Monday, November 14, 2005

Crabtree L'Occitane

First off, a word about L'Occitane. I went to their SoHo store a few weeks ago and inquired whether they had an autumn fragrance. You know, how Crabtree & Eveyln came out with Harvest a few years ago and how the Body Shop comes out with autumn oils? That's what I meant. But the salesperson said something like, "We don't have seasonal lines. You have to be a little more creative here." So then of course I was at a different L'Occitane last week or so and saw their Pumpkin Chestnut, Gingerbread and I think Caramel fragrances. So much for being 'creative' with scents. But on to the scents: They're terrible. But I wasn't surprised when I smelled them, because they've put out crap before. Some of their stuff is good, but a lot is bad. The Pumpkin Chestnut should have been called just 'Chestnut.' The Gingerbread and Caramel ones should have just been called "Poor Synthetic Reproductions of Gingerbread and Caramel." The gingerbread doesn't even small culinary. It doesn't even smell like ginger. I can't recommend any autumn fragrances from L'Occitane, except for their Pear, which is passable.

Crabtree & Eveyln: I liked their autumn line of oils, which included Warm Evergreen, Vanilla Truffle, an apple one and Moroccan Spice. The Warm Evergreen was the best: It smelled like the frankincense accord in Noel; The Vanilla Truffle was pretty much a regular culinary vanilla-type; The apple one was a nice apple; Moroccan Spice I didn't care for all that much--I think it was spicy (duh). Here's one thing to know about Warm Evergreen and Noel (I'm not sure if it holds with their other scents: Don't store the oil with the dropper top in it. Store it with the regular cap on and then switch to the dropper when you need to. If you store it with the dropper, the oil will eat through it. This has happened to me with both Warm Evergreen and Noel. In fact, my whole bag smells like Warm Evergreen, and even though I tried ionizing the bag, it still smells like that, and it's strong. Alas!

And that's all I've got for now.

Ed Shepp

Monday, September 19, 2005

Autumnal Extravaganza!

Lots of autumn fragrances out there, and I couldn't be happier. Let's go over what I saw over the weekend:

Bath & Body Works: They have(/had) their Perfect Autumn line out now; I can't remember if it was out last year. It contains Pumpkin, Apple, Plum and Caramel scents in candles, sprays, 'scented stones' and oils. They're all pleasant enough--I don't expect transcendently beautiful scents from BBW (but I do from Henri Bendel, who does one of the candle lines they sell). I was very disappointed by the fact that they were sold out of all their oils (the second store I went to was; I don't know about the one in Manhattan in the 20s on 5th--no one was providing customer service for me there), but I was more disappointed when they told me at the store that they were taking this line down today (It's not even October! It's really not even autumn!). HUGE disappointment in Bath & Body Works.

Speaking of Bath & Body Works, they also had a couple new scents in their Tutti Dolci line, an amaretto and a tiramisu-type scent. The amaretto-type also has notes of coconut macaroons. It's intensely wonderful. The tiramisu scent is also luxurious and decadent, but the amaretto one takes the cake. It could be the best one they've done. Clarification: I'm referring to the Body Moisturizing Souffl├ęs. The eaux de toilette don't cut it--they don't last and they change quickly in the drydown. They can't hold a candle to the creams--don't buy them.

The Body Shop: They have a few seasonal home-fragrance oils out now, including Vanilla Spice, Spicy Berry, Sweet Maple, Blackberry Apple, Candied Citrus and Pumpkin Nectarine. I've written about Pumpkin Nectarine and Spicy Berry before. As for the others: Sweet Maple is lovely if you're looking for something that basically smells like pancake syrup (and there's nothing wrong with that); Vanilla Spice is pleasant enough, but it doesn't really convey the title all that much--actually, there's an orangey note that's very prominent in the blend--it could easily be called Orange Anise with hints of synthetic Vanilla; Blackberry Apple I regretfully didn't get to sample; Candied Citrus is pleasant but apparently not especially memorable, since that's all I can remember to say about it.

Pier 1 Imports: Pier 1 has some nice autumnal scents this year. Harvest Spice, which was renamed Harvest Pumpkin Spice last year, has been rechristened Pumpkin Bread for this year. (I think that etymology is correct.) New this year are Spice Cake, which smells pleasant but isn't anything to make a fuss about; Mulled Cider, same as Spice Cake; and Sugared Pecan, which smells wonderful and almondlike. Of course you must buy the Pumpkin Bread scent, since this is the scent from Pier 1 and it's a required purchase every autumn; but Sugared Pecan is also an excellent choice for a fall/winter scent. I recommend them both; and I should point out that they're both available as spray air fresheners as well as candles.

Yankee Candle: Gotta mention Yankee Candle, because I noticed that this year they have plug-in and spray versions of Bayberry and (drum roll, please) Christmas Wreath!!! I actually wrote them last year inquiring why Christmas Wreath wasn't available as a spray! So I'm very, very glad to see this development. But I have something unfortunate to report: last year I bought the refresher oil for their Mistletoe scent, and it was very disppointing--it had the green notes that the candle does, but they were far overshadowed by a bizarre sweet fruity note that I don't detect in the wax version. I think it's the oil vector--I think it just contributes this note by virtue of the different formulation. Unfortunately it totally changes the character of the scent. And doubly unfortunately, it seems that the plug-in oil for Christmas Wreath seems to share this deficiency. It doesn't smell like the candle. However, I've yet to actually plug it in, so maybe in December I'll be pleasantly surprised. But my experience in this department leads me to believe I won't. The news isn't all bad, however: I didn't smell the Christmas Wreath spray, but I did buy the Mistletoe spray a couple years ago, and it smelled just like the candle; so I have every reason to believe that the Christmas Wreath spray will as well. I hope I get to go home for Christmas this year--I can finally have a spray that actually smells like a Christmas tree!! ...And since I mentioneded the plug-in scents, I got their plug-in Golden Spiced Pear, and it's performing wonderfully.

And that's the fragrance beep for now!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Splattering Through Sephora

I gwankled over to Sephora over the weekend to finally pick up a li'l bottle of Demeter's Fresh Hay. I decided that I simply had to have it for autumn, even though I never buy Demeter fragrances, since they don't last. But I got this one, and in fact I'm wearing it today, mixed with Chanel Pour Monsieur. (And to think I never thought I'd wear Pour Monsieur again, since for years I've associated it with that dogawful job interview so many years ago for somewhere we'll call Goondiberstal Stuvios Finordida.)

Whilst in Sephora, I gandered around and made a couple notes: I smelled Comme des Garcons 2 Man, and I love it! I don't think I've ever smelled it before; I think I avoided that line ever since Odeur 53 didn't live up to the hype in my mind. To me, 2 Man smelled like that ambient smell in the air that I always expect in autumn (but never really smell): woodsy and burnt, kind of like firewood. 2 Man had a very burnt wood smell to me, and I suppose that makes sense when you see that one of the notes in it is "white smoke." I couldn't detect much else of the scent, but the smoky note just made it for me. I like this stuff. I'd wear it in late autumn and winter, before winter becomes unbearable and I wear summer fragrances just because I want any escape from winter possible. This is a fragrance to wear when you're glad that the weather is cool. It's a November fragrance.

Peeping at some of the women's scents, I saw the new Escada, called Escada (wasn't the original scent called Escada? I guess it wasn't.) For a second there I wondered if the name might be Escada Pink Dot, because there's a pink dot on the otherwise color-free bottle, and if there's a significance to said dot, I don't know what it is. Fully expecting it to be in the same vein as pretty much all the other Escada scents--a big bag of tropical fruit with a few flowers thrown in--I sniffed with trepidation. But I was surprised and impressed by the actual character of the scent. It is probably a fruity-floral scent, but the effect that hit me was of a sheer, abstract, very linen-y floral, with only a vague tropical fruit feel that I wasn't sure I was actually smelling or just expecting from an Escada fragrance. The scent struck me as something appropriate for a casual date or for daytime, and it was one that I would definitely feel comfortable gifting. It may be on the list to give my sister this year for xmas.

And then there's Demeter. I saw a couple in the women's section that I don't think I'd seen before, since it's been a while since I've been in Sephora. Waffle Cone and Banana Flambee. Waffle Cone is the typical buttery, Belgian-waffle type smell, and it holds up well on paper (it doesn't collapse into some weird powdery or coconut note). Banana Flambee I found very impressive at first. I love banana-caramel type scents. Unfortunately, it seemed to collapse into a coconut smell too soon on the test strip. Alas! Well, there's always Vanille Banane by Sud Pacifique, which is second-to-none.

Lastly, there's another product at Sephora that seriously deserves mention: Sephora-brand "Whipped Body Delights." Basically they're thick, heavily-scented creams for the body (I presume--I'm not exactly sure what a 'whipped body delight is supposed to be), and they come in wonderful, true-to-life fragrances like Marshmallow Fluff and Bamboo Garden (a green, foliage-y scent). But the best scent, and the one I had to have, is Pumpkin Thyme. It smells just like heaven, which is to say that it smells just like Harvest Moon Pumpkin ice cream. And if you've never tasted that, you're missing out; if you come across it, put a moratorium on living la vida low-carb and pick up a pint. It tastes just like pumpkin pie with the whippied cream on it, except cold. Words cannot describe its perfection. The best part of it is that, like pumpkin-spice-flavored coffee, all the brands do it well (but I recommend Edys or D'Agostino brand). And this cream by Sephora is the olfactory equivalent to this ice cream. So if you want a pumpkin-y treat for autumn, this cream is definitely a good buy (especially at $8).

And that's the fragrance beep for now, gbeeplets.

Monday, August 08, 2005

An Idea from the Main Blog

Here is an idea from the main blog that works here as well:

I was talking with some peeps about waking up in the morning, about how I want one of those sunrise simulator alarm clocks that slowly dims from darkness to full power, and something occurred to me: why not have a coffeemaker that's timed to go off when you want to wake up that makes bacon-and-eggs-flavored-coffee? That way you get the full-on olfactory experience of breakfast (which would get you out of bed), and you also get the full-on gustatory experience when you're drinking your coffee. Honestly, I think that if it could be made properly, bacon&eggs-flavored coffee would be quite good. I think if you're having it with bacon and eggs, you wouldn't even notice the hint of flavoring. That said, flavored coffee in general almost always ends up tasting so bad (it's so acidic; pumpkin-spice-flavored coffee is the only really good one) that this idea might not work. So I tweaked the idea a little: a coffeemaker that goes off when you want to wake up and makes regular coffee, but has a component that you put a cartridge in which creates a separate scent that you experience in tandem with the coffee's aroma. The cartridge could be either: 1) bacon and eggs 2) belgian waffles 3) toast 4) cantaloupe or 5) a combination of the above. There could be 3 or more slots for cartridges. It could be noted that people needn't use the cartridges only for breakfast alarms, and I'd predict that scents like coffee cake and belgian waffles would be popular for general home fragrancing. (You better not be scoffing there! You don't believe that Belgian waffles make an extremely pleasant home fragrance? Check out Crabtree & Evelyn's Patisserie from their Cooks line, or the Grandma's Cookies plug-in from Airwick, both of which smell like Belgian waffles.) (Incidentally, someone tried to shoot down my idea, saying something like, 'Would you want to go around smelling like Belgian waffles all day?' My answer: Obviously, the smell wouldn't be strong enough or heated for long enough to cling to clothing, but even if it were, people 'go around smelling like' Belgian waffles all the time--look at the sales of vanilla-based perfumes like Cake Batter by SmellThis, Vanille/Vanille-Abricot/Vanille-Coco/Vanille-Banane by Sud Pacifique, the Desserts line by Jessica Simpson and countless other gourmand-type fragrances, within which I would dare to include Mugler's Angel, the hallmark of which is its cocoa-vanilla accord. I will also note the reaction many people have when they walk into a yogurt store that reeks of vanilla and cocoa-butter: "I'd LOVE to smell like this every day!" So there!)


Friday, April 08, 2005

New Mown Demeter

I was at Sephora last night in the Time Warner Center, gandering at different things, and I noticed they had some Demeter fragrances in the mens section. All of the flavors were I guess what they would construe as 'masculine,' flavors like Riding Crop, Leather, Humidor, Mesquite... But the two that caught my eye that I haven't seen before were Fresh Hay and New Zealand.

I was excited to see Fresh Hay, but didn't expect much. I love that new mown hay/tonka smell, but everytime I come across another product that I think will have the scent (eg, the Henri Bendel Tonka Bean candle) it disappoints. This Demeter fragrance, however, did NOT disappoint! It's absolutely perfect--a perfect coumarin/new mown hay/tonka smell. Actually, it would be totally perfect if it had a fixative in it--Demeter fragrances don't, which is why they flit away after 2 seconds. However, hay is a base note, so maybe this one would stick around for a while, especially if I sprayed it on my clothes. So this scent is definitely a must-have, especially for fall. But since hay is such a versatile and extremely pleasant note (I could probably combine it with Aramis or something grassy/lavendery for a summer scent), I could probably wear this scent any part of the year. Two thumbs up for this scent, definitely.

New Zealand was interesting. I didn't realize that the entire country has one distinct odor, but I suppose it does. Apparently it smells like fresh grassy notes that fade into an ozone-like freshness that's almost identical to Demeter Rain. It's not unpleasant, but if I wanted to wear something like that I'd just buy Rain. Because the grassy notes just don't last long enough, even in their Grass scent, which fades into something not dissimilar to Fresh Hay. (I've noticed this with grassy scents. Either they start out fresh and sharp and fade into a foliage-like, almost hyacinthy tone or they start out fresh and sharp and fade into a coumarinic tone.) I wouldn't recommend this scent.

In a last li'l note, the other fragrance I noticed was Obsession Night. I wondered why this scent was necessary, and if it smelled like Obsession, which calls to mind something like the smell of a urine-soaked nightmare. Obsession Night actually smells much better, very woody if I remember correctly. But it's not something that I went gaga over. And I couldn't see myself wearing something like that--the bottle is so cheesy.

And that's that for now.

Tommy Bahama

A Macy's thing came in the mail a couple weeks ago with scent strips for Tommy Bahama fragrance for men and women. I love these! The mens one was warm and woody, nice. Something I might wear in cooler weather here but any weather if I lived in the Bahamas, I assume. The womens was the one I really liked, though. It's a fruity floral, and kind of smelled like Carolina Hererra to me (probably the tuberose in it shining through), but with fruity tones at the beginning of it. Very lush and tropical. That's a fragrance I would love to give to someone. I'm really loving floral tropical womens' fragrances in general now, like Beyond Paradise, Bora Bora and this one. I wish more people wore them.

I also like the whole branding of this Tommy Bahama line. It's all very consistent, and just looking at their materials I wish I could run off to those islands and live a carefree life wearing these fragrances and sitting in wicker chairs swatting mosquitos.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Tonka Beep

I smelled the Henri Bendel Tonka Bean candle last week, and for the first time, I was disappointed in something from that collection. Tonka bean is a wonderful, amazing smell, sort of like almond & coumarin, sweet and sometimes with a jam-like backnote. The candle smells nothing like tonka bean or tonka bean absolute. It smells kind of like a woody, cocoa smell. It's just off. And it's a damn shame too, because tonka bean is a fantastic smell that you just can't find. I like it in autumn, but it's appropriate for all year, I'd say. In fall/winter it's nice cux it's warm and vanillic; in spring/summer it's nice because there's a coumarinic note in grass and lavender that tonka echoes. Alas, you get none of it from this candle. A shame.

And that's my li'l tonka beep.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Celeditude and Basil

Happy Celeditude!Today is Celeditude, the celebration of my birthday. And since citrus/orange blossom are traditional for Celeditude, I'm wearing an eau de cologne scent. This one I got from L'Occitane en Provence, and I have to say I'm very impressed with it. It's called Feuilles d'Oranger Eau de Cologne (I think--I don't have the box in front of me and it's hard to figure out their exact name for it), and it's basically orange/lemon/bergamot notes with petitgrain. It's light and citrusy, and very similar to Eau d'Orange Verte by Hermès. The similarity is a good thing, because the L'Occitane stuff is MUCH cheaper, and smells just as good. And I should say that I prefer the Feuilles d'Oranger to their Neroli perfume, which just doesn't smell right. It has a heavy ambery note, if I remember properly.

As far as other Celeditude fragrances go, I got as a gift Chanel Pour Monsieur, which is perfectly appropriate, as it has topnotes of citrus and neroli. So it's a great Celeditude fragrance. And a great summery one, right up there with Eau de Cartier Concentrée, which I love so well.

And one more thing: I was at Bed, Bath and Beyond the other night gandering at the candles, and I came across one of the new scents by Colonial Candle - Sun-Drenched Herbs, I think the name was. The scent is wonderful--very much like basil. And something of another find in terms of lessexpensiveness, as I was pining for the Henri Bendel Basil candle, and almost bought it when it was on sale (but opted for Tuberose instead); now I can just buy the Colonial Candle wax tart, which needless to say is much cheaper than the $24 Henri Bendel candle.

And that's the beep for today.