How Perfume Boredom Led To i smell great™

How Perfume Boredom Led To i smell great™

Regular readers of my blog know that I can count the number of times I’ve written a rave review about a newly released perfume on one hand. I love perfume, and I love writing about perfume, but the only perfumes that have interested me enough to write about have either been niche, which often means expensive and/or hard to find, or vintage and vanished from the market. I hoard my vintage perfumes that will never be made again, and I resent having to pay a fortune for some niche brand that uses the same ingredients as everyone else.

By now everyone knows about i smell great™, the perfume brand created by Randi Shinder and myself. Randi created and launched three beauty brands that were so groundbreaking they formed new categories in fragrance and skin care. And, we are both perfume junkies, in the truest sense of the word. We eat, sleep and breathe perfume. We obsess about scents and flavours all. The. Time. Stimulate our sense of smell or taste, and we are already dreaming about how this or that would work in perfume. Both of us have been obsessive “noses” since we can remember. Scents haunt us, and they haunted us until we captured them and bottled them, like perfume ghosts.

Randi and I would often get so excited about a scent we would hear about. Then, we’d try it and find it was pretty much exactly the same as many many perfumes before it. Cue the sad trombones. Newsflash: the industry is full of imitation. If one perfume has commercial success, wait for every other designer to release a perfume that smells “similar”. They copy the successful one, maybe tweak it a tiny bit (and maybe not) and then call it something else. Just wander around any perfume department and smell all the top sellers. A well developed nose will be able to find the sameness in everything.

The names are often ridiculous and have nothing to do with what the perfume smells like. Reveal, Downtown, Encounter and how about 18 different editions of Eternity for women and another 14 Eternity versions for men? Oy. Sorry, Calvin, but you aren’t even trying anymore. Talk about phoning it in.

Then there is this business of “notes” in perfume. It used to mean a lot more, and still does with some niche and artisanal perfumers. But for most mainstream perfumes, that cacophony of  top, middle and base notes aren’t really telling us what the perfume smells like. It’s ad copy. It’s a romantic idea of the scent. Yes, yes, some of those synthetic molecules are meant to smell like certain things, but that doesn’t mean assembling them together as if you are Jacques Guerlain (SPOILER ALERT: YOU ARE NOT) is going to create another Shalimar. It’s like a habit that the consumer thinks they need to know. Do you? I know I don’t care. I want to know if it smells good, and those vague and random recipes and notes rarely tell me anything about the scent.

So. Why not make perfumes for the masses, why not make perfumes for those who really just want to wear an uncomplicated scent that just smells great? Why not make perfumes that don’t cause headaches, perfumes that don’t choke everyone around you with chemical scent enhancers that elevate perfume projection to nuclear levels? Yes, lady who bathes in Angel before getting on that elevator, I’m looking at YOU. Stop. Now.

I can’t wait to share how Randi and I came to create our perfumes. How the things we loved became perfumes. How the scented products that accompany the perfumes have bases that were just as important as the perfumes. I challenge you to spray your hands with i smell great™ Wellness Water Fragrance Mist. The luxurious base of purified water and skin-healthy ingredients means you can rub it in and it will feel great as well as smell great. Go ahead and try that with a mainstream body mist. Be careful though, it will probably dissolve your nail polish.

Stay tuned for more of our story!

Spring Smells Like Lily of The Valley, Cherries and Flowers

Spring Smells Like Lily of The Valley, Cherries and Flowers

vintage ad with umbrella

When the snow starts to melt, and our heavy coats get put aside in favour of lighter wear, it’s time to switch up things like skincare, hair care and of course, perfume. Our rich and cozy winter scents start to smell a bit heavy and it’s time to bring a little sunshine into our lives. Certain floral notes really evoke springtime – lilies, lily of the valley, hyacinth and other such bulb flowers. And of course, my beloved green notes! Green is fresh, green is new leaves, and grass….for me, it’s easy to be green!

Here are some lovely perfumes that would be beautiful in any springtime perfume wardrobe!

LUSH Sikkim Girls Perfume

LUSH Sikkim Girls: Oh, wow, is this a yummy jasmine beachy perfume! I read Beautyeditor rave about it, and knowing that she loves her yummy jasmines as much as I do, just knew it had to be mine!  It is basically just flowers- jasmine, frangipani, and tuberose, on a lovely soft blanket of vanilla, and that is all it needs to be. It is sexy and sultry, which makes sense. LUSH says “Inspired by the Sikkim girls, soft sirens who seduced a Darjeeling café owner’s son-in-law, simply with the subtle and sensual sway of their bodies.” Well, alrighty then, I’ll take two, please!

Kenzo Madly EDT

Kenzo Madly Kenzo Eau de Toilette: This is the perfect spring/summer version of the original Madly Kenzo in eau de parfum. It has delicate floral notes in the heart, but really wears like a sparkling clean fresh sunny day. I wouldn’t say soapy or like laundry exactly, but if you like clean scents, this one is lovely. The pear and litchi notes  are perfect for warmer weather and the word that comes to mind when I smell this is “ahhh”. It’s available at Sephora for around $92 for an 80ml bottle.

Escada Cherry In The Air

Escada Cherry In The Air: Ok this is really a guilty pleasure. I read about this release and ever since I just wanted to sniff it. The idea of a cherry perfume really appeals to me – cherries- cherry blossoms – spring. Reasonable, right? I do love my Guerlain Cherry Blossom, and have since wanted to find more cherry perfume! So I finally wandered into Sephora and got a sample of this- and guess what? It smells like cherries! Cherries with a soft woodsy musk dry down – more like cherry soap than cherry pie, which is just fine by me.  Simple and uncluttered, and, well, pretty. It’s available at Sephora for around $56 for a 50ml bottle.

Banana Republic W

Banana Republic “W”: Boy, I bet some of my readers are surprised to see this one listed! Jane Daly, fancy perfume fanatic, loves Banana Republic’s original perfume for women? Well, dear readers, yes I do. This is my secret perfume weapon – when I don’t feel like wearing anything that smells specifically like anything, but just smells like clean skin, “W” is the one I turn to. With a leafy citrus top, and a non-specific floral heart – going out on a limb here, suggesting lily of the valley? Jasmine? And then a simple woodsy (cedar?) musk base, “W” just smells clean and pretty. I read years ago in Vanity Fair that Bobbi Brown considered it the “perfect clean perfume”, and that she wished she had created it. I love it too. At around $50 for a 100ml bottle, you can hardly go wrong.

What are your favourite spring or summer perfumes?

 

Arquiste Fleur de Louis Perfume- Royal Scent of Peace

Arquiste Fleur de Louis Perfume- Royal Scent of Peace

I was quite keen to try this perfume from the Arquiste line. Arquiste is a niche perfume house from New York, started by Carlos Huber, an architect specializing in historic restoration. The idea he had was to create perfumes that transport the wearer to evocative moments in history. He hires different perfumers, or “noses”, to create the scents. The perfumer he chose to create Fleur de Louis, Rodrigo Flores-Roux, has a very impressive list of scents in his resume , notably Tom Ford Neroli Portofino & Donna Karan Black Cashmere.

Arquiste Fleur de Louis was created to evoke the time in history, around 1660, when a marriage was arranged between Louis XIV and Maria Theresa, the Infanta of Spain. This marriage was a clause in the Treaty of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, to ensure peace between their countries. An island in the Basque region of France, Bidassoa, was declared neutral, and the prince met his bride there. They were later married in St Jean de Luz. I was amazed to read this story, as St Jean de Luz is a special place for my family. We have spent many happy times there over the years, and have attended incredible concerts in the church. We have also driven past the island on our way to Spain, noting that the young couple met there so many centuries ago. I have great love and affection for the Basque region, it’s people and it’s beautiful countryside and beaches, and many happy memories of times spent with my children on the beach in St Jean de Luz.

The church is on the left, on the walking street in St Jean de Luz, on our way to dinner….

So, Fleur de Louis has simple lovely notes that, if you close your eyes and inhale, make you think you could be standing on the shoreline of the river watching the young royals meet for the first time. From the Arquiste website:

“To ensure peace between them, two Royal Courts converge at a richly-appointed pavilion built of freshly cut Pine and Cedar wood. From the French side, in a golden aura of Iris, Rose and Jasmine, emerges a young Louis XIV, all starched and composed, eager to catch a glimpse of his new bride, the Infanta Maria Teresa…”

St Jean de Luz beach at sunset, with Pyrenees mountains in the distance…the view from our balcony.

So the simply lovely notes of iris, rose, jasmine, orange blossom, white pine and cedar make Fleur de Louis an elegant and classic beauty. The florals are beautifully blended and quite soft, with a gentle woodsy musk in the drydown. It wears as a sweet skin scent, and I think it would appeal to a lover of soft florals. The Arquiste bottles are elegant and modern, yet have a classical feel to the script. They have a lovely weight to them, and would look elegant on any nightstand. I plan to review a few more….

Arquiste perfumes are available at select Holt Renfrew stores in Canada. You can find a local stockist here, or shop online.

Nuxe Prodigieux le Parfum – As Perfect As The Oil

Nuxe Prodigieux le Parfum – As Perfect As The Oil

I will start this by telling you I had a dear friend mule this perfume over from France for me- as far as I know it’s not available in North America. I’ve inquired with Nuxe but have heard nothing back yet- I will update this post if I do. Update: I have been informed that The New London Pharmacy in NYC carries this perfume! It is not on their website but if you aren’t in NYC and can’t pop in, just give them a call! It’s a terrific shop!

Anyways, if you are a fan of Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Dry Oil, then you will love Nuxe Parfum le Prodigieux. They have reproduced the scent perfectly, right down to the soft scent of the oil itself. The base of the Huile Prodigieuse has an earthy musky scent- very very soft, but sexy- and the perfume has managed to capture that delicate scent along with the beautiful florals that we love so much. It’s interesting, as usually a perfume that smells amazing spawns the scented ancillary products that come after a successful perfume launch. Nuxe has been beloved by French women (and women around the world) because the oil is amazing and effective at moisturising hair and skin, and because it smells so damn good. It smells like gentle orange blossom and gardenia with only the softest undertones of coconut and vanilla. There are other notes mentioned but those are the ones that really count. Also interesting that the perfumer who worked on the scent for the Huile Prodigieuse is the same one who created Prodigeux le Parfum. It is so soft, gentle and smells as wonderful as the oil. And, like the oil it does not overwhelm and settles onto the skin like a ray of sun on the beach in France. Really. I would never lie to you.

Verdict? Love. I wish I could tell you it’s easier to get but as you probably know, the hunt is the best part, and we often desire most what is hardest to get our hands on. Here is a tip for you- this amazing woman, Suzan, has a business called Shop France, and for a modest fee, will bring back whatever delicious French goodies your heart desires. You’re welcome.

EDIT: You can buy Nuxe Parfum Prodigieuse in the United States! Just contact New London Pharmacy in New York City at  service@newlondonpharmacy.com or call them toll free (from within the US) at 1.800.941.0490  or outside the US at: 1.212.243.4987

 

Daly Beauty Fall 2012 Beauty Faves…so far

Daly Beauty Fall 2012 Beauty Faves…so far

Daly Beauty Fall Favourites

 

Just wanted to post a quick post on my recent Fall 2012 faves. I finally took the plunge and got Clé de Peau Concealer- what kind of beauty blogger would I be if I didn’t? It is all I dreamt of and more. Applies like a dream, gives impeccable coverage and lasts all day without caking or wearing. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? When I look at my pile of concealers that have not lived up to their promises, I’d say yes. Plus a little goes a long way so the CPU (Cost Per Use) numbers make sense as well. I got a chance to try the Becca Beach Tint cheek colour while perusing the lovely beauty offerings at Portofino Tanning in Beverly Hills while my girlfriend got a spray tan. FYI- best and most natural spray tan I have ever seen, by the way. Wow. Anyways, the gorgeous girls at the salon recommended this blush gel, and I LOVE it. Grapefruit is the perfect pinky coral tone for medium skin tone blondes, and it looks GORGEOUS on the lips too. I layer the Sara Happ Lip Slip on top. Ok- how did I not know about this product? Soft, cushy kissable lips that look full and gorgeous, with no plumping ingredients or actions? Wow. It’s the perfect pink lip balm/gloss. Not too sticky and with the perfect amount of sheen. I grabbed the California Tan bronzing powder as well. It is the *perfect* tan shade for my face without adding shimmer or a too baked look. A new staple in my make up collection. I’ve waxed poetically about Chanel Le Vernis Frenzy and Suspicious here…

Skincare for fall is important. Our skin is adjusting to changing temperatures and moisture/humidity levels, and is recovering from sun and wind. Even a judicious applier of sunscreen (like me!) needs to treat our skin kindly after summer. My skin is soaking up every drop of  Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel, creating a perfect base for my standard Vichy PROeven during the day, and my NeoStrata Level 3 Lotion is exfoliating all the dry dead skin cells left over from summer while keeping my pores squeaky clean at night. A simple glycolic acid exfoliator, the NeoStrata also reduces the appearance of fine lines and pores. Ok- Rodin Olio Lusso- can we talk? This stuff is divine and more importantly, it works, despite my concerns that it was all hype. I am using the face oil at night on my neck and wake up with moist dewy skin. It is a thick rich oil that leaves only the most lovely skin behind. I bought a perfect little Rodin travel set at Gee Beauty in Toronto and have a large sized bottle of the Rodin Olio Lusso in my future.

I grabbed a little bottle of Malin & Goetz Synthesized Musk and am seriously in love with this subtle and soft skin scent. It is similar to Kiehl’s Musk, but softer and a bit soapier or cleaner. It stays very close to the skin, and adds a sexy delicious sweetness to any perfume you might want to layer with it. The 30 ml bottle is perfect for the purse, and I love the clean white design of the Malin & Goetz line.

What are your fall faves…so far?

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Chanel Jersey Makes Lavender Perfume Sexy

Chanel Jersey Makes Lavender Perfume Sexy

 

Chanel’s lastest offering in their Exclusive line is the lavender based Jersey. It was released to mixed reviews, but, luckily I know I have to judge things for myself so I still really wanted to check it out, given my mad love for Chanel perfumes. Chanel Jersey is named after the ubiquitous fabric Chanel took from menswear and make accessible for women, and the perfume Jersey takes the scent lavender, almost always used in men’s colognes, and adds a feminine touch. Chanel’s website says Jersey is meant to be evocative of a meadow lush with lavender. Well, doesn’t that sound beautiful! The notes are given as lavender, vanilla and musk. I think I detect a powdery iris in there somewhere, and perhaps a warm wood in the base, but that could be tonka. By “think I detect” I mean that this scent is so soft & delicate, no one note jumps out at you.

Lavender fields in Provence, France

On first sniff I thought “pretty!”. Then, as it dried down I thought “too sweet!” then “too powdery”! I thought why would I buy Chanel for a simple powdery lavender scent? But, as is often my wont, I had a turnaround. I have been know to hate a perfume on first sniff, only to later love it more than anything. So I never really say never with regards to perfume. Hours after applying the Jersey, the scent left behind was a delicate, warm, cuddly and cozy skin scent. It had a little something of the Guerlain warmth that I love so much in it, that warm skin smell that is very hard to describe without actually smelling it. So I thought, well, I will re-test and see what I think on subsequent wearings.

Lavender honey ice cream

Well, turns out I like it. It is pretty, soft and clean smelling. There is a snuggly aspect that works even in warmer weather, likely due to the cooling & calming lavender notes. The musk/tonka combination adds a sweetness to the dry down that is sweet & enticing on the skin. It has a lovely spa effect, which I suppose one might expect from lavender. If you like soft elegant perfumes and you like lavender, I recommend you add Chanel Jersey to your sniff list. Verdict? Love.

EDITED March 9, 2013: bought it. After wearing my samples down to the last drops, I knew I had to have it. The sweet vanilla musk in the base of Chanel Jersey is actually the sexiest skin scent evah. Sigh.



Chanel Jersey is an Exclusive perfume, available at Chanel Boutiques and their website.




Bobbi Brown Bath Perfume – Good Clean Fun

Bobbi Brown Bath Perfume – Good Clean Fun

I’m nothing if not a woman of broad tastes. I can appreciate vintage Guerlain Aprés L’Ondee parfum, swoon over it’s heartbreaking beauty while weeping over it’s unavailability while I watch bottles as rare as gems sell for many thousands on ebay. But, I am not a perfume snob, and I can appreciate something that makes my skin smell lovely, no matter what the price tag says. Which is both a good and a bad thing….

One of my favourite, easy, cheap and cheerful perfume is Bobbi Brown’s Bath. It is meant to evoke that squeaky clean feeling one has after the bath- obviously- and does a good of it. It’s chock full of soapy and wonderful orange blossom and neroli that blooms on the skin, with a gentle note of water hyacinth that adds a watery aspect. It is uncomplicated, like a simple cologne, and as easy to wear as a white t shirt. It is definitely a soapy perfume, and an unapologetic one at that. I would say this is pretty much Ivory soap, and I have always loved the scent of Ivory. Wet and warm freshly scrubbed skin, good clean fun…

This perfume is particularly lovely in extreme heat, as you have that just jumped out of the bath (or shower) feeling. And for a soapy cologne scent that does not cost the moon, I get amazing longevity from Bobbi Brown Bath- maybe 3-4 hours, even in the heat. It is perfect for daytime, and also lovely for a night out, maybe on a patio with a nice cool drink. This sweet little perfume has garnered me so many compliments when I wear it, one wonders if we really might be over thinking our perfumes. I’ve been stopped by strangers asking me what perfume I’m wearing. It makes me think of a line from one of my favourite movies, Amadeus, when Emperor Joseph II tells Mozart that his music “is quality work….there are simply too many notes”. 



I got mine at Murale  (it is available on their website) in Canada, and I have seen at the Bobbi Brown cosmetic counter recently as well. But I see that it is no longer on her website, and is “unavailable” on the Nordstrom site. Hm. Maybe it’s going to be discontinued? For the bargain $48 I paid, I may go buy another bottle as back up.