Égoïste by Chanel, although officially released by this name in 1990, is a true child of the 80's: bold, clear and with a definite presence that is unmistakable with others. It is one of the most delicious woody fragrances designed for men, not to mention its got the most dramatic yet humorous, wonderfully timed perfume commercial I've ever laid eyes upon, rivaled only by the marvellous Old Spice, which is really for a shower gel so I guess that does not really count. Perhaps it's because Prokofiev's "Dance of the Knights" from the ballet Romeo and Juliet has a way of sending shivers down my spine; and perhaps because I've been always intrigued by the use of "negative" titles for perfumes. The guy who chooses to wear it might be perfectly sweet, honest and dependable - but that should not stop them from fantasizing about taking over a whole building full of screaming females.

Sadly, Europeans are rather egotistic in keeping this beauty to themselves and it is nowhere to be found on North American soil. So, on my last stopover at Schipol airport, I picked up a chunky 100ml bottle of this masculine gem, a size that I generally avoid. This is obviously designed for a larger fist, and should last me a lifetime, because there is no man in sight with whom I can share this beauty.

Égoïste is the younger and louder brother of the demure, soft-spoken and old-fashioned Bois des Îles. It opens with a burst of dry yet sweet melange of woods, citrus and spice. It actually reminds me of another favourite 80's fragrance, which is also drenched in sandalwood: Samsara (which reportedly had a glutenous 40% Mysore sandalwood). There is no true separation between top and heart and base as they weave in and out in different phases of the perfume. At first, there is the clarity of bois de rose (rosewood), the led-pencil shaving association of Virginia cedarwood, and the sweet citrus burst of tangerine and a sprinkle of sweet cassia. There is also a hint of eugenol, not quite clove like, but softer - perhaps form carnations. Underlying notes of coumarin backed up with a generous dose of vanilla absolute. There is something about true vanilla absolute that is simultaneously woody and animalic, quite unlike the cupcake frosting character of vanillin. Égoïste's vanilla really brings this out with some help of both indole and leathery animalic notes. which add interest. It is quite well balanced between sweet, bitter, smooth, spicy and powdery - although admittedly leaning towards the sweet more so than I would have expected (or remember the original to be).

The sandalwood is not as creamy as its sister Bois des Îles (probably because what I have in my hands is a rather modern version, very unlikely containing any Mysore sandalwood) - but that also gives is an edge somehow - it's warmer and more spicy and dry than I remembered it from a few years back. It seems to be accompanied by Atlas cedar's suave fruitiness, and perhaps even a splash of violet-y ionones and plum and rose notes from damascones.

I would hardly consider anyone wearing Égoïste selfish - anyone around you is going to enjoy it too!
Beware: Egoiste Platinum has nothing to do with it besides the name, and is the only version you'll find in Canada and the USA, and to my nose it smells like generic sporty aquatic chemical trash. But it has a wonderful ad as well!


Top notes: Rosewood, Tangerine, Virginia Cedarwood
Heart notes: Rose, Cassia (Cinnamon), Carnation
Base notes: Sandalwood, Coumarin, Atlas Cedarwood, Vanilla, Leather

Autumn List

Autumn 2013 by Ayala Moriel
Autumn 2013, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
Time for a Fall 2013 List! I'm always fascinated by the majestic abundance of this season. Rich colours, warm textures, mysterious transitions and intriguing transitions take place. Flaming leaves make room for dark, barren trees and the sun is gradually replaced by shadows and hidden growth process. My favourite scents for fall usually are smoky-leathery-tobacco or Chypre, and this season is no exception. However, I'm happy to discover some new beauties every year to expand on these themes. Life is never boring when there's perfume!

1) Mitsouko
I enjoy Mitsouko year-around, but it's not fall without it. I've mostly reaching for the Eau de Parfum, which has a light dusting of cumin. In the winter it's time to pull out the parfum extrait, which has more pronounced peach aldhyde, orange and vanilla notes; and spring and summer are times for the lighter, more citrusy and dry-woody.

2) Anima Dulcis
My new discovery this year at Barneys in San Francisco has turned chilly autumn mornings into a delightful experience. Anima Dulcis wraps around like a halo of sweet steamed milk, a cloud of spices and brown hues of caramel, dark chocolate and fallen leaves.

3) Forest Walk
Once you get beyond the musty, realistic wet earth and rotten leaves crunching beneath my feet - my brisk walking warms up my skin to reveal the woody-balsamic sweetness of black hemlock absolute, rockrose resin and moss. True to its name, Forest Walk conjures the imagery and tactile sensuality of a walk in the woods in fall; and like a vigorous stroll rejuvenates as it reconnects to earth and the seasons.

4) Magazine Street
Sophisticated, seductive and complex, Magazine Street is not exactly a seasonal perfume, as I can see myself wearing it year around. I just so happen to finally have gotten enough supply of it to lavishly enjoy it as I please. Rooty vetiver and botanical musks make it truly sing on the skin, alongside its Southern beauties of blooming magnolias. It blends so beautifully with the skin, creating a unique aura around you.

5) Cocoa Sandalwood
Surprising combination of powdery, warm sandalwood with a dust of cocoa and - the surprise - intriguingly violet-y osmanthus. Cocoa Sandalwood is a quiet, soft-spoken creaminess that is very comforting.

6) Egoiste
On my last stopover at Schipol airport, I picked up a gigantic bottle of this unavailable-in-North-America masculine gem. It is the younger sibling of Bois des Iles. Creamy sandalwood brightened by light rosewood and citrus, and hint of aldehydes. It's not as spicy and creamy as its sister, but is just as classy and lovable. Equally great for black-tie events or an evening cuddled in your favourite woolen wrap reading a book by the fireplace. 

7) Lampblack
Fall being a time of transition and contemplation, writing (or drawing) in one's journal is one of the best ways reflecting on the inner life. Black India ink serves this purpose most dutifully and truthfully. And that is the core of Lampblack - a mineral, inky concoction of smoky cyperus (nagramotha) and earthy vetiver, sulphuric grapefruit and flamboyant pepper.

8) My Vanilla
Mysterious and grown-up, this beautiful and original creation is about vanilla's seductive power and exotic nature. Paired with dry cedar, warm spices and smoky-sugary notes. In contrast, there is also strange and unusually green-resinous mastic note and heady champaca and orange blossom to create a remarkable oriental veil.

9) Volutes
Wood varnish, burnished pipe, tobacco, dates, vanilla, musk, honey and incense... Volutes is multi-layered and complex yet addictively easy to wear. It's wonderful to finally have a "darker" Diptyque scent enter the world.

10) Feuilles de Tabac
One of the most intriguing perfumes from the tobacco genre, and definitely my favourite from Miller Harris - though I've been giving it far less attention than it deserves on this blog. Wearing it instantly boosts my confidence, but not in a tacky "I'm now assertive" kinda way (aka what you'd imagine a public speaker to put on before doing a TED talk). It just creates a sense of strength and courage. It's melange of tobacco, cascarilla bark and pimento berry creates is out-of-the-ordinary, although immediately conjures a very masculine presence. I love that bold opening, and even more so what it morphs into, when the softer nuances of tobacco emerge, wrapped in patchouli and garnished with tonka.

What are your fall favourites this year?

Favourite Father's Day Scents

Happy Father’s day to you all – fathers and grandfathers and everyone that celebrates with you. Check my newsletter for some fatherly thoughts for the day. For today on SmellyBlog, I decided to make a list of my favourite manly fragrances.

I haven’t tried nearly enough masculine fragrances, especially when comparing them to all the “feminine” scents I have tried. However I do have a few favourites and Father’s Day seems to be a good time to mention them – as well as a few significant males in my life.

1. Eau Sauvage
Always at the top of my masculine scents, Eau Sauvage is THE classic men’s fragrance there is. It was perfectly made by Edmond Roudniska and the combination of spacious hedionic jasmine with mossy base and herbaceous-citrus top notes is unbelievably gorgeous. I can’t think of any man in particular that I’ve known that worn it, but it always brings a sense of familiarity and recognition when I smell it.

2. Old Spice
An old-time classic and my grandfather used it regularly, but if you think it’s “too old” think twice; - my 21 year old brother adores it and wears it with passion in every form available – eau de toilette, after shave, body spray, deodorant, soap, you name it. It makes the whole house smell like Old Spice and when he goes through the whole ritual so to speak we are both sedated by clove and allspice.

3. Yerbamate
Rich, bold and green - this fougere has something quirky about it even though one of my customers claims it smells exactly like Canoe by Dana (that can be had for a fraction of the price). I have nothing to compare it to (Canoe pops up in drugstore only once in a Christmas-y blue moon) but I’m all the same curious.

4. Egoiste
With its soft, creamy sandalwood, Egoiste is the masculine answer to Bois des Iles and you really need not be selfish to enjoy it – I’m sure those around it will appreciate it too. Beware: Egoiste Platinum has nothing to do with it besides the name. Unfortuantley, it is not available in Canada – at least not on the West Coast.

5. Bel Ami
Bel Ami is dressed up entirely in leather like a hardcore fetishist, yet manages to conceal all that with its well-mannered attitude and elegance that has become the signature element in all the perfumes that come from the house of Hermes. I don’t smell it often on people around me, and I wish I did.

6. M7
Without being either particularly masculine or feminine, M7 is just different from what is out there among the thousands of department store fragrances. And that says something. It’s woody and sweet and although not exactly as oud-y as I would have liked it to be, it is a good way to get initiated into the secret society of oud admirers. If you’ll stay there long enough you may get to smell the real musty animalic wood. I think this would be my youngest brother’s next fragrance gift from me, since he’s always been fond of woods (Tam Dao and Dior Homme have become staples in his collection).

7. Cool Water
I’m just as surprised as you are to find this in my list of favourites or at all mentioned on SmellyBlog. . Just for reference: I used to compare Cool Water to a jacuzzi spray cleaner back in the day. Sometimes it’s all about the context, and even the most common, overly used and most synthetic cologne of them all can smell like a special perfume on the right person. I am fortunate to have had that experience and now I am quite fond of it – even though you won’t find me calling it a masterpiece anytime soon.

8. Bvlgari Black
Smoke, rubber and tea are hardly anything that one would imagine would go well together, let alone in a perfume. Bvlgari Black proves that darkness can be warm and cozy even with the strangest elements, and it has that addictive lapsang suchong tea note that echos the tea notes present in most (if not all) Bvlgari’s fragrances. It would make a perfect scent for my oldest brother, Yotam, who is particularly fond of the scents of gas stations and

9. Poivre Samarkand
Another favourite of my peppery brother Noam, it just smells incredible on him and in fact on all the people that I have come across smelling. It turns up more frequently that I would expect on the Latin dance floors which can be a relief in more ways than I can explain (compensation for lack of sense of rhythm is one instance).

10. Guerlain’s Vetiver
A very non-perfumey fragrance – Guerlain’s Vetiver is clean, fresh, citrusy and classy. It can be embraced by nature lovers and fragrance lovers alike, and can please both the country mouse and the city mouse – not to mention both sexes. If my second brother Yohai were to wear a fragrance again, I imagine it to be something like that.

11. Terre d’Hermes
A new discovery for me, and since vetiver is taking a very fond spot in my heart, I don’t feel ashamed of having two of this category here today. It is balanced, elegant, edgy, universal and still masculine enough to want to smell on a man.

12. L’Herbe Rouge
This is my quite personal interpretation of the scent of a man. Of course I have a history with it by now, and it’s too long to be told now. Ironically, it does make me travel in time just like the book that inspired it is all about. Now it belongs to a man of my past and a great love. And when I smell it that bittersweet longing for someone I lost creeps in and makes me wonder if I should ever let a man close to me wear my own fragrances. It is particularly dangerous to seal chapters of my life with my own perfumes.
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