30 Days of Scent – Day Twenty-Three – Wild Madagascar Vanilla by Bath & Body Works   Leave a comment

Today, I am wearing Wild Madagascar Vanilla “fine fragrance mist” by Bath & Body Works.  It, along with a matching sugar scrub (which doesn’t seem to exist anymore?), and a semi-matching bubble bath (Warm Vanilla Sugar), was a Christmas gift from my son.

Fragrantica.com lists the main accords of Wild Madagascar Vanilla as vanilla, fruity, white floral, sweet, and powdery.  Their description notes “…Top notes of Wild Madagascar Vanilla blend with zests of African pear, sparkling fruit zest of clementine and juicy ruby red apple. The heart introduces a blend of wild jasmine, wild gardenia, heliotrope petals and golden plumeria (frangipani), while the base is composed of Madagascar vanilla, white sandalwood and creamy musk. Wild Madagascar Vanilla was launched in 2014.

I’m leery of vanilla scents because they tend to take a turn for the weird on me, so I was worried that I’d end up not wearing Wild Madagascar Vanilla more than once.  Since I was a gift, I dutifully went upstairs on Christmas Day and used the scrub in the shower, and then sprayed myself down with the fragrance mist, figuring that if I only wore it once, I would wear it when my son was home to notice.  I was prepared to blow out my sinuses, and I was prepared to smell like an overdose of sugar-free vanilla syrup…and neither of these things happened.  What happened was something I couldn’t have foreseen: I enjoyed it.

That’s right, world: I wore a vanilla fragrance and it worked for me.  I couldn’t have been more surprised if swine everywhere had taken to the air and started buzzing my house.

There is, unsurprisingly, a lot of vanilla in Wild Madagascar Vanilla, but there’s something about how it was blended with other elements that keeps it from going badly on my skin.  The vanilla in the top notes is noticeable at first spray, but then turns into fresh apple, and after about an hour the heart comes out – plumeria and heliotrope on me (I don’t get any jasmine or gardenia).  The base notes, white sandalwood, musk, and more vanilla, don’t show up until a good six hours have gone by, and by then Wild Madagascar Vanilla is a skin-scent only and still gorgeous.  In fact, most of the compliments I’ve gotten about this scent have been toward the end of the day when I’ve been in (very) close proximity to another human being.

Then again, the people in my life seem to really enjoy vanilla and me, so I have no idea if there’s anything there or not. *wink*

I typically don’t recommend vanilla-based scents to others because I typically find them to be awful…but Wild Madagascar Vanilla isn’t awful.  So, you can find it at Bath & Body Works (either online or in one of their stores) in an 8oz spray for around $14…unless it is during one of their many many sales.  As always, though, I’d recommend trying before buying.

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30 Days of Scent – Day Twenty-Two – Beyond Paradise by Estée Lauder   Leave a comment

Yesterday, I wore Beyond Paradise by Estée Lauder.  It’s a full bottle I was given for Christmas a few years back – in fact, for a year or two I considered it to be one of my signature scents.  The person who gave it to me got it from a department store, most likely at the Estée Lauder counter.

Fragrantica.com lists the main accords of Beyond Paradise as white floral, floral, citrus, fresh spicy, and green.  Their description of this scent says that it “…opens with Eden mist which gives a long lasting tropical wet effect, rare flowers (orange blossom and blue hyacinth) and fruits (Jaboticaba berry). The floral heart is a burst of exotic flowers: laelia orchid, pink honeysuckle, Japanese mahonia. The base is no less exotic, consists of Natal plum blossom, golden melaleuca, zebrano wood, ambrette seed…

The scent was created by Calice Becker in 2003, and followed up in 2004 with Beyond Paradise for Men (which I’ve not tried).  There are a few other scents in the Beyond Paradise series, none of which I’ve worn: Beyond Paradise Summer Waters for Her (2005), Beyond Paradise Blue (2006), and Beyond Paradise Summer Fun (2007).  “Summer Fun” was a limited edition, and meant to be a lighter version of the original; Estée Lauder issued lighter versions of Beautiful and Pleasures along with it.

I was actually surprised that I hadn’t reviewed Beyond Paradise before, given that I wear it quite often and I have a serious thing for Estée Lauder fragrances.  And, even given my unholy obsession with Dazzling Silver and my proclamations that it is my all-time favorite, Beyond Paradise has managed to seduce me into giving it equal wear time…and the two couldn’t be more different, in my opinion.

On me, Beyond Paradise is honeysuckle, hyacinth, and orchid, with a hint of something plum-like.  When I wear it, I’m careful to use only one spray on the back of my neck; this is a HUGE floral scent that isn’t cut with any fresh elements, or greenery (despite Fragrantica’s profile on it) and it can easily overwhelm the wearer.  In fact, I can’t imagine trying to layer it with scented lotion or any of the other “kit items” that fragrance manufacturer’s try so often to market with a perfume – that one spray on my neck that I mentioned?  It’s enough scent to linger on my clothing until laundry day.  Seriously: if you try this scent, and I think you should, use it sparingly or you’ll likely end up hating it – too much Beyond Paradise is not a good thing, in my opinion.

Estée Lauder continues to make Beyond Paradise, and in its original formulation, although the bottle shape has changed.  The new bottle is a little more ordinary than I think a scent like this deserves, and I prefer the classic bottle that I own.  A 1.7 oz eau de parfum spray can be found in the “The House of Estée Lauder” section at Estée Lauder.com, and will run you $65.

30 Days of Scent – Day Twenty-One – Ode à L’Amour by Yves Rocher   Leave a comment

Today, I am wearing Ode à L’Amour by Yves Rocher.  I’m…not sure how I got this scent, actually, as it has been discontinued, and I don’t remember picking up the adorable tiny glass bottle.  I actually don’t even remember wearing it during my “all Yves Rocher all the time” phase in the 1990s, but somehow it appeared in my perfume cabinet.

(Yes, I have a perfume cabinet.  It is dark inside, meaning no light exposure, and also in one of the rooms of my house that has a relatively constant temperature all year round.  Needless to say, the room is not my bathroom.)

Fragrantica.com lists the main accords of Ode à L’Amour as fruity, woody, sweet, powdery, rose, and balsamic.  They identify this scent as an “…oriental-vanilla fragrance for women. The top notes are plum and black currant; the heart notes are plum, rock rose and ylang-ylang; the base notes are amber and sandalwood.”  There’s a better description, in my opinion, over at Ca Fleur Bon; the essay contains notes on of all of Yves Rocher’s “Odes”, and I especially like the one for Ode à L’Amour.  I also suspect that the tiny bottle I have is the EDT splash, judging by the description of the flaçon: “…The splashes are clear glass with tight fitting plastic lined glass stoppers…

It’s worth noting that I wouldn’t have chosen Ode à L’Amour for myself based on what others have written – the combination of accords doesn’t sound appealing, and calling it oriental-vanilla really puts me off since vanilla can go so horribly wrong on me.  Funnily enough, though, the items that would normally repel me aren’t present at all when I dab this scent on my skin – I get plum, and ylang-ylang, and something floral that isn’t immediately identifiable.  This might be the rock rose, but as I can’t recall ever smelling one “in the wild”, I’m not sure.  It’s a nice combination of fruit and floral, and the pepper, amber, and sandalwood that other people seem to experience just aren’t present for me.

I’m enjoying my first “taste” of Ode à L’Amour, although it’s likely that I won’t replace it once the bottle is empty.  For starters, it is discontinued, and that means hunting through auction sites and/or flea markets until I find it…and I can think of other, more classic, scents I’d rather put my energies into finding.  And, truthfully, even if it were more widely available, I can’t see Ode à L’Amour becoming one of my go-to fragrances – it’s pretty, and I like it, but it doesn’t move me like so many of my other scents do.  Then again, most of what scent is is subjective – even though  I wouldn’t don black crêpe for it, I understand why others do.

30 Days of Scent – Day Twenty – Waterlily Sun by Aerin Lauder   Leave a comment

Today, I am wearing Waterlily Sun by Aerin Lauder.  It’s a rollerball that my mother gave me for Christmas, and it came from Estée Lauder.com.

Fragrantica.com lists the main accords of Waterlily Sun as musky, aquatic, citrus, green, and white floral.  Their description of this scent says that the “…Top notes are bergamot and green notes; middle notes are water lily and jasmine; base note is musk.”  The description from the manufacturer says basically the same thing in language that better aligns with the idea of the “Aerin lifestyle brand”.  And, honestly, the descriptions put me right off buying Waterlily Sun for myself despite wanting to try it out – anything that prominently features musk, or mentions being “musky” puts me on edge and readies me for disappointment.

Except…I’m not disappointed with Waterlily Sun.  A roll over each wrist and one across the nape of my neck this morning led to my being enveloped me in greenery, citrus, and white florals.  I know that there is musk in this scent, and I can feel it thee, but as a bolster rather than an identifiable element; six-and-a-half hours after I put it on, it is still as lovely as it was in the first few minutes, and it hasn’t lightened up at all.  In fact, I think that this may be a “neck-wear only” scent if I don’t want to overpower my own olfactory system; it’s not quite there now, but I’ve got that tickle in my nostrils that says it could go overboard if I’m not careful.

Aside from my traditional “try before you buy”, there’s one recommendation I’d make to anyone wanting to try Waterlily Sun: don’t go in thinking of it as an Estée Lauder fragrance.  I’ve seen multiple reviews online that complain about it not fitting into the range of fragrances people are used to, and that it isn’t “Estée Lauder” enough.  Well, the truth is that, despite where it is sold, Waterlily Sun is not an Estée Lauder fragrance.  There’s a reason the classic logo isn’t on the bottle, or in the name – this scent is an Aerin Lauder scent, and while comparisons to her grandmother are inevitable, we might do better to assess her fragrance collection on its own merits.

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30 Days of Scent – Day Nineteen – A Pause, for Christmas   Leave a comment

Last Friday was Christmas, and rather than telling you which scent I wore I wanted to write about the scents I was given for Christmas, and also muse on the giving of fragrance to others.

I have a wishlist on Amazon, as many people do, and I tend to spell out which scents I like in case a friend or family member is inspired to gift me something because giving fragrances to other people is fraught with peril.  What smells good to one person may not to another, and even if it smells good in the bottle, or on a tester strip, an amazing perfume can go south quickly on someone’s skin if their skin chemistry isn’t exactly right for all of the chemicals involved.  Because, let’s face it: even if the scent we dab in all the right places is made of entirely natural ingredients, we’re still applying foreign substances to ourselves and hoping it will come out smelling lovely.  And we get it wrong so often – sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes because we want so badly for something to work when it doesn’t, and sometimes because we gave something to someone without consulting them.

Consider, if you will, White Linen, by Estée Lauder.  This was my mother’s signature scent when I was growing up, and it smelled amazing on her – floral and woody, green and powdery, with just a touch of aldehydes.  It was everything I wanted for myself in a perfume, and it was the one scent of hers she wouldn’t let me try on.  I would ask her, and she would divert me with another scent, one that was not as special to her, and I finally stopped asking but vowed that, when I got old enough, I would wear it myself.

And then, one day, my parents took my brothers on vacation and left me home for a week because I had to work, and I took the chance to spray myself with the fragrance I’d been coveting since I was too young to wear any scent but Ivory soap.  And it was horrible – the combination of notes that worked so well on my mother went terribly wrong on me; White Linen was too sharp, and the aldehydes were super strong when mixed with my skin chemistry, and all the things I loved about it on my mother were things I hated on myself.  But, a few months later, I tried it again with the same result.

And again a year later.  And again two years after that.  And again, and again, and again because I so wanted it to work.  In fact, the last time I tried it was just two years ago, with the same result…and a friend of mine asked me when I was going to stop torturing myself my wearing something that I know I can’t wear.

I stopped my longing for White Linen, and its many derivatives that I also tried, that day, and went back to enjoying what works on me and leaving what doesn’t behind.  For the most part.  Recent reviews not included.

I don’t think my mother knew what she was doing when she wouldn’t let me try it out as a child, but I do think she (subconsciously) realized that something might go oddly with our relationship if we ended up wearing the same fragrance.  Or, hell, maybe she just didn’t want to share.  Either way, I should have taken the hint, regardless of the reasoning behind it: White Linen is not for me.  And, with all of the other lovely Estée Lauder scents that do work on me, I’m okay with that.  Now, anyway.

So, I’m specific about what scents I want to own, and rarely include anything on my list that I don’t already know goes well with my skin chemistry; I default to try before I buy, and it hasn’t failed me.  Which brings me to the fact that I did end up with two new scents as Christmas gifts, along with one I specifically requested.

From my husband, who reads my wishlist, La Chasse Aux Papillions by L’Artisan Parfumeur.  I reviewed it back in March of 2015.

From my son, Wild Madagascar Vanilla by Bath & Body Works, which was new to me.  The jasmine it purports to have excites me, but the sandalwood worries me a bit.

From my mother, Waterlily Sun by Estée Lauder which I’ve wanted but not tried because of my wariness of musk.  Fortunately, it’s in a rollerball.

I will be wearing, and reviewing, all of these in the next few days.  And, potentially, some others, too – because my in-laws decided to encourage me to shop for my own gift this year, and there are some decants over at The Perfumed Court that are calling my name.

So, to all who read my meandering musings over here at Eating Monsters, here’s to a wonderfully scented Holiday Season, and if you’re planning to give the gift of scent, take note from the words of J.B. Smoove:

“Perfume works with the chemistry of your lady and your lady alone. They go together. You don’t want to embarrass your lady. You bring the wrong perfume home, you put it on her, and it smells like garbage truck juice.”

Much love,

April

30 Days of Scent – Day Eighteen – Cardinal by James Heeley   Leave a comment

Last Thursday, Christmas Eve, I wore Cardinal by James Heeley.  It, like all of my other Heeley scents, came from The Perfumed Court in a decant set.

Fragrantica.com lists the main accords of Cardinal as balsamic, smoky, amber, warm spicy, and fresh spicy.  Their description of the scent is quite accurate, as words on a screen go: “Cardinal by James Heeley is a timeless fragrance of incense and labdanum. Underlayer of linen gives it purity and a mixture of grey amber, patchouli and vetiver give it elegance.  Top notes: rose, black pepper and aldehydes; middle notes: labdanum and incense; base notes: vetiver, amber and patchouli…”  I think, though, that I like the first line of description from the manufacturer best:

Incense enrobed in folds of white linen.

The first thing I thought of when I smelled Cardinal was a censer, and I imagine it is no surprise that the designer himself noted (during an interview with Lena Brombacher) that he was inspired to create it during a service at L’Eglise Saint-Gervais – Saint Protais in Paris.  Cardinal is incense in a bottle – it is wafting clouds in the aisles, candle-lit spaces, and ritual.  It is low singing, and prayer, and space-out-of-time.  It is a scent for occasions, solemn or otherwise so long as they are steeped in ceremony.

Cardinal is also the kyphi burning near my open window in honor of things more profound than can be explained in a short time…or in words, for that matter, and that’s the reason I’m thinking it will become a ritual scent for me.  I know I cannot do justice to a full bottle – it’s not meant for everyday wear – but the decant will most likely last me for some time.

On me, Cardinal is ambergris and smoke in an “incense burner” fashion, with hints of vetiver and black pepper.  The patchouli is not overwhelming, once again proving that Heeley knows how to use it to bolster a scent without having it smell like the inside of a tent at Burning Man.  I’d recommend you try it out – if it works, it will be an amazing experience.

30 Days of Scent – Day Seventeen – Iris de Nuit by James Heeley   Leave a comment

Last Wednesday, I wore Iris de Nuit by James Heeley.  I purchased it as a decant in a group with other of Heeley’s fragrances from The Perfumed Court.

Fragrantica.com lists the main accords of Iris de Nuit as powdery, musky, floral, woody, and amber.  Their description of this scent says, “Rare and refined, sensual and discreet perfume, Iris de Nuit is a perfectly blended composition dedicated to this flower.  Angelica grain and ambrette open the composition up, followed by the heart of iris root, violet and carrot. The base is composed of grey amber and white cedar…”  James Heeley.com goes a step further and notes that men will get a scent that is “Classical, literary, romantic. ‘Portrait of Dorian Gray’” while women will note that it is “Sensual, delicate, creative and individual.”  And, even though Iris de Nuit wasn’t exactly what I expected, I can’t argue that it matches the descriptions in almost an uncanny way.

I love irises – I grow two kinds in my front flower bed, and I am tempted every year to sow the entire thing in rhizomes that will grow so thick that all the other plants that want to come up will be smothered.  I love their greenery, which I never cut back, and their gorgeous, heavy blooms, and the scent that comes off my Siberian hybrids is like walking into heaven.  The problem with my love for them, though, is that I’ve not found anything I can wear to match them: there is no manufactured scent, no bottled perfume, no fragrance, no matter how carefully crafted, that I’ve found that even comes close.  And yet, Iris de Nuit is successful in evoking, for me, the idea of irises in a symbolic way, not unlike a worshiper of a particular deity might place something on a shrine to remind them of that deity – a cow for Brighid, perhaps, or a cat for Bast.

(Or, perhaps, an aardvark for quite another god altogether.)

Iris de Nuit, on my skin, is powdery and floral, with a base of ambergris that is actually the most reminiscent of the flower for which it is named.  It is the ambergris, this time not trying to devour my soul, that makes the fragrance – all the herbaceousness mixed with Iris Absolute and Violet float above a solid foundation.  The white cedar that is also in the mix is incidental – I get no hint of it at all.  So, yes, unexpected, but perhaps in just the right way – I expect to bring out Iris de Nuit on those days when I want to be reminded to nurture and cultivate carefully.

Or, else, perhaps I’ll bring it out again when my irises are in bloom.