The Little Prince Hits a Brick Wall

the little prince brick wall, originally uploaded by Mr.Tooley.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince was never really a children’s book. Just because it is about a child does not make it for children. Regardless if the book is accompanied by colourful illustrations. I am sure my parents were not the only ones puzzled by the peculiar gap between their astonishment from the book and the complete non-comprehensive gazing they received from me and the too many questions for a bed time story as a response to this book.

And so, when a disnified collection of perfumes for children inspired by Le Petit Prince came out, accompanied by stuffed animals (sheep, of course), action figures, colouring books and other cutesy paraphernalia (this is clearly TOO MUCH!) appeared on the olfactory horizon, I was equally eager and terrified to try the line.

Eager? Well, one must admit, the packaging for Le Petit Prince Eau de Toilette is stunning. It is simple and true to the original illustrations in the book. One would expect a magical, yet somewhat cerebral concoction of baobab trees, star dust and desert winds and perhaps also a bit of motor oil. However, the perfumer for Le Petit Prince decided to go for the safest unisex cliché of a citrus perfume that gives no particular statement except for being an agreeable, pleasant smell that can please almost anyone. The chosen notes are mainly lemony, and for the most part this alcohol-free concoction smells like sugar-free lemonade. Very pleasant, but it gives nothing new to the imagination and being associated with a book of such importance, this is pure sacrilege. Let’s just be reminded that another book by the same author served as the inspiration to one of the greatest perfumes of all times, Vol de Nuit. This thought alone makes me shudder.

Le Petit Prince Eau de Toilette is alcohol free*. It is also free of any imaginative thought or creativity (except for that which went into the exquisite packaging). The official notes include citrus, tarragon, lemon verbena, cedarwood and oak. I smell mostly lemon and lemon verbena, which I love. But I can also find these without getting my plane grounded in the desert and insulting the olfactory intelligence of children (who, I am most certain, will be quite open to try some new notes that they are less familiar with).

Interested to learn more about the literary phenomenon? Visit the official site of the Le Petit Prince fragrance line. Visit there and you'll see what I mean about commercialism. However, if this what's going to get children to read the book (and perhaps understand it), than so be it. The only problem is that whatever understanding they might reach would be tainted with commercialism. But who cares? We live in the 21st Century now, and commercialism is all that matters.

* This is usually achieved by mixing the essences with hydrogenated castor oil first, and than mixing this with water; this particular castor oil is water coluble)

Soap de Jour: Spirulina's Milk, Honey & Cinnamon

On my last day in Tel Aviv, I found this astonishing Milk, Honey & Cinnamon Soap by Spirulina in the infamous health food store in Tel Aviv "Nitzat Ha Duvdevan" (Cherry Blossom) on Iben Gevirol 58, Tel. +972-3-6965174 (very close to Rabin's Square, for those who are unfamiliar with the city).

What first caught my nose's attention was a glycerin and honey soap from the same brand. After many whiffs and procrastination, both me and my brother Noam who was with me for the adventure*, we decided that this by far had the best scent of all the line. Plus it looked unusual with its pink hue and marbled effect of the cinnamon (and vanilla?) specks.

What can I tell you, this soap truly makes me look forward to my daily scrub even more than usual. Unlike most bar soaps, it does not dry my skin AT ALL. It has the most creamy texture on the skin, lather magnificently, and smells amazing: like warm milke with honey, vanilla and cinnamon. And to top it all off, it is all natural, with no synthetic dyes or fragrance. The ingredient list is as follows:
Vegetbale Oils, Olive Oil, Cinnamon Essential Oil, Milk, Honey, Vanilla and Cinnamon essences.
The ground cinnamon gives an extra exfoliating benefit and leaves the skin soft and smelly... Yum!

Spirulina does not have a website, but they have two telephone numbers, so perhaps if you don't live in Israel, you can bug them and beg them to send you some and start selling them online...
Moblie: +972-50-540-4034

*We stepped in the abovementioned health food store in order to stock up on dried fruit & nut power bars, because I promised myself to not eat any airplane food that flight! Lufthanza has just the worst food I've tried in airplanes yet and I was not prepared to suffer the culinary and digestive torture eating this food again would mean). I felt significantly better living on these power bars and Granny's sandwiches on the way back. It was worth it!

What to Wear on a Break-Up?

Dark Spring, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Dear Ayala,

Me and my boyfriend of the past 4 years just broke up. In those last four years not only did I spend the best of my time with him (we lived together), I also became an avid perfume collector. There is not one single perfume in my collection that does not remind me of something we did together and become flooded with emotions or tears. I’m overwhelmed!
What should I wear that will not spoil the perfume for me now that I am so sad and emotional? Should I get a new perfume or stick with the old ones?


Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered

Dear BB&B,

I am so sorry to hear of your loss, and it must be so difficult in Spring, the most romantic and cheerful seasons of them all... Many of us experience the end of a relationship almost as tragic as death. It is indeed an end to a part of our life and ourselves that will never be the same again. But remember, when one door closes, another one opens. May this be a new beginning and an opportunity to learn something new and exciting about yourself and discover new strengths within yourself.

As far as perfume goes, the answer to your question is quite complex. Unfortunately, there is no one right way to overcome the challenges that the strong association between memories, emotions and scent evokes. Here are a few ideas, and with a little experimentation, you will find the right thing for this difficult time in your life. Each solution has an advantage and also presents a challenge. I will point out each side of the coin and this way you will be able to make an informed decision based on what you think will work best for you.

1) Wear nothing!
When I am sick or particularly troubled, I tend to shy away from fragrances. The reason: I don’t want to spoil a scent for myself. Besides, I don’t feel like it. This is perhaps the most safe way to cope with the break up olfactory-wise, because this way you are sure to not associate a perfume with the tragic event.
The challenge: While in this approach you are controlling the association between a fragrance and an emotional state and unpleasant memories, you cannot guarantee that there won’t be fragrance associations imposed on you from the environment. For instance: if you move out to a new neighbourhood, and your neighbour or roommate cooks with cilantro every evening, you may associate the scent of cilantro with the break up later on, after this period is over and you can look back on it.

2) Start afresh!
If all of the scents in your perfume wardrobe stir intense memories of the loved and lost one, you may want to try something new. There is an advantage and a disadvantage to doing is: by starting something new, you will be able to remove any fragrance association from your favourite scents and therefore it is more likely that you will be able to come back to them when you are feeling more stable again.
The challenge: you will most likely create an association within yourself between the break up and a particular fragrance. Keep in mind that you may not be able to wear this particular fragrance later on without associating it with the break up.

3) Harp on those strings, rub your wounds with salt
For some of us, coping with loss and pain means experiencing it to its fullest. If you are like this, you may want to come closer to the scents that remind you of your loss most of all – the scent of your partner’s sweater, his/her favourite soap or shampoo, the special perfume you used to wear for him/her… Burry your nose in those smells and let the tears wash your face and lift the pain from your heart.

4) Stick with your favoruites…
When we feel insecure, uncertain, anxious or sad, sometimes what we need best is just a little bit of comfort; be it the cozy familiar bed, comfort foods, or a long relaxing bubble bath – we all have those little things we can treat ourselves to when we need extra moral support (and even more so when there is no one around anymore…). If you have a comfort scent, you may find it to be your best friend in this situation. A scent that you’ve always came back to before for a sense of familiarity, comfort and well-being. It might be a simple as amber or musk, or a powdery vanillic floral– whichever makes you feel better.

5) And to make matter worse…
If you have a scent you particularly dislike, perhaps a scent that makes you particularly moody or melancholic - you may find yourself drawn to it now. This can be another way to put into good use a scent you don’t normally wear. Perhaps a process of catharsis will occur and shed a new light on your view of the scent (and your situation).

I am sending you a big hug, and hope this will make you feel better and less lonely. Sometimes, when you are in an unhealthy relationship you don’t even have yourself as company, and that is the most profound form of loneliness… Remember, as long as you have yourself, you are not lonely, just alone.

Sincerely yours,


P.s. Care to share your painful/cathartic experience with which scents you worn in a crisis situation and why? Open your heart and enter to win a miniature of my ultimate comfort scent, Cabaret.

Narciso Rodriguez - Part Two

Calla Lilly B&W, originally uploaded by brianchapman.

Narciso Rodriguez is a quirky yet very wearable perfume. It’s equally mundane and unique. It can be easily dismissed as just another test-tube fragrance, or as a non-scent if you have musk anosmia tendencies…

Starting with a nail polish and a boozy note, Narciso may give off the impression of having barely any scent of its own besides that of the carrying alcohol. It’s light and bubbly as a just-uncorked champagne, and like a good champagne, it can become quite addictive once you become used to it… It's also a bit floral, yet there are no real flower notes there. Just an abstract suggestion of orange blossoms and perhaps even glimpses of osmanthus wannabes. The woody notes which are said to be vetiver remind me more of flour and rancid ground walnuts… A tad of light honey poured on skin and than licked away, leaves a smooth, sensual, faintly-woody and musky-clean trail is the best way I can describe how Narciso Rodriguez smells once it settles on the skin. When it settles on fabric, it may remind you of your favourite laundry detergent and fabric softener…

You may recall my struggle with Narciso Rodriguez a while back. I was equally intrigued and taken aback by its composition. It presented a challenge to me with its very different aesthetic concept: it radiates out, yet when you come near to understand it better, it slips away; a scintillating illusion of a fragrance rather than a real olfactory being. Perhaps it’s the idea of musk vs. amber that was intriguing to me. A sneaky yet alluring phenomenon… A perfume that radiates energy that cannot be tracked to the source.

Writing a review for Narciso Rodriguez was further delayed because I think that Cait Shortell
did it better than I could ever do it, so I encourage you to read her fascinating review as well as the interesting visual connection she discovered to the work of Imogen Cunningham.

Narciso Rodriguez smells particularly wonderful on fabrics (where it will last for days, but not in an obnoxious way like other, very heavy perfumes do;To my surprise, I was able to wear other perfumes even if there is some of it left on my sleeves).

The above review is for the EDT, which is my favourite formulation, seconded only by the pure parfum (comes in a roll on with a black cap). I stay away from the pink bottles in this line, and find the Musc for Her to be too persistent overall though it has its own charm if you are looking for a linear, long lasting musk oil. It's a scent I'll never be without.

Narciso Rodriguez was designed by Francis Kurkdjian and Christine Nigel, and won the Fifi award for Women's Nouveau Niche fragrance in 2004. I believe that this perfume embodies a landmark in modern perfumery and perhaps a new fragrance sub-family of modern non-animalic musky-florals, and will see many followers, in additions to some that we already smelled such as Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker and Ralph Lauren's Pure Turquoise.
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