Jean Patou Joy Forever (with a Dior Grand Bal aside)

Jean Patou has always seemed like a brand that I should by rights adore, but don’t. The history, the BIG florals, etc. etc. Everything about the brand seems like “my thing.” Granted, I must confess that I haven’t spent a ton of time with their fragrances on skin – in part because smelling them on card doesn’t induce me to spray it on my skin. I’ve failed to enjoy Joy. Even though I love jasmine, Joy always just seemed sort of stuffy to me, at least in the near-recent iteration (the only I’ve smelled – I think it’s been reformulated again in the last year, since the last time I tried it), and 1000 struck me as really atrocious the one time I encountered it (so bad, in fact, that I wonder if the tester had spoiler under display lights).

Anyway, I love the IDEA of Jean Patou, and if I attempted at all to collect vintage perfume, I think it’s a house I’d explore. When I read about the release of a Joy flanker, Joy Forever, I thought, hmmm. Over the last year, I’ve discovered an increasing obsession with jasmine. Joy Forever seemed like possibly Just the Ticket. Now Smell This ran a draw for a 50mL bottle, and lo and behold… I won!

To be honest, I was hoping to find in Joy Forever something like Dior Grand Bal. I haven’t written about Grand Bal here, but I got a decant in a swap sometime late last spring and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. Grand Bal has in my mind only two drawbacks: 1. insufficient lasting power 2. an astronomical price tag. (EDIT: In the comments, Undina points out that the per-mL price of Grand Bal is actually lower than that of Joy Forever. It’s true! I’m not sure I realized that before. Still, buying 125 mLs of Grand Bal, the smallest size Dior offers, is a bit different than buying 30mLs of Joy Forever, the smallest size Patou offers. And I got my Joy Forever for free. However… perhaps Undina is talking me into buying Grand Bal!) I’ve been hoping to find some kind of ‘budget Grand Bal’ and as yet I haven’t found it. Perhaps it was unfair to approach Joy Forever from this angle – but I didn’t need Joy Forever to be Grand Bal. I just needed a superb little innocent (but REAL-smelling!) jasmine perfume.

Joy Forever starts with a blast of extremely clean citrus and green notes… I detect early on a green-smelling rose note that I feel is everywhere in contemporary perfumery, to the point of being tiresome… I pick up orange blossom as well. The overall effect is extremely clean, but quite pretty through the early stages. So you’ve got these soapy-clean greenish florals, well-blended. The first 30 minutes or so of Joy Forever are really quite nice… you almost think the florals are going to get dirty, as the jasmine asserts itself more, with a whisper of iris mucking things up… and then it’s white musk. The florals disappear and I’m left with a soapy memory.

Honestly, Grand Bal wears much this way on me, too, with the fade from modern floral! to disappearing MUSK, but the jasmine in Grand Bal, while still clean and not the remotely the indolic explosion of Mama Joy, seems richer and warmer. Joy Forever is definitely something I think I’ll continue to pull out, particularly during the sweltering Austin summer (it’s such a breezy fragrance!), but it doesn’t quite capture the “ultimate modern jasmine” prize I hoped it might.

Here’s hoping that unlike Joy Forever, the new reissue collection from Patou does blow my mind. Anyone want to send me a bottle of Chaldée?? :)

Tauer Advent 2013 Winner

The winner of Sunday’s Advent draw is Caroline! Caroline, please check your email!

Everyone else, thanks for playing and sorry for the delay in posting the winner. I’ll be back tomorrow with another post (GASP!).

Tauer Perfumes Phi & 2013 Advent draw!

Andy Tauer was nice enough to invite me to participate in his annual advent draw again this year (despite my months and months of not blogging this summer and fall), so I thought it would only be appropriate to discuss  his latest release in his main perfume line: Phi, Une Rose de Kandahar.

(No, I haven’t tried Tableau de Parfums Ingrid yet, which was release. I’m gonna order a sample soon.)

I’ve been wearing Phi quite a bit over the last few weeks, after winning a sample in a draw hosted by Perfume of Life. Phi goes on fruity and nutty. In fact, I commented to my husband that at the start it almost brings to mind a fruitcake or other holiday treat. That’s not quite right, though, because Phi is not truly sugary enough to resemble cake. On my skin, Phi starts with a blast of almond nuttiness, which was one of the most unexpected aspects of the scent to me and also one of my favorites. (Side note: a few years ago, 2009 I think, Bath and Body Works had this limited edition pistachio scent called Nutcracker Sweet… it was the bomb! I need more nutty scents in my life.) Andy has said two of the major ingredients in Phi are apricot extract and the namesake rose oil from Afghanistan. Honestly, it’s hard for me personally to tell where the fruity apricot line ends and where the rose begins… both of them blend into one through the heart of the scent. The drydown of the scent features a really warm, woody tobacco note.

Phi is really lovely, and sort of a fruity floriental. I’ve long thought that florientals are some of the most wearable scents, and I think that Phi is likely one of Andy’s most accessible, wearable scents ever. Now, I don’t know if this is good or bad. There are a number of Tauer Perfumes that are pretty polarizing, I think. This strikes me as something that is easy, comforting, and actually, very reminiscent of the holidays as well. To me, perhaps some of Andy’s more over-the-top scents pull on my heartstrings a bit more, but were it in my wardrobe, I have a feeling I’d pull Phi out a lot in November and December. Unfortunately for me, I tend to debate my purchases for a long time, and Phi is a limited edition… I guess I’ll just see how long it sticks around.

Now, for the draw! It’s open worldwide. All you have to do is leave a comment about anything that pleases you to comment about. The draw is for Andy’s new Explorer Set: three 15mL purse sprays chosen among the available scents: see here. I’ll announce the draw winner here tomorrow; winners will be chosen via Random.org! You can continue to play the Advent Calendar at Andy’s site through December 24!

M. Micallef Le Parfum Denis Durand Couture

Hello, world. I stopped blogging in April, my busiest season at my job, and never really picked back up. I kept waiting for something that seemed interesting enough to write about.

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Reading online reviews of M. Micallef Le Parfum Denis Durand Couture, the reviews all seem to have a lot of debate about specific notes. Is there oud? What’s animalis? etc etc.  I’ll refer you to Kafkaesque for that rundown. I don’t really want to get into the debate about notes in this perfume because the more I smell it, the less I seem to trust my nose. Let me talk a little about my feelings about this perfume and the M. Micallef brand in general.

The M. Micallef brand is very well-reviewed across the perfume blogosphere, in large part I believe because they give out lots of free samples. They get their stuff in the hands of the right people. I’m not exactly “the right people” as an occasional blogger, but even I have managed to grab a few of their samples via draws on blogs. In fact I got the Denis Durand (let’s just shorten the name, OK?) sample in a draw at Undina’s blog.

Honestly, the M. Micallef brand never appealed to me much, in part maybe because I wondered if all the reviews were in part due to the fact that free samples were being put out there. And sometimes the reviews weren’t even that good, even with free samples. The overall impression I got of the brand was really over the top – maybe like a French “Desperate Housewives” feel. The bottles were pretty blingy and over the top, a lot of the perfumes seemed to have oud… it seemed like the brand was really made for conspicuous consumers, not so much perfumistas… yet they clearly pursued perfumistas as customers.

Anyway, I thought Denis Durand seemed like one of their more interesting perfumes, so I took a chance on Undina’s draw. And then took forever to test the perfume.

My impressions of Denis Durand are of a largely linear perfume, with a few main notes… I definitely smell an over-the-top dark woods note. Call it out, call it animalis, whatever. Normally these types of perfumes just seem synthetic and hypermasculine to me, but it’s softened here with honey and orange blossom. At times I could swear I smell a dark chocolate in this perfume, which no one else has mentioned, so I’m guessing it’s an olfactory illusion of the woods and honey. But mostly I get these sweet dark woods throughout the development of the perfume, something that smells greater than the sum of its parts somehow. Perhaps it’s just being suggested to me by the bottle and marketing, but this perfume reminds me of late nights, drinking wine, wearing expensive lingerie. It’s a perfume that manages to seem both very cozy and and erotic at once. I’ve been wearing the heck of my sample. It’s the first addition to my “must have full bottle” list in some months. (And obviously it got me to write again!)

5 quick impressions of lesser-known Thierry Muglers

I have an appreciation for Thierry Mugler, but I often find I like house’s flankers better than its flagship perfumes. See: last winter’s leather flankers. I’m just waiting for the day those leather flankers show up at the discounters, and I’ll probably get both the Angel and the Alien at that point. Over the winter, I got samples of a few lesser-known Muglers that seemed intriguing, and I’ve been enjoying them since.

Angel Garden of Stars Peony: The Garden of Stars collection was a set of three initial flankers that took Angel and gave it a floral cast. Later, a fourth (Rose Angel) was added. As far as I can tell, the Garden of Stars is long-discontinued, at least here in the US. Since I’m a floral fan who appreciates but doesn’t really want to wear original Angel, I figured these might be good bets for me. Peony is probably my least favorite of the set. Three of the four Garden of Stars have, to my nose, a green-stemmy aspect, and it’s most pronounced in Peony. Other than that, Peony smells fairly spicy-rosy to my nose. As you might expect with an Angel flanker, the patchouli predominates on the drydown. Indeed, all of the Garden of Stars smell pretty recognizably Angel-ish on the drydown.  This one was done by Olivier Cresp, creator of the original Angel.

Angel Garden of Stars Rose: Rose is the Garden of Stars perfume I’d heard the most about and seemed to be the most beloved among perfumistas. I’d see it mentioned here and there in blog comments, although I don’t really think I’ve ever read a full-on review of it. I honestly find Rose quite similar to Peony… and I’ve now seen that Olivier Cresp is also credited with Rose, so there you go. It’s a rose over patchouli with fruit, with some of the greenness of Peony at the start, although not nearly as much. It’s maybe less spicy than Peony. I’m wondering if the reason I’m less enamored of Peony and Rose than the other two Garden of Stars is that the rose + patchouli combination is done so much in perfumery.

Angel Garden of Stars Violet: Violet was done by Francoise Caron… Violet also has a greenness to it, but it’s more that of violet leaves. There’s also candied violets. While original Angel has an over-the-top candy floss note, here the delicate candied violets stand in for cotton candy. It seems more sophisticated and “French” somehow. And then patchouli. Violet + patchouli doesn’t strike me as a common combination. I really, really enjoy this one.

Angel Garden of Stars Lily: This is far and away my favorite of the Garden of Stars. Just before writing this review, I found that Lily was done by Christine Nagel, which makes sense because I’m generally a fan of her work. In this perfume, the initial greenness of the other Garden of Stars is not as present. I smell spicy lily and what I would swear is honey. I have recently been trying Donna Karan Gold, which has so many fans, and I’m trying to love it. I don’t think I do. Garden of Stars Lily is a modern lily perfumer that’s more to my taste. Its lily aspect is much less intense than Gold’s, to be sure, but I far prefer its honey-patchouli drydown to Gold’s amber. I’ve put Garden of Stars Lily on my buy list, and there’s a bottle in my shopping bag at one of the big discounters… I probably won’t cave and buy it quite yet, though. But how much longer will I even  be able to find it?

Dis-Moi, Miroir: The Miroir, Miroir collection is (I think??) Thierry Mugler’s version of an exclusive collection. I don’t know how widely distributed it is. I’ve never seen it in person but I think it’s still for sale somewhere – they’ve added perfumes to the set in the last few years. A few months ago, when Perfume Posse started their single note series, and inspired by my love/hate of Seville a l’Aube (which has now pretty much given over to love), I ordered a bunch of Patty’s recommended orange blossom perfumes. This was among them. It’s actually not just orange blossom. It’s a mix of orange blossom and lily. It’s a really interesting heady-yet-clean floral perfume. The flowers are big and blooming, and not particularly sweet, but it also doesn’t smell like it would scare perfume haters off. There are supposed to be “milky notes” and while I don’t smell anything that overtly reads as “milk,” there’s sort of creamy lactonic aspect that blends the florals together really strongly, so I can barely tell where one ends and the other begins. I really want to like this and it strikes me that I’m almost on the verge of liking this. I sort of wish it were dirtier. It seems like an a pretty well-behaved perfume for the house of Mugler. Maybe that’s the shtick of the Miroir, Miroir collection? I haven’t tried any of the others. I’d like to get to them.

Oscar de la Renta Essential Luxuries Mi Corazon + By Kilian Beyond Love

If you like By Kilian Beyond Love, you’ll love Oscar de la Renta Essential Luxuries Mi Corazon.

No. Seriously, you will. Most likely.

I have an affinity for the Oscar de la Renta brand, and when they announced an exclusive collection, I didn’t know whether to cheer or roll my eyes. It seems like every brand is following Chanel’s lead and launching super-limited, super-expensive perfumes that are limited to their boutiques and maybe the biggest, fanciest department stores in the biggest cities. If exclusive collections always meant high-quality perfume, that would be awesome… but clearly, a lot of these brands are copying Chanel on price point and packaging more than anything else. (I mean, seriously, even Dior, a house with arguably a fragrance history equally storied as Chanel’s, basically ripped off the Les Exclusives packaging.)

Anyway, I guess I was more inclined to roll my eyes at Oscar’s exclusive collection, especially given its cheesy and oxymoronic name – Essential Luxuries? ugh. I held out hope though, because the perfumer was Calice Becker and I appreciate her work quite a bit. I tried to ask around about the perfumes, and got very little feedback – someone on Facebook Fragrance Friends said they were fabulous, someone in the NST comments said they were horrid… I figured I’d have to try for myself. So, Perfume Posse has been doing this perfume-fairy-godmother post monthly, and I asked for samples of any of the Essential Luxuries. I ended up with two Essential Luxuries, plus quite a few other goodies, in my fairy godmother package in February. I really like both of the Essential Luxuries, in fact, I pretty much adore Mi Corazon. But…

Mi Corazon is a tuberose-centric perfume by Calice Becker. Much like By Kilian’s Beyond Love. Luca Turin famously, and controversially, called Beyond Love the best-ever tuberose soliflore in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide. Well. Mi Corazon is very, very, very much like Beyond Love. The tuberose note is quite similar. Mi Corazon substitutes the coconut of Beyond Love for peach. Mi Corazon has a hit of ylang-ylang that I’m not sure is present in Beyond Love. Beyond Love, to my nose at least, is sweeter, more tropical, and on the drydown has a musky/warm skin scent effect. Mi Corazon, while sweet and still vaguely tropical, is not as sweet as Beyond Love, and the base notes seem quite different… not as beachy or as musky. Perhaps greener, more earthy? I’m having trouble naming these notes. I don’t think the lasting power of Mi Corazon is quite as good as that of Beyond Love, but it projects really well at the beginning – people noticed this one on me and I got compliments.

To be honest, while I really like Beyond Love, I may like Mi Corazon better. The tuberose note seems equally nice (well, pretty much the same) as in Beyond Love, but the whole thing seems somewhat drier and more glamorous, more bombshell. I really do appreciate Beyond Love, but the high pricepoint and tropical sweetness probably prevented me from adding it to my buy list – I already have a number of tropical florals in my collection. People who loved Beyond Love for its tropical, musky, easy-to-wear aspects might not like Mi Corazon as much, but if you like Calice Becker’s style, I think you should really check out Mi Corazon and the rest of the Essential Luxuries Collection. The other I’ve tried is Oriental Lace, which is a sweet fruity oriental very much in the Calice Becker style. I think I probably prefer Oriental Lace to any of her sweet orientals for By Kilian. In fact, as I think about it now, Oriental Lace is what I wished the Garden of Evil collection would have smelled like. So. Yeah. So far, the Essential Luxuries are pretty much rocking my world. Mi Corazon is on my wishlist.

One more note. Oscar de la Renta Essential Luxuries Mi Corazon is $150 for 100 mL. So not quite cheap. But. By Kilian Beyond Love is $235 for 50mL at LuckyScent. Yes, you’re paying somewhat for that fancy black bottle, and you can get the By Kilian refills much cheaper, but still… If you like Beyond Love but balked on the price or sweetness, try Mi Corazon.