Every month, I join a group of ten other women, for a Friday of unusual fun. We are led by our two sages, who choose a surprise spot for us outdoors, where we will spend a the day soaking up beauty. Being outside in a natural environment and discovering beauty in unexpected places (not always so wide and wild, as those areas are fast vanishing from the horizon). We start the day alone for about an hour of solitude, meditating, contemplating, or just staring at our surroundings in quiet time along. Some of the day is dedicated to photography exercises, using simply our smartphones and learning how to take better ones, with very little focus on technique and more focus on a specific topic that is seasonal and we tackle it from the twelve different angles that each of us provide. We mostly lavish in the luxury of having time for ourselves away from family, home and work responsibilities. And just with ourselves and sharing time, space and love for nature with one another. We share a meal and sometimes also our thoughts and feelings. It's very simple yet so hard to come by these days.

Yesterday, I drove through a wide gravel road leading to some of the country's last wheat fields of Yizrael Valley, behind Bethlehem of Galilee (possibly and logically, where Jesus was truly born, but not traditionally considered his birthplace). And from the midst of the fields, we were lead through two gates to a naked oak grove amidst the green.

The theme for this month is "Green". The colour of life, renewal and the heart chakra (along with pink). Yet in contrast to all of that, I have to admit I was not particularly excited to tackle this topic aesthetically. It seemed too easy. Too lovable. I felt strangely uninspired.

Moss Green
On the artist's palette, as well as in nature, there are more shades of green than any other colour. Forget about fifty shades of grey. We're talking about 295 shades of green! Can you name any of them? There are precious gems like emerald, jade and peridot; There's sea green and forest green, and then there are myriads of plants and foods with distinguished greens, such as sage green and olive green, pistachio, avocado, lime and many more; The beloved mushroom green (which is the shade I use for my logo), fern and moss green (both dark and light), and of course grass green. The names alone make me feel rejuvenated and recharged.
Sea Green
And rejuvenated I did return from this week's outing, because despite my reservations I did go. I didn't find any earth-shuddering shots or any other ground-breaking revelation. And that is totally okay. I marvelled at the fields of green wheat, and the green pastors among the naked oak trees. Cyclamens galore with their heart-shaped leaves of green snake-like patterns, and plenty of mandrakes just going into fruit, Jerusalem sage, mullein, watercress and stinging nettles  are just a few of the more distinguished plants among a sea of green grass, mostly. I placed a little wicker mat among the white anemones and cyclamens and realized what a ridiculously simple luxury it is to just sit or lie down on the grass facing the sky and the trees like this. And how precious it is to just be in my body in this place. I took in the green, stretched my limbs and spine in the pleasantly caressing rays of the winter sun, and when I looked around I also so moss on the rocks, so bright and vivid. I wondered why I do this lying down and doing nothing only at the beach and promised myself to do it anywhere else I can lay my body on and feel like doing so.

Reseda Green
Reseda odorata, AKA Mignonette (pictured above) is just one of a few typically "Green" notes on the perfumer's palette. But it is not the only one. And it is also rarely available now as an absolute, so I would love to try my hand at extracting it using the enfleurage method. The leaves themselves smell pungent and more than a tad repulsive - almost like rotten tomato leaves or goosefoot leaves (a stinky relative of quinoa). But the delicate cluster of tiny white flowers smell surprisingly amazing! Reminiscent of tuberose dipped in a field of green, it is heady and heavenly with hints of orange blossoms. This note can be found in the stunning Private Collection by Estee Lauder, and is what gives it its unique personality above all other components. When I smell reseda, I find it really hard not to think of this perfume.

Green Grass
For the perfumer, "Green" is not just a colour, but a whole category of aromas that bring to mind imagery of leaves other than aromatic herbs (rosemary, sage and eucalyptus don't count as "green" even if their colour is). The smell of fresh cut grass, one of the most beloved among the thousands of people I interviewed throughout the years, is a universally loved scent. The molecules (Z)-3-hexenol and (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate are what give the distinct fragrance of fresh cut grass. They develop once the grass blades are crushed. These are not extractable into essential oils, perhaps because their concentration is very low. However, they have a high odour intensity which gives off a scent that is associated with relaxation, summer lawns and poolside giggling. They are now synthetically produced to create a very realistic impression of something fleeting that can't be captured otherwise. When trying to bottle an impression of the grassy lawn of Harbour Green park in Coal Harbour perfume, I've used a combination of galbanum oil, tart pine absolute and linden blossom.
Green Mask
Another synthetic molecule that is very frequently used to create a green character or nuance in a perfume is spirogalbanone. This is a manmade molecule is intensely green and powerful, sharp and persistent, and not at all found in nature, but that takes its inspiration if you will from the natural essential oil of galbanum. The resin from this Persian native of the Apiaceae family gives off a most characteristic bright and GREEN personality that is like intensely heady and sharp parsley with hints of balsam, grass blades and freshly squeezed lemon rind, dripping with green juiciness. Galbanum can be found in many classic perfume compositions, the key one being Vent Vert, the Godmother of all green perfumes. Then there are Miss Dior, Ma Griffe, Chamade, Crystalle, Ivoire, No. 19 and more. Galbanum is THE natural perfumer's key green resource, and you'll find it in Ayalitta, Rainforest, Lost Lagoon and Grin.
There are other green notes in natural perfumery: violet leaf absolute (which appears in quite a few of the perfumes discussed today), hay absolute and even oakmoss has an inherent green quality to it. And there are a few categories as well - Floral Green or Chypre Green. Perhaps there is a green nuance in a perfume you love that belongs to a completely different category - for example, the legendary Vol de Nuit, which also contains galbanum, oakmoss and sage but is walking the tightrope between Oriental and a Chypre and manages to smell both mysterious and natural.

For now I will just let you meditate on green wherever you are - be it a green garment, a mundane object such as a garbage bin, or the lovely and nutritious food you eat. Notice the colour and the exact shade of green. Do you see other colours in it and other associations? Does the green you meet have a scent? Do you like it? What does being meeting the green make you feel?

Favourite End Of Fall Fragrances


Fall is coming to a close any day now, and it's time to make a list!
While these are not necessarily what I'm wearing this particular fall, they are what I would consider my autumn staples and what I would recommend to invoke the season of fallen leaves, harvest and shortening days, when more than anything else I want to curl by the fireplace with a Noire book and a dense perfume that reminds me of the golden days of Hollywood in the 30's and 40's.

Looking at previous years' fall lists I've made, I'm noticing a pattern in my choices. There is always something Chypre, something woody, something smoky and something spicy in my fall perfume favourites. So here are a few suggestions:

Something Woody:
I've been wearing Hinoki more often than ever (and find it especially appropriate when trying my hand at practicing martial arts...).

Mitsouko - a chypre that defies categorization, but certainly has more woody qualities than most. The haunting of contrasts is probably what makes Mitsouko timeless and never boring. This zen-meets-baroque perfume is luxurious, yet as sparse as a monk's dorm; woody and dry yet cradles a tender sweetness therein, and I can continue on and on, but the main question remains - how can any fall list not include Mitsouko?!

Bois des Îles is another favourite fall of mine - and I'm also enjoying a similar perfume, that shares the woodsy creaminess of sandalwood paired with the understated sensuality and elegance of vintage-glam aldehydes that makes you think of pearls and beige nubok. I'm talking about Champagne de Bois by Sonoma Scent Studio.

Something Chypre:
Ma Griffe - after years of loyalty to Miss Dior, the epitome of animalic-floral chypres tinged with green, it was time to find another green chypre. I spotted a pre-IFRA regulated version (from days of yore, when there was no requirements of listing any allergens on the ingredients list). It's very vintage-y, and if comparing to Miss Dior - it has more of a white floral and musky nuances to it, which remind me a bit of Chant d'Aromes. It also has more of a citrusy burst and it's more aldehydic and powdery than Miss Dior. I should get around to write a full review of it next week.

1000 de Patou also seems to hit the spot on the shortening days, reminding me of icy, frost-spiked leaves with its intriguing osmanthus and eucalyptus notes. Melancholy, elegant and old-fashioned, it reminds me of scouring my grandmother's dresser and colourful strands of tropical seashells and Amazonian bead necklaces.

Something Smoky:
from burning leaves and Lapsang Suchong tea to leather bound books, smoky notes are one of those things that make fall so mysterious that even if you're not traveling you feel you're going on an adventure... This fall, my love for smoky, leathery notes is replaced by a craving for incense, which I burn at least once daily. And I've just received a package of Japanese Kyara incense sticks - there is nothing short of magical about burning them, the scent changes after a few centimeters of stick have turned into ashes. Also, I've been enjoying the depth of Sonoma Scent Studio's Incense Pure, with its depth and complexity of tobacco paired with powdery tonka, rustic immortelle and sweet amber.

Something Spicy:
I've been deeply immersed in the Clarimonde project and wearing the oriental-spicy violet perfume I've created for it more than anything else in the past month. Oriental perfumes truly did originate in the orient, where spices such as cloves, cassia and star anise were pulverized into a fine powder and blended with fragrant resins and woods such as camphor, sandalwood and agarwood to create fine perfumes for rituals of both religion and seduction. Body incense is still popular in Japan, where it originally was used to purify one's hands before entering a temple; but also powder perfumes were used to scent a Geisha's hair. Aftelier's Shiso is based on such a Geisha formula, and is a remarkably authentic in the ingredients it uses and the intense and immediate effect it has on my mood - transporting me instantly into dimly lantern-lit rooms separated with fusuma and lined with tatami mats. Shiso is intense, deep and camphoreous, tinged with eugenolic spice and aldehydic shiso herb.

And last but not least - combining sugar and spice, is the haunting Un Crime Exotique - a gourmand that walks the tightrope between French patisserie and an Asian soup broth.

What are you favourite end of fall fragrances?

The Love and Death of Miss Dior

I have a soft spot for Miss Dior. It was my first true introduction to Chypre.
My first encounter with it was actually a “blind buy”. I bought a set of Dior minis in one of my travels, about 5 or 6 years ago, without ever sniffing the lady before. The Miss Dior bottle wasn’t closed properly, so about half of it spilled all over the case containing the collection, making them all smell unanimously wonderful.

What stroke me as most special about Miss Dior when at first was how warm and round it was. No one note stood out in particular. It was a true “perfume” in the sense that the sum was greater than its parts… The spilled Miss Dior diffused soft, thick, almost oily molecules in the air, surrounding me with a constantly vibrating aura that feels utterly erotic. The following is what I wrote a few years ago about my impressions from the EDT that resided in that mini bottle 6 years ago (half of which evaporated away to the atmosphere, and the rest soaked into my skin and poisoned it with Chypre love). I still have about 0.5ml left to remind me slightly of what it used to be, and luckily also a vial of a vintage Eau de Cologne to remind me of the glorious days of Miss Dior before the reformulation.

So here is how I raved: “This wonderful and timeless Chypre is as smooth and as round as could be, so well orchestrated that the different notes blend in harmoniously and act together rather than compete with one another or "show off". It is young-spirited and sophisticated at the same time, therefore appealing to women of all ages that are seeking a classic, refined expression of their feminine self, without feeling overly girly...
Though different olfactory stages and notes can be detected, they are not as pronounced or separated from one another as you might expect. Rather, they lead to one another with a harmonious continuation that makes the complete experience magical and seductive. Which is, after all, the secret for the charisma and sex-appeal of Chypres – the way they blend different notes without leaving too-obvious hints as for what they really are. You know the notes are in there, but you smell them all at once, singing in one beautiful accord!
The top notes of galbanum, gardenia and citrus are accompanied by no other that the relatively harsh herbal notes of sage which surprisingly converts the top note accord into a peach-like fruitiness. The top notes appear fresh and soft simultaneously, and lift up the Chypre nuances of patchouli and labdanum from the base.

Once the initial green frutiness has mellowed, Miss Dior reveals her round, feminine floral heart of jasmine, neroli and rose, completely balanced as no note is dominating the other.

This all dries down to a base accord of a warm and somewhat wild Chypre accord: patchouli, oak moss, labdanum, as well as civet notes which contributes to the roundedness and fullness that links the phases altogether. Some refined, subtle woody notes of vetiver and agarwood appear late on, adding a clean, somewhat “sour” nuance, neither making the composition dry or bitter by the half, nor taking away from it’s overall luscious femininity.
It is definitley a must for all Chypre fans!”


A couple of years after the mini EDT, I was fortunate to spot a small flacon of the parfum extrait for an unusually reasonable price, and was surprised at the difference between the two concentrations. The Parfum was a lot more fruity and round than the Eau de Toilette – the sharp (almost metallic lead-like) top notes of the sage and galbanum were softened and smoothed that for a while I was almost convinced it was similar to Diorella’s fruitiness. There is a cedar note in there as well, and along with the sage, it strangely makes me recall the magical Vol de Nuit now. I would have never thought I would find any resemblance between the two. There is a smooth, almost powdery-woody feel to it. But the base is as oakmossy as could be, with the pulsating raw energy of civet tamed only by whatever you can do to hide the long lasting, recurring waves of chypric orgasm that lasts for as long as you let it lick your skin.

Top notes: Galbanum, Sage, Gardenia
Heart notes: Jasmine, Rose, Neroli

Base notes: Patchouli, Oakmoss, Labdanum, Civet

There is a rumour about Miss Dior being reformulated. I wasn’t so worried until I actually got a new bottle of the EDT. This smelled like Miss Dior, no doubt. However, to my disappointment, the animalic quality has been tampered with. Forget about those erotic waves of pleasure… The new EDT now opens with a sparkling note of lemon and lemon leaf, goes through a floral phase that is a pale, watered down reflection of its former “New Look” satin-white-corseted-waist, and than dries down to a chypre base that is dominated by no other than VETIVER. Yes, you heard me right. Vetiver. The clean, tart, almost citrusy, woody root. Not oakmoss. Not civet, but vetiver. It may be a non-sensitizer (for now, anyways) but by no means can it replace oakmoss!
If that makes you feel better, though, the new formulation does include oakmoss (it’s even listed on the ingredients on the box). It also has tree moss, actually. But overall, instead of the refined sexuality, it is more of an eau suited for summer since the addition of citrus at the top (formerly, the chypre effect was mostly achieved by the presence of aldhydic greens and galbanum, and the citrus nuance was actually a neroli note, rather than a citrus peel oil). It is still better by all means than many of the watered down florals out there; but the new formulation has caused it to lose a significant amount of its edge and originality. To top this off, Miss Dior is now followed everywhere by a trashy copy of her original self threatening to inherit her fame without any merit of her own: the “Miss Dior Cherie” – a strawberry and popcorn brat that never heard of oakmoss and dares calling herself a Chypre. I can only imagine how many people bought Miss Dior Cherie as a gift by mistake just because of the similar name.
I propose a moment of silence in memory of Miss Dior of the New Look.
And plenty of angry letters to Dior Fragrances.

Image credits:
New Look photo originally uploaded by Deignucdavis
Bottle image from Amabilia.com
New Look Sketch
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