memories.

My own perfume journey has been more like a tumble down a rabbit hole, as others have described it. I am also fortunate enough to have frequent opportunities to travel, so I have become a committed “perfume tourist.” What does that mean? I seek out unique opportunities to experience fragrance in my travels, including visiting independent perfume-makers and perfume boutiques. In hindsight, I have actually done this off and on for decades; on our honeymoon, my husband and I visited Grasse, the birthplace of fine French perfume, and toured more than one of the Grasse-based perfumeries (Molinard and Fragonard). When we went on a family trip to Bermuda several years ago, we visited the lovely Bermuda Perfumery,  home of fragrance house Lili Bermuda, in the historic old town St. George’s. I am very lucky that we set a pattern early of my husband indulging me with perfume souvenirs!

The Bermuda Perfumery in St. George's, Bermuda, with pastel houses

The Bermuda Perfumery. Photo: http://www.foreverbermuda.com

Now, however, perfume tourism is a more deliberate choice on my part. It has proven to be a novel way to experience cities: seeking out independent perfumeries, perfume museum exhibits, even perfume-oriented arts.  I have loved discovering independent perfume boutiques like Scent Bar in Los Angeles. And of course, nowadays my souvenirs of my trips are usually perfumes; I look for “niche perfumes” made in that country, but sometimes I just buy a nice fragrance that reminds me of that trip. A recent trip to Switzerland resulted in the purchase of three lovely niche fragrances in different cities, but also an inexpensive small bottle of eau de toilette from Victorinox Swiss Army (yes, the maker of Swiss army knives).

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Scent Bar, Los Angeles

This year so far, I’ve pursued perfume tourism in Barcelona, Spain, and in several cities in Switzerland. What’s next? Somerset House in London will open an exhibition this summer called Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent. I’m hoping I can get to London this summer to see it, as I’ve enjoyed other arts exhibitions at Somerset House in the past. And the ever-fragrant summer gardens of London are a must! Dreaming dreams of fragrant flowers and sweet perfumes …

 

May Muguet Marathon: Lily, by Lili Bermuda

May Muguet Marathon: Lily, by Lili Bermuda

One of many beautiful, interesting places to visit on the island of Bermuda is The Bermuda Perfumery, home of the brand Lili Bermuda. The perfumery was founded in the 1920s. Today, its staff creates particularly beautiful floral perfumes as well as other scents, and you can tour part of its operation in historic St. George’s, which is where I discovered Lili Bermuda several years ago.

The Bermuda Perfumery in St. George's, Bermuda, with pastel houses

The Bermuda Perfumery. Photo: http://www.foreverbermuda.com

I came home with two fragrances: Lily and Coral, both of which I love. Lily is a pretty white floral with several fruity notes that work surprisingly well with its strong note of muguet. According to FragranticaLily’s top notes are clementine, tamarind and fresh mint. Heart notes are: lily of the valley, calla lily, guava and pear (I’m confused by the “calla lily” reference, as I don’t think calla lilies have a scent). Base note is a simple white musk. What I enjoy about Lily is the unexpected juxtaposition of the fruits with lily of the valley, especially the citrusy opening. The clementine appears very clearly, with its sweet, light tones of orange balanced in a  nice contrast with the slightly astringent tone of the tamarind and the fresh green hint of mint. The lily of the valley note makes its presence known right after that and never really fades away. The fruit notes are succeeded by guava and pear — again, light and sweet fruit scents that have no sourness at all. The white musk base grounds Lily but never dominates. Although it is a light, white floral, I find that Lily lasts for several hours on my skin, wafting up with scented reminders of its beautiful island home.

Lili Bermuda’s owner, Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, seems to be a remarkably creative lady. Continue reading