Narciso [Rodriguez] Ed[P/T/Whatever]

I’m not much into fashion. Not that I do not care about the clothes I wear – I do, and I like clothes, – but I do not follow the trends and barely know luxury brands if I do not see them in stores where I shop.

Narciso Rodriguez is one of those brands that I knew only from peripherally seeing the name on bottles on perfume counters. I remember coming across people mentioning that they liked NR’s perfumes in FB and on other blogs. But as I’m not much interested in mainstream perfumes, I’m not sure if I’ve ever tried any of them until recently.

I was buying something at a cosmetics counter when a bottle with Narciso Rodriguez name on it attracted my attention. I sprayed it on a paper strip and went on shopping. As time was passing, I kept on sniffing the strip and I liked what I smelled.

The circus started once I got home and tried to figure out what exactly I tested and liked… Narciso Rodriguez For Her (EdT) – regular and anniversary editions, Narciso Rodriguez For Her Eau de Parfum – regular and anniversary editions, Narciso Rodriguez For Her Eau de Parfum Delicate Limited Edition, Narciso Rodriguez For Her Eau de Toilette Delicate Limited Edition, Narciso Rodriguez For Her in Color, Narciso Rodriguez For Her Iridescent, Narciso Rodriguez For Her L’Absolu, Narciso Rodriguez L’Eau For Her, Narciso, Narciso Eau de Toilette – and all that not counting several additional variations of these name with the additional “musk,” “Poudree,” “Rouge” and probably a couple more.

 

Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez

 

After going through all the pictures and comparing perfume names, bottle shapes and colors, I came to the conclusion that it was Narciso (EdP), a sample of which I happened to have (it was one of those “Take one” free samples you can get from time to time at Nordstrom) but had never come around trying.

Narciso, created in 2014 by Aurelien Guichard, is easy to like for those who are not into shy perfumes. Official notes are Bulgarian rose, gardenia, white and black cedar wood, musk and vetiver but I can’t say that I smell either of the floral notes. I mean, it is a floral perfume but flowers are rather abstract. Narciso is warm and powdery scent. It is feminine to the degree where it might be worn by a man who’s into bold perfumes.

I’m debating whether I want to get a bottle, or if I should go with a decant from ScentBird. On one side, I don’t think I’ll wear it often enough to warrant more than 7 ml ($14.95 including S&H). On the other, I find that white square bottle strangely appealing (especially since it can be found online at $45 for a 50 ml bottle).

 

Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez

Have you tried any perfumes from the brand?

 

Images: my own

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Unique New Orleans Perfumes

Before leaving on a vacation I usually research honey holes for perfume sniffing at the destination, and then during the trip I keep my nose to the wind, figuratively speaking, not to miss any perfume shop, counter or corner.

For my New Orleans visit I’ve read hajusuuri’s post (can you believe it – it was almost 4 years ago!) but for some reason I wasn’t really looking forward to visiting any of the perfume places she described. So I decided that I would be probably fine without planning anything and would see how it goes.

My vSO was the one who spotted that shop not too far from the hotel we stayed on our evening stroll. It was already closed but we decided to come back the next day.

We all know those new brands that resurrect some ancient history, buy it from heirs of defunct brands or even invent it? So when you come across a brand with a genuine almost 90 years and 4 generation history, you can’t help feeling some admiration.

 

Hove Parfumeur

 

Hove Parfumeur is an interesting small store in French Quarter (434 Chartres St.) that sells perfumes, jewelry, soaps and other bath products. They carry about 50 (fifty!) perfumes available in perfume and cologne concentration as well as solids.

Same as it was when hajusuuri visited the store, they still have pre-dipped paper strips with printed names laid out on glass trays. I went through sniffing all of them in several iterations, noting those that I liked. Either I looked like I knew what I was doing (which might be), or the girl who manned the store wasn’t really interested in perfumes, or she misread me as not a potential buyer, but I was left alone to sniff all I wanted for probably half an hour. I’m not complaining, I prefer it this way but it felt a little unusual for any store of that size where I was the only customer.

 

Hove Parfumeur

 

Testing perfumes the way this shop offers is quite the opposite to what we usually do at most other places: you get to smell perfumes in their drydown phase first, so instead of judging them on the opening 15 minutes burst, you get to decide what you want to test on skin from liking the base notes. None of the two seem sufficient to make a final judgement on perfumes. But at the same time I wasn’t about to put even 2-3 perfumes on my skin and walk out into the 32C/90F humid street not knowing when I’d get to the shower.

The store sells perfumes in multiple sizes starting from a dram (~3.6 ml), but for the price of 3 you can get a set of 6 dram bottles – and that was what I went with.

For my set I got Bayou D’Amour, Diverti, Fascinator, Grandee, Mantrap and Rue Royale. Neither the brand’s site nor Fragrantica provides a detailed list of notes for these perfumes, and I’ve never been too good picking notes out – even when listed – so I’ll share brand’s descriptions for these perfumes and my impressions.

 

Hove Parfumeur

 

After testing them for several times, I can see how that paper testing works for the brand: all of their perfumes smell very good in drydown.

Rue Royale was my last pick for the set. It smelled good but mostly I was influenced by the description: “A hint of musk pervades this basically dry and light fragrance, selected most often by fair brunettes who wish a quiet elegance.”

Testing proved that “quiet” isn’t a thing that this fair brunette wishes for. Rue Royale has a beautiful opening (I smell strong rose), and then it’s quite pleasant in the 4th hour of drydown. But in between I get something slightly dusty and dull. I might try it once or twice under different weather but I do not expect to fall in love with it enough to wear it.

Diverti (“Light and refreshing, this blend of sandalwood, cedar and a mixture of floral notes creates a divertissement of its own”), Fascinator (“The rich warm notes of Oak Moss, blended with a hint of musk, this fragrance is sure to fascinate both men and women”) and Grandee (“An elegant and grand blending of floral notes topped by a fruity note to add a bit of happiness. For those who are outgoing and who like bright colors”) are rather unisex perfumes that from time to time suddenly veer masculine. All three are worth trying but I’m a little wary about perfumes that do not perform consistently on my skin: I do not want to be stuck with something I’m not enjoying for the whole day in the office.

My most favorite of the six is the one with the name that doesn’t resonate with me – Mantrap. For my not native English ear it sounds like a contrivance to catch men (even though I know that it’s a gender-neutral term). But nevertheless, I liked this perfume.

Official description: “Made provocative by its high resinous notes, made alluring by its underlying spice notes, this is truly a heavy Oriental fragrance.”

Mantrap reminds me of Alahine and maybe a little of Coco though I wouldn’t go as far as calling it “heavy oriental,” at least not in the dab format. But it is definitely a floral oriental perfume that smells like a classic perfume – well blended floral bouquet and warm spices. It wears nicely in hot weather, and I look forward to trying it in winter as well.

Bayou D’Amour, “An exotic blend of floral notes dominated by notes of the luscious fruit, mango,” is my second favorite in the brand’s line-up. I tried hard but I cannot detect mango. For me it’s a big white floral perfume. If I were to guess, I would say that I smell plumeria but I’m not sure, it might be some other tropical flower. Bayou D’Amour smells great in hot weather.

 

Hove Parfumeur

 

While I do not think that any of these perfumes are worth paying for blind testing (almost no perfumes these days are), but if you happen to visit New Orleans, I think stopping by Hove Parfumeur is a worthwhile diversion from main activities (such as eating and listening to music).

 

Images: my own

The Big Easy: Food, Music, Cats and Perfumes

New Orleans seems to be one of those places to where everybody either always wanted to go or had been to and remembers it fondly. Somehow nobody I spoke about New Orleans had mentioned the local weather.

Neither my vSO nor I like hot weather. Hot and humid is even worse. So I’m not sure how it happened that we agreed to go with our friends to New Orleans mid-June. It just hadn’t crossed my mind to check in March when we planned the trip what to expect. Most likely, I wasn’t paying attention because the dates were set (our friends had an annual event to attend there, and we were just piggybacking on their special hotel rates). So for the six days we spent there it was above 30C/90F during the day, which put a strain on our ability to explore the city. But we did our best.

Ambiance

When arriving to a new city, nothing puts you at ease better than seeing a new security feature introduced by Uber…

 

Uber Safety Feature

 

I swear: it wasn’t there several hours earlier when I used the app to get a ride to the airport in San Francisco! So, while I thought it was a clever idea, and whenever I used Uber before, I was always making sure to inform somebody where I was, I started questioning immediately how unsafe it was there that they felt like running the onboarding for the feature specifically on my first use of the service in New Orleans. But during the stay everything seemed to be quite safe, even though (or thanks to?) I’ve never remembered seeing that much of police presence on the streets anywhere else.

Food

Food we had during our stay in New Orleans was good. I wouldn’t say it was spectacular but it was good. Expensive but good. We even found a place that served an afternoon tea. What pleasantly surprised me was that practically all cocktails we had in different places were well made, which I cannot say about many restaurants around where we live. Looking back, the day was broken into small chunks of doing something else in between finding ourselves at the next café or restaurant – to cool off while eating or drinking something.

 

 

Entertainment

Recommendations we got from friends and colleagues were food (everyone started with food!), swamps (it was too hot to attempt that), a couple of museums (did that) and music events. We were too busy before the trip to research where we’d like to go, and it was a mistake. The first night in New Orleans a group of us went to some jazz club for a drink and some music. Drinks were fine. Music… Some people just do not understand that “improvisation” doesn’t mean producing random sounds with a saxophone. For the next 6 days, as we were coming across different musicians on the street or at different venues – be those marching or seating bands or even lonely drummers, I kept saying: “Even that is better than what we heard the first night!”

 

 

I get easily bored at museums: there’s that fine line between keeping me interested for 2-3 hours and making me yawn in 15 minutes, and I rarely can predict the way it would go with one museum or the other. But since it was very hot outside, Louisiana State Museum seemed like a good alternative to just returning to the hotel room and trying to watch Netflix streaming of some next show episode.

It wasn’t the most interesting or entertaining exhibition but it had its moments, so I cannot really complain about it (it was much better than numerous museums I’ve visited in different parts of the world before). But one stand captured my attention, and I spent probably more than 5 minutes in front of it.

New Orleans Music

 

I did read the text (and you can too if you open the picture: I purposefully didn’t resize it); but what attracted me the most, were two telephone handsets (wired) that you could use to listen to the same song – The Battle of New Orleans – performed by Johnny Horton and Lonnie Donegan. I still can’t say which one I like more. Can you?

 

 

 

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium wasn’t something that anyone had recommended but one night while walking around our hotel we came across a bright lit window with live butterflies, got curious and came back the next day. I have no idea how it came to that, but this museum, the largest free-standing American museum dedicated to insects, is located at the U.S. Custom House Federal Building. The security measures to get into this museum were stricter than those we went through at the airport. But I really enjoyed the exposition. We all probably read about mimicry and saw some nature documentary about it on TV, but when you see up-close insects that resemble flowers (Orchid mantis) or leaves (Dead Leaf mantis or walking leaf Phylliidae) it is very impressive. (Can you spot all of them on the pictures below?) And butterflies that just float all around you and sit on any available surface (including you) were just beautiful.

 

 

Cats

Even while on the best vacation, we miss Rusty a lot. I wish he could travel with us. But I doubt either one of us would enjoy it. So he usually gets a cat sitter to keep him company. And while we were getting the “proof of life” as I called those daily pictures that a cat sitter was sending us, we kept coming across New Orleans cats everywhere – on the street (either sleeping in shadow or even walking on a leash), in the store (in an eyewear shop Art & Eyes where we went because our friend wanted to get a new frame, we met Hamilton, a store cat; another one we saw sleeping on a half-finished carpet still on a loom), or on pictures and prints sold at the art fair on Frenchman street (I couldn’t pass that orange cat print – so now it hangs over my Zen Garden in the office).

 

 

Perfumes

I plan to do the next post focusing on perfumes I discovered while in New Orleans: it won’t make them justice to cram them in the end of a long post. But since it’s a perfume blog, I cannot not to touch on the subject completely (and it wouldn’t be true to the story since perfumes do play an important role in my life).

Since I knew it would be hot and humid, I brought with me perfumes that I thought would work well in that weather. And all of them were great and added to positive side of the trip. But the one that stood out was Byredo Bal D’Afrique.

Before falling in love with it, I tried it several times. The issue was that two samples that I got from friends earlier stayed neglected in the pile “to test” until they went off leaving rather unpleasant impression and regret about wasted skin “real estate” once I finally got to test them. And then I got a fresh sample – and it was a completely different story.

Even then I, being me, did not go for a bottle but instead bought a decant from one of the split groups on FB. Partially it’s explained by the fact that I think that Byredo’s minimalistic bottle and packaging design doesn’t suit this perfume. Those clean lines, good for the tender La Tulipe, seem wrong for this bright and sexy perfume.

I do not see myself wearing it too often since most of my life goes at work, and Bal D’Afrique is not even remotely office-friendly, but it is an extremely interesting oriental woody perfume that should work equally well both in the dead of winter and on a tropical vacation. It seems like a truly unisex perfume but not one of those anemic citrus-y numbers that can be considered as such just because none of genders would claim the ownership, but rather a bold statement that perfectly fits anyone who wants to wear it.

If you find interesting such perfumes as Byredo Pulp, L’Artisan Traversee du Bosphore or DelRae Bois de Paradise, definitely give Bal D’Afrique a try.

 

Rusty in Grass

 

Since my decant of Bal D’Afrique isn’t too picturesque, and I do not have any Africa-inspired or related items to make a nice shot, I decided to illustrate it with the photo of Rusty on my backyard (à la African Savanna stroll).

 

Is New Orleans on your bucket list?

 

Images: my own

I Hate IFRA and EC

This isn’t going to be a long and well-thought-out post. It’s rather a reaction to the news I read yesterday on the Chemist in the Bottle about further restrictions on the perfume ingredients.

I am not a huge fan of chypre perfumes: there are just 5 or 6 that I would really miss (Note to myself: get an extra back-up bottle of Miss Dior). But it makes me angry to read the news that means even further butchering of many perfumes others love. I sympathize with people who have sensitivities to any of the ingredients in different product or food allergies. But what I can’t understand is why while it is considered sufficient to post warnings about peanuts or even cigarettes, with perfumes we should be protected by law. Because, G-d forbid, someone doesn’t read the label warning and gets a rush. Can you imagine how much more dangerous it is than a cardiac arrest (peanuts) or cancer (smoking)?!

Cigarettes and Peanuts Warning

Second Sunday Samples: Tigerlily Perfumery

As I’ve joked in conclusion of my recent post on sampling, it looks like these days I buy even samples only after sniffing them.

My first visit to Tigerlily Perfumery in San Francisco several years ago wasn’t a success, so for a long time I didn’t want to go there even though they were holding some interesting events and carrying perfume lines that aren’t available around here anywhere else. But as time passed, the negative impression had faded away, and I decided to give it another try.

This time my visit went really well, I spent probably 30 minutes sniffing everything I wanted to try. There were a couple of things that I especially liked about the store. First, in addition to “hard to find” niche brands, such as Neela Vermeire Creations, Papillon Artisan Perfumes or Tauer Perfumes, they carry local (SF Bay Area and Californian) brands – Ineke, Parfums DelRae, Bruno Fazzolari, Yosh and others. Then, people who work there are not push-y and allow customers to browse/sniff all they want without insisting on helping them but being close in case help is needed.

Finally, as I found out, Tigerlily offers at the store three free 1 ml dab samples of your choice. After that you can buy other samples at $3 per sample. I really like this approach: selling samples isn’t their business; they cover costs while providing customers a chance to try perfumes at home and, hopefully, come back for more.

After smelling about 40 perfumes from the nozzle first and then some of them on blotters, I ended up buying 3 samples in addition to 3 free ones to try them on skin at home. Even with the cost of parking in the area, price per sample turned out to be much better than it would have been had I bought them online – especially since I knew already that I didn’t dislike those perfumes. Today I’ll talk about three of the six.

 

Rusty and Tiger Lily Samples

 

Tauerville Vanilla Flash

Three and Half Sea Stars

I’ve previously smelled Tauerville Vanilla Flash but since I’m not a vanilla fan in general, I haven’t tried it on skin. This time I smelled it on paper again and decided that I had to properly test it.

I have a feeling that I’m the last one to try it and everybody else has done it by now. So I would be very curious to hear whether you’ve tried Vanilla Flash.

I like that it is not too sweet. I enjoy booziness of vanilla. But it feels a little too intense (like most of Tauer’s perfumes), I think I would have preferred it in the form of body oil, so probably I won’t go for a bottle – even though the price is more than reasonable. But if anyone has 5 ml decant to swap with me, I would love to wear it a couple of times.

Nishane Ambra Calabria

Four Sea Stars

I wasn’t completely new to Nishane Ambra Calabria as well: Lucas who did a very nice review for this perfume last year graciously sent me his sample. I tried and liked it but then something else distracted me and I forgot about it.

When I smelled it again at Twisted Lily, I decided that I wanted to give it another try. It is such unusual perfume! I don’t think I’ve smelled before such combination: very strong citrus developing into warm amber. I think it’s the most summery amber I’ve ever come across. And since I like ambers and do not have enough weather suitable for heavy heaters in my collection, I could see myself wearing Ambra Calabria. But why 50 ml?! Especially since they position it as extrait. I would love to be able to buy 10-15 ml bottle from the brand but not 50 ml.

BLOCKI in every season

Two Sea Stars

BLOCKI brand actually was the main reason I decided to go to Tiger Lily: a week earlier they had there a presentation of their new perfume – SANROVIA, which I was curious to try since I really liked and recently bought this grand affair (pictures below are those that I couldn’t include in that post 4 months ago since it had arrived only after I published it). I couldn’t make it to the event but decided to go the next week.

 

Rusty and Blocki This Grand Affair

 

Unfortunately, SANROVIA didn’t pass even paper test. I might go back and try it again one day but this time I decided to skip it. Instead, I got their earlier released perfume – in every season.

I tried to like it. I gave it all possible benefits of the doubt. I don’t know what to say: it is not nasty or unpleasant, but it is neither interesting nor even pleasant nor beautiful. It gets a little better a couple of hour into wearing but frankly speaking I would go for many of the mass-market perfumes before I would think of wearing in every season. In any season.

 

Rusty and Blocki This Grand Affair

 

Images: my own

Perfume News, Perfume Deals and Cat Pictures (with Perfumes), Episode 1

A holiday in the middle of the week is a strange thing. We haven’t planned anything special for this year’s 4th of July, so I had a little extra time on my hands, and I decided to share some news and deals that you might have missed. I might do it periodically, hence the “Episode 1” designation.

In case you missed the news, Australian Perfume Junkies blog is back after almost a three-month hiatus. Hopefully, issues with hackers are resolved for good, and soon it will be accessible from the regular address (http://australianperfumejunkies.com/) but for now it can be reached at https://australianperfumejunkiescom.wordpress.com/. Also please note that you need to re-follow the blog if you want to be getting e-mail notifications.

APJ Blog

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A couple of days ago Lucas celebrated 6th anniversary of his blog – The Chemist in the Bottleanswering interview questions from one of his blog’s loyal readers Jillie. Go read it to find out what a fragrance evaluator job involves, whether Lucas plans to create his own perfume brand, and just to say “Congratulations” on this rather significant milestone.

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Did you know that Ormonde Jayne now has smaller 30 ml bottles? It’s the same price as their travel set but it can be shipped to the U.S. (free S&H). Also, from their news letter: “to celebrate the new site and life in general, we will send you a surprise gift with every order when you use the promotional code ‘YIPPEE’ at the checkout.”

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If you followed Le Jardin Retrouvé’s Perfume Revival Project 2018, you know that the winning “dot” was the black one – Oriental Sans Souci. This one and the two out of the remaining three will be released as a limited edition of 200 bottles (50 ml) and can be pre-ordered here until the end of July and will be delivered in October. I have not tried any of these but I refer you to Cynthia’s (The Fragrant Journey) post about it.

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April Aromatics in their recent newsletter have revealed that there is a new iris perfume in progress. Also, since the site will be closed for a vacation from July 9th to August 10th, until July 8th they offer 20% off for their 30 ml bottles with the coupon AASUMMER2018. (though, I’d still go for smaller ones)

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Picture of Rusty is a bonus: it’s not special enough to go on its own into the “From the Cutting Room Floor” series, but I decided to share with you a picture of Rusty with Sonoma Scent Studio’s Bee’s Bliss that I wore today to celebrate the 4th of July.

 

Rusty and Sonoma Scent Studio Bee's Bliss

 

Have you recently come any news, deals or cat pictures to share?

Images: my own

Small Things That Brighten Life: Two Suns

Today was a good day: first of all, it was a weekend after a busy week. Second, I didn’t have to be anywhere so I almost missed the heat wave that was happening outside (“almost” because at some point I had to turn on the A/C – just to make sure my perfumes were comfortable, I myself could have easily stayed downstairs without it). Third, I managed to finish a couple of chores at home, which gave me some sense of accomplishment (something that I don’t get at work recently because of the size of the project I’m working on). Forth, I got a chance to do some serious perfume testing since dictated by the weather short sleeves of my lounge wear allowed for multiple “test sites.”

And at the end of the day overcast that will bring us tomorrow a relief from the short temperature spike today, once again, served as a sophisticated camera lens that allowed me to see a very unusual sunset.

 

Sunset June 2018

 

… and about 10 minutes later

 

Sunset June 2018

 

Have a nice Sunday and stay cool (warm – for those on the opposite side).

 

Images: my own (pictures were not color edited)