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There is always a difference between fragrances you receive – which says a lot about what people think you are and therefore like, or worse, what they think you should be or smell like – and fragrances you buy for yourself. It’s not only a matter of personal taste, but a sensory conveyance of who you are, what you’re feeling, or where you want to be. It is so gauche to wear a fragrance loud enough to announce to the world that you are able to buy and smell like Chanel, when you’re a teenager wearing Havianas and a belly baring tshirt. Saying that it’s wrong isn’t quite right – more like the contradiction is hilarious. But if personal and done right, no one is there to judge you except for yourself. Fragrances should leave a trail that whispers your presence when you walk by. Or a secret that you keep to yourself.

With that said, I am sitting in an air conditioned office, with stale air circulating and staring out the window at the ominous grey clouds threatening to spoil my weekend. I am wearing something cruise inspired – dark wash jeans, open toed Anne Klein ivory kitten heels and a ruffled shirt. I should be wearing something from Estee Lauder, Dior, Marc Jacobs, Chanel….

Instead.. I am wearing JLo’s Miami Glow.

It’s faint enough to not breach our workplace’s Health and Safety rules on fragranced products, but just enough for me to catch a whiff now and then, and transport me to anywhere else but here.


Faves (and hope will never be discontinued):

  • Commes de Garcons – Kyoto: Barneys, Luckyscent. There is a free standing store at the eslite flagship store in Taipei. Available at Richard Kidd in Gastown?
  • Hermes Ambre Narguile – sweet, sweet Amber

Reaching for these days:

  • Gucci Envy Me: sweet and perfect for spring and cool summer days. Tends to get a bit sticky. Peony, Jasmine, Pink Pepper, Litchi, Pomegranate, Pineapple, Pink Musk, Seringa, White Tea, Sandalwood, Teakwood, Sensual Musk.
  • Musks
  • Carriere by Gendarme – soapy, citrus linen.

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Bottling Your Own Personal Smell

Luxury perfumers create singular scents—for a price.

Famed French perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain once said, “To imagine a scent is to imagine the woman who wears it.” He probably didn’t mean it quite as literally as today’s perfumers are taking it. With the top end of the fragrance market booming, it’s no surprise that luxury brands—titans like Guerlain, Cartier and Jean Patou, as well as smaller specialized houses—are investing in the rapid-growth niche sector of bespoke perfumery. And Paris, with its concentration of the fragrance world’s most highly trained noses, remains its capital.

The process of creating one’s own personal fragrance is not unlike building a house or designing a couture ball gown. Clients at Cartier, which launched its bespoke scent creation in 2005, meet with in-house nose and industry leader Mathilde Laurent for a preliminary three-hour “conversation,” in which she gently asks questions designed to reveal their intimate tastes and subliminal desires. Laurent, who works on about eight perfumes a year, interprets the information to imagine fragrance ideas, which she then presents to the client. The process can take up to 10 meetings, resulting in the creation of a final perfume over several months. Ingredients such as jasmine from Grasse can cost up to $55,000 a kilo, but Laurent has complete freedom to use the resources she wants. “The sky is the limit,” says Mary-Ethel Siméonidès of Cartier. “When our clients acquire a lavish piece of jewelry or a watch, they want to distinguish themselves and wear a unique scent. It’s about subtly reflecting the nuances of their personality.”

Similarly, Sylvaine Delacourte at Guerlain invites clients to meet her in the company’s 1914 Champs-Elysées boutique. Delacourte seeks to uncover her clients’ “olfactory heritage” by discussing their memories of smell, using visual triggers and materials. “We have all been marked by certain olfactory memories,” she says. “I seek to uncover their personal history of smell.” After several months of concocting, the client receives three liters of the final product in specially commissioned Baccarat crystal bottles.

Luxury heavyweights such as Cartier and Guerlain charge from $45,000 to more than $90,000, drawing an international repeat clientele that includes Russian oligarchs, financial gurus and some Middle Eastern royal families. But while these companies capitalize on the romance, history and quality associated with their brands, smaller houses are moving in on the less expensive end of the luxury market. L’Artisan Parfumeur has branches around the world, but offers bespoke perfumery at its Paris flagship store. Lyn Harris, who trained in France, was the pioneer in the British market with Miller Harris in London, where she offers a custom service for about $16,000—and has a waiting list of a year and a half. For a fee in the region of $12,000, Francis Kurkdjian, the nose behind several Jean Paul Gaultier fragrances, will travel the world to meet his customers for multiple “fittings.” He calls his work “haute couture for the soul,” and has seen his client base grow to 40 clients since 2001. “Bespoke perfume is the x factor of one’s own personal brand,” he says. In the world of perfumery, luxury lies in the sweet smell of excess.

There are other options to buying beauty proucts other than Sephora. Sephora is a great place for research and making wishlists and then scouring ebay, but there are a lot of boutique sites that cater to a more discerning clientele. Some recent finds are:

Sure the site isn’t spiffy, or pretty, or stylish. It looks like one of those default sites that you end up at when you mistype the url. But I was presently surprised that this site offered some premium beauty brands:

  • Anthousia
  • Antica Farmacista
  • Calypso
  • Esteban
  • Jalaine fragrances
  • Keiko Mecheri
  • Lothantique
  • Miller et Bertaux
  • Mor
  • Nyakio
  • Perfume d’Empire
  • Sage Perfumes

Never underestimate a site by its design.

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On Granville is having 20%-70% off all merchandise and closing its doors at the end of June. June 15th welcomes its online store

Faves are the Esteban fragrances (home and body), and Lothantique brand Grapefruit shea hand lotion. Also worthy is Amelie et Melanie Matin Precieux Eau de Toilette.

Online store with feature the much anticipated Esteban’s Andalouse – grapefruit and star anise.


The first book of its kind: a definitive guide to the world of perfume
Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez are experts in the world of scent. Turin, a renowned scientist, and Sanchez, a longtime perfume critic, have spent years sniffing the world’s most elegant and beautiful as well as some truly terrible perfumes. In “Perfumes: The Guide,” they combine their talents and experience to review more than twelve hundred fragrances, separating the divine from the good from the monumentally awful. Through witty, irreverent, and illuminating prose, the reviews in “Perfumes” not only provide consumers with an essential guide to shopping for fragrance, but also make for a unique reading experience.

Azuree Soleil +

  • SL Bois de Vanille
  • Azuree Oil
  • Ananas Fizz
  • Chinatown (or any floral)

From NowSmellThis:

Parfumerie Generale has launched two new limited edition fragrances, Bois Blond and L’Ombre Fauve.

Bois Blond is “one evening in August, the time of the harvest”, and includes galbanum, cut grasses, cedar hay, blond tobacco, amber and musk.

L’Ombre Fauve is an animalic scent with amber and musk, and perhaps best described in the original French: “Une olfaction animale. Son raffinement bestial.”

Bois Blond & L’Ombre Fauve are 75€ for 50 ml; 120€ for 100 ml, and are mixed to order with a personalized label. Update: these two fragrances will be available on the Parfumerie Generale website (see link below) until 3/30 only; luckyscent will also get a few bottles of each.

A third limited edition fragrance, Ether de Lilas Blanc sur Feuillage Tendre, will launch soon. Ether de Lilas is described as the “poetic flight of a floral infusion”, and features notes of passionflower, orange blossom, bark, mandarin, lilac, leaves, iris and musk. Ether de Lilas Blanc Sur Feuillage Tendre is 58€ for 50 ml; 78€ for 100 ml. (via Parfumerie Generale website)

***I want #1 L’Ombre Fauve and #2 Bois Blond or both!!!****

pg querelleI was introduced to Querelle by Naz at The Perfume Shoppe. She had previously introduced me to the Serge Lutens and PG (Parfumerie Generale) lines and I have been hooked ever since. She has an uncanny ability to find what you would like and most importantly, what would smell gorgeous on you. I went in there on a cold and bitter January day, looking for a pick-me-up, and because I wasn’t feeling the scents I had. SL’s Un Bois Vanille and PG’s Brulure de Rose were perfect for the time I bought them; Un Bois Vanille was perfect for a cold but sunny fall day, and Brulure de Rose was femininity in a starched white shirt. Alas, none suited the cold and bleak January days. My scent for the day highly depends on the weather… everything depends on the weather. Where I go (if not work), what I wear, my makeup palette, my jewelry, and lastly my scent all starts from the weather. I need to know the current and forecasted temperatures, percentage of rain, and when the sun is going to break… but as confirmation, I usually just look outside. Sure most people can’t dress without a mirror, but I can’t do anything without looking outside.

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Chypre Rouge: notes include thyme, pine needles, pecans, fruit gums, honey, beeswax, jasmine, patchouli, amber, vanilla, moss and musks. Chypre Rouge, the mysterious and sultry fragrance from Serge Lutens, takes one into a magical forest where the pine trees are festooned with fragrant mosses and the fallen leaves have the aroma of caramelized pecans. An opulent undercurrent of jasmine and honey fills the heart of this beautiful composition with a richness that lends a seductive warmth to the finished result. Its polished lacquer red form reclines onto the darkness of patchouli, amber and fruit gums making for a mesmerizing fragrance. A bit of coffee to me.

Vetiver Orientale: Serge Lutens limited edition Eau de Parfum for Winter 2004. Created for the extraordinary Serge Lutens boutique at Palais Royal Garden in Paris, Vétiver Oriental is based on the freshness of Vétiver and blended with creamy, soft iris. Middle notes are sandalwood, woody accord with hints of chocolate,musk and add a hint of benzoin and gaiac wood to complete the fragrance. A incredibly sensual vetiver! Listed as the best vetiver fragrance in the French magazine.

Un Bois Vanille: Serge Luten’s opulent vanilla scent is composed with black liquorice, sandalwood and a hint of coconut milk. Inspired by a mexican beverage recipe back from 1519.


Bulure de Rose: A stylistic composition dedicated to the Rose, surrounded by metallic and powdery tones. To start with, an aromatic note of Brazilian rosewood and greenery. The magic of a perfume within a perfume, an ever-changing harmony which we have called ‘Rose Day’ recalling the flower’s life cycle: the fresh, pearly, almost lemon-scented bud, then the new bloom, subtly modulating from the ethereal fragrance at its heart to the romance of its petals. Finally the mature flower, a potent trail of fragrance– warm and heady– all these elements are blended with rose amber and raspberry musk by a velvety harmony of vanilla and cocoa. For cold days…

L’Eau de Circe :Damask rose, jasmine, osmanthus, orchid, ylang ylang, white peach leaves, tangerine, patchouli, wood, amber and honey balm. The legend of Circe, an enchantress in the mythological tale of the Odyssey, greatly inspired the perfumer: She caused the loss of Ulysses’ companions through her magic spells. Eau de Circé is a ‘magic potion’ exploring a new kind of Oriental perfume: light, aerian with transparency, an evanescent oriental. Captivating and magnetic, it draws it mystery from a precious floral blend of Absolute of Damask Rose, Jasmine, Osmanthus, Orchid, Ylang-ylang, white Peach leaves and Tangerine. Sensual and scheming with Patchouli, Wood and Amber, the warm, caressing Honey Balm brings light and delicate sweetness to the scent. For Spring/Summer.

Querelle : notes of citrus, Iranian black caraway, myrrh, cinnamon, Haitian vetiver, incense, oakmoss and ambergris. All year round.

To consider:

L’Artisan Perfumer –

Timbuktu: The fragrance notes are green mango, pink pepper berries, cardamom, karo karounde flower, incense, papyrus wood, balms and spices, patchouli, myrrh, benzoin and vetiver. Also.. dirt, old parchment, incense.

Fou d’Absinthe: features notes of frozen alcohol, absinthe, blackcurrant buds, angelica, star anise, four spices cocktail (pepper, clove, nutmeg, and ginger), patchouli, pine needles, cistus and fir balsam.

L’Artisan describes the opening of Fou d’Absinthe as…

…a steely grip of icy-cool alcohol, enveloped by an explosively aromatic bouquet composed of absinthe, a green, slightly bitter note, tingling spirit of angelica and crispy spring-like


Yuzu ab Irato: A delicate show of force, one spritz of Yuzu Ab Irato will bring golden sunshine and a joyful smile even if you’re in the darkest of moods on a frigid winter day. Surrender to its beguiling charms and you’ll revel in its gorgeous tart, green opening: a not-quite-ripe Japanese yuzu (think: lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange) followed by a crisp spearmint. This sparkling brew is soon joined by another type of green: the delicate herbs of thyme, hyssop and myrtle. Into this refreshing dream pop pepper and soft, watery florals like hyacinth…it’s a gorgeous, olfactory water-color painting that’s more than a little flirtatious. Teasing, fresh and delightful! yuzu, spearmint, pepper, magnolia, jasmine, hyacinth, thyme, hyssop, myrtle, bamboo.