Chanel – Nº 19 Poudré

Chanel – Nº 19 Poudré

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There are some fragrances which take me ages to review, simply because I find them uninspiring. Then there are those fragrances which are so sublimely iconic that they are nearly impossible to reduce to mere words. Finally, there are those fragrances which I have difficulty getting my head around and need time to reflect upon before formulating an opinion, let alone a review.

No 19 Poudré falls into this last category, emphatically so. My expectation upon its release in 2011 was that it would be something along the lines of how the Chanel website describes it – a “luminous re-imagining of Coco Chanel’s signature scent”.  Given how bold the original Nº19 is, I envisioned its Poudré sister would be equally so, with a dose of modern perfumery’s requisite sweetness and of course, powder. I could not have been more mistaken.

Admittedly, it took me some time to get over my preconceptions, so much so, that I made a (short-lived) vow never to read a perfume press release again.  But once I got past the lack of crisp galbanum, the boldness of leather and the rich, earthiness of oakmoss, I started focusing on what the fragrance did possess.

To truly appreciate this fragrance, my recommendation is this: forget the name. Put it completely out of your mind that this bears any relation whatsoever with Nº19, since the only impression of the original is as though smelled from a great distance, through a smoky veil.

Nº19 Poudré possesses subtle, delicate green notes which feel as soothing as toner on sunburnt skin. Rather than focus on the sharp, angular aspects of the original, the fragrance highlights its subtleties. Stripped of its edgy aspects, Poudré feels like a powdery floral, rounded out with super-clean musks and sweetened with tonka. The overall effect of is of an iris powder-puff surrounded by a fuzzy incense cloud. While I cannot help but wish for more dimensionality and lasting power in the scent, Jacques Polge did create a lovely-enough iris fragrance.

Notes: Mandarin, Neroli, Iris, Jasmine, Galbanum, Vetiver, Musk, Tonka Bean.

Guerlain Rumours

Guerlain Rumours


A good friend of mine and fellow perfume collector who lives in Paris recently alerted me to some disturbing news about the beautiful Guerlain flagship store at 68 Champs-Élysées in Paris. Apparently the masterminds at LVMH have commenced another “renovation” project which has resulted in the demolition of some key historic design elements of the store. According to my friend, authorities have stopped the project and the store has been temporarily closed.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any news on this Stateside to confirm the news and get additional details. Needless to say if this is the case, it is highly disturbing. For those of you unfamiliar with 68 Champs, this location has been the home of Guerlain for close to 100 years. The boutique is a wonder to behold and embodies all of the grandeur and elegance of the traditional Guerlain name. I leave you with a few photos and ask that anyone with news of this please comment or write me.



















Chanel – Allure

Chanel – Allure


While it is often the most likely culprit, reformulation alone is not responsible for changes in the perfumes we love. Something must be said for our own changing perceptions when it comes to our selection of perfumes. While today I swear equal allegiance to several perfume houses, as a young woman I was a Chanel girl through and through.

While seemingly unlikely for a die-hard Cristalle fan, after its release in 1996, Allure and I were inseparable. It was miles away from the lighter, citrus and floral Chanel fragrances I was accustomed to and yet not quite as opulent my mother’s Coco. Allure felt rich and sophisticated, like a camel-colored cashmere sweater worn with a string of pearls. After years of smelling intense orientals like Shalimar, Allure felt like a modern take on the genre, one suitable for a slightly younger generation.

The fragrance’s citrus opening quickly reveals a heart that is both fruity and floral, yet never sweet. As the fragrance develops, it warms and deepens considerably, unfolding into a creamy base of vanilla and woods.  While the EdP is richer and less sharp than the EdT, both possess an exuberant sophistication that always reminded me of Champagne and gold, sparkling, dry and bright.

S112430_XLARGEMy fascination with Allure turned into fascination with another scent, and as fate would have it, Allure was left behind for another new love. Ten years later, 2006 found me chasing Chypre Rouge and Jacques Polge’s new line-up for Chanel Les Exclusifs. In the face of this fierce competition, Allure felt scratchy and over-the-top. I would pass it by on the Chanel counter, amused with myself for having been so consumed with it.

Earlier this year, I pulled another old love out of the deepest corners of my perfume closet. I had been craving Dune and had re-stocked my supplies with some lucky finds on eBay. While my dear perfumista may see where this is headed, I still had not. I was in Nordstrom gathering samples when I absent-mindedly sprayed on Allure EdP, for old times sake, if you will. And in a moment of baffled enlightenment, I suddenly realized that Jacques Polge’s creation was a huge nod to its 1991 predecessor. And needless to say, the love affair was rekindled.


Notes: Lemon, Bergamot, Mandarin, Peach, Rose, Jasmine, Water Lily, Peony, Magnolia, Orange Blossom, Sandalwood, Vetiver and Vanilla. 




Guerlain – Aqua Allegoria Ylang & Vanille

Guerlain – Aqua Allegoria Ylang & Vanille


For the most part, the Aqua Allegoria series by Guerlain feel like watercolor impressions of fruit and floral bouquets. The various Eau de Toilettes generally have a light character, making them perfect summertime fragraces when one is fresh out of the shower with clean scrubbed hair. The exception to the original series released in 1999 is Ylang & Vanille, a heavier, fairly opulent floral oriental, more in the style of traditional Guerlain scents.

True to its name, the fragrance largely focuses on the interplay of the exotic Ylang Ylang and luscious vanilla notes. The fragrance opening highlights the sharper, greener aspects of the flower, but quickly softens into a sumptuous floral veil that feels like a thick, plush robe. While there are subtle notes of jasmine and carnation, they are barely discernable and act more to highlight the lush Ylang Ylang. The flower’s distinctive fragrance reminds me of balmy days in humid tropical islands and its deep, voluptuous scent can add heft to a perfume. In Ylang & Vanille, Guerlain does nothing to downplay the slightly odd scent of this beautiful flower, instead adding vanilla to enhance the dense, heady quality.


The vanilla, once it appears, is quite different from the traditional Guerlain vanilla we experience in Shalimar and Jicky. Ylang & Vanille’s vanilla feels closer to a vanilla bean or extract, rich and pungent, but lacking in sweetness. While the Ylang Ylang feels sumptuous enough to hang in the air like a billowy cloud, the lack of sweetness in the fragrance keeps it from becoming too cloying, or worse, yet another sickly sweet gourmand. The fragrance displays considerable potency for an Eau de Toilette, and this is one of the few Aqua Allegorias which would be overwhelming in a more potent concentration. Similar to several of its sisters in the original 1999 series penned by Mathilde Laurent, this one has been discontinued.

Floral Oriental

Notes: Ylang Ylang, jasmine, carnation and vanilla



Serge Lutens – Barney’s

Serge Lutens – Barney’s


I recently posted herehere and here about some of my recent fragrant adventures in New York. No matter what part of town I was in, I had everything I could ever want at my fingertips, which is one of the things I miss most about the city. This brings me of course to Barney’s NYC, which features an entire glorious beauty level full of cosmetics, lotions and potions, and of course fragrances.

I passed counter after counter of the best the beauty world has to offer, but given that I had a schedule to keep, I sought out the object of my desire: the Serge Lutens counter. With the exception of Les Salons du Palais Royal, Barney’s is one of the few places where one can see (and sample) bottle after glorious bottle of Monsieur Lutens’s greatest creations.serge-lutens-face

Selecting a fragrance in a major department store can be a daunting task, especially given the number of houses and limitless new releases available today. Needless to say, it helps to have a sales associate who can provide guidance. While we cannot expect everyone in the world to be passionate about perfume, there is nothing more frustrating than finding that the person who is there to assist you knows less about the fragrance than you do. Sadly, many fragrance houses simply do not invest the time or resources in ensuring that associates receive more information beyond the press release, focusing instead on their next new release. Is it any wonder then how fickle the consumer has become as a result?

Fate would have it that the Serge Lutens sales professional was there in person and extremely knowledgable about the brand to boot. Not only could she tell her Gris Clair from her De Profundis, but to my very happy surprise, like an accomplished singer, she knew the notes by heart. Based on my stated preferences, she guided me to some fragrances I may have overlooked, a thoroughly refreshing experience. She helped me sample some of the European exclusives that I had not seen in person before, as well as a few in the export line missing from my collection of bottles and samples. She also gave me a lovely wax sample with Tubereuse Criminelle, Boxeuses, Rose de Nuit and Sarrasins, plus a spray sample of L’Eau. She apologized for not having sample bottles but I took her contact information so that I could get in touch upon my return home.

We have since been in contact and, as promised, she sent me some very generous samples which would qualify as a small decant anywhere else. I will be posting about some of these over the coming weeks as I try to decide which cloche to purchase. Overall, I was very impressed with the service at Barney’s and thrilled at finding a stateside contact in the world of Serge. While Barney’s policy does not permit me to release the name of the professional who assisted me, please contact me if you are interested. Barney’s is located at 660 Madison Avenue in NYC, (212) 826-8900.





Fath de Fath

Fath de Fath

Perfumes Jacques Fath fath_de_fath 1954

While not reaching the mythic status of its predecessor Iris Gris, Fath de Fath, released in 1953 is a lovely green thing of a fragrance, another in the long list of those which has suffered at the hands of reformulation. The Fath fashion house, created and headed by Jacques Fath, was part of the post-WWII triumvirate, which along with Dior and Balmain, paved the way for more feminine women’s fashions after the austerity of wartime attire.

While Fath de Fath is described nearly everywhere as an oriental fragrance, it immediately calls to mind the mossy green fields of the chypres. In fact, it reminds me slightly of Ma Griffe, though with more emphasis on florals than on moss and green spice.

The fragrance opens with lush orange notes that remind me of a softer Idole by Lubin (vintage version) but quickly softens to a golden, floral heart. Fath de Fath is both bold and luminous, with a comfortable sillage that wears fairly close. The fragrance then proceeds to a lovely mossy, animalic base, a throwback to the time when a woman’s scent was not complete without a hint of the body. Looking through photographs of the elegant, ladylike fashions of the time always strikes me. It is as though fragrance was intended to serve as an earthy, corporal counterbalance allowing cosseted and corseted women to let down their proverbial hair.

Unfortunately, I was only able to obtain a tiny bit of Fath de Fath for sampling purposes from a generous fellow perfume collector, but this lovely gem is worth seeking out in its original form.

Jacques Fath and his wife Geneviève Boucher de la Bruyère

Jacques Fath and his wife Geneviève Boucher de la Bruyère


Notes: Orange, floral and moss notes.

Bond No. 9 – I Love NY for All

Bond No. 9 – I Love NY for All217565

Given my predilection for vintage perfumes, it is not unusual for me to sometimes miss new releases and on occasion entire perfume houses. One such house which had escaped my attention, in part due to the fact that it was not available in my geographic area for sampling, was Bond No. 9. Imagine my joy (as only a fellow perfumista can) of walking into my local Nordstrom one Saturday morning and finding a counter-full of their line-up.

While somewhat daunting to find myself face-to-face with such a comprehensive display of bottle after bottle bearing the iconic Bond No. 9 design, (where to begin??) I decided to start with the obvious. Housed in a black bottle, emblazoned with the well-known I Heart NY symbol, I Love NY For All is to date my favorite of the lot.

Bond No. 9 – I Love NY for All is definitely compelling, a fragrance built around a coffee accord, and what could be more NYC than a rich cup of your favorite brew. I Love NY for All starts off with a spicy floral mix highlighted by citrus which quickly gives way to warm notes of coffee and hazelnut. The juxtaposition is decidedly odd and yet it works somehow, like the woman in your office that can pull off plaid with lace and high heels. As the fragrance unfolds into a velvety base of patchouli and woods, the coffee is sweetened with a hint of vanilla.

Despite the potency of these individual notes, aside from an initial sour sensation, the fragrance overall feels smooth and is extremely wearable. The sillage and lasting power are decent, which is a relief given the fragrance’s price-tag. While this would not be a signature scent for me, I love having it in my collection when I want something really different.


Notes: Bergamot, Lily of the Valley, Pepper, Coffee, Patchouli, Leather, Sandalwood and Vanilla.

Pardon the Dust


You may have noticed some changes to the site recently. I have been trying to make some modifications to make the site easier to navigate and search for my readers. Please pardon any intermittent glitches as I work through this. Hopefully you will all be happy with the changes once the construction is done. Hope you all had a wonderful, fragrant holiday!

Heeley – Iris de Nuit

Heeley – Iris de Nuitthe-nomad-hotel-by-jacques-garcia-1

Located just north of Manhattan’s Madison Square Park district, in the NoMad Hotel, is an incredible boutique called  Kitsuné. The NoMad recently underwent a major overhaul, where it was restored to its former European splendor thanks to the careful eye of architect Jacques Garcia. The shop, like the clothing line it houses, is an exercise in elegant restraint. In addition to its super-chic clothing line, Kitsuné has some incredible accessories, ranging from bags to fragrances. Prominently featured in the shop was the full line of Heeley Eau de Parfum fragrances, which I happily sampled with the assistance of its  happy, helpful staff.

Kistune_store8While I was not able to get samples of all the fragrances, they left strong impressions. Esprit du Tigre is an innovative melange of camphor and mint, buoyed by woods and spices. As its name suggests, Verveine d’Eugène is a bright lemon verbena, softened by jasmine and light musk. Sel Marin, starts off with a lemony freshness, which morphs into a salty aquatic, that reminded me slightly of Secretions Magnifiques. Ophelia has the depth of white florals, lightened by green and aquatic notes.

My favorite of the lot, which I was fortuitously able to get a sample of, was Iris de Nuit. Heeley’s interpretation of one of my favorite notes does not disappoint. Heeley combines the chilly grey notes of iris with violet, angelica and ambrette, giving it a fresh and lively feeling. Ambrette has a fantastic, unique plummy scent, which those familiar with Chanel’s Égoïste and No 18 may be familiar with. Rather than shy away from the rooty, carrot-like impression common to orris root, Heeley takes a bold move and emphasizes the sensation by adding carrot seed. At this stage, Heeley’s Iris de Nuit reminds me somewhat of Serge Lutens masterpiece Iris Silver Mist, but the comparison ends there.

In the drydown, Iris de Nuit takes a sensual turn, revealing a warm, luxurious base of cedar and grey amber. While many of my favorite iris fragrances suffer from poor sillage and longevity, Heeley is positively perfect, with nice projection that feels sensual and yet elegant. If you are in NYC, be sure to check out Kitsuné and the Heeley line.  If NYC is not in your travel plans anytime soon, Heeley fragrances can be purchased at several online retailers or here.

Notes: Angelica seed, ambrette, iris, violet, carrot seed, grey amber and white cedar.

Maison Kitsuné at NoMad

1170 Broadway, (212) 481-6010;

Robert Piguet – Bandit

Robert Piguet – Bandit

Leather scents rank highly in my top fragrance choices, but they can be difficult for some, especially as the weather turns warmer.  On days when I want the daring, provocative rebellion that only a leather can deliver, but without the heaviness, Robert Piguet’s Bandit is my fragrance of choice. Created by the fragrance mastermind Germaine Cellier, the woman responsible for Fracas and Balmain’s Vent Vert, Bandit is a fine balance between bracing leather and green florals.

Legend has it that the perfume was inspired by a symbolic post-war runway show, with models dressed up in masks and carrying toy weapons, like cross-dressed outlaws. Whether or not this legend is true, Bandit clearly has a foot squarely in each the masculine and feminine realms, giving the fragrance a subtle androgynous character and driving home its bad-boy image.bonnie-and-clyde-faye-dunaway

While the post-2012 reformulation is surely miles away from the 1944 original, the magic of Bandit lies in the interplay of leather and chypre, smokiness and green depths, masculine and feminine. From the first moments of its sharp galbanum opening until its rich smoky roots, Bandit is a beautiful marriage of opposites, like a tussle between James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. It’s elegant, bitter and beautifully unconventional.

Notes: galbanum, artemisia, neroli, orange, ylang ylang, jasmine, rose, tuberose, carnation, leather, vetiver, oakmoss, musk, patchouli.

2012 reformulation sample courtesy of Bergdorf Goodman.