Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Smell Bent: Gelty Pleasures

The world can be divided into two kinds of people, the kind who love chocolate and the second kind, crazy people. If you are not crazy, you are most likely a lover of chocolate perfumes too. The catch with chocolate perfumes is that the more literal you get with chocolate perfumes, the more unwearable they become. It depends on what the chocolate is combined with. Complementing foody notes make it too literal which could become too heavy and cloying or combined with perfume-y notes in which the chocolatey goodness gets lost more often than not. Meet Gelty Pleasures, the perfect chocolate perfume!

Gelty Pleasures is a simple combination of chocolate and amber accord. Smelling directly from the bottle, all I get is chocolate. Chocolate is smooth, rich and absolutely delicious. It is like melted milk chocolate in a bottle, yummy stuff! It is the smell you get when you enter a chocolate shop, like Max Brenner's! On my skin, it is prominently chocolate. As the components of the amber accord start to emerge, it becomes a 'perfume-y' chocolate. Still rich and delicious but very wearable. Amber and chocolate are combined so well that they not only go well together but they bring out the best in each other. Perfect marriage! Amber accord generally is a combination of various beautiful substances. The particular amber accord used has a cosy vanilla and what I smell as Musk and Tonka Bean. The amber (mostly vanilla and tonka) gives a beautiful warmth and a toasty feeling to the chocolate. It is so comforting, at the same time, there is a kind of sexiness in it. The dry down is chocolate-y warm sexy feeling, to die for!

I received the bottle from lovely Michelle with the loveliest message because she is such a beautiful person! If you haven't checked her blog out yet, please do, she is great. I'm so glad I could get my hands on this bottle because it is a limited edition for Hanukkah 2009 from Smell Bent (note the menorah on the label of the bottle, is it trying to light itself?!) Smell Bent is a great perfume company that has the funniest concepts and images to go with the beautiful perfumes. Can you imagine how an Exquisite Corpse or a Horny Little Devil would smell like?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Su Was Here

The Snowy Mountains, summit of Mount Kosciuszko. Was awesome! 

Friday, January 13, 2012

BPAL: Thirteen Feb '09

Today being Friday the 13th, I reached out to wear a perfume very appropriate for the occasion, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's Thirteen. BPAL comes out with a limited edition fragrance every time the calender reads Friday 13th. It is like a time capsule really. I have a bottle of Thirteen (13 February 2009) that I acquired from Dee, thanks Dee! This is the first and the only Thirteen from BPAL I have. Looking forward to what blend they have for today, which will be out on the website soon. 

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Thirteen February 2009
Limited Edition
"A sweet, comforting base of dark chocolate and brown sugar with thirteen herbs of good fortune, including nutmeg, Tonka, allspice, star anise, Jamaican and African gingers, devil's shoestring, lucky hand root, and thyme."

Sniffing directly from the bottle, Thirteen smells green and herbal. On my skin the herbs amp up, it smells like crushed green leaves. I smell eucalyptus, camphor and something fierce and fresh. Then it progresses on to the spicy territory, vague spices that I can't name. What's striking is that the chocolate is very soft and suppressed by everything else in this perfume. Chocolate comes with ginger, to add fresh and add more to the green. The dry down has just some spices and teeniest bit of sweetness from the chocolate. Thirteen is not a chocolate scent in itself. It is more of a green spicy scent which borrows a bit of sweetness from the chocolate and lets the chocolate go completely.

Thirteen reminds me very much of Gluttony (discontinued scent in the Sins and Salvation series). Both have the same green-chocolate note. Gluttony takes the gourmand direction but Thirteen deviates towards spice. I sold off my Gluttony as I didn't like it much. I thought that I was not a fan of the heaviness but it turns out it is this particular chocolate note that I don't like. I can't say that Thirteen is my favourite for the same reason, plus the spices just don't do it for me. 

Like most other days, Friday the 13th is just another day to me. My day has been good so far!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Aftelier Fig

Aftelier is an outstanding perfume company for two reasons. One reason is that it is a natural perfumery using the best of ingredients and secondly because Mandy Aftel is an artist. She creates perfumes by conceptualising a smell and interpreting it into a perfume so beautifully that you can feel the inspiration. Fig is a glorious example of abstractness. Mandy says about Fig "Jasmine sambac, fir absolute, and yuzu create the richness of ripe black figs. Without a true natural fig essence available, my fig contains no fig, but employs a sleight-of-hand based on a rare, almost fruity lavender from Spain, paired with the sweet and jammy fir absolute." 
Work of art! It is hard to imagine how the "fig" is epitomised here, but one sniff of Fig and it all makes sense!

Aftelier Fig
Eau de Parfum

Top: grand fir, pink grapefruit.
Heart: pink pepper absolute, jasmine sambac.
Base: Africa stone, fir absolute.

Aftelier Fig is an unusual fig. It is neither a jammy, syrupy fig nor a fresh, juicy one. It is dry, green and earthy. First I get the smell of fir/pine, something like the smell of Christmas tree. It is green, aromatic and a teeny bit smoky (kind of roasted?). The pepper element adds warmth or should I say a dry but gentle heat. It is sharp and intense. It doesn't take long to settle on the skin and calm down. After this point, I can't figure out what I'm smelling but the feeling it evokes is something of a tranquility. It smells balsamic, slightly sweet and well rounded.

Do I smell fig? I certainly get the feeling of it. It is complex and abstract but definitely the presence of something green, dry and faintly sweet, roasted fig is in the background. It maybe the combination of balsamic-ness of fir and the fruitiness of lavender (which I also get in Aftelier's Amber)

I sampled Aftelier Fig EDP 0.25 ml in a spray vial for $6. Full size (1/4 oz 7.5 ml) costs $150 USD.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kitchen Smells: Cardamom

Welcome to the Kitchen Smells series! 'Kitchen Smells' is a series of posts in which I share what I'm cooking in my kitchen (mostly South Indian food) while focusing on an ingredient and on the perfumes that feature that ingredient.

Today's feature is Cardamom.
Green Cardamom pods with seeds inside
The Flavour of Cardamom
Cardamom is a beautiful spice with a remarkable flavour and even more remarkable smell. It is not a "hot" spice but a "cool" one. Cardamom is used in food (especially Indian) as a flavour for both sweet and savoury dishes, even to flavour drinks (like masala chai) and mouth fresheners. Flavour of cardamom is quite delicate but can't be missed due to its characteristic aroma. If there is one thing that flavours Indian food in the most versatile way, it is cardamom. I think Cardamom is to Indian desserts as Vanilla is to Western deserts. But the flavour is drastically different from vanilla. Cardamom has a cool flavour. It compliments the sweetness in desserts but in a way that invigorates the sweet rather than add more sweetness. It uplifts the sweet dish, which is why it is a winner for me. I am not much of a sweet tooth and cardamom actually increases the flavour and tones down the sharp sweetness.
Instant Payasam Mix
Brand: MTR
Can be bought from Indian grocers
Payasam being cooked
One example of a dessert that is flavoured with cardamom is Payasam which is a milk based dessert made with whole wheat/semolina vermicelli. It tastes absolutely delicious. Back at home, vermicelli is home made by hand conforming to a standard shape, length and thickness. Being as terribly lazy and unmotivated cook that I am, I stick to the instant mix. The mix has vermicelli, sugar, raisins, cashews and flavoring of cardamom and saffron. Boil milk, add the mix, heat till vermicelli cooks and you have creamy wonderful payasam ready! The whole kitchen smells of caramelised milk and cardamom. Heaven!

The Fragrance of Cardamom
The smell of cardamom in perfumes makes me smile. Unlike any other spice, cardamom is not spicy or pungent. The smell of cardamom is delicate, green and aromatic. It adds a fresh, energetic and very dynamic vibe to perfumes. Due to the fact that it is fresh, it is often used in masculine fragrances. It is used in different combinations, all to produce unique 'opulent but refreshing' effect. Cardamom and ginger is just so vivacious and exciting. Cardamom also compliments the coldness of incense, making the incense come alive. 

To appreciate and familiarise with cardamom as a note, I think it is best to get a few pods and smell it. The pods have an outer (can I call it shell?) green/black covering has a fresher smell. The seeds are black which are responsible for most of the flavour and fragrance. The seeds are intensely aromatic when crushed. That is the real smell of cardamom. Cardamom essential oil and carbon dioxide extraction is a good way to smell and get used to how it would smell in fragrances. I have come across many fragrances with strong and appreciable cardamon note. Here are a few.

Amouage The Library Collection: Opus II
Amouage make great perfumes reflecting middle Eastern sophistication. While browsing through the Amouage section at David Jones, I smelt all 5 from The Library Collection and Opus II stood out to me and I loved it. As soon as I sniffed I knew there was something about it that I liked instantly. It was the cardamom note. Cardamom is showcased along with incense making the perfume cool fresh yet rich. If I could, I would get a bottle. It is also currently on sale for half price ($213) at David Jones.

Comme des Gracons: White 
This is a medley of beautiful spices, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. I also think cardamom adds a cool vibe to the rich spices. I don't know why, my skin amps the cardamom in it like crazy! Beautiful 'feminine' cardamom.

Cardamom, ginger and melon combined to personify the abstractness of Monsoon. Very cool, almost watery and fresh. Reviewed in detail here.

BPAL The Moths: Gypsy
LE (Metamorphosis: The Moths) It is an average perfume for BPAL, nothing spectacular but cardamom is nicely combined with tonka bean. It is sweet, aromatic, soft but short lived. Nice sweet and spicy perfume.

It has some beautiful things like pine needle, pepper, coriander but I can sense cardamom. My nose must be cheating me but it the perfume gives the same feeling as cardamom would. Maybe it is the pine needle, pepper combo. A man could pull this off in a very sexy way.

Cartier Declaration
Cardamom with added apices on a soft woody base (supposedly Iso E super added generously). It has a 'mustiness'  to it on my skin, which is exactly how cumin behaves on my skin. A nice masculine fresh smell that is cool and fresh. 

Others worth a mention are YSL La Nuit de l'Homme (Caron's lavender vanilla with more freshness), Aesop Marrakech (review coming very soon).

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed. Can't wait to write the next Kitchen Smells post!

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 Perfume Synopsis

The year 2011, loved it! Life in a big city has been all I wanted, if not more. Apart from everything else that went on in life, it has been a good year for perfumes too. I have had the access to smell and try so many perfumes that I had never tried before. Leaving the new releases and industry news to the insiders and professionals, let's see what I loved in 2011.

Favourite perfumes of 2011

Favourites owned: Interestingly, 4 out of 6 are limited editions. Ha!
1. L'Occitane Voyage En Mediterranee: Labdanum de Seville. Oh sweet Labdanum! Made me fall in love with the note. Absolutely stunning!
2. Agent Provocateur: Strip. Amber, leather, powder goodness!
3. Tom Ford: Black Orchid. Sexy, loud, brash and dirty.
4. The Morbid The Merrier: Horseman. This needs to be reviewed because I have a lot to say!
5. BPAL: Womb Furie OMG, that's all.
6. Nocturne Alchemy: The Netherworld. Boozy resins, wow!

Favourites tried:
1. Guerlain: Bois d'Armenie Burning paper and beautiful resins.
2. Frederic Malle: Musc Ravaguer. Sexiness!
3. Tom Ford: Amber Absolute. Spicy amber, best of its kind.
4. By Kilian: Back to Black. Honeyed tobacco.
5. Diptyque: Tam Dao. Sandalwood that is wonderful.
6. Sweet Anthem: Anastasia. Floral beauty, the perfume that first came to my mind when I smelt Illamasqua Freak.

2011 was a great year for DIY. DIY hit of the year was undoubtedly Iso E Super. Love it, love blending it and my post on Iso E Super has been a super hit! I came up with DIY project Lytic Cocktails, which is a dream to pursue at another time in my life, the time I hit a major Lotto.
Speaking of the money, I did the shameful act of calculating how much I spent on perfumes in the year 2011. I never calculate these things because it makes me feel terrible. I did it anyway, I totalled up the PayPal and bank account transactions and used my memory for the purchases I paid in cash. It has come up to $1,214.5 AUD. I'm shocked! I'm not even going to the territory of money spent on makeup and beauty products. I may die of guilt if I did.

Perfume is a luxury and never a necessity. Even perfume lovers would be exaggerating if they said that they couldn't live without buying more and more. With perfumes, it is very easy to loose focus of the fact that you don't need them and go overboard with spending. Well, as long as I can afford it, I don't see it as wrong but still I'm horrified. Bring on Year Of The Tight Arse, as Dee would say! Plan for 2012 is to reduce my collection and try to sell things I don't use anymore in order to make money to ship the perfumes I love to next continent we may be moving to! wink wink!

Another important plan for 2012 is to play with lots of raw materials and chemicals, lots! Well, as long as I'm not bankrupt buying more perfumes that is.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year: New Beginnings

Happy 2012! 
I really don't know where I stand in the scheme of universal time (space and continuum) and 'new' year seems so arbitrary but I do like to think of the new year's day as an opportunity to be motivated and start fresh.

This year my only resolution (which is also arbitrary) is to stay focussed (to make up for the lack of it, to maintain and increase very little of it remaining in life) 

I'm thinking about a new series for the blog. Kitchen Smells, many smells in my kitchen which not only train my nose to smell better and relate more to perfumes but also you can have a sneak peek into what I cook and what I eat! I think it would be a nice way to personalise this perfume blog and make it less vague and boring.