Dolcelisir Acqua di Profumo by L'Erbolario

Nice little cheapie I got to sample thanks to a friend.

It's like a Frapin (think liquor!) and one of those Spadero's, Doux Amour I think it was, had a baby. 

A boozy, gourmand, floral, pretty thing. Almost too sweet for me, but only almost.

It projects decently, not screaming out, but not holding too tightly, either. The longevity is like a marathoner - it goes and goes. The drydown, arguably the best part, lasts hours.

The orange note at the top: perfection.

The drydown is sexy/snuggly.

Worth the money if you have an olfactory sweet tooth.

Top notes include bergamot, orange, caramel and rum. Heart is composed of jasmine, rose, immortal, lily of the valley, cinnamon, sugar cane and cocoa powder. Base features patchouli, vanilla, benzoin, tonka, amber and musk.

Bendelirious by Etat Libre d'Orange

Bendelirious is one of my Top Five scents because it's just so fun. And it may be---back? It was originally created by Etat Libre d'Orange (hell, call it EldO like the rest of us!) for Henri Bendel, but then discontinued and only available at discounters.'s on the ELdO website and on LuckyScent now. Maybe I can stop hoarding it?

This scent is, like I said, fun. She bubbles open, then starts giggling. She's never going to scream FRUITY FLORAL, thank goodness. She's too refined for that nonsense. 

She's a lady, for the love of Pete. A lady with sexy violet and orris laid over a bed of very expensive leather.  

When the party is over, she tosses a flirtatious look over her shoulder and leaves, trailing a wake of musk and sweet tonka.

And you can't wait to see her again.

Grapefruit essence, Champagne accord, cherry lollipop accord, violet leaves absolu, orris absolu, orris butter, leather accord, vetiver accord, musk, tonka bean absolu...

On Mandy Aftel's book "Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent"

It's been so long since I've blogged that I've quite forgotten how! But I can't think of a better way to jump back in than to start with an offering from one of the nicest people I know, a friend and a fragrant wizard: Mandy Aftel. Today, though, I'm not discussing a perfume. I'm talking books, my friends.

That's right. Among Mandy's many gifts is her ability to put her thoughts to paper. Perhaps you have read her well-known primer on natural perfumery, Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume*? Or her book on using essential oils in expected (and not so expected) ways: Aroma: The Magic of Essential Oils in Food and Fragrance (with Daniel Patterson)? Or Scents and Sensibilities: Creating Solid Perfumes for Well-Being? Did you know she has also written about Brian Jones, a founding member of the Rolling Stones? And about finding a therapist? Yeah, she used to be a therapist in a past life. I mean, not like a past life, woo-woo-style, rather that was her profession before she discovered her passion for natural perfumery.

[*Note to self: Self, why have I not reviewed that?  I do own it. Must remedy.]

"I create perfume, and people wear it, because beauty is a vacation from reality. It is a place --an ideal place-- that you can visit without traveling. It is restorative, and it makes you feel good. A personal adornment like wearing jewelry, it has no practical purpose whatsoever. It simply allows us to inhale bliss." - Mandy Aftel

Why Fragrant?
Frankly, I'm a bit of a quite a nerd, so no hobby of mine can fully be enjoyed without understanding the background of the whole thing. Luckily, in Fragrant, Mandy makes this not only an accessible bit of research but a very pleasurable one.

But Fragrant is not written for the perfumers and perfumistas of the world. I mean, feel free to read it if you are one. I encourage you to do so. No, more than that: Frankly, I'm quite confused if you don't read Fragrant and still call yourself a perfumista. I don't understand how you can blog about, or "speak knowledgeably" about, your passion if you do not know where the art's roots are. But anyway, I digress.

Fragrant is Mandy's offering to the non-obsessed. To those who, to borrow the online slang, may be noobs. The curious. The folks who wonder-- "who was the first person to rub that on their body? And WHY?!" It's a way to open the door and say, "Come in, explore this amazing world with us!"

Love, love, love the awesome pictures that pepper the pages of Fragrant

At the beginning of the book, Mandy skims through her history. She tells us of various careers that led her, ultimately, to her passion: natural perfumes. She uses words like "joy" and "heady" and "mysterious" and "amazing." You feel how excited she is to share this world of hers with you, the reader, and that's what makes this book such a lovely read. And it's also, by the way, what makes Mandy such a great perfumer and a wonderful person to talk to. 

You see, she knows that people have become so accustomed to being bombarded with scents that we hardly register them anymore. Our detergents, our dish soaps, shampoos, our grocery stores, our foods for heaven's sake! Everything has an artificial scent and we've become numb to this constant battering ram of olfactory warfare. 

We think perhaps we just don't care about scent. But Mandy has discovered the joy of introducing - or rather, reintroducing - people to the pleasure of natural scents. And that, my friends, is why Fragrant was written.
"...they've come to believe they have no appetite for scent itself.  Watching them discover authentic aromas and their sensual pleasures is profoundly thrilling, like watching a starving person feast on a delicious meal. It's these experiences of reawakening people to scent that led to this book." -Mandy Aftel

The Main Characters

Mandy has taken a clever approach to introducing us to the world of scent. She's chosen five "main characters" to lead the reader through history and perfumery. Each gets a chapter. I'll happily introduce them, but let me point out that the real bonus is that if you purchase Fragrant from Mandy's website, Aftelier Perfumes, you get this amazing Companion Kit that actually gives you samples of all five of the main characters!

Each item in the Companion Kit
Companion Kit packaging

In order of appearance:


Full disclosure: I really do not react well to spearmint. Well, whatcha gonna do? 

How cool is it to know that the cinnamon and mint oils that come in the kit can be used in food or drink? And should you choose to do so, you may wear the (already diluted) ambergris tincture and jasmine on your skin. The frankincense? Rub it between your fingers, on your skin, or layer it with the other two skin-appropriate oils and make your own perfume!

The inside of The Companion Kit

Cinnamon is a spice, and leads us through the spice route, educating us on history, passion, some myth, and how perfumery really got its start.

Mint represents home and Americana. It symbolizes all things authentic, comforting, and welcoming.

Frankincense, as part of a tree, ties us to the earth and to the sky, being a crucial part of incense. This character leads us to the spiritual.

Ambergris is one of those "who in the heck saw that and decided to burn it or put it on their bodies?" items. This character, a highly animalic, very prized, quite expensive ingredient, introduces us to the concept of "other" but also ties us to our own animal side. Not familiar with the ingredient? Wait until you hear how it's "made"...

Jasmine. Ah, sweet, sultry jasmine. This character represents the human craving for beauty, but also artfully introduces the concept of wabi-sabi. Well, you'll see. This may have been my favorite chapter. 


Other neat features of the book include recipes for perfumes, foods, drinks; gorgeous quotations and poems (Mandy, you make my heart sing with these!); delightful illustrations from old books; insights into perfumery; and so much more.

For example, would you like to learn...
  • The best cure for olfactory fatigue?
  • How to think about/describe a smell?
  • How scents are captured from the thing-- the flower, the tree, the bark, the fruit?
  • Some really mouth-watering tips for using essential oils in food and drinks?
  • A pretty sexy poem about being the wife of a cinnamon peeler? 
  • Where the word "grocer" originated?
  • Which surprising spice, still used everywhere, was used as currency in medieval England?
  • How many perfume ingredients had elaborate stories involving snakes "back in the day"?
  • How to discern, yourself, what raw ingredient is a top, middle, or base note?
  • Which popular herb was thought to be an effective form of birth control in Japan at one point?
  • How to make Toad Ointment? (spoiler alert: the toad does not fare well in the end)
  • Why Wrigley's Gum owes a lot to some geese?
  • Which common perfume ingredient was found in King Tut's tomb?
  • What Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are finding out about frankincense and why it is really, really important?
  • How incense was used as a clock?
  • Why a dog rolls in the nastiest, grossest filth it can find and then proudly trots off?
  • Why, although I love it, butyl mercaptan will never be used in perfumery?
  • What butterflies smell like?
  • Really, how many times snakes are mentioned in this book?
  • Would you try jasmine-ambergris chocolate?
  • Which perfumes would you compare with rococo architecture? Ok - only you can answer that, but the question is obliquely posed in Fragrant.

In Summary

I found this book a fantastic read. I not only enjoyed the history -and I'm not a history gal if it's dry, which this was not- but I really had a good time learning about how Mandy picks particular ingredients. What makes a specific cinnamon Aftelier-worthy? Fascinating.

I thought that it was quite cool to learn how modern marketing hasn't come too far from ancient times, when stories were embellished to make the ingredients seem more valuable, more exotic, and voila- more expensive! 

And I laughed out loud when Mandy compared Pinterest to a modern cabinet of curiosities. Indeed it is! More laughs came when reading the story about the man who got an leaky package in the mail...

I have a fondness for old American stories, so the section on peddlers and old ointments and backwoods tales was right up my alley. 

And of course, digging into the gross but amazing roots of some of my favorite vintage scent ingredients (ambergris, castoreum, civet, musk) was so cool. I have my qualms about their use currently, but in my vintage perfumes I figure those ethical dilemmas have long gotten on their ships and sailed away, so this vegetarian and animal rights activist can rest easily. Kinda.  

I learned a lot about perfume itself, not just the ingredients. New terms made themselves known to me. Accessory Notes. Burying, Chameleon Perfume. Cresol. Who knew? Well, Mandy Aftel did. 

At any rate, this book kept my interest, and if you are intrigued with perfume I assume it will do the same for you.  

Frankly, I am now inspired to mix my own gorgeous naturals. Ok, I expect them to be much less gorgeous than Mandy's, but the process is the thing. And the smelling, the diving in, the reveling in the scents... that's what I have gotten from this book. So thank you, Mandy.

PS: I'm totally making frankincense shortbread.

"What is beauty for? The beauty of beauty is that it is not for anything-- it doesn't stand for something else, it doesn't have to do something, it only needs to be." - Mandy Aftel

Other reviews
This book has been disappointingly represented in the perfume blogosphere, but has been received well elsewhere. Here are some links to reviews and, after that, links to purchasing the book.


Disclosure: This book and the accompanying "Companion Kit" were provided to me by the author.

Returning to a computer screen near you...

I'm getting the band back together! That's right, I'm relaunching This Blog Really Stinks. I'll be back shortly with a brand new look and style that looks startlingly like the old one, possibly with a little more sass.

First post: a review of Mandy Aftel's book Fragrant.

Please do not hold your breath, because you'll die, but I will be posting soon... 


Mama mia, this Mother is good stuff! Mother by Opus Oils

We know I love a sandalwood perfume, right? Doesn't everyone? I mean... it's so versatile. So breathtaking. So traditional. So incredibly classic. And recently, so very rare and expensive. The woody goodness is often nearly foody, slightly skin-like, and always silken on the skin. A good long sniff of a good sandalwood is particularly soothing, don't you think?

I also adore the scrumptious, fleshy temptation of a well-made fig perfume. Luscious. Delicious. Tempting! Everyone loves fig, right? Duh.

Oh! What about boozy perfumes?! Oh, I love a perfume that smells like an after-dinner drink. How 'bout you? I mean... right?!

What about gourmands, since we're talking about figs and booze? Chocolate - there's nothing better, amiright? Oy vey, a good chocolate perfume sends me!

And then there are roses. I've just started to love rose perfumes. They're so varied, though, so traditionally Perfume. So feminine. So masculine. So unisex. They're whatever you want them to be, but you can always depend on them being sensual, beautiful, and symbolic of the big L*.
*Love, my dear.

Well, mama, I am here to point you in the direction of another fabulous sandalwood perfume! And another fabulous fig perfume. And another boozy perfume. And a chocolate one. And... wait: they're all in the same perfume. Dear Mother of All That is Good!

Mother. A perfume by Opus Oils. It contains all of the notes referenced about, all presented masterfully in a limited edition scent by Master Perfumer Kedra Hart for the Primordial Scents Project. It references "earth", an idea I think it accomplishes with aplomb! (Click the link to visit a lot of the background and references for the scent)

I am mad for this scent, as is everyone who has smelled it. It starts out boozy, like a promising evening. Figs flesh out the scent, lending a very sensual nuance. This phase is beautiful and fleshy and something I wish would never end. But all things must come to an end...

... luckily for us all, Mother only gets better, which is almost impossible to believe! While the rose isn't so prominent on my skin, the stunning this-is-the-good-stuff sandalwood surges forward, bringing with it the rich nuttiness of chocolate.

This is not by any means a gourmand scent, in my opinion. It's something different. It's something more. It becomes a warm, bready, skinscent with a chocolate tinge and occasional flash of booze. The sandalwood almost wafts a smoky facet that it truly intriguing.

If this scent brings anything to mind it's not actually "earth", it's more of the Adam and Eve myth. The beginning of humans on this earth, if the stories are to be taken literally. The tempting fruit (in this case it's fig). The warm skin of two young people. The romance of roses and chocolate -maybe the latter wasn't in the fabled Garden of Eden but it would have been had it been "invented" back then. And booze, another concept from another time that seems so appropriate for the Origins Tale. Surely it is believable that Eve and Adam sinned after a few drinks, no?

If I had to classify this scent, I suppose I'd call it "woody". But why put pressure on things by labeling them? This scent is so expansive and gorgeous, putting tags on it is just selling it short.

Slightly carnal, very sexy, and deliciously beautiful. Very typical of the Opus Oils "formula" which, to the best of my knowledge, has never failed to result in a stunning scent.

If you haven't tried it, you simply must. It is limited edition, after all!

Mother: Sample (.5-1ml) $5.00; 1 Dram Parfum $40.00;1/2oz Parfum $75.00Mother 1oz Eau de Parfum $65.00Mother 1oz Ltd. Edition EDP (Adorned with Decorative Art Nouveau Medallion) $90.00Mother 2oz Eau de Parfum $115.00Mother 1.7oz Fancy Atomizer (Alcohol ONLY) $140.00Mother 3.3oz Bath & Body Oil $50.00Mother 6.7oz Body Lotion $46.00Mother 8.5oz Bath Salts $44.00Mother 8.5oz Body Butter $55.00Mother Gift Set (.5oz Parfum, 1oz EDP, B&B Oil, Body Lotion, Body Butter, Bath Salts) $250.00

Jul et Mad: A love story. Stilettos on Lex, Amour de Palazzo, Terrasse à St Germain (perfume review)

A few months ago, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the global launch for a new perfume line, Jul et Mad at the most perfect perfume destination in NY (if not the planet), MiN New York. I was so overcome by meeting a lot of friends in-person for the first time, by the beauty and quirkiness of the shop, and frankly also by owner Mindy Yang's 3 brilliant cocktails made with Mandy Aftel's Chef Essences and in the spirit of the 3 scents being launched --- so overcome that I forgot to ask for samples to take home and ruminate over.

Flash forward a few months and I finally got over my embarrassment and managed to procure some samples. If only getting myself bottles of these scents was as easy!

A little about the Jul et Mad line, for those who are not familiar with it...

Jul et Mad

If you like backstories for your perfumes, this line has it. The Jul et Mad line's Histoire d’Amour was presented to us at MiN by one of the owners, Madalina, who told of her love story with Julien (get it: Jul et Mad?). The perfumes trace this story and express it in scent, from Romanian-born Madalina's single days in New York working in the cosmetics industry, to when she first meets Parisian-born world traveler scientist-type Julien in Paris, through to the couple's first trip away together in Venice.

The perfumes were developed by perfumer Dorothée Piot of Maison Robertet (Amoauge Memoir WomanOlfactive Studio Chambre Noire, and others) following the company's tagline "Perfume Without Compromise". Each of the three scents comes in a beautiful, fabric-lined box, accompanied by a travel-size atomizer because Madalina believes women should be able to touch-up their scent experience throughout the day. She spent quite a bit of time considering every facet of the production, from scent (of course) to packaging and bottle design. I like the way she thinks, though I do wish the scents were available in smaller bottles as a stand-alone (cheaper than the current $280 for 50ml - parfum concentration, btw), as while I adore the perfumes I must compromise or my kids don't eat! :)

Stilettos on Lex
One of my favorite things about perfume is the phenomenon of sillage. A scent trail. The lingering impression left in one's wake. An olfactory timestamp. A memory.

This is the basis for the first scent in the Jul et Mad story. It tells the tale of a single, cosmopolitan woman (our Madalina) as she walks down the street leaving a sensual and confident sillage trailing behind her. We hear her heels click as she leaves nothing but that sound and that smell to burn into our minds. Dramatic, but you get the point.

What does this Stilettos on Lex sillage story say?

I now invoke my luck, hoping that one day I will cross again her magnificent allure on this same legendary avenue…Her image disappeared, but during her short passage she offered me the most attaching of memories: her perfume…

The Accord: Chypre Fruity Floral

A timeless ode to eternal beauty opening on a sparkling fruity-gourmand note, a prelude to the opulent floral bouquet, dominated by the softness of heliotrope, and crowned by the powdery and sensual touch of iris and carnation… A mysterious and exalting mélange of musk and precious woods reinforce and sublimate this composition of ultimate elegance.
Head : Lemon, Pear, Davana, Plum Liquor
Heart: Lily of the Valley, Violette Leaves, Rose Absolute, Heliotrope, Iris, Carnation
Bottom: Musk, Madagascar Vanilla, Indonesian Patchouli, Atlas Cedarwood
A lovely story - but the perfume: does it stack up? Well, almost everyone I've encountered thinks so! It was, that night we met it, the most popular of the three, though I think the others have become just as beloved - perhaps Stilettos is most accessible? I don't know. I myself favored Amour de Palazzo that night, but I'll talk about that in a moment.

Stilettos on Lex is a modern take on both the chypre style of perfumery and on the traditional "lipstick" or "cosmetics powder" accords. The fruity opening, dominated by a luscious plum, is a flirtatious wink and smile, delightful but not sticky or shrill. Stiletto's heart features rose, violet, powdery heliotrope, and other lovely florals that bloom softly and with beautiful presence before folding graciously into the musky, softly-powdered base (in which the cedar and patchouli are barely noticeable but give a certain strength to a bottom that would otherwise fly away).

I love it. It's cheerful without being chipper, it's pretty without being girlish, it's floral without smacking you in the face. It's delightfully modern with a polite nod to traditional perfumery. Glorious.

Terrasse à St Germain

 Love at first sight. A lovely concept! Depending on who you speak to, it's either a ridiculous notion or the turning point in one's life.

Terrasse à St Germain celebrates the struck-by-lightening feeling of love at first sight, or "coup de foudre". Our couple meets in Paris - though they almost did not!

His passage leaves a void behind him, and this emptiness, daydreaming, she already fills it with wild and fascinating perfumes inspired by the picture of the young man… the beautiful stranger turned around and approaches...
The Accord: Woody Floral Musky

Starting with the first note, a green and sparkling freshness awakes the senses, rapidly sustained by a subtle floral palette of freesia, lotus and rose, giving to the formula a surprising and delicate sensuality. The strength of the musk strikes suddenly, but in complete harmony and perfect symbiosis with the precious sandalwood and the seducing patchouli…
Head : Grapefruit, Tangerine, Rhubarb
Heart: Freesia, Lotus Flower, Blue Rose
Bottom: Musk, Sandalwood, Indonesian Patchouli
At the start, there's a watery sweetness to Terrasse à St Germain that is unusual, at least to my novice nose. This perfume moves fast, flashing through the tangerine, a glimpse of grapefruit, and on to the rhubarb. It then grabs the freesia (sweet tarts! this is the truest freesia note I have encountered in perfumery so far!), and takes a little tang from the rhubarb. Rhubarb seems to be one of those notes that gets perfumistas very interested, very quickly. Luckily for those perfumistas, the note is handled beautifully here, and with a sense of humor - it's flirty and fun and unexpected!

Still moving quickly, on my skin if not yours, Terrasse slips right into the rose. It's slightly candied (the lotus and freesia still playing a hand) and very cheerful. This is, I suspect, the scent that is to blame for my recent obsession with rose! The delectable rose in this blend is one that stuck in my mind and didn't let go.

That said, this is not a "feminine" scent. A confident man would lead lines of women around wearing Terrasse à St Germain. This will be especially true when the beautifully musky wood base
comes into play. While I wish this scent lasted forever, it does not (alas! only 5 hours or so.), which is all the more reason to spritz it again.

Terrasse à St Germain is a beauty, from the first tangy, ebullient spray to the final, lingering woody traces.

Amour de Palazzo 

The first trip as a couple is always remembered and cherished as a memory. Our setting for this third scent and story, Venice, is the sight of one such trip, as our couple walk through ancient buildings and experience the history of this special city.

The rich and heavy perfume of precious wood and leather furniture, shone and polished by passing centuries, mix agreeably now with the pleasant and cocooning fragrances coming from the surrounding gardens, the humidity of the old stone and the lagoon that follows and surrounds us… We walk aimlessly… Dream or reality? It doesn't really matter… Here we are in perfect harmony, we feel free, free to love each other, free to taste as one the same happiness… free to appreciate the instant… Every single gesture, no matter how simple, is now charged with profound significance.

The Accord: Oriental Woody Leather

The noble palette of ingredients used for this creation give the precious character to this fragrance: a spicy start, fresh and slightly "gourmand" at the same time, opens the way to the heart of the perfume where floral, woody, and leather notes create a perfect harmony… A divine, marvelous amber-oud accord reveals itself promptly, sustained by the seductive power of animal notes… Narcotic and irresistible…
Head : Four Spice (pepper, cloves, ginger, nutmeg)
Heart: Absolute of Violette, Atlas Cedarwood, Leather, Indonesian Patchouli, Labdanum
Bottom: Musk, Oud, Amber, Papyrus, Animal Castoreum

This one is the more masculine of the three, though I consider all three unisex. Amour de Palazzo was my instant favorite of the three. Considering my tastes in perfume, it's easy to see why!  Amour de Palazzo is a woody, leathery thing that immediately evokes a sense of history, depth, and sex appeal. It opens with a peppery bang laid over leather. The spices do not turn foody, thankfully, rather they stand strong and lay wide the perfect path for the woody, slightly rough notes that are to come.

The heart of Amour de Palazzo still carries some of that peppery facet, wrapped in the slightest hint of violet, wrapped in patchouli leaves, wrapped in leather (the turducken of perfumery!). It's just the right amount of deep and slightly dirty. Sexy. By blending violet (Stilettos) and wood (Terrasse), we've moved from flirtation right into the good stuff!

The beautiful base of Amour goes on and on, echoes of spices and leather still present in swaths of animalic oud and musk. It's raw, but round; intense, but not painful and sharp. Where the opening notes are intense and somewhat strong, the base softens and melts into the skin leaving a distinct impression - but only for those fairly close up. For them, it leaves the heart racing.

Jul et Mad
It's now 6 months after the global launch of Jul et Mad, and already one of the scents, Terrase à St-Germain, has brought acclaim in the form of a nomination for FiFi Indie Perfume of the Year Award (it was runner-up!). MiN is not the only point of sales in the US, now: you can also purchase Jul et Mad at Aedes de Venustas (NY). MiN does now offer samples on their website, by the way, for those of you curious about the brand. I also encourage you to take a wander through the beautifully done Jul et Mad website (you can order online there, too).

Bottom Line: I would be a proud owner of any of these three scents, hard-pressed to select a favorite. I love them all.

Samples graciously provided by MiN New York

Violet Disguise by Imaginary Authors

"Like a good book, these scents are meant to inspire you. In these bottles are layered narratives that are sure to generate stirring conversation, fragrances that might be capable of changing the course of your own personal story. The hope is that they not only invigorate and intoxicate, but also take you to new places."

Violet Disguise is one of the scents from Imaginary Authors, a clever new line of scents straight out of that hotbed of culture, Portland, Oregon*. Each perfume is a story in and of itself, wrapped around the idea of an author who never was. The entire concept was dreamed up by Josh Meyer, a self-taught perfumer with a clear love of books. I adore the scents, the website, the packaging... it's all brilliant.

*Is Portland "a hotbed of culture"? It kind of seems like it to me and Lucy of IndiePerfumes agrees. That's not the point, though. Stay focused. Keep reading the review. ;)

"Each Imaginary Authors fragrance follows a compelling storyline peppered with intriguing twists. These are scents to curl up with, to share with friends, to take with you wherever you go, and to return to again and again for a uniquely transcendent experience."

Invigorated by the reckless blooms of spring she took to the street like a blossom on the breeze.” So begins Violet Disguise by Lenora Blumberg. A Californian through and through, Blumberg’s early stories invoke the innocence of picnics in the park, days whiled away picking plums in the orchard, and warm nights cruising canyon roads with the top down. 
After Violent Disguise was adapted for the screen Blumberg spent several years consorting with Hollywood’s elite but abandoned the glitz for a quiet life on a plum orchard in the Ojai Valley. 
WHEN TO WEAR: This is a versatile fragrance that will remind you of the simpler joys in life. Violet Disguise will invigorate and put a spring in your step. 
NOTES: Plum, Violet, Dried Fruits, Balsam, Amber, Evening Air & The Month of May

60mL | $85 | Eau de Parfum

Violet Disguise opens with an odd swirl of pine tree and flowers and something fruity, spins in the air, then settles back down again. That out of the way, the perfume behaves in a bit more of a ladylike manner. There's a sweet, fruity nuance flirting around the edges of this violet perfume. And under it, only just, is the dried fruit, chewy and somehow...healthy? Like a baggie full of dehydrated fruit you'd take on a hike. It adds an odd, deadened vibe that's somehow very appealing, contrasting with the vibrance of the sweet violet petals. I'll be honest: I've never been quite sure what plum smells like...until now. It's clearly here, ripe but subtle. It tangles beautifully with the balsam, nesting in the boughs until the amber washes up and wipes them away. As for the Evening Air and Month of May - yes, they're here too. A spritz of Violet Disguise will lead you right to them, then to your wrist, again and again for more. This perfume is fun and flirty with a slightly serious side. She's the girl with the glasses, wind blowing through her hair, and a wink in her eye.

"Life is a series of blank pages and it is up to one’s self whether to fill those pages with tedious prose or wildly imaginative storylines.”


Until 4/2

Neela Vermeire's Mohur will blow you away! (perfume review)


For those of you do not know about Neela Vermeire's perfumes, you're in for a treat. Neela is fragrance fan who, in 2012, launched her own house. She contracted none other than Bertrand Duchaufour (seems to be a smart trend among new houses!) to bring to life her idea: Discover Your India. Together, they urge you to sample from India's past through to its future, in the French perfume style. Sample the Vedic period in Trayee, experience the Mogul-British Raj through Mohur, and finally land in Modern India with Bombay Bling. All three scents have been well-received by perfumistas and Noses in the Know alike. Today, we're going to discuss Mohur!

One of the incredibly intelligent things the Neela Vermeire Creations line does (aside from having beautifully-made scents) is offer not only a sample collection, but also a "discovery set" which includes 10ml of each scent (only $118.55). Genius.


The name refers to the most valuable gold coin in India’s history, the last of which was minted in 1918. A way, perhaps, of underlining the value given to perfumery during the Mogul era, an art so highly considered that the most powerful empress of the Mughal dynasty, Noor Jahan, devoted herself to perfecting it. 

Though Mohur is built on the classic Eastern accord of rose and oud, with its powdery orris accords it also manages to conjure the opulence of classic French fragrances. It is also, despite the richness of its floral accords, a unisex scent, with leather effects alluding to high tea after a polo match in the British Raj, and perhaps a whiff of fine-milled English soap. 

But the real surprise in Mohur is the subtle “Indian pastry” accord tucked in the petals of its rose garden, with notes of carrot, almond, cardamom and ambrette, lending a tender touch to this majestic composition. If Patou had been Indian, this would have been Joy...   - Luckyscent

Mohur Notes

Cardamom, coriander, ambrette, carrot, black pepper, elemi, Turkish rose oil, jasmine, orris, hawthorn, almond milk accord, leather, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, oudh Palao from Laos, benzoin, vanilla, tonka bean


Here's a lovely bit on the inspiration of this scent, written by Victoria of Bois de Jasmin, and since I couldn't explain it better, I won't:
"Mohur takes its name from a gold coin minted during the Mogul era in Indian history. It is influenced by the story of the empress Nur Jahan, who not-so-secretly became the power behind the throne of her opium-addicted second husband.  After her husband’s death, Nur Jahan took up the art of perfumery while under what amounted to a house arrest.  Although the perfumes Nur Jahan created are lost to history, the story is not and it is this that Neela Vermeire has taken as inspiration."


Mohur kicks off (most of the time) with a swirl of dry, rooty spice. Specifically, I get carrot and pepper and coriander and orris. It's invigorating. 

Shortly, and it doesn't take long, the spicy winds settle down and in that respite blooms a beautiful french perfume full of the sweetest, dewiest rose note I've smelled in awhile. That rose is layered over jasmine and - believe it or not - almond milk. This creates the occasional impression of one of my favorite desserts of all time, carrot halwa or "Gajar ka halwa", a cardamom + carrot + almond + milk mixture that I can never say "no" to. 

Periodically, the winds kick back up and Mohur's roses become a garden with the whole rose bush - roots and all. 

Slowly, as the rose blows in and out, the grassiness and spices are gone and a base of oud (oh-so-softly) and vanilla-tinged leather is built underneath my feet. Rose petals settle slowly onto the ground, fluttering gently as the fall.

Mohur doesn't sit still often. The roses are ever present, but their dance partners change like the wind. I get different Mohurs depending on the day and on the way I apply (dab vs. spray). This does not at all discourage me from wearing it. Quite the opposite, in fact. It makes me drawn to Mohur to see which personality the winds will bring me today!

This is one of the few scents that I constantly wish to respray while I wear it, but I don't! I want to follow it through and see it to the end. But I don't! I want those rosy heart notes to start swirling around me. But I don't! I want this blissful and gorgeous, base to go on and on and on. But I don't! Let's relive that first few spicy moments by spritzing it again. Oh dear, I want it all, all the time.


Let me call your attention back to the Luckyscent description of Mohur:

"If Patou had been Indian,
this would have been Joy.

I think not only is this quotation right on the nose, but it's also very descriptive and apt of this whole line. Neela Vermeire Creations, through the eyes and noses of Neela and perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, is the perfect marriage of classic French perfumery and traditional Indian perfumery. This, I think, would make Noor Jahan very, very happy.

Tell me: Now that I've talked about all three of NVC's perfumes,
which one is YOUR India?
Or which one intrigues you the most, if you haven't tried them yet?


Buy Mohur and the other 

Neela Vermeire Creations through

 the NVC websiteLuckyscent
and through the retailers listed here.

Wow. That bottle... 

BTW, wouldn't you love to wear this amazing bindi?

Neela Vermeire's Trayee - A whirling dervish of beauty. (perfume review)

Irreverently edited picture of  Sadhu source

For those of you do not know about Neela Vermeire's perfumes, you're in for a treat. Neela is fragrance fan who, in 2012, launched her own house. She contracted none other than Bertrand Duchaufour (seems to be a smart trend among new houses!) to bring to life her idea: Discover Your India. Together, they urge you to sample from India's past through to its future, in the French perfume style. Sample the Vedic period in Trayee, experience the Mogul-British Raj through Mohur, and finally land in Modern India with Bombay Bling. All three scents have been well-received by perfumistas and Noses in the Know alike. Today, we're going to discuss Trayee!

One of the incredibly intelligent things the Neela Vermeire Creations line does (aside from having beautifully-made scents) is offer not only a sample collection, but also a "discovery set" which includes 10ml of each scent (only $118.55). Genius.


The name (pronounced “try-ee”) means “triad”, an allusion to the sacred origin of the first three Vedas, the most ancient sacred texts in India. The notes are drawn from the ingredients used in religious rituals and ayurvedic medicine during the Vedic era. Rich in incense, myrrh and oud, the fragrance is a poignant blend of smoke, spices and resins that harks back to the very origins of perfumery – a burnt offering to the gods and an aid to meditation.
Bertrand Duchaufour has always excelled at bringing transparency to dark resinous notes, and he surpasses himself in the smoky blend: Trayee is amazingly faceted, with green (basil, cardamom, cassis), floral (jasmine), spicy (ginger, cinnamon, clove), leather (saffron, oud), smoky (vetiver, sandalwood) and balsamic (myrrh, vanilla) effects, dominated by the quintessentially Indian fragrances of sandalwood and jasmine. The perfumer has even added an arrestingly realistic ganja accord, a memory of the sadus he ran across during his trips in India.
Trayee’s smoky tendrils may not have consciousness-altering effects, but we suspect that the gorgeous natural materials in the formula might be aromatherapeutic. Beauty heals.  -

Trayee Notes
Blue ginger, elemi, cinnamon, ganja accord, blackcurrant absolute, basil, jasmine sambac, Egyptian jasmine, cardamom absolute, clove, saffron, Javanese and Haitian vetiver, incense, Mysore sandalwood oil, patchouli, myrrh, vanilla, cedar, amber notes, oud palao from Laos, oak moss.
Special Note: Trayee was nominated for the prestigious Fifi Award! 


Trayee opens with a strong elemi scent to me. It's a lemon-piney resinous scent that is bright and sparkly - imagine lemongrass furniture polish, but pretty. Elemi is related to frankincense and myrrh. It's not a scent I am used to, and so perhaps that's why it stands out so much, maybe your results are different. The scent of elemi is considered to be balancing, and I think I find that to be true with the opening of Trayee. It's very calming.

Slowly, the blackcurrant (cassis) peeks out, alongside some green cardamom. And there's a dash of spice and a basil leaf or two. Where did those come from? Maybe my nose simply adjusted to the elemi and they've been there all along?

Like blinking through smoke, or perhaps waking from a dream, one slowly becomes aware of soft, lush floral jasmine, but it's so hard to focus! Is it really there?

If you sniff closely, you get one thing, if you pull back and pay attention to the scent you'll notice that things are different. The heavier aspects (woods, resins, spices, fruits) seem to be weighted to the skin, while the smokier facets lift off and swirl around the wearer. It is here that you'll pick up not only the incense but, if you're lucky, that "ganja accord" which does flash in and out from time to time - and it's spectacular.

The sweetness of vetiver, vanilla, cedar, and oud now push forward a bit, grabbing the scent and pulling it down into a sweeter darkness, which eventually fleshes out and becomes a woody but sweet serenity, laced with smoke. This is definitely a scent that inspires relaxation and comfort. I haven't yet meditated while wearing it, but I suspect it would be perfect.

Trayee twists in the air, like the smoke she's based on (clearly she's a "she" as she's so beautifully volatile - though please men, try her! She's made for men and women!). She's mysterious, like her sibling Mohur, and rather like a multi-faceted gemstone shows various flashes of light, darkness, and color depending on how you hold her. Each time you pick these two scents up and wear them, you will surely get a different experience. Trayee is sometimes spicier on me. Every now an again she's all about the jasmine. Some days she wants to be a bit oud-ier, going nearly straight from the elemi into the oud with hardly a backwards glance at her own heart. Other times she is truly a full-fledged journey through all of these notes. Just like finding my center and staying focused while meditating, Trayee is hard to pin down to just one thing.

I'll be honest with you: all three of the scents in the Neela Vermeire Creations line were challenging to get to know. This one was my first favorite, and yet it was still quite tricky for me. In the end, like many things challenging, this challenge ultimately makes these scents all the more special. If you, like me, find these hard to understand, please persevere! I promise you, in the end you will fall in love with them.

Buy Trayee and the other 

Neela Vermeire Creations through

 the NVC websiteLuckyscent
and through the retailers listed here.

Did you see that bottle?! 

samples were a gift