Does that caption sound a little greedy? It's a symptom of CHANEL fever, a condition I have suffered from for years.
It's always exciting when CHANEL releases something new, especially when it's part of their Les Exclusifs collection. I wasn't impressed with 1932; and coupled with the absolutely horrific 2014 reformulations of their regular lineup, I felt heartbroken.
But then CHANEL redeemed itself with the absolutely stunning and simply perfect Misia, I didn't expect that they would release yet another Les Exclusifs so soon. You can imagine my excitement when my dear friend, Ishara, who was traveling in Europe, sent the above photo to me. She had nabbed a bottle of Boy for me at Galeries Lafayette in Paris, knowing it was not yet available in the United States (it is now, and you can get it from chanel.com)
I wore Boy many times before attempting to review it, as it demanded time to fully comprehend it. It behaves on my skin the way an Amouage does. It takes on different layers and develops over many hours. That being said, longevity is excellent. The longest I wore it was 16 hours before I had to go to bed, but it was still there when I woke up. Sillage is office-friendly.
I absolutely love the top notes--a classic, masculine combo of woods and citrus coupled with aromatic dried lavender. The citrus smells like sweet, juicy grapefruit. A mere ten minutes later the perfume becomes entirely different--a powdery, creamy heliotrope-dominant fragrance with an intense dose of musk.
The extent to which any masculine notes show up on the skin seems heavily dependent on chemistry. I have to painfully scrutinize it to detect them for the majority of time that it's on my skin, so it wears totally feminine on me. To be more specific about the masculine undercurrent, I smell a seriously gorgeous, smooth, creamy sandalwood coupled with a delicate, clean whisper of geranium. It smells like a classic fougère with woods, geranium, and even a bit of spice. The only thing I was hoping for in this perfume that did not manifest is a fresh, green element like oakmoss or perhaps mint.
Below: Photos of the CHANEL counter at Galeries Lafayette; ©2016, Ishara Kotagama, All rights reserved
Here is CHANEL's description: Gabrielle Chanel considered Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel as more than her soul mate; he was her double and her alter ego. Inspired by their love, BOY CHANEL is a vibrant, perfectly balanced scent that challenges tradition and transcends gender.
I think the description set up expectations that Boy would somehow smell more conspicuously masculine and really push the envelope as a gender-bending fragrance, but in this regard I don't see it as being avante-garde on any level. Almost anything from the Coco lineup (especially Coco Mademoiselle EDT) as well as the Allure lineup are equally masculine if not more so than this. If you are a man hoping to do some gender-bending, certainly try this out, but you might have more luck with some of the others I mentioned. Then there is the woody, green, powdery No. 19 EDT and the leather-heavy Cuir de Russie. I could go on.
II do feel that Boy successfully encapsulates the two lovers into one fragrance because it smells as if I layered two fragrances together. It's like I am wearing my usual, daily signature, but I put a dab of my boyfriend's cologne on my wrist as I rushed out to work. It's more of a memory of a boyfriend versus a unisex fragrance that a man and woman might share--but of course they can share if they want to, obviously.
I could not help but compare Boy to Jersey because IMHO CHANEL already had a lavender-centric perfume, and I didn't really think that lavender was the greatest note to build another Les Exclusifs around so soon, and I still feel that way after familiarizing myself with Boy. And there are certainly huge similarities. They both contain heaps of lavender, and they are both creamy and musky. I'm not sure its warranted to own both perfumes unless you are a big fan of this specific scent profile to the point where only minor differences will be enough for you to want them both. Otherwise I would suggest testing them first and choosing the one you like better.
They both have a luscious, vanillic creaminess, but if you happen to like an almond vibe, Boy contains a sweet, powdery almond scent whereas Jersey lacks it entirely. Also, the lavender isn't exactly the same. I get more of a fresh, herbal lavender in Jersey, which has more of a bite to it, a bit of sticky camphor, bitterness, and greenness, as though it is still on the plant. The lavender in Boy starts out that way, but over time as it develops into a feminine perfume, it becomes a strictly floral lavender.
I love musk, so the other thing I love about both perfumes is that they each have a giant musk note in them, but while Jersey is soft and fluffy, Boy's musk has fur on it and growls a little. The animalic musk heightens it to a fragrance that is truly sensual, a quality that ties in beautifully with its concept. I almost wondered if there could be a bit of a leather accord going on, but it's not leather, it's just furry musk. And to my nose it's synthetic, which is great.
Boy is a feminine heliotrope perfume, not a gender-bender nor a unisex fragrance. The individual notes in the perfume smell very beautiful and of exceptionally high quality. To my knowledge, CHANEL still has their own flower fields and also purchases some of the finest natural essences in existence, and that is evident in Boy Chanel.
While on the whole it might be a sweet, powdery, heliotrope scent, make no mistake: Boy is not "cute," and it is not "girly." It still exudes the elegance that we expect from CHANEL. Like Misia, I feel that Boy is destined to become a classic. Its soft, sweet, creamy, powdery aura of elegance is going to be irresistible to many people.
Boy is not my favorite CHANEL, but it's beautifully crafted. I appreciate the artistry.
If there are any men out there reading this who have sampled it, I would love to hear your impressions. Ladies too, for that matter ;)
Where is the myrrh, and why does this smell like root beer?! That was my first reaction. But I have to admit, I like this creamy root beer scent. It smells like somebody singed some dried herbs, made root beer with them, and then added some vanilla ice cream. I have always loved root beer floats. I used to always buy this particular brand that tasted especially dark and intense, and this reminds me of it.
Again, I ask: Where is the myrrh? Upon close inspection and numerous attempts to scrutinize, I do detect it. Myrrhe Ardente features the most common myrrh, the kind burned in a Catholic church, the sacred C. myrrha, not to be confused with sweet myrrh, a.k.a. opoponax (C. guidotti). The former has more of a dry, slightly bitter, woody scent whereas opoponax smells a lot sweeter and more balsamic. Myrrh is present, but it is not particularly obvious. It's as though the perfumer wanted to take the resin and play up some other things that compliment its scent, rather than building a myrrh soliflore. Myrrh is the keystone, not the bridge.
Why root beer? I still can't explain it. Root beer is a mix of many different herbs and spices. I have scoured the internet, and I can't find one single note pyramid that includes herbs or spices...nor root beer, for that matter. But I smell nutmeg, licorice, star anise and fennel at the very least. I was also sure this was as much an immortelle perfume as it is a myrrh perfume because of its sweet, syrupy, herbal profile.
One component of root beer is honey, and it's easy to detect some creamy beeswax in the base.
I tested Myrrhe Ardente many times over the course of a couple months, and I have only just begun to wrap my mind around it. I may never understand it. I honestly may never come to truly appreciate it. There is something about it that I simply don't "get". Perhaps that is why it was discontinued--it doesn't connect with its audience? We expected myrrh, but we got root beer instead? I'm on the fence: either this is a myrrh masterpiece, or it's just an oddball that is rightfully discontinued.
In any case, I absolutely love Myrrhe Ardente. It's warm without being stuffy. It's creamy and comforting like a root beer float on summer evening. I have never smelled anything even remotely similar to it. And it actually works well in either warm or cold weather. It's an absolute keeper.
Forgot to mention that my bottle is a "vintage" bottle. According to Fragrantica, this perfume was introduced in 2007. My bottle is from 2008. I believe there was a re-packaging and reformulation a few years later, and I can not speak to any newer bottles. To my knowledge, the fragrance is now discontinued, but there are certainly bottles of it floating around online.
I discovered Annick Goutal perfumes at Nordstrom when I was a teenager. I have been sniffing them for years, and I always wanted to buy one. Myrrhe Ardente is the first one I have ever owned, AND it was a blind-buy, so I think I got lucky there!
Woooo-hooo! The first day of summer is fast-approaching, so it's time to talk about my favorite perfumes for summer 2016. At first I was going to call this post my "top 3 summer perfume picks", but we all know that picking only 3 perfumes out of the millions out there is totally impossible. Five was SO HARD, trust me, there were many perfumes I wanted to include but I was am on a mission to keep it succinct. Here are my Top 5 in no particular order:
Terracotta, Guerlain - You knew this was gonna be here, right? I gave it a glowing review, plus who can resist being transported to the Aegean Sea with the scent of bold white florals, sunscreen and coconut? Now available at Nordstrom.
1804 George Sand, Histoires de Parfums Few things say "summer" (or "Hawaii") like pineapple. These days it seems like coconut gets all the attention, but some nice, juicy pineapple and a hint of cloves (a spice that does really well in hot weather) is just the tonic you need in the summer heat. You can purchase a sample or bottle at LuckyScent.
Bergamot Jasmine & Labdanum, Dame Perfumery - If you seek a gauzy veil of jasmine without all the fruit and globs of tanning lotion, I really love Jeffrey Dame's spin on this delicate white flower. It is not heady (i.e. head-achy) jasmine; it's fresh, pure, and breezy in this gorgeous fragrance. Travel sprays and full bottles available from Dame Perfumery.
Morn to Dusk, Eau d'Italie - From the nose who created Hypnotic Poison, you knew this was gonna be a good vanilla. A strong note of juicy bergamot atop a sugared vanilla, rather than a cloying, creamy vanilla. No incense nor any other heavy notes weighing it down, this could be your vanilla go-to for the warmer months. Get a sample or a full bottle at Beauty Frontier.
Marrakech Intense, Aesop - One thing I love is to wear a good spicy perfume in hot weather. And if you love Orientals like I do, and you aren't willing to give them up just cuz it's hot, give this juice a whirl. There are no cloying notes of vanilla nor tonka, just a lot of smooth sandalwood and gorgeous cardamom & cloves. Do people in India stop eating curry because it's hot? No way! They've known for thousands of years that heat and spice go together like Bert and Ernie. You can find it at Barneys.
I have been going a lil nuts for lavender perfumes lately. I already own Jersey and Lavandula by Penhaligons, but I wanted more more more!
XIX March is an absolutely phenomenal lavender-based perfume. I love it because lavender is certainly the focus and is present throughout almost the entire 12+ hours it lasts on my skin, but it also isn't necessarily obvious, as there are other notes that compliment the lavender so perfectly. This is not a lavender soliflore, but a complex lavender-based fragrance.
It begins as a bright, fresh, herbal and citrus perfume. I detect lavender, mint, and lemon. While that was lovely start, it soon changes completely. The freshness wears away, and suddenly the lavender takes on a darker personality as it combines with woody cloves and fragrant nutmeg. Nutmeg is one of my favorite notes, and it is hard to find a perfume that showcases it well, but it is natural and abundant in XIX March. All of these herbs and spices play together so beautifully.
So the first 20 minutes is herbal, but the next 12 hours are a darker scent that skillfully straddles the line between masculine and feminine. In the base there is a hint of sensual musk that makes the perfume just a little bit creamy. Indeed at times it smells like Nivea lotion mixed with herbs and spices, but I love that about it. I also think I can smell rosemary here and there, but I am never completely certain.
I thought Ecstacy from this house was my favorite, but XIX March is the one I actually bought.
Morn to Dusk initially strikes me as a delicious sugary vanilla. Have you ever eaten a good danish pastry with a very thin layer of icing on it such that the icing crunches when you sink your teeth into it? Morn to Dusk smells like that kind of icing infused with vanilla beans. I can't get enough of it! The scent is sweet, but it is not thick, creamy, nor cloying as vanilla can be. I am tempted to call it sheer. The perfume contains a distinct, bright, juicy note of bergamot and just a trace of an elusive and delicate floral that is so faint as to be nearly imperceptible, but it gives the fragrance a certain elegance that elevates it from pastry to perfume.
The house advertises Morn to Dusk as "the Italian way to do vanilla", and I totally agree. I keep imagining this perfume on a handsome Italian man wearing a linen suit, walking along a Positano beach at sunset while licking his gelato di riso.
Hmmm...the more I think about it, the more I realize that I didn't just make this up this scene by myself. I have seen it before in the form of Raoul Bova in Under the Tuscan Sun. Look at this guy! HELLO?! Uh, yes, I'd love to have some of your family's limoncello, thank you for offering! And hey--I love kitties too. We have so much in common!
Alright I'm getting a bit carried away now. Thank you, readers, for letting me take that little detour and giving me an excuse to comb the internet for pics of this gorgeous guy. Now, back to the perfume!
Dawn to Dusk is a vanilla perfume that works well all year long. It is not cloying, so it should work well in the warmer months, and it is also an easy choice in cooler months when the air is still a little crisp and the flowers are in bloom.
Dawn to Dusk is linear on my skin. I never lose the strong note of bergamot (the perfume lasts about 5 hours before I feel the urge to touch up). While it is rare that I enjoy a perfume in which the citric top notes never dissipate, I actually love it here. It is perfectly juicy without causing the perfume to smell sour. I have been bored with vanilla perfumes for some time now, but I have been craving this perfume daily since I first smelled it.
Sillage begins fairly strong, and it becomes a skin scent after 30 minutes or so. Years ago, I used to love monstrous sillage. These days, not so much. I don't want my perfumes to announce my presence in a room, but I do enjoy it when I reach for something, or I move suddenly, and I catch the scent radiating from my pulse points. That is what I get with Dawn to Dusk.
At the end of the day, I think this is a very pleasing and uncommon take on vanilla. Love it!
FINALLY getting around to trying this Guerlain. It is a classic AND a masterpiece. Do you ever avoid sampling a perfume because you are afraid to fall for it? This is one of those for me. It's silly because I own so much perfume that it wouldn't have been that big of a deal to pick this up at some point. And I love it as much as I imagined I would!
Just want to mention that am not sure of the age of my sample as it was a gift from a fellow perfume worshiper. Judging by the color and the scent, it is probably not vintage.
In the first moments that I smelled Après l'Ondée for the very first time, two words immediately jumped to mind: delicate and serene. I envisioned feeling the silky, sheer, purple iris petals between my fingertips, taking deep breaths of clean air, my shoulders enrobed in warm sunshine.
Here's what I love and what is so unique about Après l'Ondée. Its notes not only evolve from the traditional French top-heart-base, but the scent also changes from one spot on my skin to another. It's as though I sprayed two different perfumes on my skin immediately next to one another. In one place I smell damp violets, but as I slide just an inch or two along my arm, I pick up sweet mimosa and a pop of cassis, which creates a vibrant green effect. Another few centimeters reveals the scent of rich and starchy orris root. The result is an olfactory impressionist landscape of a spring garden in the French countryside. On my arm sits a watercolor painting with swirls of purple and violet; hues of blue; a layer of green; brownish-gray round shapes strewn along the bottom. In my mind's eye I am Monet.
It's rare that I liken a perfume to a symphony, but the complexity and even feelings evoked by this perfume indicate that it was created by a master who is the olfactory equivalent of Beethoven. Après l'Ondée is a carefully orchestrated piece of art. The complexity, layering and harmonization of every single note is nothing short of genius.
Since violet is IMHO the biggest note in this fragrance, I want to focus on it a little bit. While the cassis does provide a green staccato (uh-oh! I'm breaking out the musical terms), the violet note itself hugs the line between a cool, wet, natural violet and sweet violette pastilles. I really like the fact that the violets are neither here nor there but strike a perfect balance in the middle, the likes of which I have never experienced in any other violet perfume.
Après l'Ondée is a classic that is still relevant today. And while perhaps marketed to women, in today's gender-bending society I can easily see it as a modern men's fragrance. We no longer have to adhere to the rules of "women wear violets and roses and men wear lavender and fougères." I can picture it on a man wearing a black suit as well as on a man who is enjoying Sunday brunch with family.
I am not a self-professed "violet lover" by any means. I am very particular about my violet perfumes. But if there were ever a violet perfume to own, Après l'Ondée would be it!
Just for the heck of it I will mention a couple of other violet loves: The retro-style green violet of Voile de Violette by Sonoma Scent Studio, good old patchouli-tinged Balenciaga, and I saved the best for last--Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger's gorgeously creamy Violette Sacrée.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on Après l'Ondée or your other violet faves ;)
Since I was driving over to Dolores Park, I thought I'd swing by ZGO Fragrance & Apothecary, a San Francisco gem. The owner, Claude Gratianne, opened ZGO about four years ago as mostly an apothecary and candle shop, but he has more recently been focusing on his love of perfumes by expanding ZGO's selection. I'd say he's doing a very nice job!
I was very pleased that I happened to stop by yesterday in particular because it was the first day that ZGO offered several perfumes from the quality house of Parfums de Nicolaï. I have sampled many perfumes from this house, and I can say that I deeply respected every single one of them. The Guerlain blood is certainly flowing through Patricia de Nicolaï's veins!
Some perfumes from this house that I love are the fresh, minty-green Week-End a Deauville, the green chypre with a vintage twist, Le Temps d'une Fête, the oddly gorgeous Sacrebleu Intense, and her two vanillas: Vanille Intense and Vanille Tonka, both spectacular beauties that are very different from one another. [You can see my reviews on Fragrantica. I don't have a Nicolaï page up here just yet]
All this talk about Nicolaï is making me want to go back and wear all my samples! And since I am a musk freak, I really look forward to sampling Musc Intense on my next trip to ZGO.
One line of perfumes that I have loved for a long time and have been exploring bit by bit for more than ten years comes from the illustrious Italian house, Santa Maria Novella, an apothecary that dates back to the 1600's. I was so happy that ZGO is well-stocked with perfumes from this house. He mentioned that he had always carried a selection of fragrances from SMN, but he recently returned from visiting the Santa Maria Novella museum in Italy, which was so impressive that he decided to expand ZGO's selection. I was glad to see the likes of Melograno (Pomegranate), a superb, classic chypre with an unforgettable opoponax (sweet myrrh) base, as well as Muschio, a delicate, clean, creamy musk, and so many more! I always describe their perfumes as "crafted". They seem less like perfume and more like a strong cologne or personal fragrance. They are typically somewhat simple; their line of fragrances includes many soliflores (rose, carnation, etc.) or one central theme, such as tobacco, but they are created with what smells like some of the finest essences available (don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure they make their own essences). I also understand the brand to be cruelty-free, which is awesome! I guess it makes sense that they maybe never needed to do animal testing and just used human-guinea-pigs back in the olden days.
Claude mentioned that Santa Maria Novella has recently changed their packaging. The back of the bottle is shaped to include their monogram. I'm not sure of the exact term for it, but the glass is raised, so it has the texture of the monogram on it that you can feel with your fingers. The name of the fragrance is now easier to read as well, and it is etched into the back of the bottle towards the bottom. I have owned 3 perfumes from SMN, and Claude and I both agreed that it was incredibly difficult to tell what bottle you were handling. I know I put the wrong bottle into the wrong box more than once.
I was very excited to sample some perfumes from a house I have been curious about for so incredibly long, and I simply never got around to ordering decants: Boadicea the Victorious. I went a little crazy trying stuff on my skin. My definition of "crazy" means wearing more than one perfume at a time. I have a firm belief that perfume must be tested on the skin, and in order to fully appreciate the fragrance it must be worn completely alone and must also be worn on more than one occasion. That being said, I spritzed on Ardent, Explorer, and Seductive on different spots on my arm. I will not *technically review* them at this time, as I simply need to get to know them better, but I will provide my initial impressions:
YAAA...needless to say I am falling in love with Boadicea the Victorious. It is not often that a house strikes me as being of such magnificent quality. At $195 a pop, you should be sure you choose the right one, unless you have millions to throw away, and many San Franciscans do...but at the same time I've done worse damage than $195 (Can anyone say three Lutens Bell Jars? =P )
More pretty photos! ;) Click to enlarge individual shots.
So lets please re-cap!
As I first mentioned, in addition to all of these enticing little spectacles I have discussed, ZGO is also an apothecary that carries lots of niche-y goodies such as bath & body care (Diptyque, Santa Maria Novella, Compagnie de Provence, Penhaligon's LAFCO, etc.) as well as men's grooming supplies (Taylor of Old Bond St., Penhaligon's, Archipelago Botanicals, etc.), and many brands of candles and diffusers, for those who love to scent their homes as much as their bodies. They have a very nice online shop, in case you are not lucky enough to live near a boutique such as this. If you are a local, hours are typically 11am-7pm, except for Sundays, when they are shorter. But you can check out ZGO's website for details.
Thanks for taking some time to chat, Claude! Very much looking forward to my next visit.
Link: ZGO Fragrance & Apothecary