Friday, May 30, 2014

Review: L'Occitane Neroli and Orchidee

The latest addition to L'Occitane en Provence La Collection de Grasse line:
Neroli and Orchidee.

Wearing an orange-based body scent for me, or any citrus-based perfume for that matter, is quite tricky as some of these can leave you smelling like car freshener (Shaldan, anyone?) or household cleaning product (enter lemon-scented Pledge or Lysol). One of my favorite orange-centered perfumes, which I now have an empty bottle of, is Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Mandarine-Basilic. Beautifully housed in an intricate gold bottle, it combines orange blossoms, mandarine oranges and the magic ingredient (for me, anyways) basil, which tempers the acidity of the fruit. It is a lovely fragrance which evolves nicely in warm weather, being fresh, sweet, tart and green, with an addictive soft dry down.

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Mandarine-Basilic was lovely to the last drop!

Enter one of L’Occitane’s most recent addition to their La Collection de Grasse line: Neroli and Orchidee, a floral number, combining Mediterranean neroli (a.k.a. bitter orange blossom) and exotic Madagascar orchid. I loved this perfume on first whiff, testing it on my wrist a couple of weeks ago at Rustan’s. That day, I kept sniffing my wrist all afternoon while walking in the mall, and into the night (like a crazy person)! Finally, two days ago, I managed to get myself one of the last two bottles left on display at the L’Occitane section in Rustan’s Shangri-la. Oh, the restraint from keeping me from buying both bottles was quite admirable, if I may say so myself, haha.

L'Occitane Neroli and Orchidee. 
Though marketed as a floral fragrance, to my nose, it is a juicy, fresh floral scent with a splash of orange, and creamy musky notes as you reach its base. The orange is so subtle but blends so wonderfully with the floral notes. No smelling of car freshener or Lysol with this one! Too, it works great in this hot and humid weather I am in now. And although it is "fruity floral" or better yet, floral with a touch of fruit -- to me, it still manages to smell sophisticated, and I can see this being used from day to night. Also, the bottle is beautiful, and the spray delivers a substantial dose of fragrance (Don't you hate it when perfume sprays squirt out fragrance?!). Longevity is fair at about four hours after initial spritz, after which I had to reapply. 

I am so in love with this scent and shall be dousing myself with it on especially hot days – which conflicts me as I don’t want to run out. *Suddenly regretting not buying that last bottle* D'oh! 

(Don't mind me, that's junkie-speak right there.)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Jo Malone Story

Oh, Jo Malone, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

This is quite a lengthy one. You might want to fix yourself a cup of coffee or tea first. :)

Here goes…

I was introduced to the Jo Malone brand about fifteen years ago by none other than the “queen of talk” herself, Oprah Winfrey, while watching her now defunct daytime show (And on a side note, while her show had its run, it was my guilty pleasure to watch it everday since I was in high school). She kept saying how she preferred not to wear fragrance but gushed on how she loved and enjoyed the Jo Malone Grapefruit body oil. Oooh, I thought, then this must be good! Alas the United Kingdom is in the other side of the pond, and I practically had no access to the brand in Manila, not to mention that I was a but a college student without a peso to my name.

From time to time I would encounter Jo Malone fragrances in fashion magazines (okay sometimes it would show up on “O” the Oprah magazine, in some form or another as one of Oprah’s favorite things on her “O” List, tempting me further –- Damn you, Oprah.), and sometimes on TV and the internet. Beauty editors and various celebrities alike would regard it as a "must have" and say things as "I am never without it!" -- these made my Jo Malone itch "itch" some more. But once again, apart from the fact that this brand back then was not available in my country, the hefty price tag also kept me away from these beauties.

Several years ago, when I finally started to work, I decided I deserved a little Jo Malone love. And so I indulged. I researched online, read perfume blogs and fragrance reviews on what Jo Malone would tickle my fancy. Lime Basil and Mandarin? Nutmeg and Ginger? Orange Blossom? Grapefruit? Then I happened upon a video review of Nectarine Blossom and Honey. Seemed like it was the one, then. I found a local reseller online and ordered the much raved about Nectarine Blossom and Honey. Pricey, yes, but heck I waited for more than a decade to own it! And well, what do you know, the cherry on top was that the package arrived on the morning of my birthday! It was like the world was telling me “Have a fan-freaking’tastic birthday!” while handing me my first Jo Malone cologne. I tore open the package, and carefully unboxed my new baby. Spritzed it a few times. Boom. I was in love! Nectarine Blossom and Honey is a fresh, peach-based scent with some green notes, with a lovely mild, sweet yet fresh dry down. I loved my first and then only bottle of Jo Malone cologne…until…

One afternoon four months later, while waiting for the Hubs to get home from work, Miss Nectarine Blossom and Honey sat with me on my bed while I was catching up on some TV. Because our mattress sat on a bedframe with springs, when I leaned over to my right, the mattress tilted as well --- and Miss NBAH fell to the floor. Yes.  As if in slow motion, I watched my precious baby fall on the floor and smash into smithereens. I. COULD. NOT. MOVE. Hell, my bedroom smelt fantastic, but my Jo Malone cologne was no more – nothing but shards of glass all over and Nectarine Blossom and Honey juice splattered on the floor. After what seemed like an eternity (but was probably just like five minutes) of me just staring at the floor at what was once my Miss NBAH, Hubs finally arrived. On opening the door he found me sitting on the bed with a horrified look, eyes wide open. Immediately he knew something was dead wrong. When our eyes met, and he saw the mess on the floor, he understood. And I kid you not, I lay on the bed in fetal position and cried my eyes out.  I was in-con-so-la-ble, absolutely GUTTED and Hubs did not know what to do to calm me down. That scene probably lasted about twenty minutes until the magic words were uttered, "Let's get you a new one". And then I started to calm down. In hindsight, that was one of the most hilarious experiences ever. Too funny just how “devastated” I felt at the time! 
Nectarine Blossom & Honey no. 2 :)

I have since acquired another bottle of Nectarine Blossom and Honey, and have also, with time started to build my Jo Malone collection. But never will I forget Miss NBAH. She will always be my first love.

My current Jo Malone collection :)
L to R: (30 ml. bottles) Vanilla & Anise, Redcurrant & Cream (LE), Peony & Blush Suede, Ginger Biscuit (LE), Blackberry & Bay, and Red Roses.

L to R: (100 ml. bottles) Top row: Dark Amber and Ginger Lily, Wild Bluebell,
Rose Water & Vanilla, Iris & Lady Moore (LE)
Bottom row: Grapefruit, Pomegranate Noir, Nectarine Blossom & Honey. 

What is your favorite Jo Malone cologne? 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Little Miss Fig-gy: Diptyque Philosykos and Laura Mercier Fresh Fig Souffle Body Creme

Growing up in Manila, Philippines, my only experience with figs was snacking on Fig Newtons. It was only later in life that I discovered that these little munchies (the fruit, not the cookie sandwiches) actually smelled great as a body scent.

I have to admit when I was in my early twenties, I have always passed the Diptyque fragrance counter at the local department stores without giving it much thought. Wow, little did I know that I was missing a lot. In the recent years, when I started to read perfume blogs and fora, I began to notice the brand Diptyque, and with that, the inevitable mention of one of its bestselling fragrances, “Philosykos”. For those in the know, Philosykos is one of the most popular fig-note based perfumes.
Open mind in tow, I trudged on over to the Diptyque fragrance counter in Rustan’s. The lovely SA spritzed on some Philosykos on a paper strip and on my wrist. At first sniff, I was immediately transported to the middle of my elementary school lawn after an afternoon rainshower, with the smell of damp earth and freshly cut grass blended with sweet notes I cannot quite describe.  After a few minutes the verdant notes die down a bit, and subtle sweet creamy notes settle on my skin (Could it be the "milky flavor of the fruit" the Diptyque website describes?). Okay. I loved it! I snagged the bottle right there and then.

My Diptyque Philosykos in the old bottle packaging.

Diptyque Philosykos in the new bottle design.
Diptyque Philosykos is a unique, beautiful scent! In my experience, it is not for everyone, nor do I find that I can wear it anytime (when I wear it on hot, humid days, the scent becomes cloying and quite sickening, and prefer to spritz it on a cool, windy day, or before I go to bed). Nevertheless, it is an unusual, woody, fruity and fresh scent, all at the same time.

Having discovered that figs smell wonderful, I ventured into trying Laura Mercier’s iteration in the body soufflĂ© form. Equally beautiful, but in my opinion more universally appealing, Laura Mercier Sweet Fig body soufflĂ© smells lovely and layers so well with Diptyque Philosykos.  The LM creation, I find, when combined with Philosykos, actually makes the latter more appealing to me. Not to mention that the quality of the body creme is excellent, not at all greasy and makes the skin so sooo soft! Definitely repurchasing this combo when I run out!

Laura Mercier Fresh Fig Souffle Body Creme is YUM-O.
Photo credits:

Okay. Now I've got a hankering for some Fig Newtons.
Nabisco Fig Newtons. Does anyone know where I can still get these???

Saturday, May 17, 2014

My Wedding Day Fragrance and Scent Memories

Your wedding day is one of the most important and most special days of your life (if not the most important and most special!). Weddings represent new beginnings, happiness, and the joining of lives and of families. Your wedding day is one of the happiest moments in a girl’s life and needless to say is worth remembering.

Scent is so strongly linked to memory. Back in high school I wore Angel’s Breath cologne to death (and back then, almost everybody in school wore it to death). Whenever I get a whiff of this now, instantaneously, I am brought back to days of soirees, my guitar playing, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, trading letters (yep, no cellphones to text my friends back and forth – just good ol’ written correspondences), cassette tapes, and just great memories with my lifelong girlfriends whom I met some 20 years ago.
Angel's Breath Cologne. Anyone remember this from the late 80's/early 90's?

Back in 2009, I went to a big outlet sale where different companies come together and sell their  products for a lot less (i'm talking like 50-70% off here!), about four times a year. One of these was a local distributor of luxury cosmetics and fragrances. Five years ago, I went for the first time, and not only did I get a perfume fix on that day, I also found my wedding perfume.

I approached the counter and immediately was overwhelmed by the countless testers! There were brands like Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo, Guerlain, to name a few. The addict in me went on manic mode. Spritz after spritz, sniffing coffee beans in between (for whatever that was worth), I was probably there for more than an hour.

Finally I settled on two fragrances, Salvatore Ferragamo Incanto Charms, and Bvlgari Rose Essentielle. Rose Essentielle was one of those scents which on first sniff, I was in love with and immediately I decided to buy it. Never mind that the beautiful bottle was a classic pale pink number, which I adore, but the juice inside smelt just as fantastic.

My beloved Bvlgari Rose Essentielle.

Fragrantica describes the top notes of this scent as having two different types of roses - the Turkish Rose, which offers a deep vibe and Rose Prelude which has a more greenish aroma. The heart is composed of blackberry with violet and jasmine, while sandalwood and patchouli dance in its base. The "green" rose was definitely there, and the splashes of fruit I also do detect. Never has it turned sour on me while wearing it,  and even smells even better as the day goes on. I don't want to get all technical because I've mentioned before, I am not a fragrance expert. So why did I choose this? To me, it was just the most beautiful thing I've ever smelled, and it reminded me of elegance and lace and happiness -- everything just perfect for that day when I would say "I do".

That day came 2 years later, and it was the most beautiful day. I reserve wearing Rose Essentielle for special occasions, and everytime I do I am reminded of being in my wedding gown (painstakingly handmade by my cousin), walking down the aisle and marrying the man of my dreams surrounded by friends and family, and memories overflowing with love.

What was your wedding day scent/What would you want your wedding fragrance to be?