Karaoke Outfit: Silk Halter, Mesh Pants, & Narwhals

So we went to go sing some karaoke. I’ll show you what I wore:

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There I am in the subway. The top is a silk halter from Express:

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and the pants are Kelly Wearstler. They have mesh inserts and these hot pants things to wear under them. I got them on Shopbop. They’re called Narwhal Pants. Look and you’ll see the narwhal horn.

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Tangent: the narwhal is a medium-sized whale with a giant spiral tusk that protrudes from its mouth: actually a canine tooth. It lives in the Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. Sadly the narwhal is an endangered species. There’s only 75,000 of them left.

narwhalpod(from savethenarwhals.org)

Granted, whales are killed by pollution and Naval sonar equipment, but the narwhal has been a target for over a millennium. Its tusk looks just like a unicorn horn. There’s a narwhal horn on a circa 1750 German wood sign.

tumblr_l9slxp6NSK1qdfa5lo1_500(from effyeaharthistory.tumblr.com)

People used to sell it claiming it was a unicorn horn, the same way they’d sell pebbles and say they were the teeth of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the poor whale’s been paying for it. I hope you enjoyed your history lesson.

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Margaux by Tocca Fashion Illustration

I’ve had a bottle of TOCCA’s Margaux forever, sent to me by Lexamedia. I’ve been meaning to review it, but I thought it was better expressed with this image.

Margaux Fashion Illustration

TOCCA makes delicate, hippie-esque clothes and sells perfumes that each represent a girl. Margaux, according to the press material, has found her one true love. Not much else is said about her.

The note list is as follows:
Top Notes: blood orange, bergamot blossom, cassis, green gardenia
Middle Notes: black jasmine, ambery violet, cashmere woods
Bottom Notes: warm musk, benzoin, vanilla, heliotrope

I think she’s this girl. She has a bit more attitude than some of TOCCA’s other fragrances, like Liliana. When you first put Margaux on she has a bergamot/green gardenia/orange blossom trifecta that isn’t a blast, but it’s assertive. I put her in that sassy pose and orange and green colors to reflect the notes. It’s a refreshing opening. I wish it lasted longer.

The heart is a slightly smoky/woody/berry effect. It’s decent, especially when sprayed on fabric, but after that it stops happening for me. I do get the warm cashmere effect but not a whole lot of jasmine or violet. The drydown is a hot, musky vanilla that seems to be TOCCA’s fragrance trademark. Their Cleopatra is better at that hot summer night effect though.

The outfit is all silk to reflect the romanticism that Margaux wishes to convey. The pants are a heavier silk though. There’s lace at the bottom and a graphic flower print under the green ombre. Look closely: it’s both evergreen and dark evergreen. The top is a dolman-sleeve ombre blouse with graphic black lines to cut the schmaltz. She’s wearing espadrilles, a leather belt, and gold jewelry.

It’s a good concept. (TOCCA’s I mean. My outfit, well that’s up to you to decide.)

Price Range: Moderate
Release Year: 2013
Recommended Occasion: Any
My Rating: 4.5

Posted in Amber, Bergamot, Berry, Gardenia, Green, Musk, Orange Blossom, Smoky, Vanilla, Woody | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Philosykos by Diptyque


Diptyque is a high-quality, old-school perfume house started by three fabric designers, Christiane Gautrot, Desmond Knox-Leet, and Yves Coueslant. They started making candles in 1963 and expanded into fragrances in 1968. I like going into their store on Mott Street and smelling every candle I see. Philosykos stands out as both a candle and a fragrance.

The main note here is fig. I’ve wanted to like fig fragrances ever since I read this quote in Margot Berwin’s Scent of Darkness:

“He has the scent of someone who gives it their all but does not succeed. It bursts into bloom with all its vigor, and it tries so hard to hang on, but it dies as soon as it leaves the vine. He’ll try to hang on but he won’t make it. A rush, maybe of insight, and then a swift death. One of the sweetest scents on earth, the fig.”

Such a true statement about the feelings perfume and art are supposed to evoke in general, and dear God I hope that isn’t me. In reality though, I usually can’t get over that oppressive sweetness of fig perfumes. I feel the same about figs as food: they smell good but there’s something off-putting about that dry shriveled texture that becomes incongruently slimy when you open them up.

Philosykos avoids this by replicating the scent of the entire tree. As the copy on the website says, “Philosykos, which in Greek means ‘friend of the fig tree,’ is an ode to the entire tree: the green, pungent freshness of the leaves, the wood warmed in the sun, the milky flavor of the fruit.”

Fig wasn’t the first thing I thought of when I smelled Philosykos though. It’s sharp, herbal, and unusual. I’d go so far as to call it metallic. The fig is a little more abstract. Everything a fig should be, Philosykos is: both overripe and dry with woody accents and a little bit of powderiness. But this fragrance is more about the whole than its parts.

The opening smells a bit citrusy, like bergamot, in the beginning although Lucky Scent’s note list only names fig tree leaves, wood, and white cedar. Towards the heart it starts to flesh out. I swear I can smell a bit of carnation or some other kind of spicy wildflower. There is something really cool about this fragrance, for lack of a more specific word. The sharp plus plush effect would appeal to every Fluevog-wearing hipster in Soho.

Olivia Giacobetti’s work can pack a distinct punch while remaining technically subtle (see Dzing! and Sexy Angelic). This is one of her stronger scents, but it still doesn’t go for the jugular like, say, Carnal Flower. She evidently likes figs, since she did L’Artisan’s Premier Figuier too. PF is well-blended and pretty, but it’s too technical for me. Philosykos is the meaning of the fig. So you get a unique fragrance and a side of zen-esque philosophy to boot.

resting_place_under_the_fig_tree (Fig tree from www.woollygreen.com)

Perfumer: Olivia Giacobetti
Price Range: Moderately Expensive
Recommended Occasion: Casual
Release Year: Any
My Rating: 8

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Taking It Easy Today

No illustrations today. I’m chillin.


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Hylnds Isle Ryder

I love ancient history, so I was excited to hear about niche perfumery line D.S. & Durga’s offshoot HYLNDS. It’s based on ancient European cultures. So far there’s three fragrances: Bitter Rose, Broken Spear (warriors on the Scottish Isles); Isle Ryder (Celtic); Spirit Of The Glen (in collaboration with The Glenlivet whiskey); and Pale Grey Mountain, Small Black Lake (Northern Ireland’s mythic mountain, Armagh). Isle Ryder was the first one I tried, and it smells wonderfully different than any other perfume I know of.

HYLNDS’ owners, David and Kavi Moltz, are romantics. They included poems for each one, which read like something out of Lancelot. They told The Cut that they’d love for Bob Dylan to wax poetic about their fragrances.

Here’s my Isle Ryder sample, from Barney’s.

The poem reads:
To the Blessed Isles,
past the Manx seaman’s myst
and thundering valour,
past Balor’s blackened bulrush
the Summer Raider in ashwood shyp
his northern woods, saps, cones,
honeyed mead, wax,
golden gorse, meadowsweet,
to inner loch, of inner isle,
always ryding west

The note list is poplar bud, fir cones, meadowsweet, golden gorse, jasmine, Norway spruce, mead, woodruff, bulrush straws. The notes are obscure and the names fit the theme perfectly, but they’re all real things. It made me happy that this note list is both accurate and still as poetic as, say, Beyond Paradise.

Isle Ryder has me picturing a hot warrior ryding west to slay a dragon (always ryding of course because he’s a tireless hero). I haven’t read up much on Celtic myths, but Arthurian legends are said to be influenced by them so I’m thinking my imagery is still warranted. Isle Ryder is tough and restless and actually makes me feel the way the warrior feels. I can’t think of any other perfume that makes me empathetic.

This bra describes the outward part of the warrior’s attitude:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA (Sculpture by metal artist Scott Cawood. I saw it at his art show in Shepherdstown, WV back in 2009, when I interviewed him for The Shepherdstown Chronicle.)

What stands out most at the beginning is a mealy honey note: in other words, mead. Because of this and the mythology bit Isle Ryder would be the best possible fragrance to wear to the Renaissance Faire.
The other notes I picked up on in the beginning were hay (there are several different notes in here that could qualify as hay but most notably the bulrush straws) and the fir cones. The effect is a vague but powerful longing.

Moltz told The Cut about how he conjures up feelings with fragrance. He explains Pale Grey Mountain, Small Black Lake: “‘I’m generally not going to try and capture the smell of hope or fear,’” he says about his blending process. “‘So I’ll try to make an accord based on something, like the heather shrubs that are growing on this one mountain, some are natural, some synthetic, to kind of conjure that foggy feeling; you layer [notes] and it’s a lot like sculpture. For instance, it took 300 different iterations to get the one I wanted.’”

Isle Ryder also smells a little like marzipan. Gorse is a thorny plant with flamboyant yellow flowers that grows in Western Europe and smells like almonds. The cleverest addition to Isle Ryder is the jasmine, which comes in at the heart and makes the fragrance more wistful. The jasmine doesn’t stand out much but it fleshes everything out.

My skin eats perfume, so it wore out in maybe 2 hours. I sprayed it on my shirt and it lasted for days. Isle Ryder’s drydown recedes the same way it crashed in, except the florals weigh more strongly against the honey/hay double hitters. It’s $180 at Barneys and worth every penny if that’s in your budget for beauty products. And it’s unisex. It works in the club because it’s loud, but it’s also a smart perfume so I’d wear it to something like a poetry slam. And if you’re going on a quest then by all means bring it along. The closest I’ve come to the Blessed Isles and the Manx seaman’s myst is Lake Michigan:

Me at Lake Michigan

but I had a great time anyway.

Isle Ryder would be a good perfume if any two of these original notes were combined. If it weren’t for the florals, Isle Ryder could be a gorgeous but solemn scent for a banker or a business journalist. But at heart it’s a romantic scent, and it really does jibe with the image that the copy brings to mind.

Bob Dylan, take note.

Perfumer: David Moltz
Price Range: Expensive
Recommended Occasion: Any
Release Year: 2013
My Rating: 10

Posted in Fir Cones, Golden Gorse, Hay, Jasmine, Mead, Meadowsweet, Poplar Bud, Spruce, Woodruff | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Midnight Moon and Clouds Dress

Tired tonight, so I got this picture from a Facebook group called Fashion World.

ethereal moon with clouds dress

I love how the moon looks like a crystal ball and the skirt looks like clouds and/or smoke. It really sets a mood.

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Chypre Palatin Fashion Illustrations

My fashion interpretation of Chypre Palatin is a texture mishmash like the perfume.

Chypre Palatin Illustrations

I thought about the most comfortable fabrics I could find and matched them with colors that would put the wearer at ease. Then I added fun patterns and textures to indicate that Chypre Palatin pushes the boundaries of how many different types of notes you can put in a perfume while still remaining down-to-earth.

My favorite design is on the guy. He’s wearing a corduroy jacket that I’d love to have for myself, matched with a pair of khaki-colored jeans and reddish-brown leather oxfords. I put a subtle leaf design in the back of the oxfords to indicate that they’re autumnal. He’s also embracing his inner dandy with a silk shirt in a color that Chartpak calls Pale Lime.

The girl next to him has on a pair of loose silk pants that are tight at the ankles, like I see everywhere right now. She’s wearing a slim pale lime silk blouse with asymmetrical sleeves and a silver brooch under one of them. And she has on matching stiletto boots that I would never wear.

The girl on the right got creative with textures. Her open-weave sweater has a circle knit pattern on it. She has on wool plaid pants and wedge boots under them like I used to wear.

Chypre Palatin was the most fun perfume I’ve reviewed in a while, and I hope I did it justice!

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Illustrations Tomorrow

I’ll post my Chypre Palatin illustrations tomorrow instead of today.

Check out this oakmoss.

oakmoss (from Wikipedia)

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Chypre Palatin by Parfums MDCI


I’m going to start by saying I really like Parfums MDCI. It’s a quality house designed to bring back old-fashioned perfumery. Most of the fragrances are pretty good, and have a 40′s or 50′s feel to them. MDCI expounds upon the classical vibe with optional caps for the bottles that are shaped like marble busts. Peche Cardinal is one of my top 5 favorite perfumes. It’s not a groundbreaking structure or anything but it’s both striking and wearable and stays that way throughout its impressive longevity.

Osswald’s manager, Clement Pinard, gave me a generous sample of Chypre Palatin when I bought a bottle of Peche Cardinal. Chypre Palatin is also great. If you were to call it a more heavily oakmoss version of Mitsouko without the peach, you’d be right. But that’s awfully reductive. The notes are as follows, from Olfactoria’s jubilant review: hyacinth, clementine, aldehydes, cistus, galbanum, thyme, lavender, rose, jasmine, iris concrete, prune, gardenia, benzoin, styrax, leather, vanilla, tolu, castoreum, costus and oakmoss. (I also got my picture from her site.)

It’s very green from top to bottom. But unlike other oakmoss fragrances, it isn’t made eerie or somber or fairytale forest-like. Chypre Palatin is handsome and approachable from the top down. The leather note stands out too, but is balanced by all the flowers. The iris is the most noticeable flower and is more a powdered texture than a note. All other flowers are less themselves than they are a kind of flower filter designed to soften the leather and oakmoss, like an olfactory version of Photoshop.

Chypre Palatin becomes more vanillic further in. At this point you can also smell the lavender and thyme. The resinous scent that kind of glows throughout the fragrance is tolu, a balsam from a Colombian tree. The glowing effect is more noticeable on clothing. A really awesome thing about Chypre Palatin is that it smells oily and powdery in turn. It’s also on the border of dry without being dry. The notes blend well together but are a little bit dissonant; you have the oily balsams holding down the heady aldehydes and the heavy patches of oakmoss stifling the growth of the iris.

The drydown is a powdery vanillic oakmoss. It’s still interesting, but most of the action happens within the first 2 hours of applying. Chypre Palatin is designed to be a men’s fragrance, as evidenced by the David-esque cap. It works beautifully on both genders, but I could really see it on a confident professional guy who’s also a little earthy. Let’s say he makes high-end custom furniture or has an environmental law practice. I think I’m getting that impression from the oakmoss and the fact that all of the ingredients smell unusually fresh.

So to sum it up, Chypre Palatin is a fragrance with first-class-on-the-Titanic aspirations that can be applied to a modern-day socially-conscious professional’s life. Wearable and wonderful.

Perfumer: Bertrand Duchaufour
Price Range: Very Expensive
Recommended Occasion: A little dressy
Release Year: 2014
My Rating: 8.5

Kafkaesque wrote a characteristically well-researched review. She describes it as baroque grandeur and even includes an appropriate musical clip. Like me, she wonders whether the heavy dose of oakmoss is real and if it is, how MDCI got past IFRA regulations.

Steve at The Scented Hound mentions eucalyptus in his review. I haven’t noticed it, but I do sense a moistness in Chypre Palatin that could be compared to eucalyptus.

Posted in Aldehydic, Castoreum, Cistus, Clementine, Galbanum, Gardenia, Hyacinth, Iris, Jasmine, Lavender, Leather, Oakmoss, Prune, Rose, Styrax, Thyme, Tolu, Uncategorized, Vanilla | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Breaking for Spring Break

I won’t be posting regularly over the next two weeks because I am on Spring Break.

landscape-near-montecarlo Claude Monet, Landscape near Montecarlo, 1883

See you soon!

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