MEMO Cuirs Nomades Collection

Hey guys, I’ve been backed up for a long time. I have a ton of perfume samples waiting for review. I’m sorry if I haven’t gotten to yours. I’ll do the best I can.

I have a lot of samples from Siren PR for MEMO, a French company that just debuted at Bergdorf’s. Founders Clara and John Molloy started their company in 2007. IFF-trained perfumer Alienor Massenet is their nose.

I want to write about their leather collection first, because leather has always been one of my pet notes. The press material for their Cuir Nomades collection gave me an interesting history lesson: back in the 17th century glovemakers would use oils to mask the scents of animal hide. Glove perfumers eventually became quite sought-out in French courts. So much so that tanneries in Grasse (then known for leathermaking) started cultivating fields of flowers to scent the gloves. When the leather trade started declining due to higher costs and competition, Grasse became known for perfume.

The Molloys put the “nomades” in Cuirs Nomades because leather is known for going everywhere. And if you think about it, that’s true. It’s used for briefcases, luxury car seats, and motorcyclists’ gear. (Can you tell I’m having a lot of fun with this press material?)

 

Irish Leather

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The first thing I jotted down is that it’s a rough leather. Sort of like a work boot. I wrote that there’s an Earl Grey-ish note too, and if you’re in the right mood it also smells like smoky tobacco. This is one of those fragrances that comes off a little different each time you smell it.

But I just now sprayed some on my shirt and got a rich, heady whiff of green medicinal goodness. That must be the clary sage. On skin, Irish Leather changes in subtle, interesting turns. But on fabric you get that chilly blast that Irish co-founder John Molloy wanted to evoke. It definitely smells like “one of those icy, biting mornings” as described. The drydown smells the same as the start.

When I test perfumes I try to spray them without looking at the note list first. That way I can pick out which notes actually stand out to me instead of just making myself smell what I’m supposed to. I’m proud of myself for picking up the tea note, even if it isn’t Earl Grey. Yerba mate is a South American tea that you’re supposed to drink with a straw while it’s still steeping.

The website’s picture describes Irish Leather’s mood perfectly.

Note List: pink pepper, oil of clary sage, juniper berry, green mate absolute, oil of flouve, iris concrete, Tonka bean absolute, leather accord, oil of birch, amber accord

My Rating: 7.5

 

Italian Leather

cruel-intentions-car (Annette in Sebastian’s 1956 Jaguar Roadster, from screeninsults.com)

This one smells distinctly high-quality. The materials really rise it above the sum of its parts, which are mainly vanilla and leather. The best Italian leather is soft and buttery and so is MEMO’s version. This perfume is cheerful.

I think it’s the iris effect that makes it so soft. The crisp tomato leaf comes in a minute later. It smells like a really clean-cut, preppy guy who has laid-back afternoon cocktail parties on his yacht. But there’s something dainty about it too. So it’s actually more like his girlfriend just put on his shirt so she smells like both of them at the same time. (Oooh! :) )

This is also a strong perfume. Not strong in the sense that, say, Poison is, but it has a natural presence. Even in the drydown, which unfortunately loses the sunny details. People will know when you’re wearing Italian Leather. They just might not know it’s perfume.

Note List: oil of pink pepper, vanilla bean absolute, black currant buds, rockrose absolute, oil of galbanum, oil of clary sage, green tomato leaf, iris concrete, oil of petitgrain, oil of sandalwood, tolu balsam resin, opoponax resin, myrrh resin, benzoin resin, leather, musk

My Rating: 7

 

French Leather

fc2b5b74280a88dfa83748732390424d (Image from pinterest, by artist Chris Brandley.)

Sticking lime, rose, and suede together has to be one of the more original perfume ideas I’ve heard in a while. And they’re not kidding: the lime really does stand out. You get all three notes in just about equal parts. But there’s a sense to this one that feels, like the press material says, “deceptively casual. Not quite nonchalant.” I see how some people would like it. It’s perfectly blended and feels very much like you’re in a French café. I picture it as a sort of rosewater soda with lime that someone’s drinking. The drydown gets more suede-y. Towards the end it starts to smell a bit like Bottega Veneta.

But overall, it just feels a little too heavy for me. I’m more into heavy perfumes in most cases, but this one I think would be served better if it went all the way into bubbly, fresh territory and became truly nonchalant.

Note List: lime essence, rosewater essence, vernal essence, sage resin, pink pepper essence, cedar essence, musk, suede accord

My Rating: 6.5

 

All three of these could be unisex, even French Leather if you’re bold. They could also be layered together. I have to say, the best thing about reviewing these is that all three evoked exactly the same emotions that they were supposed to. I didn’t have to squint and pull at strings trying to figure out how Irish Leather smells like cold freedom, French Leather smells like walking aimlessly around Paris all day, or Italian Leather smells like riding through the countryside in the back of a Ferrari. It just does.

(Note: I have never walked around Paris, ridden a horse for any substantial distance or ridden anywhere in the back of a Ferrari, but hey, that’s the point of perfume. It takes you somewhere else.)

Posted in Amber, Benzoin, Birch, Blackcurrant, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Flouve, Galbanum, Iris, Juniper Berry, Leather, Mate, Musk, Myrrh, Opoponax, Petitgrain, Pink Pepper, Rockrose, Rose, Rosewater, Sage, Sandalwood, Suede, Tolu, Tomato Leaf, Tonka Bean, Vanilla | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Tubereuse Couture by Parfumerie Generale

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I was going to write an in-depth associative review of Tubereuse Couture, but I want to stick to the point like the perfume does. You don’t usually find soliflores that are this on-point while also having a satisfying amount of depth.

Tubereuse Couture is an appropriately menthol-like rendition of the flower that you can feel comfortable with. It’s rich, buttery, and a touch animalic; the rough parts only make up about 20% of the effect. It’s like Pierre Guillaume measured out how much shock he could put into the fragrance while still making it comfortable for everyday use. The effect is ladylike and surprising. If Tubereuse Criminelle is too Tim Burton truck stop waitress for you, this is your best bet.

Tubereuse Couture has good sillage and staying power too.

Note List from Fragrantica: kalamanzi oil (calamondin), green jasmin shoots, ylang-ylang, sugar cane, indian tuberose, sumatra benzoin and papyrus

Perfumer: Pierre Guillaume
Price Range: Expensive
Recommended Occasion: Any
Release Year: 2009
My Rating: 8.5

Read more reviews at
The Non-Blonde: I didn’t notice this part, but now that she mentions it TC does seem a little dessert-like.
Sandra at Olfactoria’s Travels emphasizes its good humor.
Laurin at Get Lippie thinks it’s a rollicking good time.
(Why does everyone think this one’s loud except for me?)

(Top picture from Fragrantica)

Posted in Benzoin, Calamondin, Jasmine, Papyrus, Sugar, Tuberose, Ylang-Ylang | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Cafeteria (Chelsea, NYC)

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Cafeteria is an all-night restaurant in Chelsea. It’s trendy, well-known, and the food’s pretty good. Cafeteria is known for clever takes on contemporary American comfort food.

Everybody is hot. At around nine at night I was sitting between a well-dressed couple in their thirties and a bridge-and-tunnel looking couple in their 20s who were getting ready to go out. (Good luck getting a table between six and midnight, because it’s always packed.)

The lights are dim, the space is modern, and they play dance music. The service is decent. There’s a candle at every table and the menus have pictures of famous fashion designers and scenesters with their favorite Cafeteria dish listed.

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Order the milkshake. Any flavor. Also get the buttermilk biscuits with sweet butter.

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The veggie burger is a good choice too. You can get it wrapped in lettuce. It’s big but not absurd.

If you’re there before 5 pm, get the lemon ricotta pancakes. They’re the ones at the top of the page. They’re delicious.

Their cleverest dish is the deep fried Oreos. They’re coated in what tastes like funnel cake batter. It’s made to remind you of when you ate milk and cookies as a kid. It comes with a mini vanilla milkshake in a little milk jug with a striped straw. You also get a side of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

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Some dishes are better than others, but it’s worth trying a bunch of them because they’re all pretty different. And have fun people-watching.

My Rating: 7.5
Recommended Dish: Deep Fried Oreos
Atmosphere: Do not compare self to others.
Price Range: $12-$35 per person

119 7th Ave
New York, NY 10011
212-414-1717

http://cafeteriagroup.com/

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HUGE Shopbop Spring Sale Starting Today!

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Hey, Shopbop is having a sale from March 3, at 6:30AM to March 8 at 4:00AM Eastern time. You can save up to 25% on ALL BRANDS. (Except Stuart Weitzman.)

You save:

15% with purchase over $250
20% with purchase over $500
25% with purchase over $1000.

Click here for the promotion code! http://www.shopbop.com/ci/3/lp/discount-promo-coupon-code.html

Here’s some popular trends, from left to right:

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Marc by Marc Jacobs Loco Domo Packrat Backpack: http://www.shopbop.com/domo-arigato-packrat-backpack-marc/vp/v=1/1562613642.htm”

5th & Mercer Long sleeve Dress (comes in 4 colors): http://www.shopbop.com/long-sleeve-dress-5th-mercer/vp/v=1/1519150324.htm

DVF Zarita Lace Dress (4 colors): http://www.shopbop.com/zarita-lace-dress-diane-von/vp/v=1/845524441952517.htm

One by Contrarian (8 colors!): http://www.shopbop.com/babs-bibb-maxi-dress-one/vp/v=1/845524441920870.htm

BB Dakota Lillian Drapey Front Jacket (4 colors): http://www.shopbop.com/lillian-drapey-front-jacket-bb/vp/v=1/1588565206.htm

My favorite lineup at the top is Prabal Gurung.http://cn.shopbop.com/prabal-gurung/br/v=1/2534374302169169.htm

They just started carrying it. Other new brands include:

Koku

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http://www.shopbop.com/koku/br/v=1/35629.htm

Filling Pieces

shopbopfilling pieces

http://www.shopbop.com/filling-pieces/br/v=1/35753.htm

A.C.E.

shopbopace

http://www.shopbop.com/ace/br/v=1/35825.htm

CM Cia Maritima

shopbop ciamaritima

http://www.shopbop.com/cia-maritima/br/v=1/35864.htm

Phyllis + Rosie Jewelry

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http://www.shopbop.com/phyllis-rosie-jewelry/br/v=1/35901.htm

The Great

shopbopthegreat

http://www.shopbop.com/great/br/v=1/35928.htm

Capulet

shopbopcapulet

http://www.shopbop.com/capulet/br/v=1/35922.htm

And for the guys:

Mr. Nieves

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http://www.eastdane.com/mr-nieves/br/v=1/35727.htm

Larose

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http://www.eastdane.com/brands-larose/br/v=1/35769.htm

Carhartt

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http://www.eastdane.com/brands-carhartt-wip/br/v=1/35786.htm

Check it out!

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L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain

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Not burying the lede: the reason L’Heure Bleue is so fascinating is that it smells like dessert while also managing to be melancholy. The name means “the bluish hour,” which leads me to believe it was designed to be more moody than delicious. I’ve heard it described as a cousin of Apres l’Ondee.

Here’s the note list, from Fragrantica as usual.

Top Notes: anise, bergamot
Heart Notes: rose, carnation, tuberose, violet, and neroli
Base Notes: vanilla, tonka bean, iris and benzoin.

NOTE: I have the modern eau de parfum. People say it’s been reformulated. I wouldn’t know, because I haven’t smelled the parfum or the vintage. This version doesn’t smell natural, but it does smell good.

I notice a little of the anise in the beginning and the neroli, vanilla, tonka bean and benzoin towards the end. L’Heure Bleue is more deep and resinous than floral. The only flower that really stands out is the iris. It’s a delicate effect against the nougat-like base that only someone who’s paying attention would pick up on.

I like to think of L’Heure Bleue as a performer who’s nowhere near past her prime but is carrying a little more hard-earned wisdom than she lets on.

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Perfumer: Jacques Guerlain
Price Range: Moderate
Recommended Occasion: a bit fancy
Release Year: 1912
My Rating: 9

Posted in Anise, Benzoin, Bergamot, Carnation, Iris, Neroli, Rose, Tonka Bean, Tuberose, Vanilla, Violet | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Le Bon Café in Penn Station

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This is one of my favorite places to get salad. I used to go into the city with my dad from Jersey and we’d eat there every morning. Now I can go there whenever I want.

The salads are always fresh. They lay out the ingredients so you can see them and then they make you the salad. You have a lot of options: romaine lettuce, mixed greens, spinach, or iceberg lettuce. You can get a small or large salad with 4 to 6 toppings.

Prices are as follows:
Small with 4 toppings: $6.99
Small w. 6 toppings or large w. 4 toppings: $7.99
Large w. 6 toppings: $8.99

You’ll have a ton of toppings to choose from. They have black beans, lima beans, mango slices, feta cheese, blue cheese, broccoli, roasted red peppers, olives, berries, etc. And there’s a lot of dressings.

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I’m a creature of habit, so I usually get the same thing. Small romaine salad with blue cheese, mango, black beans, and corn with raspberry vinaigrette.

They also serve breakfast food. You can sit in the back, which has a wide screen TV that’s usually playing news or ESPN. If you want you can order a cheap bottle of wine or a draft beer.

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Best salads in Penn Station.

My Rating: 8.5
Atmosphere: duh
Price Range: $5-$12

1 Penn Plaza, Concourse Level
New York, NY 10119
Midtown West

(212)-244-1180

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TranquilaTEA (Waynesboro, PA)

So I just turned 28! Didn’t get a chance to post on my birthday, but my mom took me to an awesome tea room in Pennsylvania for a “Queen’s Tea” lunch. Here’s the place:

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TranquiliTEA is near the Western MD, West Virginia, and northern VA tri-state area. I’ve lived there for a lot of my life, but for other people who are less familiar with it, this and all the Civil War history is a great place to start. Waynesboro isn’t far from Gettysburg, so have lunch and then go learn stuff.

The decorations are homey, quaint, and gorgeous. It’s owned by a mother/daughter team who’ve made it a comfortable and popular mainstay in downtown Waynesboro. Check this out:

IMG_0582 (there I am in the mirror lol)

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IMG_0577 (Creepy doll!)

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The first thing we ordered was the tea. They have all kinds of creative teas, some more natural than others. Some of your options are as follows:

Cherry Chocolate
Earl Grey Strawberry
French Caramel Crème Brulee
Maple Cream
Orange Vanilla Dream
Snecha Kyoto Cherry Rose
Blue Mango (has pineapple undertones)
Rooibos Gingersnap (dried ginger, spices, walnuts)

I got the Blue Bells blueberry tea, which really tasted like blueberries. Then I got the Almond Happiness tea, a delectable mix of almond, chocolate, and coconut.

Our first course was a salad and an apple potato soup. The soup looked delicious but I didn’t try any because it had chicken broth. The appetizers were good and got us prepared, health-wise, for all this sweet goodness:

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Check out those finger sandwiches. White bread and dill, raisin bread, pumpernickel, cream cheese, jam. I couldn’t quite pick out the flavors in all of them but I didn’t worry about it because they were delicious.

And then the scones. Check out these scones.

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With cream.

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The service is great too. We also went to the gift shop and my mom bought a cookbook. Also, the Queen’s Tea is $20.95 per person. That’s cheap for any really good meal, let alone a grande dame tea special.

My Rating: 9
Recommended Dish: Assorted Tea Sandwiches
Atmosphere: Cozy, quiet, and homey
Price Range: $10-$20 a person

117 West Main Street
Waynesboro, PA 17268
717-765-TEAS

TranquiliTEA’s website

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Chai by Robert Piguet

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Last time I went to Bergdorf’s they gave me a sample of Chai. It’s part of a trio of three fragrances based on Asian plants and designed for an Asian market. Its sisters are Blossom and Jeunesse.

Chai opens with a sharp green bergamot and orange blossom accord that’s both distinctive and lovely. It does smell like chai, in particular a green chai tea served by a place called The Lost Dog in Shepherdstown, WV.

On skin, the white tea notes come in shortly after. At that point it also lets in a disappointing milky note, which is a literal interpretation of chai but less artful than if they’d just let the spices talk. then it gets soapy and fades out.

The effect is much better on fabric. The beautiful top note lasts longer and mixes more naturally with the tea leaves. The orange blossom half of the bergamot/blossom pairing stands out more. The spices mix into the soapy accord and the whole thing lasts a lot longer. It’s pretty, but I’d prefer something more striking.

Perfumer: Aurelien Guichard
Price Range: Expensive
Recommended Occasion: Casual
Release Year: 2012
My Rating: 6.2

Picture and background info from Fragrantica.

Posted in Bergamot, Honey, Orange Blossom, Tea, Yerbamate | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Holiday Windows at Bergdorf Goodman 2014

Season’s Greetings!

I took a walk up to Bergdorf’s and took some pictures. This year they took each art discipline (i.e. architecture) and made a display for it. I loved the idea.

This was mine and everyone else’s favorite it seemed:

IMG_0398 Architecture.

More shots from the architecture display:

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Literature:
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Music
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Sculpture
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Film
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Ivan Ramen (New York City)

Ivan Ramen opened this year, and it’s fabulous.

Sit at the counter, because the tables are always taken. You can look at this mural by cartoonist Nathan Fox as you eat. It encapsulates the attitude of this hip, fun place. It’s open until midnight. Mostly young people. Great service, by the way.

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The dishes are hearty, the portions are just the right size, and the whimsical menu is just focused enough to make sure everything’s cooked right. Disclaimer: I’m a vegetarian and a creature of habit. This is what I order every time. It’s all I need.

IMG_0001 Tofu Coney Island

The Tofu Coney Island is a witty take on a hot dog with mustard. Chef Ivan Orkin covered the tofu with mustard, miso mushroom chili (it tastes like regular vegetarian chili except a bit milder), and heaped on the scallions. The presentation is great, but once you dig in it’s got a great sloppy-joe feel to it. You don’t really notice the tofu, just the three contrasting flavors.

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Here’s how it looks when it comes out. Keep in mind my ramen knowledge was previously limited to the Maruchan variety when I was a kid. (Oriental, thank you very much.) I was delighted by how much stuff I got with my noodles. You get a big gummy roasted tomato in there, hidden under a nice big pile of lettuce and chewy enoki mushrooms. I ate all that first so I could get to the rich, hearty soy sauce & vegetable broth. The rye noodles are a little softer than al dente, but they’re usually not too soggy. You slurp them up to get that broth flavor. Then, if you’re like me, you use your spoon to get the remaining broth bit by bit so you can savor every drop.

Chef: Ivan Orkin
My Rating: 10
Recommended Dish: Tofu Coney Island
Atmosphere: Painfully hip
Price Range: $20-$35 per person

Read the reviews at The New York Times and Grub Street.

ivanramen.com

25 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002
646-678-3859

OPEN: 12:00pm – 3:30pm for Lunch
5:30pm – Midnight for Dinner

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