Will you go to the Ball?


What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “Ball”? For me it’s Cinderella and her Glass Slipper (though in the version from my childhood it was a Crystal Shoe, which sounded even more romantic), the first ball of Natasha Rostova from War and Peace and a strange game we would play as kids.

The host would start with a rhyme (loosely translated):

Lady of the Manor has sent you some money.
She has instructed: you buy what you want;
Don’t wear black or white during your jaunt;
“Yes/No”’re off-limit and even when funny
Don’t dare laugh or smile,
Don’t twitch at all!

Will you go to the Ball?

From this point participants will answer different questions about the imaginary ball, their attire, means of transportation and so on and so forth – until one of them slips the forbidden exclamation or adjective. You would think that this game is like Tic-tac-toe: once you know the algorithm it should end up in a tie every time. But no: kids’ minds are very inventive and persistent. “Are we there yet?”

With all that in the background, could I not be predisposed to like Grand Bal from Dior’s La Collection Privée?

Grand Bal by Dior – created in 2012 by Francois Demachy, notes include bergamot, orange blossom, jasmine, ylang-ylang, musk and sandalwood. I really-really-really wanted to try it. I contacted a friendly SA from a Dior’s boutique and he was kind enough to send me some samples of Grand Bal.

The first attempt wasn’t successful: the package had arrived with two completely smashed vials. Rusty had inspected the content of the envelope and found it interesting for playing with (I didn’t allow him to proceed with that) but useable only as a room freshener (I kept it for a couple of days in that role).

Rusty and Broken Vials of Dior's Grand Ball

The second time was a charm and I got a chance to wear Grand Bal on the skin. It’s a lot of jasmine. When I tested Jasmin Rouge by Tom Ford I thought I didn’t like jasmine as a dominant note in perfumes. But unlike Jasmin Rouge and Sarrasins by Serge Lutens that both come out unclean on my skin Grand Bal smells very clean, uncomplicated and easy flowing. It reminds me of this Waltz of the Flowers scene from the animated film from my childhood:



I know that there are notes other than jasmine in Grand Bal but for my nose jasmine dominates the composition allowing all other components to play an entourage on its appearance at the ball. And only when I smell it in parallel with other jasmine-intense perfumes I detect orange blossom and realize how different all those jasmine perfumes are. It’s hardly an original thought but it hit me. Probably because on previous occasions of testing those perfumes I just thought habitually: “It’s a lot of jasmine…”

Will I go to the ball for a bottle? Yes No I don’t know yet. I will try wearing the remaining portion of my Grand Bal sample “for real” (sprayed multiple times and not only on my wrist) and then decide.


Image: my own


WTD, Episode 4.1: Neroli Portofino and Jasmin Rouge by Tom Ford

Lemon treeNeroli Portofino by Tom Ford – created in 2007, one of the original scents of Private Blend collection, it was re-launched in 2011 as a part of the Neroli Portofino bath & body collection. When I tried Neroli Portofino for the first time it developed unpleasantly on my skin. I put it aside and didn’t want to test it again. In my recent tests of a new sample for this episode (the things we do in the name of science!) I’ve never had the same unpleasant results again. I’m curious if Tom Ford has reformulated Neroli Portofino for the 2011 re-release.

In the opening I get an extreme burst of a juicy citrus. I know that it’s coming and still feel surprised every time. I enjoy that opening very much. When Neroli Portofino starts calming down the juiciness goes away. I do not smell any sweetness and I don’t register any floral notes (though I remember reading that other reviewers did). All I’m left with is a dry citrus scent – still strong but less prominent and less interesting.

I wore Neroli Portofino side by side with Neroli by Annick Goutal first and then with Grand Néroli by Atelier Cologne. Neroli Portofino is much dryer than both above mentioned perfumes. Neroli Portofino is more poised and tidy compared to Grand Néroli and feels dirtier than Neroli (I think I recognize this signature Tom Ford’s “dirtiness” in at least several perfumes in this line but I’m not sure I can explain properly now what exactly I smell). Neroli Portofino, though being unisex, in my opinion is the most masculine out of three perfumes I compared and it stays on my skin for 6-8 hours which is much longer than either of the other two scents.

I wouldn’t mind wearing Neroli Portofino in summer from time to time if I had it in my collection but I do not like it enough to justify a full bottle purchase at Private Blend’s price. Or maybe I’m just not the biggest fan of this genre.

For real reviews read EauMG and Bois de Jasmine

JasmineJasmin Rouge by Tom Ford – one of the two latest 2011 new releases in the Private Blend collection. I regret to admit it to myself but I do not like jasmine. It’s great in small doses, as a part of the usual floral bouquet, but as a leading note in a perfume it wears me off the same way tuberose does. I can appreciate its beauty, I just cannot wear it. Ironically, I like both the smell and the taste of jasmine tea but I cannot drink it.

In older days I used to just dismiss perfumes I didn’t like on the first sniff. Now I spend some time even with those perfumes I do not think will work out for me. And with both tuberose- and jasmine-heavy perfumes (good ones) it’s always the same story: I apply it, I sniff it, I think: “Not bad, it’s a very nice scent;” I keep smelling it and confirming my initial thoughts and then I would ask myself if I want to own it and wear, beyond just testing. And the answer is always a determined NO.

Jasmin Rouge played out exactly by that scenario: I got tired of it before it subsided into the less intense floral mix. It won’t be joining my collection even if a bottle falls from the sky.

For real reviews for Jasmin Rouge read Olfactoria’s Travel and Bois de Jasmine

As always, feel free to give a link to your blog’s post(s) related to the topic.

Images: my own

See all episodes:
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 4: Tom Ford
WTD, Episode 4.2: In the Search for the Perfect Violet
WTD, Episode 4.3: Noir de Noir, Oud Wood and Arabian Wood by Tom Ford