Second Sunday Samples: YSL Le Vestiaire des Parfums

I cannot believe it’s the second Sunday of December: where did the year go?! I was so busy recently that I skipped a couple of Sundays moving posts originally planned for this series to be just posts. Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) and Old Herbaceous (Serenity Now) were smarter about their Monday Quick Sniffs and Scent Sample Sunday correspondingly: they get 4 or sometimes even 5 days per month to choose from when it comes to running the next episode of their series. But since the second Sunday comes just once a month, all I can do is to either make it or wait for the next one. I decided to do the last episode this year, especially since perfumes about which I’m writing fit perfectly to this season – even though by the not observing the back to the Standard Time shift WP’s clock it’s technically Monday already.

When it comes to perfumes and perfumistas, there are luxury perfume brands existence of which we acknowledge and either splurge on from time to time (Tom Ford or By Kilian) or mostly ignore (Creed or Clive Christian). Then there are brands’ luxury divisions which, although added later in the brand’s life, were rather welcomed and appreciated: L’Art et La Matiere from Guerlain, Les Exclusifs de Chanel, Hermessence or Dior’s La Collection Privee (though, it seems that the most recent revamp/rename to the “Maison” collection didn’t get any enthusiasm from the part of Perfumeland that I know). Of course, most of the brands that released their “top shelf” collections were in perfume business probably from the time when their “regular” lines were luxury not easily affordable for most buyers, so with everything being “dumbed down” as well as priced down to fit mass market, it felt somewhat justified that high quality and creativity was elevated into a separate collection and price category.

But that was 2004 – 2007. And then the levees broke: not talking about an avalanche of new super-niche super-expensive brands with real, bought or invented history, but all luxury brands, with or without the regular perfume portfolio, forayed into the luxury perfume space. And most of them are being ignored by the “old guard” perfumistas. Have you tried any of Louis Vuitton or Bottega Veneta’s Parco Palladiano Collection?

Yves Saint Laurent, a brand that had all the reasons and pedigree to be among the first creators of a luxury perfume branch, came to the party really late: they released their first five perfumes in the Le Vestiaire des Parfums (the Perfume Wardrobe) Collection in 2015. The collection name explains individual perfume names: they represent pieces of clothes designed by the brand or, later, once they ran out of significant attire articles, fabric used for those creations.

YSL Le Vestiaire des Parfums

I can’t tell you how many times I went by this stand at my local Neiman Marcus without even pausing. The reason was that on those rare occasions when I get to the NM’s perfume area, I usually have something else I want to try, and since I usually do not buy perfumes there, I try to minimize time I do the browsing since there’s only that many samples you can score from the same SAs without making a purchase. I mean, I can sniff my head out at any random place where I do not plan to come again but in the not that crowded local perfume “watering holes,” to which I keep coming back, I try to maintain some reasonable balance.

But recently when I finally decided to make a purchase (for the first time on my memory NM had 20% off, Beauty & Fragrances included, and there was something that I couldn’t buy elsewhere anyway). Can you imagine having all the possible good will from the SA and … absolutely nothing that I’d really want to try? (Our local store isn’t the most impressive in the perfume department.) I desperately looked around… and realized that I had never tried any perfumes in that 2015 YSL’s collection. So I asked and got generous 3.5 ml official samples for 3 perfumes from the original collection as well as small hand-made samples for two later additions.

Tuxedo

Three and Half Sea Stars

Tuxedo (2015, perfumer Juliette Karagueuzoglou – the name didn’t sound familiar to me so I checked: among mostly unfamiliar to me mass-market perfumes, last year she created Un Air de Bretagne for L’Artisan and Savoy Steam for Penhaligon’s) is described by the brand as “smoked patchouli blended with ambergris accord.” To my nose, it’s a warm amber-y perfume on a drier side with a dab of spices added. Based on the history of this garment, I’d expect some tobacco note but it’s not there – either listed or perceived.

Have you seen pictures of women in tuxedos? Even though they might look beautiful and sexy, looking at those pictures you still know that traditionally it’s a part of men’s wardrobe. Tuxedo perfume, in my opinion, is precisely like that: I can imagine a woman (maybe even myself) wearing this perfume but I think it leans masculine. Because of that I gave it just 3.5 sea stars but I plan to try it on my vSO to see if I 4-star-like-it on him.

Trench

Three Sea Stars

Trench (2015, perfumer Amandine Clerc-MarieMDCI’s Peche Cardinal, Mugler Angel EdT and Aura), “a citrus scent featuring dry cedarwood and white musk,” does start with a beautiful citrus that I’d love to keep smelling. Unfortunately, it subsides quickly into a more soap-y scent – still pleasant but not spectacular. Trench is supposed to feature fig and iris but my nose doesn’t catch either – even though these are some of a few notes that I usually easily recognize. Despite that as I said Trench is nice. Not its price-nice but good enough to try if you come across it without paying for it.

Caftan

Three and Half Sea Stars

Caftan (2015, perfumer Calice Baker) is a straight-forward amber perfume. It’s not Ambre Russe or Mitzah-type amber with resins punching you in the nose without warning, and it’s less sweet than, for example, Floris Honey Oud or EnVoyage Perfumes Captured in Amber, which makes it more unisex and easier to wear by a man. I wouldn’t refuse a travel spray of Caftan (it doesn’t come in one, I’m speaking theoretically) but I probably do not need this amber in addition to all the great ambers that I already have in my collection. But do try Caftan if you see it: it might work better for you, especially if you’re not a hardcore amber lover.

Velours

Four Sea Stars

Velours (2016, perfumer Carlos Benaim), yet another amber in this collection (can you even have too many ambers?) proved to be my favorite. I often get black tea note mistaken in perfumes for very supple leather, which happened here. Until I read notes, I was sure that this perfume, despite of the name, contains leather or at least suede note. But tea makes more sense. Velours is not a perfume to win any creativity or originality awards (well, the bottle is very nice – so, maybe for the packaging) but it’s easy to wear, smooth and refined. I saw several people comparing it to Dior Homme Parfum, which is supposed to be a good thing, I think, but since I’m not familiar with that Dior’s perfume, I don’t have that reference point to offer you. Too bad, unlike the original collection, the “de Nuit” addition to it (Velours being one of the three perfumes in it) comes only in 125 ml bottles, with is a lot even if not to consider the price.

Blouse

Four Sea Stars

The latest addition to the original collection – Blouse (2018, perfumer Quentin BischMandarin Corsica for L’Artisan, Mugler Angel Muse and Ambre Imperial for Van Cleef & Arpels) has won me by surprise. Being a floral perfume lover, I probably appreciated finally prominent floral notes in a slew of wood, amber and vanilla ingredients of perfumes I wore for the last month for my NovAmber project and tested from this collection. Despite the name that I find stupid (“Blouse” is such a non-descriptive name, and it’s completely out of sync with the rest of the collection.) and, again, stupid ad copy for the perfume on the brand’s site (they use words “sensual” and “sensuality” six times in a 7-sentences’ description), I like Blouse because it smells of a very natural and delicate (not sensual!) pink rose, and it lasts for a very long time for a light perfume. But I’m not buying 125 ml (again, the only size available now) of a pink (!) rose musk niceness.

– You smell nice. What are you wearing?
– YSL Blouse
– Duh!..

 Rusty and YSL Le Vestiaire des Parfums  

Images: my own

Advertisements

I did it again: NovAmber 2018

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while might remember that just a couple of years ago I did a whole month of amber perfumes… At least I thought so until I checked: I published a post about it 4 years ago to the day. Time seems to be even more fleeting than perfumes…

Since I have a penchant for cold weather perfumes and almost no cold weather where we live (it’s 14C/56F outside now), if I want to wear my favorites, I cannot just sit and wait for the proper weather. So I decided to do another NovAmber month.

Amber Autumn

I purposefully didn’t check which perfumes I’d chosen last time: while I still don’t have 30 bottles or decants of amber perfumes in my collection, since for such projects I allow myself to wear perfumes from samples (which I normally don’t do), combined number of all amber perfumes that I have access to would be sufficient for a couple of months, so I was curious which perfumes I’d choose for the line-up.

For thirty days I wore only amber perfumes. Not all of them were “amber forward” but they all had amber as a part of the composition.

Half of the perfumes that I chose were the same as I wore four years ago: Montale Blue Amber, L’Artisan L’eau d’Ambre Extreme, Jo Malone Dark Amber & Ginger Lily, Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche, Bvlgari Black, Dior Ambre Nuit, Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, Armani Prive Ambre Orient, Ormonde Jayne Tolu, Dior Mitzah, By Kilian Amber Oud, Eau de Tommi Sooni II, Royal Apothic Dogwood Blossom, Amouage Ubar and L’Artisan Eau de Mandarine Ambrée.

I won’t repeat my impressions of these since they are not much different from what I described in the previous post. I just wanted to mention that Ubar, which many of the commenters didn’t associate with amber perfumes, is still one of my most favorite amber perfumes. Two other perfumes that I predicted would join my collection – By Kilian Amber Oud and Dior Ambre Nuit – did: the former as a refill bottle (see In the Search for the Perfect… By Kilian Perfume) and the latter as the next decant (I still plan to get a 40 ml real bottle one day, I just can’t do 120+ ml now).

Rusty and By Kilian Amber Oud

The next group consists of perfumes that, most likely, do not need an introduction (but I’ll still link to the stories that I told for some of them before): Chanel Coco EdP and Bois des Iles EdP, Serge Lutens Chergui and Jeux de Peau and Teo Cabanel Alahine. I enjoyed wearing all of them though I confirmed for myself my recent conclusion that I do not love Jeux des Peau enough to warrant a full bottle (I’m still not done with that first decant I bought 7 years ago).

Floris Honey Oud and En Voyage Perfumes Captured in Amber, both new to my collection compared to it four years ago, were perfect additions for this project. In the earlier post I promised to share a picture of Rusty sniffing Captured in Amber once I decide on the concentration and get a bottle. I ended up buying pure parfum but since the bottle is tiny, the best I could do was to capture a photo of Captured in Amber captured in amber-y Rusty’s fur.

Rusty and En Voyage Captured In Amber

This project brought a couple of personal discoveries. First, I finished my sample of Aedes de Venustas Cierge de Lune and realized that I want more. Probably not a bottle-worth more but I really hope Aedes will release it in travel spray format. Another surprise was Van Cleef & Arpels Ambre Imperial: while at a store, I allowed the SA who had just made me a couple of samples to spray my wrist with this perfume. I think I didn’t expect to like it so it was easier to just agree with her and be on my way. I should have been greedy and asked for the third sample! Either I just had amber on my mind, or it was actually as good as it seemed in the moment… Now I’ll have to go back and test it again.

I’ll skip mentioning several perfumes that I either didn’t like or, on the contrary, liked and plan to tell you more about them in future posts.

During November I wore more than 30 amber perfumes. And I’m not done yet. It probably means that I really like amber in my perfumes, right?

 

How about you? Do you like amber in your perfumes? What are your absolute favorites? Were there any recent discoveries?

 

Images: my own

… and I’ll be there…

A month ago Twitter’s meme “What 5 items would someone put in a salt circle to summon you?” got viral when J.K. Rowling answered it.

 Summonning JK Rowling

 

In other answers there were perfumes (that’s how I learned about it – from somebody’s mentioning it on the NST’s daily threads), books, snacks and a LOT of cats.

So of course I started playing this game in my head. My first thought was: “Rusty!” But then I realized that, first, Rusty wouldn’t sit still in any circle with or without other objects, and second, Rusty alone would be enough to summon me.

 

Rusty in a Circle

 

But since I still wanted to play this game, I decided to count Rusty out and go with inanimate objects. So, what would be a set of five things to summon me? I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone who reads this blog that Climat by Lancôme would be the first thing to go on the list. The next one would be probably that quirky blue Hello Sailor lipstick by Lipstick Queen and The Fifth Element – one of my all-time favorite movies. Now, when we took care of my mind and my look, let’s attend to my body: dark chocolate lava cake and a cup of cappuccino. Yeah, looks about right: put these five together, and I’ll be there.

 

 Summonning Undina

 

What should I put in a circle to summon you?

 

Images: the salt circle from here; DVD cover – don’t remember; the rest – my own.

Rusty Helps with Ex Nihilo Draw

Looking at the general count of comments on the post about Ex Nihilo, one would think that it would be a tough draw. But it seems that hajusuuri and I did a pretty good job scaring people away from the brand. And since there were just three contenders, I decided it was a good task for Rusty.

 

 

The winner of the draw is #2 – Jessica.

But wait! There is more.

As we were working on the post, hajusuuri and decided that, in addition to the official draw, we’ll have the second, secret one, for those who would try to guess which of mini-reviews belongs to which perfume. And since out of the two remaining commenters only one played the guessing game, Rusty didn’t have to even move a paw: the second winner is Brigitte.

Both winners: please contact me or hajusuuri with your shipping addresses.

 

Rusty Choosing Ex Nihilo Draw Winner

 

Images: my own

Orange Cats in My Life – Part VI: Where Do Treats Come From?

In replies to comments on my previous post I promised to tell this story. Disclaimer: it’s a cat story, and no perfumes were harmed involved.

* * *

Last year we found ourselves in between couches: the old couch was re-homed while the new one was delayed. Even before that you couldn’t say we had an abundance of furniture or places to hide, especially in areas to which Rusty has access. So with the approaching 4th of July’s fireworks, which always terrify our cat, I felt a little guilty for disrupting Rusty’s environment. And to compensate that, I came up with the idea to make an artificial hiding spot for him.

I put a decorative pillow, on which Rusty used to sleep on the old couch, under one of the dining chairs and covered the chair with his blanket. I don’t remember if Rusty used it to hide from fireworks but surprisingly he took to periodically spending time inside that contrivance, so we decided to keep it even after the new couch had arrived. My vSO said that it was a “Pet Cave.”

 

Rusty and Pet Cave

 

Being extremely food-motivated, Rusty loves treats and would do a lot to get them. A cruel owner I am, I taught him to do tricks: “Sit,” “Paw. Another one,” “Down,” “Up” and sometimes even “Jump.” Also we have some variation on the “Fetch” – I call it “Catch.”

It goes like this: I would take a treat in my hand, say “Catch!”, and Rusty would start moving away while still looking at me (he reminds me a player in American football who “goes long” keeping an eye on a quarterback), then I would throw a treat, and Rusty, after “spinning” in place for a couple of milliseconds while his paws get traction with wooden floor, would sprint after the treat. It would be naïve to expect a cat to bring it back – hence “Catch.” Once he’s done eating, I call him back: “Come-come-come!” (in an unusual for me high-pitched tone) and when he comes, I give him the second treat. Unlike other tricks that I make him do for my or our guests’ amusement, this one is done to make him exercise a little for the first treat and to teach him to auto-respond to that unusual call – for those unpredictable cases when I might need to find him quickly or make him come to me.

While Rusty is busy catching and eating the first treat, from time to time I would put the third one into his pet cave. The first couple of times I did it, he found them quickly. My vSO suggested that he either saw or heard me doing it. So the next time I made sure that I stood close to the pet cave – so that I could put a treat in without moving while being sure that Rusty wasn’t looking. As you can imagine, the result was the same.

Since then every time when we give him a treat, Rusty goes and checks his pet cave, sometimes more than once (he would walk around and look in again regardless of whether he got the third treat that time or not). And since he does it even when clearly nobody was anywhere close to it, I’m positive that he doesn’t understand the physics of the process and in all likelihood does not discount the possibility of autogenesis – even though my vSO tried explaining to Rusty once (on his third attempt within a minute): “Rusty, treats are not mushrooms: they do not grow on their own!”

 

Rusty and Pet Cave

 

Images: my own

Second Sunday Samples: Out of nothing…

hajusuuri

I first encountered Ex Nihilo at Sniffapalooza in 2015. The company provided a travel spray of Fleur Narcotique in a dark blue satin bag. I was intrigued by the perfume name and decided to explore the brand’s offering at Bergdorf Goodman (BG). The one that got me hooked was Sweet Morphine, no pun intended. At over $300 for a 100mL bottle of a perfume with poor longevity, I demurred from forking over the Benjamins; however, a kind and generous perfumista who used to comment on NST saw my perfume wish list comment and gave me a travel spray of Sweet Morphine!

Three years later, at the April 2018 Sniffapalooza event, I once again checked out the nicely appointed Ex Nihilo alcove at BG. The SA was very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and generous. Having received duplicates of a number of atomizer perfume samples, I asked Undina if she wanted to do another joint post, and so here we are!

Undina

With the number of new brands and new releases that appear every year, it is surprising when you do know about some niche company. If it weren’t for hajusuuri who offered me samples from Ex Nihilo to test and compare notes, I could have easily missed this brand.

I think for any brand it would be hard to leave up to the claims Ex Nihilo makes on their website: ”An alternative to stereotyped luxury products, an alternative to the mass personalisation.” And, in my opinion, they don’t. But, boy, aren’t they milking it while they can: in four years from the inception they’ve created more than 20 perfumes. And if the official composition is not to your liking, and you think that you can do it better than those more or less famous noses they’ve employed to create their luxury perfumes collection, in their Paris boutique you can “personalize” any of the perfumes by requesting to add some of the notes to it (using some super-complex equipment). And on top of that you can customize the bottle: for modest EUR 50 you can choose one of the three standard caps options, or, if money is no object, you can get jeweled models embellished with diamonds and sapphires or 24 carat gold.

But enough snarks, should we talk about perfumes? As I mentioned, there were four samples (in the alphabetical order): Amber Sky, Citizen X, Rose Hubris and Viper Green. Hajusuuri and I decided to do a double-blind test reporting: each one of us chose the order in which we’d present our impressions. Neither of us knows which impression from another reviewer goes with which perfume. We invite you to try to guess… anything. You can try to identify perfume(s) we described. Or match any two of the description to each other, even if you don’t know for which perfume we wrote those descriptions.

 

Ex Nihilo Perfumes

 

hajusuuri

I tested these on my forearms and the first wearing was at least 3 hours long. I did not look at the notes during testing so my impressions were based on what I smelled.

Sample H1 – minty bug spray

Two Sea Stars

The top notes reminded me of bug spray but it evolved to soft greenish vetiver. In hindsight, the name of this perfume fits it rather well.

Sample H2 – fruity lipstick

Two Sea Stars

With its name, I was expecting rose to stand out. Instead, it was propped up by what smelled like violets and a sweet fruit.

Sample H3 – spicy amber

Two Sea Stars

Even if I didn’t know the name of this perfume, I immediately recognized amber with a big dose of incense. It was spicy and I detected a hint of cumin when I smelled my arm up close. The dry-down was a soft blur of vanilla and tonka. I would have rated this higher were it not for a persistent bitterness lurking in the background.

Sample H4 – bitter cleanser

One Sea Star

This one offended me. Not only did it start out smelling like some kind of cleaning fluid (like Lemon Pledge without the lemon), it was nearly impossible to scrub off. I gave it its 3-hour life on my skin but when I tried to wash it off with TechNu, a cleanser used to remove poison ivy oil, it stuck despite multiple washing.

Overall, while I would not spring for a full bottle of any of these, I wouldn’t say no to a travel spray of 2 out of 4 of these perfumes. Wouldn’t it be nice if the company gave consumers the option of choosing which perfumes to include in the travel spray set?

Undina

Sample U1

Two Sea Stars

This perfume doesn’t smell for me as its name sounds. There is some disturbing note in the opening, but a couple of hours into the development it gets better. It contains both a flower and a fruit that smells like that flower (at least some of its cultivars) – and still for my nose it doesn’t smell much of that flower; maybe if I imagine it as candied petals. On the positive side, it’s a warm scent. And I think it becomes very beautiful in its last phase on skin.

Sample U2

Two and Half Sea Stars

This perfume is true to one of the two words of its name. I like the opening: it reminds me of Tom Ford’s Vert Boheme. But it develops differently – more floral less woody, which I like less. Several hours into drydown I like it again: if I bring my wrist very close to nose, it reminds me a smell in a florist’s fridge: a lot of greenery and some mixed flowers. I wish I would like it more: the color of the juice is beautiful.

Sample U3

One Sea Star

This is the most masculine perfume out of the four I’ve tested. It starts harsh with something that brings to mind citrus – even though there’s nothing to that effect in notes. My vSO who rarely volunteers opinion on any of my perfumes – positive or negative – commented on actively disliking it in the opening the first time I tested it (I didn’t even ask!).

Sample U4

Two Sea Stars

Opens slightly sweet and overall traditional for perfume of this type but then develops dry and woody. It’s not masculine but definitely unisex. Pleasant enough but not spectacular if you already have 10 other perfumes in this genre. As with all samples from this brand that I’ve tried, drydown is probably the best phase for this perfume. Interestingly, it’s marked as Sold Out on the brand’s site.

Overall, none of these four rose even to strong “like” for me. Ex nihilo … nihil fit.

 

Rusty Sitting

Rusty believes that treats could come from nothing

 

Would you like to try these to see if your impressions would be different? Leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway for the set of my samples (they are more than half full; and I’ll add a couple more samples of something that I’ve recently tried and liked). The giveaway is open until 23:59 PDT on September 15th to anyone but you know risks with the overseas perfume packages. Random.org will be used to determine a winner.

 

Images: perfumes – from the brand’s site; Rusty – 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