Annick Goutal Folavril (April’s Fool) is not a sexy or flirty fragrance. It doesn’t have an inkling of seduction in it. This isn’t a fragrance that I would see a man purchasing for Valentine’s day/anniversary. Just like slouchy cotton jersey dresses and shabby chic decor, this fragrance is a “made by woman for women” fragrance. It really is a beautiful, innocent, and comfortable fragrance. It smells nice without smelling “bat those lashes” flirty or vavavoom seductive. It’s fresh but still very feminine. I like to think of it as shabby chic decor, shabby beach cottage decor, or Brocade home. It’s just so girly without trying to be attractive to men. It seems to be a fragrance that women wear because they like it. It’s not overly floral which is what I think of as flirty fragrances. However, it is playful, but not in a coy, flirty way, but in a everyday fun way, like playing with your pup or in most people’s case, their kids. It’s a spring stroll through the park.

At first the fragrance is very different mix on me. It’s like a fusion of tropical mango scented lotion, you know that too perfect mango kind of note, and really soapy and spicy tomato leaf. The tomato leaf is a bit odd. I love the smell of tomato plants. They are crisp, bitter, and have a very specific aroma that you just know when you sniff it. This tomato leaf in Folavril is bitter, spicy, tart, and green just like a tomato leaf should be; however, it doesn’t smell of a garden. It’s just too pretty and too clean. It reminds me of a tomato leaf aroma used in fancy European soaps (I’ll get there soon). So imagine a fictional fruit that is juicy like a peach but it is green and unripe, growing on a fuzzy tomato like plant. (The greeness really is much more leafy than fuzzy, tomato vine). It’s sterile, no scent of dirt or humidity. The tarteness and the fruitiness and bitterness fades after a about 15 minutes of wear. The green, tart aldehydes of the soapy clean tomato leaf are still there. However, they are mixed with delicate ylang-ylang blossoms. It becomes slightly powdery and more of a crisp, tropical floral. It wears light and soft. Jasmine is listed as a fragrance note for this fragrance, but this jasmine is much, much softer than many jasmines used in perfumery. It’s more of a whisper of jasmine. It’s not a sultry or sexy jasmine. Usually this light but somehow refreshing floral blend is what wears on me the longest. Boronia adds a certain grounding greeness, a floraly evergreen. I feel the dry down is soapy and clean. Boronia really does have a beautiful aroma and I do think of it as clean. It goes back to a spicy green floral, but more evergreeny than the tomato leaf. The dry down on me is a soapy,  fresh floral.

This fragrance was launched in 1981. It was created to fragrance a skincare line created by Annick Goutal. Fragrance is a tricky business, based on perceptions and memories. I think that I think of this fragrance as soapy and clean because I was exposed to this fragrance in skincare that my grandmother used. I think of it as her nighttime routine. Many luxurious European soaps have a green, tomato or lettuce floral fragrance. So, I don’t know if someone else would smell this and think it was clean. That being said, I think that is why I think of this fragrance as nurturing. My grandmother is glamorous but to be around her without makeup and eyebrows, you have to be family.

This fragrance is very lovely for spring and summer. It’s light, airy, and playful. It’s green without being masculine. It’s fresh without being aquatic. Sometimes when I wear it, I get more of the fruit, other times I get more of the greens, and other times I get more of the sweet, tropical florals. These notes could be emphasized by your choice of body lotion and layering. The fragrance is an EDT and wears briefly on me, about 1.5 -2 hours. I really don’t know what to compare this fragrance to. I really do feel like it is an original and that everyone should try and see. My husband thinks this fragrance is nasty, but he is offended by all aldehydes. It is for someone that wants a different type of floral. Give it a try if you like green florals, Sisley Eau de Campagne EDT, Hilde Soliani Stecca EDP, Pucci Sole EDP, Crazylibellue & The Poppies Les Divines Alcôves Toi Mon Prince, Heeley Vervaine EDP, and Parfums de Nicolai Eau D’Ete Fraiche EDT.

Notes listed include: tomato leaves, mango, jasmine, and boronia flower.

The 3.4 ounce spray retails for $115. It can be purchased from Dillard’s and luckyscent.com.

Parfums des Beaux Arts by DSH Cafe Noir is a moody, rich fragrance. I love it. I call it “beatnik in a bottle”. It’s smart and sophisticated and a bit counter-culture (if a perfume can be described as such). It reminds me of a classic French perfume created for the kind of gal that spends late nights/early mornings reading Lawrence Ferlinghetti by the fireplace, sipping on midnight black coffee.

DSH describes this spicy oriental luxury perfume as “a Paris night…Dark and sophisticated, it evokes late concerts in smoke filled rooms…sipping coffee and listening to jazz.” I love when I create an “impression” in my head when I wear a fragrance before I read about it and it actually “fits” what the creator was going for. I haven’t spent late nights in Josephine Baker-ish Parisian jazz clubs, but I have spent many insomniac moments at 4 o’clock in the morning reading “A Coney Island of the Mind” turning each page with fingers decorated with deep merlot nails. This scent reminds me of “beat” poetry.

My first impression of this fragrance creates a bit of confusion in my mind. I know that I like it but I find it very odd. It hits as if it is a spicy, mossy, dirty, chypre. It smells a bit wild and untamed and actually hot. It reminds me of all of those classic Guerlains like Mitsouko but Cafe Noir is much dirtier and grittier and with a kick of spice. It reminds me of moss and Atomic Fire Balls. You just know like beat poetry, that this is a fragrance with so much to say. Once my mind finally gets that this is a dirty, spicy chypre, I get an unexpected “shot” of bitter coffee beans. To add to even more complexity, I get lovely “classic” perfumey. I get rich, thick Parisian florals of rose and jasmine. But, it isn’t classic because of the bitter coffee. The dry down is moody and fairly simple. It has smoky incense like copal rich sweetness with grounding notes of vanilla, labdanum, and balsam. It is like being in a room where incense was once burning. It is slightly smoky but mostly you get the sweetness of the smoke floating through the air. I can not imagine my perfume collection without Cafe Noir in it. This one is very special.

This blend contains 99% botanical ingredients. Notes listed include: bergamot, black pepper, cinnamon bark, pimento berry, benzoin, Bulgarian rose, jasmine, labdanum, coffee absolute, tolu balsam, and vanilla. I would say to give this fragrance a try if you are looking for an interesting and moody fragrance or if you like Jo Malone Black Vetyver Cafe Cologne, Penhaligon’s Endymion Cologne, Mark Buxton Nameless EDP, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau de Iles, L’Artisan Parfumeur Eau du Navigateur EDT, and/or Hilde Soliani Bell’Antonio EDP. I must say that the biggest difference between those listed and Parfums des Beaux Arts Cafe Noir is that Cafe Noir is rich and long-lasting and natural. This is no cologne. An 1 ounce parfum spray goes for $135. It is available on the fragrance house’s website. More sizes are available.

This isn’t a fragrance that I would wear to work, because I don’t want anybody thinking I’ve been smoking a pipe in my little “speech studio”.  But, I do love this fragrance. I love the sweetness of whiskey tobacco. This cologne smells like the real deal. Demeter’s website describes it as tobacco smoke and whiskey. I don’t pick up on any smokiness. This to me smells just like if you opened a jar of whiskey “flavored” pipe tobacco at a cigar shop. This is sweet, warm, and best described as masculine. It is very dried tobacco-ish, you know it if you’ve smelled it before, and a bit vanilla, well, more buttery burnt coconut-vanilla cream, like whiskey aged in oak. It’s a beautiful thing really. It’s nostalgic and reminds me of all of my grandfather’s old man friends with burnt white moustaches that sat around in leather chairs in the sitting room smoking flavored pipe tobacco and complaining about everything. Well, sometimes they talked about ultralight airplanes.

Like all Demeter Cologne Pick-Me-Up fragrances, this one isn’t long-lasting. It mainly exists for its novelty. I do enjoy it but I don’t want to smell like whisky/whiskey tobacco all day. I love that fragrance but it needs to be in a “blend” for me to want to wear it for many hours (It’s screaming for dried apricots and roses). This cologne blend wears for about 30-45 minutes on me during cooler weather. For me, this is a cool weather fragrance because of its sweetness. I do love to use it as a linen and room spray. This creates a hip cigar lounge atmosphere everywhere.

I do consider this a unisex fragrance. The 1 ounce cologne spray goes for $20. And other sizes are available on www.demeterfragrance.com. I would say to give this one a try if you love the smell of pipe tobacco, Santa Maria Novella Tobacco Tuscano Cologne, Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac EDP, Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque EDP, Micheal Kors for Men EDT, and/or Odori Tobacco.

As I went to the local MAC store with the intent to purchase everything in the Style Black collection for my goth self, I was more smitten by the Fall/Winter 09 Trends collection. I’ll be sure to share all of that soon. I came across this limited edition Asphalt Flower fragrance roll-on. I loved both of the limited edition honey fragrances this past summer and to my surprise, I am now in love with another MAC fragrance. They have really been stepping up their game with these limited edition, low price point fragrances.

If you are a violet lover, then give this one a try. I absolutely adore violet fragrances. I live off of Choward’s Violet Mints. I love “green” morning dew violet scents but I really, really love those “candied” ones because I am such a fan of candied violets. Asphalt Flower reminds me of a glammed up interpretation of the bottom of my huge Hobo International messenger bag. The top notes remind me of the runaway Choward’s Violet Mints that hang around in their gang in the bottom of my purse abyss. They get crushed up weekly into a fine, sugary dust and get all over my wallet. It’s leather and candied violets. Asphalt Flower’s top notes are a sugary sweet violet with rainy, tsunami drenched tropical flowers like soft and humid ylang-ylang and powdery heliotrope. This is grounded by old-fashioned iris. I love this phase it wears this way for about an hour. It reminds me of being in an Industrial Revolution era green house, in the midst of lovely white and purple flowers drenched in mist, outside the coal clouds swarm in winter rain. It’s so pretty, powdery, feminine, and old-fashioned. It’s sweet with a bit of gloomy, rainy humidity mixed with oil. It’s very gothic with an Edwardian flair. The complete dry-down is very moody and extremely sexy with Tom Ford White Patchouli type of patchouli, that synthetic “clean” patchouli that works so well with these modern blends, smoky olbanum, and lots and lots of that MAC vanilla that is used in their other blends. I’m usually not a fan of vanilla but it really works in this mix. It adds a certain sexiness. It’s not a candy or vanilla bean vanilla but more of a dirty, musky, leathery vanilla. MAC describes this fragrance as “a deep, dark erotic fragrance that takes place in our Trend F/W ’09 Collection as the aromatic complement to this alt-fashion look.” It is a very “alt-fashion” fragrance. The entire collection strikes me as my personal fashion color collection dream come true. It is dark, rich and sooo Edwardian, turn of the century goth, that look that unfortunately Tim Burton brought mainstream. This fragrance is so dark, gloomy, intoxicating with a hint of the old-fashioned. It seriously reminds me of the Industrial Revolution. It’s romantic with violet and iris but a bit animalic and sooty. It’s that time because it is urban, industrial with artistic Romanticism, upper class stuffiness, lower class rawness mixed with a  desire for the occult. I find it very “me” and exactly what I wanted for the fall/winter rainy season in Seattle. This is great because the roll-on retails for $20. The bummer is that it is a limited edition. And if I want to replace it I am going to have to get something like Tom Ford Private Blends Black Violet. I will be picking up another one of these roll-ons. Also, this fragrance is very long-wearing. It lasts at the same intensity on my skin for 8+ hours. There may only be .2 fl.oz. in this roll-on but this container will last much longer than MAC’s spray on fragrances.

I’d say to give this one a try if you are fan of candied violets, the closest I can compare it to include: Tom Ford Private Blends Black Violet, Tokyo Milk Parfum Le Petit or Dead Sexy, Nanette Lepore Nanette, Guerlain Insolence, Penghalion’s Ellenisia, Serge Lutens Bois de Violette, Borsari Violetta di Parma, and/or Armani Pierre de Lune.

Les Garçonnes Tamara Charleston is inspired by Tamara de Lempicka and her amazing paintings. I am so delighted that the dazzling Tamara was the inspiration for this fragrance. The packaging of this one contains the dramatic (and one of my favorite) color combos of chartreuse and aubergine. When I first heard of this collection of Crazysticks, I was very intrigued by this one in particular. It sounded so interesting with notes of gardenia, sambac jasmine, green mandarin, peach, lisylang, freshly cut hay, amber, and absinthe. It is described as a “fresh and flowery cocktail, almost prohibited“. I am pleased with this solid perfume even though it isn’t exactly what I expected. I guess I expected for it to be kind of herbaceous like dried hay with a heavy anise or licorice note. I expected it to be more bitter. I guess I thought it would be heavy on “absinthe”. I would like my “in my mind version” since I love anything licorice, but I could see it turning many people off. Tamara Charleston is much prettier than I could ever imagine and much more interesting that I could ever imagine. It’s fruity, green, raw, floral, and a little bitter.

According to the company’s Olfactive Star, this scent is heaviest on green mandarin, absinthe, and lisylang. I know what the 1st two are, but lisylang, never even heard of it. Well, it is a Robertet creation and is described as an aquatic floral note. So I guess I won’t be getting this wonderful “flower” for my garden, haha. Tamara Charleston wears closely to the skin like other Crazylibellule & The Poppies solid fragrances. It is soft and intimate. When I first put this on my skin and took a whiff, it took me to a place. It really reminded me of something but I didn’t know what. Then it hit me. It reminds me of this abandoned house down the road that I pass on my evening strolls. It is a menacing, rotting craftsman with an unkept yard. This yard grows widly and bears fruits like figs, olive, peaches, apricots, and blackberries with no maintenance. The weeds are grown up and have taken over. Across the street a wild jasmine grows. I will stand there, checking the ripeness of the fruit because I am so bumrushing the fruit trees one day, a warm breeze will go by and it brings in a scent that reminds me of this fragrance. I guess because of the jasmine, unripe fruits, dried out weeds, and a warm sea breeze, it is like this little stick. So I was a bit stunned when I sniffed this. It is much prettier than that abandoned lot but it reminds me of it, I refer to that lot as my secret garden. Anyways, I bet you are ready for a fragrance review.

Tamara Charleston smells fresh and green. It smells almost ammonia-ish from the unripe or green mandarin. This gives a complex and very different citrus to this blend. Strangely this is my favorite note. It smells slightly floral. The blossom smell airy and light. It isn’t like I smell “jasmine” but more that I feel like I am catching the odor of a warm breeze being carried in from a flower garden. I just go “flowers” but I can’t identify them directly. It smells warm and sweet just like cut hay and amber resin. You also get a “warm” fuzziness from an almost perfectly ripe peach. It’s a sweet peach, maybe from a hint of sugar in the absinthe. The absinthe is there and it provides a bitter “green” note. It isn’t licoricey but smells more like if you were standing over a mixed herb garden that contains everything from fennel to juniper.

This scent is a winner. I really like it because I have absolutely nothing like it in my extensive collection. It is fresh, bitter, and green but still really pretty and wearable. I think it is a perfect scent for late summer and early fall. I also love the attention to detail by Crazylibellule & The Poppies. Their inspiration was a hedonistic visual artist. They’ve done nice things like use absinthe in this blend, something historically loved by bohemian artists. “L’Histoire” on the box brings to mind an encounter with one of Tamara’s models and/or lovers. I love solid perfumes and  I love that I carry this cute thing around with me. It is available at beautyhabit.com and b-glowing. com for under $20.

Young Lady with Gloves

Young Lady with Gloves

This fragrance claims to be “An ode to everlasting beauty under cover of night’s rich plumage”. Um, OK. If that wasn’t a good enough description then maybe this will help you more:

A phoenix, the mythical bird of legend burns at the height of its splendour before emerging triumphant, reborn from the ashes in a choreography of flame, conjuring the shapes of yesterday in a dance of ashes. The swirls of oriental grey enrich the twilight with depth and intensity while windswept memories hint at the beauty of transformation

Oh, now I get it! As with any Serge Lutens fragrance, we have a wonderful marketing campaign that strives for weirdness and exoticism. This fragrance has many “haters”, read Kevin’s review on Now Smell This blog. Ouch, but a very entertaining read and why I got my hands on a sample vial to begin with. I find this fragrance odd but not horrible. Actually, I find it quite intriguing. The dry down isn’t as odd as initial spritz, actually it is very “pretty” and very “Serge”, think a woodsy-amber scent (heavy on dry cedar) but with a hint of dental office anesthesia. That can be pretty, right? Well, I like it.

The top notes are what are so strange if I had to blame it on one thing. It is “citrusy” but more like a Listerine or a citrusy mouthwash, kind of a medicinal odor mixed with lemon zest. That is odd. Smelling like you just gargled is weird. It is heavy on cinnamon, almost makes me sneeze, it has a Christmas potpourri fragrance. Not quite, your spice cabinet cinnamon or a foody cinnamon. The cedar is what takes over on me. It smells like a cedar hope chest in a stale, mildewy basement or attic. Hell, the odor of the Pacific Northwest: mildew and evergreens! After the medicinal cedar begins to wear down, you pick up half-rounded bits of resiny amber. This adds some beauty to this strange scent. But, I am a fan of amber, that’s why I like Serge Lutens fragrances. The cedar still is there. So think cedar with amber with a strange medicinal vibe. Seriously, it reminds me of having my teeth cleaned by a nice hygienist that wears a resinous fragrance. It smells “clean” and “uncomfortable”, alot like having your teeth cleaned. Yep, it feels good, getting all the gunk out but it hurts and there is always the sound of drilling going on in the background even if your experience is pleasant. That is how I would describe Serge Noir, not like a mythical Phoenix bathing in ashes or whatever. I think going to a dentist’s office in early summer. Why early summer? Because the fragrance is “cool” in a synthetic way but still “warm”, it smells like there is a hint of mildew there like from the initial blast of an air conditioner that hasn’t been used in some time. And you feel like you are on goofy gas trying to break this fragrance apart.

I know this fragrance isn’t for everyone. It is weird and there is that little fact that a bottle goes for $140. So, before you buy you better try. Strangely, I have recieved compliments on this fragrance. But, where I am at you get complimented on the strangest things…

This is a fragrance that I would have never of chosen for myself by reading the description. I am so happy that I’ve tried it (thank you Beautyhabit for the thoughtful sample). I find it very interesting. It is unlike anything that I own. The blend is fantastic and the fragrance oil is very long wearing.

Saffron James is a pretty cool company, with Hawaiian inspired fragrances. They are tropical but not in that beachy coconut or sickly sweet cocktail way that so many other companies flirt with. They are truly inspired by nature. Plus, I dig vintage tiki culture. These fragrances have that tiki vibe.

The Saffron James website states: PŪNONO (pooh-no-no): Filled with sunshine, ever beautiful; flushed red, as the skin (to blush). 2. To make attractive with bright or red colors, to dress or appear gorgeous. 3. An olfactory homage to the Puakenikeni flower. 4. An intoxicating scent with notes of Ylang Ylang, Pikake, Carnation, Vanilla and Tunisian Opium.

This fragrance is a little strange and that is why I love it. It isn’t strange like bizarre but it is different than mainstream fragrances. It has made me realize that I do not hate ylang-ylang at all. It is just that I have never smelled it used in such a wonderful way. I’ve under appreciated this note for too long. Bring on the ylang-ylang. The fragrance is an “homage” to the puakenikeni flower. I really need to take a fragrance adventure to Hawaii; I can’t comment on the actual aroma of this flower since I’ve never been and these things just don’t grow well in our cooler climate. I can only imagine, for now.  However, I do smell the whimsy floral top notes of gentle ylang-ylang and feminine pikake. But, this fragrance is “spicy” all the way through. Yep, it is floral but these otherwise heavy florals are not stealing the show (uh-um carnation). They are only enhancing the depth and mystery of “Tunisian Opium” which is otherwise an incensey head-shop fragrance by itself (which I like sometimes but it isn’t very every gal).  This is a very resinous incense scent that is made feminine by exotic flowers. I usually don’t love vanilla. It makes scents too foody or “sticky”; however, the perfect amount of vanilla is used in this mix. It makes the opium so well rounded, blended, perfect. This is not a “winter” fragrance. It is warm and spicy but totally appropriate for warmer weather and climates. It is really nice all year long or to be used for those “special” occasions. I would say that you would like this if you like Carol’s Daughter fragrances, tropical scents, or modern “oriental” ‘fragrances.

It retails for $85 for 30 mL (1 ounce). A little goes a long way and it last for like 12 hours on my skin. It does last a long time but very, very closely to the skin, so intimate and soft but always there. The bottle is simple and a has a cute wooden top. The bottle really completes the entire “vibe” of the fragrance. This is a fragrance that I have been using sparingly since I only have a tiny sample vial. When it is gone, I know that I am going to have to add this to my collection. It is very “me” since I have two real fragrance personalities: expensive heavy, white floral or no label head-shop oils. This is the perfect olfactory compromise. Must have it.