Thursday, May 31, 2007

Annick Goutal Eau du Ciel

Late in the day, but as promised, I'm here to talk about Eau du Ciel. Let's cut to the chase. Eau du Ciel contains notes of Brazilian rosewood, violet, Floretin iris, and lime blossom. The Annick Goutal site proclaims this scent to be "tender as an angel's wing." I find that puzzling, because although this fragrance is somewhat ethereal, it does not have the underlying sweetness, the delicacy of a scent so tender. If I had to pick a scent to fit that description, it would probably be one of the more "tender" white florals, like Frederic Malle Lys Mediterranee with its haunting blend of lily, orange blossom, vanilla and musk, softly transparent and of the air, or even La Chasse.

Eau du Ciel is also a somewhat transparent scent, but it has a deep amethyst hue. Lime blossom sets the tone, bright green and slightly sweet, refreshing as the fruit itself in a glass of sparkling water. Iris lends a floral quality to the scent that is deepened here by the presence of the violet. The violet here is not candied or artificial, as it sometimes comes across to me in other scents. I'm not offended by that sort of violet, the kind that displays artifice and turns it on its head, but I enjoy the woody greenness of violet in Eau du Ciel. Rosewood grounds the scent further, makes it slightly warmer on the skin, and lends lasting power. The sparkle fades but the warmth remains, much the way the air beneath shade trees still holds the warmth of the sun after it has set.

*photo from Annick Goutal

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sample Tomorrow!

Hi folks. Just checking in to let you know I haven't abandoned Sweet Diva again. It's been an overwhelming week at work, but I promise to have a post tomorrow on Annick Goutal Eau de Ciel.

Have a lovely evening!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Annick Goutal Eau de Charlotte

This isn't moving along quite as quickly as I'd hoped. I know I said "a week of Annick Goutal," but I'm spending extra time with each scent to really see what I think. More precisely, I'm so frazzled during the day that even though I'm wearing my sample of the day, I generally forget I'm wearing anything at all. I forget to stop and smell the roses, or the bergamot or the jasmine or the amber or freesia or musk or what-have-you.

I tripped over Eau de Charlotte when I was searching for Le Muguet. I was on a fierce search for anything with lily of the valley in it. As I mentioned several posts ago, I became a bit obsessed with these tiny little white bell-shaped flowers. To be honest, I can't say that I've ever smelled actual lily of the valley. It's featured in a couple of fragrances I really enjoyed sampling, L'Aromarine Flowers and Parfums de Nicolai Odalisque, but these are vastly different scents. And although I knew that Eau de Charlotte--with notes of blackcurrant bud, cocoa, mimosa, cocoa, lily of the valley (of course), and vanilla--might not get me any closer to making a real acquaintance with that delicate floral lady, I was desperate, so I decided to give it a shot.

Side note: Just after stumbling across Eau de Charlotte, I scored a bottle of Coty Muguet de Bois. I have the bottle in my possession, but haven't worn it yet. Look for a post in the near future.

So I've admitted to being frazzled and scent-negligent (ahem), but in all seriousness, one thing I like about Annick Goutal fragrances is that I find it difficult to make a snap judgment one way or the other. They're unique without being overly complex, but they still warrant spending a bit of time with them. I liken this to buying a really nice pair of shoes, taking them home and wearing them around the house for a few days before you decide to keep them. They may fit well, they may go with everything in your closet, but you need to decide if you can make them part of your life, or if you just love them in theory and something else would really be more...well, you. I suppose I say this because if you're someone who's looking for a "signature" scent, something that becomes you (in both senses of the word), a...lifetime scent, then I think Annick Goutal is a line to seriously consider.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, because I have a few more scents to share from this line, and right now, I should be talking about Eau de Charlotte. This scent is slightly gourmand without being foodie, as it's fruit and chocolate as concept rather than, uh, fruit and chocolate. The blackcurrant bud really dominates the scent at the top, and that's the only time it's overly sweet to my nose, a bit like an expensive jelly candy covered in dark chocolate. After about thirty minutes or so, the floral notes join the blackcurrant bud, taming the sweetness and softening the edges, but uplifting the fragrance as a whole. They're a bit like backup singers for Aretha Franklin--you hear them in concert with her voice, they lift it a bit higher, they round out the melody, but she's the star of the show to be sure. Like a rhythm, the cocoa heart beats behind this trio. After the opening notes, where it plays as chocolate in expensive candy, it deepens and loses sweetness, developing a delectable bitterness, adding weight to the scent. Vanilla doesn't come in until the very end, and it's a bit like sending in the opening act after the headliner. I suppose it's an easy way to "end" this scent, and it is very soothing and pretty, but it does amp up the food aspect again before it departs once and for all. Like Eau de Camille, this one lasts about three or four hours. After that, I detect a soft, deep vanilla on my skin, but not much else.

I'm not much for fruit and chocolate in my perfume, but this is very well done. At least, I think it's well done. I haven't done too much in the area of gourmand scents, so I cannot compare. But I think if you like these sorts of scents, and you're wondering how you could find a perfume that incorporates these notes into a fragrance for every day, this would be a good place to look. I wouldn't own a bottle, but I bought a miniature instead of a sample, and I wouldn't be surprised if I use all of it.

*photos from Annick Goutal and Wikipedia

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Annick Goutal Eau de Camille

I picked these Annick Goutal fragrances specifically because they sounded so pretty for summer, and I picked Eau de Camille both because it sounded pretty and because I wanted to try another honeysuckle scent, so I could contrast it with Le Chevrefeuille. Strictly speaking, neither one of these is the near-soliflore I expected, but I suppose that would be difficult to achieve? Perhaps honeysuckle alone is simply too light and fleeting.

Eau de Camille consists of notes of honeysuckle, syringa (or seringa), ivy, and privet bloom. To be honest, I think this one's an acquired taste. I say that because at first, I didn't care for it much. After the lighthearted juiciness of Le Chevrefeuille, Eau de Camille feels a bit dark. The syringa, known more commonly as lilac, pervades the top and dominates the scent. It's a bit disconcerting and sharp, or at least it was to me, as I was expecting it to be a softer, greener floral. Instead, this fragrance is the floral heart of a forest's depths. There's no wood here, only the lush, dark green undergrowth that holds the moisture in the air, and in that moisture holds the darker purple scent of the lilac.

As you move deeper into the scent, it softens into the sweetness of honeysuckle and loses its darker edge. And after that...I keep thinking I can still smell honeysuckle on my skin, so light as though I'd brushed my inner wrist with one of those small blossoms, but I think that's my imagination going to work. This wonder lasts about three hours on me, four tops.

After five tries, I'm finding Eau de Camille rather intoxicating. The first thirty minutes are really spectacular, although I didn't think so until the third try. Forget the honeysuckle, which quietly ushers out the scent the way an angel might usher the innocent to heaven. The star of the show here is lilac, purple evening sky peeking through the dark green tips of the trees at nightfall. It's an evening scent, deeply relaxing and oddly cool. But beware: if white florals leave you with a headache, you might want to proceed with caution here as well.

*photos from Annick Goutal and The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

Monday, May 21, 2007

Annick Goutal Le Chevrefeuille

The summer heat is taking its sweet time arriving this year. Daytime temperatures have been in the upper 70s or low 80s, and the air is much drier than usual, making for lovely breezy days with bright blue skies. Funny thing is, I'm itching for the heat to arrive so I can seriously test drive some perfume. I suppose I should cool my heels. When the heat and humidity hit, they'll probably hit full force, and my enthusiasm will wither right along with the rest of me.

One thing I know for sure, I plan to face summer armed with a bottle of Le Chevrefeuille. This lovely has notes of honeysuckle blossom, honeysuckle vine, narcissus, jasmine, and lemon tree petit grain. I must admit, it wasn't anything like I expected. As a honeysuckle fragrance, I expected a softer, sweeter treatment of these delicate white and yellow blossoms, a scent akin to the taste of the nectar of these flowers. I found it much brighter and herbaceous, lemony at the top, with the sweet floral underneath appearing only as the scent softened over time on my skin. Truly, to my nose Le Chevrefeuille has the appeal of a floral tea with a refreshing squeeze of lemon. In a strange way it reminds me a bit of Ormonde Jayne's Champaca, another scent I love, although they have nothing in common. I could see transitioning from the cozy sunniness of that scent, which has the depth to anchor it through rainy and sometimes cool March and April, into the sharper herbal quality of Le Chevrefeuille in May and June.

What's also wonderful about Le Chevrefeuille is the fact that it's almost impossible to over-apply! I tend to err on the side of great caution when I apply a perfume, especially for the first time, and with this one I kept going back for more, but more never seemed to be too much. I think that's a quality that cannot be underestimated in a perfume for summer, as a little spray of scent can be just the thing to take the edge off the heat. It has medium lasting power, so if you want to spray yourself every four hours or so, no problem.

For those of you out there looking for a sweeter, muskier treatment of honeysuckle, I would suggest trying Calypso's Chevrefeuille. Or try them both! Life is too short to limit oneself, or one's perfume samples...

*photo from Annick Goutal

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday, Here Again...

Here's a typical Saturday morning chez Sweet Diva:

Bob (singing to Chicago's tune): Saturday, here again...

Me: It's not "Saturday, here again..."; it's (sings) "Saturday, in the park..."

Bob (singing): Saturday, in the park...

Me: Yes!

Bob: That doesn't make any sense. (Singing again) Saturday, here again...

Well, whatever way you sing it, it is indeed Saturday. I've been making blog plans, so I thought I'd share them with you: Next week, I'll be sampling all Annick Goutal fragrances, ones I picked because I thought they would be pretty for summer. The following week, I'll be posting about perfume oils, for people who are bothered by alcohol in perfumes, and for people looking for something scented that might last longer in the upcoming summer heat. After that, I'll be revisiting vetiver. I highly suspect I'll find one I like this year!

Beyond all that, who knows what might happen? I'm also working to put together my summer reading list. I think this is an old habit from being in school, when summer used to offer more time for leisure reading. (I've been out of school a long time...old habits clearly die hard.) Now summer simply offers the illusion of more time, what with the days being longer. I've got my two book club books ahead of me (March, by Gwendolyn Brooks--my pick--and The Old Wine Shades, by Martha Grimes. I'm not a mystery or series reader, but it should be fun...) I also still need to finish American Pastoral by Philip Roth, which I've been working through slowly, only sometimes with interest. Funny, because I got through The Human Stain in three days. I could not put it down. And American Pastoral is quite good, but it's heavy and rather slow at points. Reading The Human Stain was like reading a jazz tune. I'm going to try to put together my list with books I own but haven't read. We'll see if I succeed! Still, if you have any suggestions...

I'm off to get a cup of coffee and enjoy this beautiful day. Hope you all are enjoying it, too!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb

I must tell the truth. Something made me want to hate Flowerbomb from the very start. Even though several perfume bloggers love it--and lord knows I am no snob--I wanted to turn my nose up at it. And I almost succeeded. For one thing, this is the kind of perfume you apply and then think, "God help the person who has to ride on the elevator/sit next to me in a meeting/stand in line at Starbucks with me this morning." It made me snicker a little. Ha, ha, Flowerbomb, I thought. I've got you seriously pegged.

Except. Well.

I'm not saying I started liking it or anything, but I did sort of notice that it was somewhat pleasant smelling. Kind of. That is, if you completely ignored the overwhelming wafts of rose and jasmine all sort of mixed up and made sweeter by the freesia. Overwhelming in a soft way. Cozy pink cashmere blanket kind of way. Not that I like cozy pink cashmere blankets, because I don't. They're very pink and girly. In a soft way.

I mean, I'm girly, but come on.

Just because my thoughts wandered a little away from the marketing launch meeting I was attending--er, running--just because I started thinking to myself, "Hm, you know, today isn't so bad for a Tuesday. The weather's been so nice. I should relax a little," in between thoughts of "Oh my god, I'm sure they're hating my perfume right now. I'm suffocating every man in this room. I just know it!" doesn't mean Flowerbomb has some magic spell that it was working on me. Some flowery hocus pocus. I'm immune to that sort of thing. Even if I surreptitiously...uh...accidentally sniffed my wrist a few times during the meeting, pretending to remove a stray eyelash that was tickling me.

Look, let's get this straight: I pretty much go around feeling like a sexy number all the time, so I don't think it was the perfume. That's all I'm saying. And so what if the dry down is slightly addictive? So what if you might start thinking to yourself that you can make it through the heady beginning (heady yet sort of refreshingly that tea?), that you can wade through gardens packed full of freesia, rose, jasmine, and orchid, just to get to the end, this patchouli for a hippie who's not only rich but also refined?

So what if you turn on a little Janis and spray on a little perfume and pretend you're at Woodstock, only wearing an Etro halter dress and not muddy and tripping on the brown acid?

Oh, hush anyway. The Who is on next!

*photo from Neiman Marcus

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Thoughts on May and Other Things

No sample today. I've been wearing several things, trying to decide what to talk about next: The Different Company Bergamote, Comptoir Sud Pacfique Vanille Amande, Victor & Rolf Flowerbomb. I also snuck in a day with La Chasse, from my sample vial. Which one will I choose to write about next? You shall have to tune in and see.

What else? Should we talk about my new obsession with Annick Goutal? It started first with a post on Monkey Posh about the latest release, Neroli. Neroli is one of my favorite notes. She also mentions Le Chevrefeuille. They both sounded lovely, and I trust Ms. Parisjasmal's taste, so I went trolling for lists of notes on other scents as well. How did I miss all these pretty fragrances?

And then I clicked over to Perfume Smellin' Things, where Colombina is giving us a full week of lily of the valley reviews. Lily of the valley is my other new obsession! And what did Colombina offer me? A review of an Annick Goutal lily of the valley fragrance, Le Muguet! Yes! But it's a limited edition! I clicked straight through to, only to find they no longer have it. To comfort myself, I ordered a mess of Annick Goutal samples. One has lily of the valley in there somewhere as a note. But it won't be the same. I suppose I could try the Caron, since I don't have the heliotrope issue that plagues Colombina, but not yet. I'm going to pout a little longer about not getting what I want.

I think maybe I've used more exclamation points in this post than I've ever used in my life, total.

And finally, I love May. May is now one of my favorite months. By mid-month a lot of the glorious spring flowers--the dogwoods, the azaleas, the Japanese magnolias, the Bradford pears--are gone, and so it can feel like the end of spring in a way. When I lived in Texas I hated May, because it was as though nature simply turned up all the dials in the sauna, the only relief being those tornado-alley thunderstorms that make you want to get in the bathtub with the weatherband radio and a pillow to cover your head. But in Atlanta, May still has some cooler days. The trees are bouquets of fresh and varied greens. The leaves are still so full of youth and vigor, they appear so perfect as to be made of wax. My husband keeps predicting the hottest summer ever for us here, but I'm not listening. I'm in the moment with blue skies and some days in the 70s.

And so I leave you with this:

The Trees

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

-Philip Larkin

*poem from Collected Poems, Ed. Anthony Thwaite

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Amouage Ciel pour Femme

Folks, I have been wearing Amouage Ciel pour Femme for three days now, and I can come to only one conclusion: my sample is bad. Mmm hm. That has to be the problem.

Look at this list of notes:
Top: gardenia, cyclamen, violet leaves
Heart: peach blossom, water lily, rose, jasmine
Base: amber, musk, cedarwood, sandalwood, frankincense

By all rights, this should be gorgeous, right? Now, I don't read the list of notes before I sample on the first day, so truth be told, I just thought this was one of those scents that's interesting upon application and then disappears. But after I read the notes, that seemed impossible. Ciel should not be so fleeting. So the next day, I was less cautious in my application. There at the top was a strange treatment of gardenia, a bit dirty and peppery, but very light. And then--it all but disappears! If I press my nose right against my wrist--we're talking skin-to-skin contact here--I can smell something. I think.

Oh, who am I kidding? There's nothing there. I mean nothing. No rose, no jasmine, no amber, no frankincense...none of it. Boo! Hiss! My sample is not a decant, but a carded spray sample produced by Amouage. All I can guess is that I got a bad one, or that it was somehow damaged by heat, or it's just old. Sigh. This isn't a bad review--it's no review at all. Please, someone, tell me: am I missing anything great here? Is it worth getting another sample?

On to another, I guess.

In another note, I still have not received my bottle of La Chasse. I ordered it on April 25. On May 1, Aedes wrote and said they were temporarily out of stock, but that my order should ship the following week. Today is May 12, and I haven't heard a peep or received a box, so I canceled my order, including samples (I think we all agree I have enough of those, anyway). And then I promptly went to Neiman's site and ordered it from them. And I made sure it said "In Stock" before I pressed Order!

*photo from LusciousCargo

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

One Year!

I almost forgot: Today is Sweet Diva's one year anniversary! All my best to you Friends and Lurkers out there who visit. I hope the coming year on Sweet Diva leaves you happy, entertained, and sweet smelling!

*photo of lovely Diva, the blog's namesake, taken by yours truly

Bond No. 9 Bryant Park

Bond No. 9 is the parent house to what is perhaps one of my most loathed fragrances: Chinatown. I'm sure some of you out there will never forgive me for hating it the way I do, but there it is. But I'm not here to talk about that today. I'm here to talk about a Bond I actually like.

Truth be told, I've enjoyed all the other Bond fragrances I've tried: Fire Island (fun, but no keeper), West Side (pretty rose), and West Broadway (soft and incense-y and if memory serves, my favorite of the bunch). Truthfully, though, I have no right to go calling any Bond No. 9 fragrance a "favorite." I have a whole stash of other Bonds to try, and as I've matured as a perfume fan, I've found it's better to not to rush into these things. Why? Because I'll go around saying things like, "West Broadway's my favorite!" and then I'll try something else, like Bryant Park. (Of course, I think I tried not to rush into things when I reviewed West Side, too, and then went on to gush about it. Let that be a little history lesson for us all.)

I would have to be a sucker for Bryant Park right off the bat, though, because it has two of my favorite notes, rose and lily of the valley, along with patchouli, raspberry, rhubarb, pink pepper, and amber. I really love that the pepper in this is so evident, how it gives the patchouli a sophisticated edge, compliments the bit of sharpness the rhubarb offers, freshens the tart raspberry. I love it with the rose, the way I wanted to love it in The Different Company's Rose Poivree. In that scent I found the pepper so overwhelming, it was like a practical joke where someone handed me a freshly cut bloom they'd tainted with black pepper and laughed as I inhaled, expecting lush rose only to....ACHOO! find pepper.

I like this one better than the other rose in the family, West Side, which is quite pretty but has none of the character of Bryant Park. Maybe I'm not a Charlotte after all. Maybe I am a Carrie!

But I won't say it's my favorite. Not yet, anyway.

(Oh, but if you love this one, just a little reminder that Fragrances & More has free shipping on all their Bond No. 9 orders, and they have such nice people there!)

*photo from Fragrances&More

Monday, May 07, 2007

Keiko Mecheri A Fleur de Peau

Keiko Mecheri and I have had a rocky relationship. I dabbled a bit with Osmanthus in the very beginning, that sweet morning wedding of a fragrance, then fell hard and early for Loukhoum, a heady, woodsy rose-vanilla incense that made me feel like the earth mother I most certainly am not. I had a mere whiff of Gourmandises before I handed my sample off to a friend, only later to wonder whether I made a mistake. And then there was White Petals, a sickening liquid candy scent that still makes my teeth ache when I think of it, and Sanguine, a bi-polar tribute to an unusual and delicious (when it's in the right mood) citrus note.

I relate this complicated history because my experience with A Fleur de Peau has done nothing to simplify it. Last Friday, as is my custom, I applied the perfume just before leaving for work. By the time I actually arrived at the office, I was so completely overwhelmed by harsh cinnamon-y spice that I went straight to the restroom without stopping by my desk first so I could wash it off. Lucky for me, this scent was stubborn. After I'd soaped up and scrubbed for a good couple of minutes, I dried my arms and made my way to my desk. As I logged on to the computer and then began answering email messages, I caught a whiff of a warm, leathery sweetness drifting up from my wrist. I pressed my nose against the delicate skin inside my arm and sniffed. Mmmmmmm.

A Fleur de Peau contains notes of Russian leather, civet, mandarin, night blooming jasmine, rare spices, and basalmic notes. The phrase itself, "a fleur de peau," translates into something like "close to the skin" (rather than the literal-seeming "skin flower," although I suppose that works too). This scent is not exactly one of those "your skin but better" scents that might evoke this expression, but it does have a certain sensuality and warmth. When I wore this again on Saturday, I was more careful with my application, applying it only to my wrists. Leather dominates the scent, supple and clean. This scent to me is more reminiscent of the smell of a loved one, warmed by the sun or a fire. The jasmine is also evident, though less as a floral note than as...well, for lack of a better word (or phrase), almost a sort of body odor. Not the kind that makes you want to hand someone a stick of Right Guard, mind you, but simply a personal odor. The spices and the basalmic notes add a bit of pungency, giving the scent a "lived in" feel. It's a day on vacation, maybe, somewhere hot and dusty, walking through a bazaar of spices and treats, then retiring to a balcony at nightfall.

This is not the sort of scent I want to wear (although it is nice to wear), but more a scent I want to smell on someone else. Call me crazy, but I think this would smell as great on a man as on a woman. And so I guess I'll file this one in the "KM--good" category, along with Loukhoum and the elusive Gourmandises. Just be careful with the application, or you'll go from smelling like skin to wanting to jump out of your skin.

*photo from LusciousCargo

Thursday, May 03, 2007

L'Aromarine Flowers

***This is my 200th post on Sweet Diva! Yea!

I love hidden treasure, and as far as I'm concerned, L'Aromarine Flowers EDT is a hidden treasure for the following reasons:

A) The scent is a simple, elegant, and refreshing blend of jasmine, gardenia, honeysuckle, and lily. To be honest, what I get from Flowers is more of what I expected and wanted to get from Creed's Spring Flower. Now, mind you, there's no complex development here, no late-stage mind-blowing whiff of jasmine. Actually, there's no development at all: It goes on as a lovely bouquet and pretty much stays that way. This would be another option (La Chasse being another..My bottle is on backorder. Grr.) for people who want to try white florals but fear the overwhelming power and possible headaches that can accompany some of these scents. For an EDT, it has pretty good lasting power as well--it stayed with me through the work day on both days I've worn it.

B) The bottles are precious. They have nifty art deco style labels and would look lovely on any dressing table. The first picture here is the 1.6 oz. bottle. The second one is the 3.3 oz.

C) The price is unbelievably right, at $18.00 for 1.6 oz. or $23.00 for 3.3 oz. Your wallet won't shriek when you go to pay for this one!

L'Aromarine is out of Paris, and the story is that they're able to produce quality products at fair prices because they don't spend a lot of money on marketing and advertising. Lucky for us! At these prices, and with those adorable labels, it's hard not to buy more than one. I'm intrigued by the Cherry Blossom scent in particular. Has anyone out there tried it?

This might not be a special occasion perfume, but it would be wonderful for summer. It wears off enough that you could easily spritz yourself again with it after work, if you're heading out to dinner or just need a refreshing lift after a tough day. And the price is right, so you don't need to worry about waste. It's always good to have some fun fragrances around (another favorite of mine is Jovan Pink Musk), and this one's quite elegant, as fun goes.

*photo from