Saturday, December 30, 2006

A few of my favorite things

My poor abandoned blog is being resurrected at the invitation of one of my favorite bloggers, Annie. She put no constraints on what could be included on the list, so, here goes...

My biggest beauty obsession has always been fragrance. And for me, fragrance-wise, 2006 has been a year of return to vintage scents. Hardly any new scents have made it onto my dressing table. In fact, I have found myself remarkably uninterested in even trying new launches, as the ones I have tried have been smell-alikes, reminding me vaguely of each other or seeming like 'versions of' prior successes. I'm beginning to think the proverb is true - there's nothing new under the sun. But, oh, the delights of vintage!

In 2006, I discovered - or rediscovered - these favorites:

Caron Acaciosa - Born in 1929 of Ernest Daltroff's genius, Acasiosa is a weird, wonderful floral that combines sultry jasmine with honey and pineapple. I'm not kidding - somehow, way back in the '20s, Daltroff managed the most realistic honey and pineapple that even modern perfumers, with all their headspace technology, have not been able to approximate. (Perhaps Serge Lutens should send spies to pilfer the formula from the Caron vaults, because his recent attempts at honey have had more the odor of day-old peed pants.) Acaciosa is available from the fabled urns at Caron boutiques (photo from Caron's website).

Dior Dioressence - The current incarnation of Dioressence has been one of my go-to scents since I discovered it a couple of years ago, thanks to friends on MakeUp Alley. Luca Turin, in his 1994 Perfume Guide, stated that the version now available has been trimmed of all the rich complexity that once merited the label "barbaric", leaving behind a merely interesting contrast between fruity and animalic notes. In my ignorance, I thought it enough. But this year, I was privileged to try the vintage parfum. {sigh} Did I say "privileged"? I think I meant "desolated" - why must the best scents be taken from us? I have acquired a small bottle of vintage eau de toilette, to which I turn for comfort whenever the thought of life's fleeting beauty threatens to overwhelm.

Balmain Jolie Madame - Another bold beauty whose current version has changed significantly from former glories, but is still well worth wearing. I own both the vintage parfum and the more recent eau de toilette, and they are exquisite layered together. The vintage scent plays up the greater contrast between animalic and herbal notes, but the modern version features a really beautiful iris heart.

Habanita de Molinard - Dusky beauty whose bottle is the perfect expression of the juice. Described by one reviewer as "evil baby powder", which I find really amusing since it's actually very much a comfort scent for me. Read into that what you will. The concreta, a natural wax-based formula invented by Molinard in 1925, is the perfect medium for applying the scent at bedtime.

Okay, one 2006 release has made it into my Top 5:

Patou Sira des Indes - Another weirdly fruity floral to neatly bracket the leathers and spices of my other favorites. Sira des Indes is very much in the same vein as Caron Acaciosa - from the indolic jasmine to the sweet heart of fruits, only here it is banana rather than pineapple. Anyone who has seen me rant (on MakeUp Alley) about the predominance of insipid fruity florals - the BBW-ization of the fragrance scene - might be shaking her head at this selection. But neither Sira nor Acaciosa are edible fruits - they are strictly for adornment. Indeed, there is an almost waxy quality to both of these scents that save them from being gourmand, at least to my nose. I really can't explain or justify my liking for them, beyond saying that both are exquisite examples of what an imaginative perfumer can do - nature, improved.

In addition to my top 5 fragrances of the year, I offer for your consideration:

Favorite men's scent:
- Launched in 2002, so I'm late to the party, but this is one of my favorite men's scents ever. According to, the notes are bergamot, mandarin, rosemary, vetiver, agarwood, amber, musk and mandrake root. I don't know what exactly mandrake root is supposed to smell like, but I find no similarity between this scent and Annick Goutal's maybe it's a fantasy interpretation. Agarwood predominates, to my nose - the drydown of M7 smells just like some Japanese agarwood incense I have. Smooshy-squooshy good on my dear hubby, and I've been known to sneak a dab myself.

Favorite shampoo:
Brocato Splassh
- A sulfate-free shampoo that is soooo kind to my color-treated hair, and it has a luscious cherry-almond scent. Available at Ulta at quite a decent price if you're smart and get the BOGO quarts.

Favorite mascara:
Bourjois Talons Aiguilles
- I neglected to review this, having gotten really lazy with my blog right about the time of the great Mascara Madness, back in the Spring. But this "lengthening and curving" mascara in a dark, bronzey-brown has become my daily number.

Favorite nail polish:
OPI Rockette Red
- I don't polish my fingernails, but nothing makes me feel prettier than a nice pedicure. OPI released the Rockettes collection for the holidays. Rockette Red is the perfect neutral red without a trace of shimmer. Goes on like the paint job on my dad's 1973 Dodge Charger. Fast.

Favorite reading matieral:
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals - Author Michael Pollan examines what he calls "our national eating disorder," taking into consideration the ethical, spiritual, health and environmental issues that stem from our ability - and willingness - to eat almost anything nature produces. He follows the food chain behind industrial, "organic", and small-farm/sustainable markets, and questions assumptions about our food choices. This book should be required reading for everyone who eats.

For more favorite lists, please visit...

All About the Pretty
Beauty Addict
Beauty Blogging Junkie
Beauty By Nadine
Beautiful Makeup Search
Beauty Hatchery
Beauty Jones
Blogdorf Goodman
Bois de Jasmin
BonBons in the Bath
Brain Trapped in Girl's Body
Capitol Hill Barbie
C'est Chic
Crazy Jay Blue
eBeauty Daily
Girl's Handbook
Koneko's Mostly Beauty Diary
Makeup Bag
My Muse
No one knows why the wolf laughs
Now Smell This
Perfume Smellin' Things
Peppermint Patty's Perfume Posse
Platinum Blond Life
Product Girl
Slap of the Day
The Customer Is Always Right
The Daily Obsession
The Great She Elephant
The Life of a Ladybug
The Non-Blonde
Urbane Girl
Victoria's Own