Nina Ricci – Farouche

Nina Ricci – Farouche


The Nina Ricci fragrance line is one that I did not traditionally have much exposure to growing up, as none of the women in my family wore it. I did have a distant aunt who sometimes wore L’Air du Temps, but we’ll save that for another post. No wonder then that the house’s 1973 release Farouche failed to catch my attention until now (there were after all plenty of other fragrances to keep me busy).

I recently purchased an assortment of vintage perfume minis, and one fragrance included in the assortment was Nina Ricci’s Farouche in the Eau de Toilette concentration. While I have a decent knowledge of French, I will admit that I was not familiar with the word “Farouche”. Interestingly, I did not look it up until after I had tested the fragrance several times, fearing it might skew my impression. In that vein, I will keep its meaning silent until the end of the post.

Farouche opens with some fizzy aldehydes adding lift to a soft orange and galbanum melange. While galbanum fragrances generally make weak in the knees, Farouche comes on like a whisper. The heart unfolds to a gentle floral bouquet of jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and geranium, to which iris lends a hint of powder, While carnation and clary sage add a bit of a twist, Farouche’s overall character remains moderate. The fragrance wafts up again after a about an hour or so, revealing a mossy, vetiver base, reminiscent of classics such as Ma Griffe, but executed with a subtle hand.

In fact, my main issue with Farouche was its faint presence, which made an otherwise lovely fragrance with all of the hallmarks of a classic, slightly forgettable in the face of other mossy, green giants. That being said, this lightness of character would make it a perfect scent for someone just starting to explore the genre, as it touches on all of the aspects of a mossy green floral. I can only imagine how lovely the parfum concentration must be, though I have heard that is subtle as well. The Eau de Toilette bottle is lovely, with its slender neck is reminiscent of a swan, while the flacon for the parfum (reportedly made by Lalique) resembles a heart.

And in case you are still wondering (and have not searched for it yourself), Farouche translates as shy. Perfect.

Floral Aldehyde

Notes: Aldehydes, Mandarin, Bergamot, Galbanum, Peach, Honeysuckle, Carnation, Iris, Lily, Clary Sage, Jasmine, Lily-of-the-Valley, Rose, Geranium, Cardamom, Sandalwood, Amber, Musk, Oakmoss, Vetiver.


Caron – Parfum Sacré

Caron – Parfum Sacré

caron Perfumes Parfum Sacre There are those loves which we know will endure forever. Such is the beauty of this peppery rose-inspired fragrance by Caron. But where Caron’s Rose is simple and Marni is sheer and evanescent, Parfum Sacré positively smolders, bringing new depths to the pepper-rose combination.

As the vintage advertisement for Caron perfumes at left attests “What is seduction if not a man, a woman and a Caron perfume?” While the fragrance’s name references the sacred, Parfum Sacré is nothing if not sensual.

Though Parfum Sacré opens with a burst of lively, citrusy pepper and spices, like many Caron fragrances, it is perfectly blended to create an more of an overall impression. Despite its spicy opening, Parfum Sacré is as warm and enveloping as a lover’s embrace. The presence of rose lends a velvety texture to the underlying woods and spices, elements which on their own can often be perceived as dry.

Though vanilla and floral notes make an appearance, it is only to support the romance between rose and spices. While the distinct Caron drydown is recognizable, it remains enrobed in the warm, dark rose, adding a hint a smoky drama.

While both the extrait and Eau de Parfum have impressive lasting power, they wear fairly close to the skin, making for an intimate yet luxurious fragrance experience. While the vintage versions have more complexity and depth (especially the extrait which is truly magical) the reformulated version available today is a reasonably close facsimile and worth seeking out for those seeking an elegant and unusual rose-tinged oriental.

Notes: Vanilla, Myrrh, Civet, Cedarwood, Lemon, Pepper, Mace, Cardamom, Orange Blossom, Rose, Jasmine, Rosewood

Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant

Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant


October is officially upon us, marking the beginning of sweater weather for many. I live in a part of the world where it stays warm and humid for quite a bit longer, but the changing daylight patterns make me crave my fall and winter perfume wardrobe terribly. While there are some fragrances which will need to wait a little longer before coming into rotation, I start craving an oriental that can straddle the seasons and help tide me over until the cooler weather finally arrives.

I am always struck by how original Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant is, especially for its time. Were it to be released today (instead of in 1996), it would surely have been as a niche creation. It is without question one of Dominique Ropion’s more unique scents, a distinction it shares with Carnal Flower and Thierry Mugler’s Alien. L’Elephant is a wonderful melange of spices underscored by smoky woods and soft cashmeran. The sparkling mandarin opening is enlivened by cardamom, cloves and cumin. While I am not particularly reminded of either a jungle or an elephant, I do have the sense of being swept away on an exotic adventure.

Elephant de la Bastille watercolor by Jean Alavoine

Elephant de la Bastille watercolor by Jean Alavoine

L’Elephant’s heart is slightly anisic, the perfect interlude into its delicious woody base. While amber and cashmeran can often give a fragrance a dense heady quality, L’Elephant manages to remain light and sparkling. L’Elephant has terrific lasting power but is never overwhelming the way some of its sister orientals can be. L’Elephant can be found online for a reasonable price at several discount retailers or on eBay, where I purchased mine. It is an energizing, powerful scent which never fails to give me a lift.

Notes: Mandarin, Cardamom, Cumin, Clove, Ylang-Ylang, Licorice, Mango, Heliotrope, Patchouli, Vanilla, Amber, Cashmere.

Shiseido – Feminite du Bois

Shiseido – Feminite du Bois – A Twilight Walk Through an Enchanted Forest


When encountering new fragrance releases, I am often tempted to “edit” the formula to suit my liking. A little oakmoss here, a touch of civet there and voila, the fragrance would be perfect. With the exception of certain houses which continue to produce thoughtful, quality fragrances, the current “race to release” phenomena has resulted in a number of momentary fragrances which are not likely to withstand the test of time, let alone the next marketing launch. It is during these times that I re-trench and seek out those golden standards who await me like so many old friends.

Even more frustrating is the alternate scenario: perfumes so sublime as to be nearly mythical in their compositions which mysteriously vanish from the shelves, driving us to scour the dark corners of the internet to seek out lost treasures. One of these treasures (of which I will freely admit to having a secret horde) is Shiseido’s Feminite du Bois. For our French speakers, and those who do not mind reading subtitles, here is Serge Lutens himself discussing the reformulation issued under his brand name.

Launched in 1992 as a collaboration between Christopher Sheldrake, Pierre Bourdon and Serge Lutens this groundbreaking scent ranks highly in my list of fragrance perfection. And yet… I cannot help but wish for one tiny change. While the name Feminite du Bois aptly describes the perfume’s highly successful and innovative transformation of cedarwood into a beguiling feminine scent, the name does not in any way prepare you for the magic and beauty of this composition.

Experiencing Feminite du Bois for the first time is much like a twilight walk through an enchanted forest. The fragrance opens with a dusky scent of spices, an inviting delicate breeze of cardamom, ginger and cinnamon, beckoning you deeper into the forest. The dark quality of these opening notes is rendered in a shadowy manner, a gentle whisper of the exotic wonders that await you.

As you make your way slowly through the warm dark opening notes, you suddenly smell light blossoms of orange, violet, and rose on the breeze, each coming together to form an impression of tiny flowers carving out a space in the forest floor. In keeping with Shiseido’s minimalist aesthetic, the floral notes are subtle and silky. Moving closer in, you notice a small gathering of trees, each bearing perfectly ripe peaches and plums, the fragrance of which catches on the breeze and makes its way to you. Animals are drawn to the soft sweetness as well, and you detect a soft honey note and remnants of beeswax as its inhabitants eagerly seek out the source of the sweetness. All of these scents here in the quiet of the forest lull you into a light dream and you stand for a moment, just breathing in the beautiful warmth, when suddenly you see her, the Lady of the Wood.

mode, architecture, beautŽ,

She has stood there all along, watching you as you made your way through the dusky paths, silently beckoning you with the warmth of woods and the slight musky wetness of the forest so as not to startle you with her presence. As you stand there beholding her, you are awed by her stealth, subtlety and beauty, and you are without words. For she is a wonder to behold.

Spicy Woods

Notes: cedarwood, orange blossom, peach, honey, plum, beeswax, clove, cardamom, and cinnamon.

Coty – La Rose Jacqueminot

Coty – La Rose Jacqueminot

For today’s post, I thought I would focus on a vintage Coty fragrance based on the flower which perhaps more than others has come to symbolize Valentine’s Day: the rose. The Général Jacqueminot rose is an early hybrid believed to have originated in Roussel, France 1853. The Jacqueminot is known for its deep red petals and intoxicating fragrance. It is this rose which was the inspiration behind Francois Coty’s creation La Rose Jacqueminot. While there is some dispute regarding the date of the fragrance’s creation (some sources indicate 1903 while others have stated a later date of 1906) what remains uncontrovertible is this: the success of Coty’s vision of the beauty and depth of this flower.


In what has become a notoriously brilliant marketing move, legend has it that Francois Coty, unable to find a store willing to carry his newly-developed La Rose Jacqueminot “accidentally” let a bottle of it drop and smash on the floor of one of Paris’s most exclusive department stores, sending the ground-breaking scent wafting through the store. Women soon crowded around, clamoring to purchase the fragrance, but whether these were innocent bystanders or “shoppers” planted by Coty, we will never know. While this may be the stuff of legend, Coty was an astute businessman who went on to become wildly successful.

The fragrance starts out with a bright mix of spicy greens and soft honey, creating the impression of a rosebud preparing to unfurl and reveal its bright petals. While some sources list La Rose Jacqueminot as a rose soliflore, I find this to be far from true. As the fragrance progresses, the honey impression is punctuated by warm Autumn spices of cardamom and clove which make for a dark and complex rose.  As the fragrance warms on the skin, the spices settle and the rose becomes more subdued. Thereafter, as the more animalic basenotes of musk and amber emerge, the effect is more of a chypre tinged with rose than a true rose scent, as though the rose is simply there to temper the complexity of the chypre accords. The fragrance in the Eau de Parfum concentration is fairly long lasting, yet wears close, with a subtle silage. The vintage sample I tested is identical to the bottle displayed below.

laroseFor the wearer accustomed to a more opulent, fruitier rose such as Nahema or YSL’s Paris, or a powdery rose like Ombre Rose, this will be a distinct departure as Jaqueminot appears drier, with more emphasis on the spice and green, plant-like aspects of the flower, than on the lush petals.


Notes: Rose, honey, cardamom, clove, musk , and amber.