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

Atelier Cologne - Vetiver Fatal: Lethally Lovely (perfume review)

Vetiver Fatal: Calabrian bergamot, Sicilian lemon, Paraguaian bigaradier, Tunisian orange flower, violet leaves, black plum, Haitian vetiver heart, Texan cedarwood, dark oud accord.
Vetiver is a pretty popular soliflore theme. Soligrass? Whatever. This one is a bit unique, showing less of the dry bite I have noticed in some vetiver perfumes. Instead it capitalizes on the citrusy-facet present in the grasses.

I tried this at Bergdorf Goodman in the Fall and liked it very much. I blew through a sample, and kept thinking about it. OK: obsessing. I bought a bottle last week and am more than thrilled with my purchase.

On me, Vetiver Fatal is pretty linear. It's a sweetened grassy goodness. It opens with a bit more citrus, definitely keeping this in the "cologne" frame, though typical of Atelier Cologne, that mood is blessed with longevity (hours and hours and hours) and actual sillage. It later settles into more of a buttery grass over a wood base that has just the faintest whiff of oud going on (which is about as much oud as I can take). The far drydown - I'm talkin' The Morning After, here - is my favorite part and if you're a fan of drydowns this is one to try. It's sweet and just a tad woody.  I have read a few reviews that mention that plum note; I don't pick it up.

According to Fragrantica, "the Vetiver root is used in folk magic for its purported ability to provide safety and increase financial resources. A ritual designed to promote personal safety calls for inhaling Vetiver while visualizing one’s body as being sealed off from negative energies." This is great, and I intend to use my bottle of Vetiver Fatal with intention. Maybe I'll get some money and be able to buy more. Is that like wishing for more wishes?

Buy Vetiver Fatal from a zillion sources, including: Luckyscent, Sephora, Bergdorf Goodman, and all of the other usual suspects.
Prices: 30ml for $70; 200ml for $185.
This perfume is one hundred and ten percent unisex.

image source: vetiver
bottle shot: my own
Reviewed from my own bottle

I want to lick your... perfume? Kerosene's Unknown Pleasures (perfume review)

I love the name of this perfume by The House of Kerosene. "Unknown Pleasures". What does it mean? Anything you want it to mean! That's the beauty of it. OK, technically it's the title of a Joy Division album. But really, isn't everything what you make of it? ;)

You're walking down a cold street in Manchester, listening to Joy Division, sipping on a warm cup of London Fog. This fragrance opens up with the smooth sweetness of honey with Earl Grey tea, with a zing of lemon. It dries down to a cozy vanilla, soft tonka bean and waffle cone base, sure to make any gourmand lover smile.
Notes: Earl Grey tea, lemon, bergamot, honeycomb, tonka bean, caramel, vanilla and waffle cone.
Unknown Pleasures is Kerosene's first gourmand, and it's a stunner. And that's coming from someone who rarely enjoys gourmands unless their nutty and bready! This one is not. It's a delightfully straight-forward tasty treat that springs up brightly with lemon and a splash of tea and honey, then rides that lemon-honey wave for a bit before folding into a vanilla-waffle cone base.

Straight-forward does not mean boring, and this scent is certainly not dull. The lemon is bracing and invigorating but never falls in to furniture polish territory. It's fresh-squeezed and sparkling. The tea is subtle, at least on my skin, adding a slightly herbal counterpoint to the acidic cheeriness of the lemon. The honey is also soft, never urinous or "iffy". And then there's that delicious base! I was discussing recently with some friends whether we enjoyed the top notes, the heart notes, or the base notes of scent best. I am a base notes kinda gal. This scent is almost all top notes and base notes. It's lemon-tea gelato scooped high on top of a waffle cone, a combination of two distinct experiences that are meant to be together. The base lasts for hours and gets more cuddly as it goes.

I love this on me. I love it on my kids. And it's 100% "unisex" - if my husband would let me spray things on him, he'd get doused with this. I will grab it frequently year-round, but I think a hot summer day will be extra-perfect for Unknown Pleasures. And rainy days. And snowy days. And sunny days... OK: all of them! Now, if you excuse me, I'm off to sniff my arm for awhile...

Disclaimer: I'm friends with the perfumer, John Pegg.
I'd like the perfume anyway, even if someone else made it. ;)
Sample via the perfumer

I recommend buying Unknown Pleasures via MiN New York. $140

Babylon Noir by Opus Oils - it's actually noir! #Devilscent

Perfume Pet Peeve: Calling something "noir" when it's anything but!
Noir calls to mind darkness, danger, mystery, beauty, grittiness, and a sexy edge. Noir has a toughness and cynicism and probably at least one surprising twist. There is often a strong drink, on the rocks, and someone is always smoking...

The Scent of Seduction 
Official Launch: February 14th 2013
BABYLON NOIR (Dark Babylon) is part of The Devilscent Project. Each Limited Edition Artisan Bottle is adorned with Vintage Lace & Fancy Feathers!!! Key Notes Include: Indecent Tuberose, Narcotic Peaches, Luscious Lychee, Civet, Smoke, & Leather. Available in Alcohol or Fractionated Coconut Oil. 

Kedra Hart, perfume mistress at Opus Oils, was part of the incredibly diverse group perfume and blogging project headed by Sheila Eggenberger (author of the yet-to-be-published novel Quantum Demonology, which is freaking amazing). The call went out to scent characters from the book. Babylon Noir is the reply from Opus Oils.


Let's talk about sex for a minute. Sexy perfumes, to be specific. And just in time, right? Valentine's Day is tomorrow!

What would I include in a sexy perfume? Some rich, juicy fruit is a no-brainer, of course. The sexiest flowers I could find. And I happen to love a good naughty tobacco note. And leather is always nice. Make it musky, and I'm sold.

Let's take a look at those Babylon Noir notes again for a sec, shall we?

  • Tuberose ("indecent tuberose"!) is a night-blooming white flower that is pollinated by moths. It smells sexy, round, heady, and fleshy. It originated in Mexico (did you know that?!) and is often used in weddings, Hawaiian leis, and in funerals. In France, maidens were warned against walking at night, lest they smell tuberose and be suddenly influenced to, shall we say "make bad choices".  Is there a more noir flower?
  • Peaches are an ancient fruit, thought to originate in China and their blossoms are carried by Chinese brides. They are often considered sexy, sensual, and also innocent. Indeed, in Babylon Noir they are called "narcotic"!
  • Lychee is a juicy fruit that, in China, symbolizes love and romance, and it's considered quite auspicious. It's red on the outside (the color worn by Chinese brides) and a fleshy pink on the inside, and it's very, very sweet.
  • Civet is a musky, sexy note common in perfumery. It was once removed from actual civet scent glands, but thankfully now perfumery usually uses a synthetic version. Before you get bent out of shape or grossed out, consider this: civet has been used in some of the most sexy, naughty, and/or popular perfumes ever made (Joy, 1000, ShalimarQuelques Fleurs 
    , TabuMuscs Koublai Khan, and the Queen of Perfumes, Chanel No. 5, to name only a few). In fact, I just realized looking at a list of civet-containing fragrances that this note is a common denominator in fragrances I love, going all the way back to my teen years and Colors de Benetton and Carolina Herrera!
  • Smoke. Make no mistake when checking the notes list for Babylon Noir: this "smoke" is definitely from a cigarette and not from some romantic spaghetti Western campfire! Smoke is sexy. Smoking is sexy. Well, maybe not as much now, but historically-speaking. Sex was used to sell cigarettes, and cigarettes were used to spell-out SEXY in a not so subtle way. In 1920 a woman was arrested in New York for smoking in public. In high school, the naughty girls smoked - wearing naughty clothes, hanging out with naughty boys, and sneaking  those smokes in places where only naughty girls went. And need we even mention a sexy man in a leather coat (or cowboy hat, or tailored suit) with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth? Um, swoon! Smoking is a legitimate fetish, enhanced perhaps by its deadly side effects. It's a bit trampy, it's forward, it's not just a little phallic.
  • [via]
    launches its own fetishes. What's sexier than a woman in leather? A man in leather ain't too bad, either! Clothing oneself in animal hides goes way, way back. It's nearly primal. And in modern times, it's a little bit bad-ass. When worn, leather usually goes on tight. Really tight. It's a second skin that one can touch, only barely separated from the person below. It looks like skin, smells like skin - well, it is skin. And need we even mention the whips and other leather implements that may come to mind when one hears the word "leather"? 

Babylon Noir

The first inhalation of Babylon Noir tells you you're in for an exciting, raunchy ride! It's sweet, juicy, ripe, and fleshy right out of the gate. It's innocent. It's naughty! The juicy sweetness drips down your arm (no, not literally, unless you got carried away with the spritzer) and you can almost taste it. It whets your appetite for more. It relaxes you and interests you and it smells oh-so-sexy.

When the delicious lychee and peach pull back ever so slightly, the tuberose steps right in - on long, gorgeous gams and in the sexiest of sexy heels.

Soon, but not too soon, under the pretty and sweet-looking tuberose fruit fest is the twist. A whiff of cigarette smoke. The distinctive scent of black leather.

Eventually, the entire experience is stripped down to the base notes (that's a double entendre in case you missed it). What's left is all you need: lots of leather and a cigarette, for after...

Babylon Noir is actually noir. And it is perhaps my favorite discovery of 2013 so far (and it will be hard to top). It's dark, it's sweet, it's fruity, it's leather-y, it's smoky, it's sexy, Sexy, SEXY. And dammit, it's noir! Thank you, Kedra! Thank you!

Buy Babylon Noir at Opus Oils.
Available in Alcohol or Fractionated Coconut Oil.
Babylon Noir Sample (.5-1ml) $5.00 
Babylon Noir 1/2oz Parfum Roll-On $85.00
Babylon Noir 1oz EDP Spray $95.00
Babylon Noir 1.7oz Fancy Atomizer (Alcohol ONLY) $185.00

Missing that whiskey on the rocks?
Try Opus Oils' M'eau Joe!

Wandering through an Enchanted Forest... and a lot of marketing.


Enchanted Forest by The Vagabond Prince

I probably shouldn't even be writing this review yet, but I'm going to. I'm ornery like that.

You see, I haven't quite made up my mind about this Enchanted Forest. I seem to be one of the few who hasn't. It's getting crazy raves throughout Perfumeland. Leave it to me to be the one who doesn't fall in line.

In case you haven't heard about this perfume, here's the super-duper quick rundown. Enchanted Forest is the first scent in a line called The Vagabond Prince, created by Fragrantica founders Zoran Knezevic and Elena Knezhevich. The perfume itself was masterfully blended by Perfumeland's perfuming sweetheart Bertrand Duchaufour, who has been quoted a bazillion times about this scent. In fact, there's such a flurry of quotations dropping from the sky down into reviews and discussions about Enchanted Forest, I sometimes wonder how many people have actually smelled the stuff!

About Enchanted Forest, the phenomenon
There is so much copy associated with this product, one gets weary sorting through it. Here's the website, in case you haven't seen it:

A summary, with much missing: Zoran and Elena, if I might be so familiar as to use their first names, wished to start a perfume house. They wanted the best of everything. They decided to work with Bertrand Duchaufour. They asked him to create, as their first perfume, a scent reminiscent of their home, Russia. They like blackcurrant and fir. Duchaufour likes blackcurrant and fir. Voila! Or something like that.

Add in references to a pagan festival ("Kupala—a Slavic tradition that continues, more festive than other things at present, as a kind of homage to nature and the mysteries of the forest."), a little bit of magic ("After the exciting hide and seek game, the fairy will comfortably cuddle in your mind and on your skin."), a stretch of the imagination ("It's the smell of the forest, when you step in it in the night."), a bit of exclusivity to tempt those who like that kind of thing ("It is the only perfume I know of that is built around blackcurrant as the sole raw material"), a splash of factual sounding info ("The blackcurrant is the MOST IMPORTANT fruity note of the range that exists in perfumery." - emphasis not mine), a little fear ("I wanted to work the dark, mysterious, almost scary effects of the forest, all that evokes mysterie [sic] and, to man, seems almost supernatural in the forest: animals whose existence have been forgotten...") and you have not only a whole lot of marketing but also a lot of big expectations.

And that's just about the perfume. We haven't even started learning about the bottle and packaging, designed by Elena Knezhevich herself! Let's see, it's round, glossy, and black and meant to "resemble the blackcurrant berry" that is so prominently featured in the perfume. The bottle has a distinct retro-Russian feel thanks to the "golden pattern of Hohloma grass wrapped around the bottle. It was designed exclusively for this fragrance by the artist, first painted by hand and then printed on the bottle in shiny gold." Further reading educates us that Hohloma is an ornate Russian painting tradition and that the style employed on the bottle is specifically "the festive 'Kudrina' which Hohloma artists used only for gifts on special occasions". (read more about the beautiful bottle here)  Luckily, there's also a lot of symbolism to further enhance the marketing: within the decorations on the bottle you will find "two symbols—a sleeping dove (silence) and the moon (fairytales, the mystery of the night)—are included in its tendrils. A remarkable thing about Hohloma is that it is not painted—it grows under the brush from a magical seed which is hidden somewhere in its pattern."

For a lovely video review of the bottle and packaging, please visit my friend Dan, aka MyMickers on YouTube:

 About Enchanted Forest, the perfume

But back to the juice... According to Duchaufour, Enchanted Forest is a modern soliflore. In the copy I have seen, he goes on to explain that there are two focuses: blackcurrant and fir. Well, color me puzzled, as I thought "soliflore" meant "one flower". Oh well. So many things about perfumery mystify me.

Top notes: pink pepper, aldehydes, sweet orange (traces), flower cassis, blackcurrant leaf, hawthorn, effects of rum and wine, rosemary, davana.

Heart notes: blackcurrant buds absolute (by LMR from Grasse), CO2 blackcurrant (by Floral Concept from Grasse), Russian coriander seed, honeysuckle, rose, carnation, vetiver
Base notes: opoponax resinoid, Siam benzoin, amber, oakmoss, fir balsam absolute, Patchouli Purecoeur®, castoreum absolute, cedar notes, vanilla, musk

An enchanted forest. 
But not this one.

My review...

Take a look at the picture above. That's what I picture when I hear "Enchanted Forest". Dappled light deliciously contrasted with a little spooky shadowing; a magical pathway one dare not leave; some pretty, flickering, mystical light; maybe a fae creature or two; perhaps some oversized, technicolor mushrooms à la Alice in Wonderland.

If you asked me to downsize my expectations, I think I'd probably back into something green and loamy, a bit gritty, full of mulch and dirt and dark green leaves.

When I apply The Vagabond Prince's Enchanted Forest, that's not what I get. Were I to be blindfolded and presented this scent, it would seem a lot like this:
Sitting on the chair, I wait for my first sniff. Suddenly, I am pelted in the face with juicy berries of some kind, and maybe some pears. And there's something a bit... off. Maybe rank. I can't think with all this fruit landing on my person. 
The onslaught continues for several hours before I am allowed to remove my blindfold and realize I'm sitting in front of a sweaty guy in a tank top who has finally stopped throwing fruit at me and is now presenting me with one-third of a serving of a delicious berry cobbler with a teaspoon of vanilla icecream on top. 

Yeah. It's a lot like that.

Forest Fairy.
Not present in this perfume.
Duchaufour has successfully created a very berry-heavy scent. In fact, most of the development of Enchanted Forest is blackcurrant. Or, rather:


A whole-freakin'-lot of blackcurrant. At least, I assume it's blackcurrant. To be honest, I do not know what that berry smells like. To my nose, this is a berry-pear-B.O. blend. That's right, I said "B.O.", as in body odor. Some say blackcurrant has a cat urine scent, but I'm here to tell you that at least in this scent it's B.O. and not cat pee. I spent 10 years working in the veterinary industry and have lived with cats most of my life. I have scooped a ton of pee-soaked litter and this is not what it smells like. Dial down the ammonia expectations and twist the sulfuric, sweaty knob towards Max and you've got the weird facet of blackcurrant that many people pick up.

Before you assume that I am insulting Enchanted Forest with this B.O. descriptor, please relax! It's similar to the body odor description that often arises in grapefruit-heavy perfumes. It doesn't mean the scent is unwearable! No, indeed. Perfumistas are made of hearty stock and it takes more than a little sweat to scare us away!

I have searched this scent high and low for the fabled fir note, and I think I have finally pinpointed it. Honestly, it's more like a two-sided coin than a single note that can be teased out of the perfume. One side of the coin is the face of blackcurrant, the other side is a green fir. If you're looking for a distinct pine tree smell you're not going to find it. This fir absolute blends beautifully with what I must assume are the natural green and woody aspects of blackcurrant (a fact Duchaufour alludes to somewhere in the pages of text written about the perfume). Yes, it's there, this mystical fir, but it's not slapping you across the face like the blackcurrant. It's much more subtle than that, at least on my skin.  (A special thank you to Mandy Aftel for at one point sending me a sample of fir absolute which I pulled out to assist me in finding the note in this perfume!)

The drydown of Enchanted Forest is an anemic vanilla-tinged berry musk that, while pretty, does little to support the incredibly intense top- and heart-notes. It's beautiful, don't get me wrong, but there just isn't enough oomph  after all the pomp and circumstance of pounds of tossed fruit and a whiff of B.O.

My review and opinions were formed after dabbing from a sample vial. Is it wrong that I hold out hope that this scent presents differently when sprayed and that I get all of the promised magic? ;)

Final words...

If it sounds like I don't like Enchanted Forest, then I apologize. I actually quite like it, lopsided as it may be. It's just that... well, after reading tons of reviews chockful of ecstatic raves and blissful hyperbole, I guess I just expected that dream forest. I didn't expect a berry fest with a dollop of vanilla musk. It's quite a pretty perfume in a gorgeous bottle, this Enchanted Forest, and I may even partake in a split or even fork out for the bottle. But when paired with pages and pages of overblown text and an constantly building sense of anticipation, I simply found it lacking. It's a good perfume. It's probably not great. I think if I had been expecting a beautiful berry perfume, I'd like it quite a bit more... I think possibly this scent has been oversold, over-promised and, sadly, slightly under-delivered.

As always, feel free to disagree with me in the comments!

You can purchase Enchanted Forest for $180 via...