Thursday, April 23, 2015

Perfumes that Smell Like a Hooker (but in the best possible sense!)

Slutty fragrances is a funny subject as there are few things more subjective than the perception of scent. For most people "slutty" in that context means cheap, loud, worn in abundance and easily accessible; maybe like pants bought off the rack at Victoria's Secret.
Yet perfumes, especially French perfumes, have used questionable effects and sexy fragrance "notes" to build a cultural history that reads like a naughty bodice ripper. What perfume lovers have coded as "skanky"....in the best possible sense!

poor dear, to be included in a post with this title...no relation to hookers, just beautiful (via Getty)

From things to accompany a vinyl bondage skirt and hard, blood red lipstick or a romantic lacy sheath, to scents that mentally transport you to the boudoir rather than being worn in one, I have had fun compiling a slideshow of 8 "naughty, slutty perfumes" for Fragrance.about.com on this link. Won't you leaf through the slideshow to find out which perfumes made the cut?

I had to limit myself to just 8 but please add your own suggestions in the comments! 

Friday, April 17, 2015

The winners of the draw...

...for the perfume book are:

Phyllis Iervello
Karen M

Congratulations! Please send me an email with PERFUME BOOK DRAW in the title of the mail, sharing your full name and shipping data plus a phone for the courier to use just in case, so I can arrange with the publishers to get your book in the mail for you soon.

Thanks everyone and till the next one!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Chanel Les Exclusifs Misia: fragrance review

Few toiletry indulgences feel more decadently feminine than owning a fine goose down puff for applying face or body powder. Few rituals feel more delicately ballet-like in their choreographed sequence than the traditional powdering of the body, fresh out of a bath, using said goose down puff with small pat pat pat motions that are as close to caresses as they are to little slaps, both erotic provenance of the demi-mondaines of another time. Misia the fragrance encapsulates in liquid form this graceful dance in Chanel's 15th Les Exclusifs perfume launch, redolent of the retro makeup scents of yesterday.

Emanuelle Beart in Le Temps Retrouvé by Raoul Ruiz via

Chanel via its new head perfumer, Olivier Polge, son of Jacques, only the fourth perfumer in the revered history of the French brand, bows to Guerlain's Après L'Ondée; a composition from the first years of the 20th century based on the ethereal marriage of heliotrope, violet and iris. Yet Chanel's Misia, like the eponymous lady friend of Gabrielle Chanel's it was named after, holds its own ground as well, an outstanding entry for Polge junior regardless of the trodden course. 

Olivier Polge may have excelled in Dior Homme previously, exploring the cocoa dust facets of the iris note in a men's scent, but it is in this feminine composition that he propels the retro facets of iris in their logical apogee, somewhere between the retro cool powder of Love Chloe and the earthy dustiness of Norma by Histoires de Parfums.  The "lipstick note" is after all its own perfumery meme, swirling its tutu years ago with Drole de Rose by L'Artisan Parfumeur and stomping its foot down naming names in Lipstick Rose in the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle line. (Even Guerlain revisits their own themes, what with Meteorites limited edition fragrance and now with French Kiss.) Chanel's lipsticks account for a huge segment of the brand, so walking down that road felt like a given.

After all, Polge Junior has something of the Midas touch in him; count with me: Flowerbomb, La Vie Est Belle, Mon Jasmin Noir, Burberry The Beat...

The intensely powdery, starchy cloud of orris (the dried rhizome of iris flowers) is at the very heart of Misia with very perceptible cool, sweet violets for "lipstick" (α methyl ionone); in fact the very scent of proper, ladylike lipsticks with their violet-rose aura which separates the teens from the grown ups. While Misia starts with a bittersweet top note reminiscent of time-honored perfumery aubepine-heliotropin chord, the heart of the fragrance is pure cosmetic impression, an archetype of grooming and of la salonnière. Polge used both rose of Grasse and Bulgarian Damask rose for the floral component and a cluster of benzoin resin (caramelic, vanilla plush), tonka beans (hay and almond like) and modern musks for the downy soft drydown.

“I thought of the Palais Garnier in the days of the Ballets Russes: pearls and aigrettes in the women’s hair melding with the scent of red-tinted lips; the sound of musicians tuning their instruments; and the dancers wearing make-up from head-to-toe, warming up behind red velvet curtains. I thought of how to interpret lipstick and powders into a perfume and decided to use violet dressed with rose de Mai and Turkish rose, which trigger memories of lipstick, while the benzoin I added creates a powdery effect, like make-up. It’s very feminine and floral but it’s also sumptuous. The strong violet accord is a new ingredient in the grammar of Chanel”  reveals Polge to Lucia van der Post.

It was Polish muse Misia Sert, née Maria Sofia Olga Zenajda Godebska, a Belle Epoque fixture and the subject of many a Renoir and Bonnard painting, who introduced Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel to many of her subsequent fixtures; Venice, baroque, Les Ballets Russes, Paul Reverdy...
She was also the confidant to whom Chanel poured her heart out to when the latter lost her first true love, Arthur "Boy" Capel, to a car crash.

In a way Misia the fragrance aims to be as emblematic and prophetic of great things ahead as Misia the muse was to Chanel's career. May it prove so!

Chanel Les Exclusifs Misia eau de toilette is offered in 75ml and 200ml bottles with magnetic closure, same as the rest of boutique exclusive Les Exclusifs perfumes.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: 
Best Violet fragrances guide
Powdery & Dry Perfumes
Parfums Lingerie: intimate femininity

Friday, April 10, 2015

"In your hand, you were holding spearmint leaves and a holy candle"

In the little grove

in front of the church,

you looked like a tiny bird

lost among the dense foliage;

In you hand, you were holding

spearmint leaves and a holy candle,

and you were pleading: "Rabbi,

save us again!"

That day was Good Friday.

Many nights have since passed;

and it was another year

when the war-clock ticked 9 o'clock past

and we watched the abominable jackal

get out of its cage,

making its ominous appearance.

That day was Good Friday.

The lads left for the front,

the villages are deserted

as youth struggles for freedom.

And when I came to see you briefly

before I was to leave as well,

you were silently crying,

bowing your head.

That day was Good Friday.

Have a blessed Orthodox Easter, those who celebrate it!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Win a Copy of The Perfume Garden novel: Perfume Book Draw

Several authors have chosen to incorporate perfume in their fiction lately, some of which have been featured on Perfume Shrine before. The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown is a very leaf-able, flowing romance taking place in the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War with "lost love, family secrets and the art of creating the perfect scent".

I have 5 hardcover copies for 5 US shipping addresses holders that I will draw on Thursday. Please enter a comment and you will be eligible. Prizes will be shipped by the publisher directly to winners.

Here is small excerpt from the The Perfume Garden novel to give you an idea:

"Emma took a deep breath, and gazed out of the bus window. It was almost her stop. Perhaps it’s time to stop saving the best till last, she thought. She folded the note and slipped it into her mother’s Moleskine notebook on her lap, flicking on through the pages illuminated with Liberty’s flamboyant handwriting. Words leaped out at her—“neroli,” “duende,” “passion.” Her mother had pasted in cuttings alongside the notes and formulas for the new perfume she had been working on—pictures of orange groves, searing blue skies, a yellowed newspaper advert for a Robert Capa exhibition. It was the famous “falling soldier” picture. Emma traced her finger over the soldier’s face, wondered what he was thinking at the moment when death caught him running down that hill. She wondered what he saw as he fell. As she touched the paper, she felt the contours of something beneath. She flipped to the next page and laid her hand on the smallest envelope Liberty had left in the box with the letters. On it, her mother had written an address: Villa del Valle, La Pobla, Valencia, Spain. Inside, there was just an old key. I must ask Freya if she knows anything about this, she thought. Emma had lain awake the night she opened that envelope, turning the key over in her hand, her mind full of possibilities. Typical Mum, she thought, remembering all the magical mystery tours Liberty had taken her on as a child, the trails of clues she had laid for Emma to follow to hidden presents. The chase, the anticipation, was always more fun than the present itself.

Emma turned the pages, glimpsed the melancholy, serene face of a Madonna, a photo of a whitewashed wall with flaming bougainvillea spilling over it. The notes became sparser, the hand less sure toward the end. She sensed Liberty had been looking back, as well as forward. Next to a pasted label from Chérie Farouche, the perfume Liberty had created for Emma on her eighteenth birthday, she had written: “Some perfumes are, like children, innocent, as sweet as oboes, green as meadow sward—Baudelaire.” It was still Emma’s signature scent. On her it smelled like rain in a garden at first, fresh and intoxicating; then as the green top notes evaporated Emma always thought of the earth, of picking flowers in a forest with her mother. The heart note of lily of the valley and jasmine melded perfectly with the base of sandalwood and musk. Liberty always said the scent was like her—shy but surprisingly fierce. A photograph of Liberty with Emma as a baby was tucked into that page. She flicked on, unbearable longing piercing her as she looked at her mother’s beautiful, open smile. Emma paused at her mother’s final sketch of a new Liberty Temple perfume bottle, her hurried scrawl: “Jasmine? Orange blossom, yes!”

Copyright © 2015 by Kate Lord Brown

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