Scent Bar


What a pleasant surprise it was to find out that Scent Bar moved just a month ago to a roomy and beautiful location, AND is also exactly 7 minutes walk from where I'm staying in Los Angeles this weekend. It was also a very pleasant surprise to find out that this strip of Beverly blvd has experienced a transformation and is now buzzing with nifty little boutiques of vintage clothing and vintage shoes, antique furniture stores, and awesome restaurants. Randomness sometimes just pays off...

Selling fragrance is an art all on its own. Luckyscent is one of the ultimate online destination for finding fascinating fragrances - from niche and obscure brands (A Lab on Fire, Hilda Soliani, Xerjoff) to classics such as Caron and Creed - I was always wondering how such a space would be in real life. So with that in mind, I had no idea what to expect from the

As it turns out, much better than online: it's organized beautifully, and with a team of perfumista staff that are far more knowledgeable and responsive than any fragrance database.

Some collections and brands have their own display areas around the shop; but the best part is - all of the fragrances are arranged by categories on shelves along the walls: some predictable like fragrance families, unique notes (i.e.: Oud, Patchouli and Incense each receive a shelf of their own); and some more surprising (such as an entire shelf dedicated to "Avante Guarde"), and of course - a Chypre shelf, which brought me back there today, tagging along my students from my Chypre intensive weekend I'm teaching at Persephenie's this weekend (if you missed it - you might want to sign up for my Citrus Week July 30th - August 3rd).

Some fun finds for me there were Keiko Mecheri Bespoke, in their beautiful presentation of black and gold; Santal de Mysore (Serge Lutens) and Tubereuse Criminelle (Serge Lutens), which I haven't caught a whiff of since my visit to Salons Shiseido; Odalisque (Patricia de Nicolai) which was a new chypre discovery for me, Andy Tauer's Rose Vermeille (congrats on the new octagon bottles, by the way!) and my most unexpected find - 100% Love by Sophia Grojsman, which I recently noticed I ran out of my decant and had to leave with a full bottle of.

But ultimately, I was most impressed with the staff, who really know their stuff and make visiting there such a fun experience. They can carry a conversation, give genuine recommendations, and spontaneously list the notes of any given perfume, not because they memorized it - but because they actually know what they smell like.


I have always intended to review Paris in a larger context of a feature series about Sophia Grojsman and her (many) roses. There is perhaps no other perfumer who uses roses so often and in such a distinct manner as she does. So this is by no means going to be the last time Paris will be mentioned in SmellyBlog. Hopefully, by the time I’ll write about it next I would have actually been to the city and could draw from my own personal experience rather than that of books I’ve read and movies I’ve watched.

YSL Paris is the Paris of everybody fantasies. It’s the Paris Carrie Bradshaw hopes to fulfill a true love in before she learns how lonely can beauty be (especially when you don’t know the language and your lover is a selfish Russian painter that looks like a ballet dancer); it’s the Paris that Parisians criticized was too fluffy and pretty in the film Amelie. You will not, however, find any of the darkness and romantic idealistic poverty of Les Miserables or the conspiracies of The Black Tulip. If that’s what you are looking for, you will be better off overdosing on Rive Gauche; or many other French perfumes that I can think of but don’t have room to list here.

Paris is pink, pretty, and rosy. It’s a day without a cloud and love without quarrels. It’s too good to be true. And that’s because it is a fantasy, thought up by a Russian perfumer for the most Parisian and French couturier alive at the time. There probably isn’t any better house to have made a perfume of that name. And this is also probably the most popular from this house.

Paris has Grojsman’s signature rose-peach- vanilla -violet accord. It opens bright and clear, with sheer citrus and peach and while it is sweet it is certainly not as sweet as other perfumes from that genre (i.e.: Bvlgari, Nahema, Tresor). There is something just a little more lighthearted about it. As the brightness of rose bergamot and peach dissipate, the more powdery aspects of rose take over, backed up with violet and the seductive vanillic whispers of heliotropin. As sweet as the base may be, it still has that dry edge to it, from woody notes of cedar and sandalwood. After a couple of hours of wearing, Paris becomes smoother again, this time developing a hint of wet-petal texture, the rosy sweetness tampered with a certain coolness (perhaps the mimosa?). The last breaths of Paris are redolent of dead roses whose life preserved in a glass coffin filled with amber and musk.

Paris may be too pretty for my style and taste, but it sure can put a smile on my face.

Top notes: Bergamot, Geranium, hawthorn, Hyacinth
Heart notes: Mimosa, Rose, Violet, Lily of the valley
Base notes: Cedar, Sandal, Heliotrope, Amber

Yvresse (formerly known as Champagne)

A fairy comes out of nowhere and offers you one application from an unfamiliar perfume bottle. It may be your next favourite perfume or it may be a scrubber. What will you do? Will you have it sprayed on a scent stripe or on your skin?

Please take this review with a grain of doubt. It is based on only one wearing of Yresse. And it’s the first time in a long time (if there ever were such time) that I have applied a perfume to my skin without ever smelling it before. Not on a scent stripe. Not from a vial. Not in a magazine stripe. Nowhere. There are not a single tester of Yvresse in the entire city of Vancouver. In fact there is only one store that sells it and the supply seems extremely low. The shop ownder at Shifeon was kind enough to pull it out of the cellophane-wrapped box and spray me once on each wrist so I can judge for myself (and hopefully come back for more and pay for it next time). She also promised to do the same with Y (another perfume that has become so unpopular in Vancouver that it is no longer carried here).

Yvresse opens bubbly and sparkling yet at the same time also powdery and with an underlying dryness that grabs you by surprise. It has the fuzzy texture of unripe peach skin, crisp and for some reason this misleading sensation of being soft while in fact it is rough and sober. The original name Champagne describes it perfectly as it has all the characteristics of the fancy sparkling wine, including the fruitiness and the elegant white-wine dryness.

And indeed, Yvresse develops like wine, with very subtle changes between the nose and the body being quite subtle. The bubbly, peachy and cool qualities are maintained throughout its life on the skin. And the underlining notes, although a classic chypre accord of oakmoss, vetiver and patchouli are very light and subtle in nature. It is most similar to Chant d’Aromes by Guerlain – a very light, albeit melancholy floral chypre. With its touch of roses and sophisticated soft powder, Yvresse also winks towards another creation by Sophia Grojsman for YSL – Paris. However there is something more original about its overall composition, that makes it different from the other more bold Grojsman perfumes I have experienced – it is just more sheer and lighthearted and romantic without taking itself so seriously.

Thankfully, Yvresse seems like one of those rare occasions of love from first sniff. Perhaps it’s not a great love but just a summer fling, but I am definitely feeling the love emanating from my wrists on this day spent with Yvresse.

The notes, according to Perfume Addicts database are:

Top notes: Nectarine, Mint, Anise

Heart notes: Blue Rose, Rose Otto, Lychee

Base notes: Oakmoss, Vetiver, Patchouli

Hearty Valentine's Fragrances

Valentine’s Day is just a month away, so I decided to put together a little “anothology” of 10 of the most obviously V-Day perfumes of all: they are other full of aphrodisiac notes, declare romance and passion with their names, or wear their heart on their sleeves so to speak – with heart-shaped bottles and packaging.

Caron introduced N’Aimez Que Moi in 1916 ”To keep up morale among the troops and their lady friends”. The names means “Love Me Only”, and meant to nurture faithfulness. So pour some of this extrait from an ancient Urn and imagine yourself as a soldier in the trenches smelling a letter from your fiancé back home smelling of a delicate, heart-twiching perfume among the roaring of gun fire and battle-dust. N’Aimez Que Moi is not just roses and violets – the base is soaring with longing in the finest Caron tradition. The parfum is available from the Caron boutiques in Paris and New York. To contact the New York boutique email the friendly and knowledgeable Cathy and Diane or call 1-877-882-2766

The name means “Infatuation with Love”. This modern classic from the late 1980’s is romantic though quite linear – maintaining a floral, powdery musky-clan accord of bergamot, rose, magnolia, vanilla and musk. What else there is to ask?

L de Lolita Lempicka is another fabulous fragrance from Maurice Roucel, who also created Tocade and Musc Ravageur. The main notes here are orange, cinnamon, immortelle and vanilla. But mostly vanilla. The bottle is heart shaped and decorated with sea motives and charms, and as we all know – men react irrationally to vanilla!

100% LOVE
The name says it all, but Sophia Grojsman says it with perfume. The main element is the seductive, deep amber note of rockrose (labdanum), adorned with roses and cocoa. 100% Love is sensual and earthy and feels surprisingly natural. It is also available in a more concentrated format, named 100% Love MORE (pictured to the left).

This natural perfume is the newest from Mandy Aftel’s perfume house. Tango is as passionate as the Argentinian dance it’s inspired by, yet, like the dancer feet in the stilettos - it is classy and elegantly restrained.
Tango opens with the mysterious, rubbery, smoky notes of toasted seashells and myrrh, and gradually smoothes into a creamy floral bouquet of champaca and tuberose.
To make it even more Valentine-ish, wear it in the heart shaped pendants that are offered for a limited time via Aftelier.com.

A heart shaped bottle for a perfume with a heartbeat. Chamade is the drumroll of surrender – and in this perfume it is surrender to love. The bottle is shaped as a heart, and the stopper is a spear of an arrow. Chamade pulsates with cassis and greenery (galbanum, hyacinth) and heady florals (ylang ylang, jasmine) that are tamed and surrendered by earthy, ambery base notes (oakmoss and the most effortless aphrodisiac of all that Guerlain uses so well – vanilla).

This was the first perfume I ever picked “blind”. I ordered it from the Yves Rocher mail-order catalogue when I was quite a novice in interpreting ad copies and lists of unotes that I never heard of. I was intrigued by this offering of Mirabelle plum, cassis, grapefruit and amber and was determined to try it. When the smooth pink bottle that resembles an abstract conch arrived - I was thrilled to discover that I like it and found it similar to how I imagined it to be (quite a revelation for the time, actually). It was equally sweet and refreshing, youthful and sensual and I wore a lot of it back in the day.
You can now get it in crème parfum for only $2.95 or as a heart shaped candle for $3.00. Other body and bath products are available, including an iridescent body lotion.

An erogenous mix of rose, magnolia and jasmine, paired with citrus top notes and a woody base of cedar, benzoin and vetiver. Nick Jennings, the nose of Sharini Parfums, is a French natural perfumer, and uses only organic essences and alcohol in his perfumes.

It wasn’t until I watched Inside Man in the theatre that I finally understood the Indian connection of this perfume. The film opens with the most smooth-voiced Indian pop song, and I couldn’t help think of Shalimar and of Indian sweets – full of butter, vanilla and rosewater. Shalimar, however, is more than just a vanilla scent. It’s a complex love potion that was inspired by a tragic (aren’t they all?) love story of an Indian king and hi wife, to whom he planted the gardens of Shalimar – and after her death, raised the monument of Taj Mahal. Shalimar in pure parfum is something that is to be experiences at least once in a life time. While the base is the smoothest, richest and best quality vanilla (or at least it used to be) – there are other elements involved, such as birch tar and castoerum and bergamot, and of course – rose, jasmine and iris. The flacon itself is a beautiful gem all on its own.

Natural perfumer Lesle Faye’s The Kiss captures the agony and the ecstasy of passion’s fiery embrace. With notes of Mimosa, Oak Moss, and Frangipani. The Kiss is available in three sizes and forms:
Roll on $45
Atomizer $75Crystal Flacon $125

Tune in to SmellyBlog in the next couple of weeks to get more ideas for what to do and wear, smell and give to your sweetheart(s) on Valentine's Day.

It's 100% Love!

lOve iS, originally uploaded by Mirage a.k.a ĈħoCõħŏľíç.

The most unusual perfumes are ones that have a strongly familiar scent. The sneaky, abstract nature of the human brain often mystifies the identity or the cause for the familiarity of a scent. Yet. it cannot conceal the fact that when it does that, when a new scent has a matching vibration to a significant scent from a different point in space in time – a person might suddenly move to different realm.

True, this does not happen with a flash of blue lightening a-la Quantum Leap. Rather, it happens gradually and gently, like melting through a gauze screen. First – my nose started sniffing ahead of my body, than my heart and lungs were filled with joy, my skin felt a familiar, pleasant shiver, and finally - my eyes became blurry and I sensed that I am no longer in the room (or wherever I was at the moment, it didn’t matter anymore): I suddenly found myself sitting on the mountain above my house in my home village, in a warm, sunny winter day under a bright azure skies, and surrounded by blood-red arbutus trees, striving oaks, velvety sages, Dam Hamacabbim (droplet-of-blood-shaped-blossoms of Helichrysum Sanguineum), and rockroses in full bloom.

That is what happened to me when I spritzed on some 100% Love, expecting chocolate and roses floating on water – and discovered none other than my favourite note of all times. No, it’s not rose. It’s Rockrose. Better known as Labdanum. Labdanum is simply the richest, roundest, most interesting note there is. A perfumer should not be biased, and should love all notes equally. And I do practice this when I design and create my perfumes. But I am also a woman who has her own personal preferences. It’s been well known to me for quite some time, that if I will ever need to pick only one note to wear for the rest of my life, I will choose without a moment of hesitation to grow old with Labdanum. It is many things at once, and I love it’s complexity, richness and depth: resinous, ambery, incensey, earthy, sweet, leathery, dark, sultry and reminiscent of dry blood, and despite the fact that it does NOT come from the pretty, wild-rose-like flowers, which by the way possess very little scent - but rather from the resin that covers the branches, leaves and twigs, boiled in water and than distilled into an absolute.

After a blind date with this unusual beauty (thank you, Victoria!), which was extended into three days now, I am quite in love with…100% Love.
It opens with roses and a backdrop of caramely chocolate – dark but sweet. But very quickly you will realize that neither rose nor chocolate are the real heroes of love here. The labdanum pervades the composition for hours, and since it is such a complex scent, it is perfect that way. After about 6 hours, a lovely, subtle musk note crawls out of its satin bed, with a comfortable sexy yawn, and invites you to join in. If you stay long enough Vetiver may join in as well – a very quiet, dry Vetiver, woody and almost unnoticeable.

If you expected this to be a bouquet of roses (or rather - a bottle of YSL Paris or Bvlgari pour Femme or Tresor) accompanied with a heart-shaped box of fine chocolates, you may be disappointed. This is quite an unusual Sophia Grojsman composition – though it is Grojsman in the sense that it is simple and pared down to the essential elements – while maintaining a bold, sensual and unusual statement. Despite the minimalism in notes, this is a very rich, down to earth, and I believe full of natural essences. The rose smells like rose absolute and rose otto (as opposed to a synthetic rose compound, or, if you will, damanscones). The chocolate smells like the pure cocoa absolute. And I think I already talked enough about the labdanum. The musk at the end is the only synthetic smelling note, and it makes for an interesting underlining accent for the rest of the notes. It’s a perfume – not a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates. To me, this is Sophia Grojsman at her best.

Top notes: Rose Otto
Heart notes: Rose Absolute, Cocoa absolute, Labdanum

Base notes: Labdanum, Musk, Vetiver

p.s. 100% Love is available directly from S-Perfumes via The Shaping Room.

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