Hamsa Perfume

11632324-hamsa-perfume (picture from prlog.org)

Hamsa Perfume is designed to be a healing fragrance. It’s based on the hamsa, a symbol depicting the open palm of the right hand. Hamsa was originally spelled “khamsa,” an Arabic word that means “five.” The hamsa has also been called the Hand of Fatima, in honor of the Prophet Mohammed’s daughter. The hamsa was believed to ward off the evil eye. (Evil eye= an envious stare that is believed to cause misfortune in Islamic doctrine and folklore.) The hamsa was frequently made into a talisman to protect its wearer against it. (Wikipedia)

Celine Leora dedicated Hamsa Perfume to her mother. It reminded her of how her mother smelled and the hamsa symbols around their home in Morocco.

The note list is white lotus, frankincense, black currant, and coffee. Each note has been used for healing properties: white lotus to improve concentration and immunity; frankincense to boost your mood; black currant to increase the senses, and coffee to make you more alert. (I’ll attest to the last one, but only if it’s espresso.)

If you like white lotus, you’ll like Hamsa Perfume. It opens with a vague, airy, somewhat antiseptic lotus flower that brings pond lilies to mind. It’s like looking at an austere screensaver or one of those serene inspirational quotes on Facebook. It does get a little muskier and more like a skin scent (the frankincense) at times, especially towards the end. I don’t notice the black currant. I do get a hint of coffee, which gives it some zip.

But it’s basically a one-note, no, a one-objective wonder. Hamsa Perfumes is what you wear to yoga class. Its what you scent the den with when you’re having your friends over to knit potholders. Not my thing, but it does the job.

Price Range: Moderate
Recommended Occasion: Casual
Release Year: 2011
My Rating: 6

Read Carrie Meredith’s review at Eyeliner On A Cat

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Papatzul (New York City)

papatzul (Photo from Yelp)

Papatzul was recommended by New York Magazine, so I decided to give it a try. The first thing I should note is that it’s colorful and conveniently located in SoHo near Osswald. They have a big, cheap happy hour during which you can order good drinks for $5. If that doesn’t cheer you up, you can look at the intricate metalwork on the walls. The one my dad and I were sitting under features birds in a tree.

They have interesting sodas, Jarritos natural soda. I ordered one made of tamarind. (A tamarind is a pod fruit that comes out of the tamarind tree. Tamarind is popular in Mexico, though indigenous to Africa.) The guacamole was mild, but good. I wasn’t a fan of the dry, makeshift coleslaw.

For an entrée I ordered Torta de Aguacate y Queso Panela: an avocado and panela cheese sandwich with beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and thick cream. It was decent, very fresh. The yucca fries were oversized and also very fresh. My dad ordered the Alambre de Res: soft tacos with seared hangar steak, sautéed onions, peppers, and cheese. He said it was fantastic and deserved 10 stars.

My favorite dish was the Flan de Naranja: flan with orange glaze. It was creamy, good, and had strawberries and mango pieces on the side. I wouldn’t call Papatzul’s offerings the best Mexican food, but it’s okay.

My Rating: 7
Chef: Thierry Amezcua
Recommended Dish: Flan de Naranja
Atmosphere: Cheerful, colorful, trendy. It will make your day.
Clientele: Parties, the happy-hour crowd
Price Range: $15-40 per person

55 Grand St
(between Broadway & Wooster St)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 274-8225

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Shopbop’s Born Free Collection Debuts Today!

Celine_BORNF3000510917 Celine bag from Shopbop’s Born Free collection.

Hey activists! Shopbop is debuting an exclusive collection today in collaboration with Born Free, an organization devoted to eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Now you can both buy clothes and save lives: Born Free will use 100% of profits to support its cause.

The collection is based on prints by Wangechi Mutu, a Kenyan print artist who makes collages of women using all kinds of sculpted material and found objects. Here’s a few of her pieces:

46 Your Story, My Curse 2006

2012 The Storm Has Finally Made It Out Of Me Alhamdulilla, 2012 (both from africaisdonesuffering.com)

And here’s a quote from her to think about (I wish it were on my brainyquote sidebar!) “Females carry the marks, language and nuance of their culture more than the male. Anything that is desired or despised is always placed in the female body.”

Many of the designers are mothers themselves and know how it feels to want nothing more than your child’s good health. The collection includes some pretty awesome mother/child matching clothes, like these skirts by Prada:



Everything is limited edition and mostly under $250. Don’t wait too long, because once a piece sells out it won’t be sold again!

Born Free’s objective is to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV by December 31, 2015. Medicine has improved so much over the past 30 years that a pregnant woman only has to take one pill a day to prevent her unborn child from becoming infected. Says Diane von Furstenberg: “We already have the solution, we just need to scream it. It’s the very beginning of the end of HIV.”

Contributing designers include Victoria Beckham, Gisele Bundchen, Tory Burch, Sarah Burton (Alexander McQueen), Consuelo Castiglioni (Marni), Alberta Ferretti, Diane von Furstenberg, Carolina Herrera, Donna Karan (DKNY and Urban Zen), Liya Kebede, Clare Waight Keller (Chloe), Jenna Lyons (J Crew), Isabel Marant, Marchesa, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo (Celine), Miuccia Prada, Rachel Roy, Ivanka Trump, Donatella Versace and Vera Wang.

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Happy Easter!


Here’s a picture of a lady dressed up for Easter in 1943. It’s from The Cut. Hope you like it!

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Karaoke Outfit: Silk Halter, Mesh Pants, & Narwhals

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

March-April 2014 122

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 , , , | 2 Comments

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

Posted in Figs, White Cedar, Woody | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

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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