Saturday, December 1, 2007

Holiday Gift Ideas

At about this time every year all for the stores start piling up the fragrance gift sets, which always make a perfect and often reasonably priced gift for anyone on your list. Here are a few fragrance suggestions from yours truly:

1. Kai Bamboo Deluxe Gift Set - $195 from
Includes: Kai EDP - 100ml
Kai Lotion - 8oz
Kai Body Glow - 4oz
Kai Body Scrub - 8oz
Kai Body Wash - 4oz

For those of you unfamiliar with the Kai fragrance it is a very pleasant and versatile feminine fragrance that is sure to be fitting for many of your friends and relatives. Its notes consist of gardenia and other exotic white florals.

*If you purchase the set from LuckyScent You will also receive a complimentary Kai roll-on oil.

2. Comme des Garcons Incense Series Gift Set - $310 from

Includes all five of the Incense fragrances: Kyoto, Avignon, Jaisalmer, Ouarzazate and Zagorsk. All five are inspired by holy sites in different locations around the world and each is a totally unique fragrance. Kyoto and Avignon are personal favorites of mine and this is by far my favorite fragrance series from any house.

Each is a 50ml bottle of EDT all bundled together and wrapped in simple black wrapping paper and finished with a black ribbon and bow.

3. L'Occitane Gift Sets - $72.00 from (Verbena or Lavender)

These new gift sets from L'Occitane are exclusive to Nordstrom and includes 3 items: Eau de Toilette (3.4 oz.), Shower Gel (8.4 oz.) and Body Lotion (8.4 oz.). These two sets are my two favorite fragrances from the L'Occitane line and are probably one of the most versatile gifts to give to people who may not otherwise be very interested in fragrance.

There's some to get you started...More to come!

Hermessence Brin de Réglisse is available at Hermès Boutiques!

Just an FYI: I received a phone call from the Hermès boutique recently to let me know that the newest fragrance in the Hermessences line, Brin de Réglisse, has arrived and that they have samples available as well as testers.

Monday, October 22, 2007

New From Annick Goutal - Les Orientalistes + DC Shopping for Annick Goutal

In December, Annick Goutal will launch a new set of three oriental fragrances that will be sure to add spice, warmth, and magic to the holiday season. The trio, called "Les Orientalistes" will be marketed to both sexes and were inspired by 19th century paintings depicting harem the grooming rituals of harems, which inspired perfumer Isabelle Doyen (with Camille Goutal) to create scents based on the traditional ingredients: amber, myrrh, and frankincense. The names of each of the fragrances are "Amber Fétiche," "Myrrh Ardente," and "Encens Flamboyant." All three will be available separately in 100 ml eau de parfum for €120 (~$175) or all three will be available in a set for €500 (~$725), which comes in a white leather box. No news yet of when or where to expect to find them in the US, but keep a lookout and I'll update as possible.

(image: NowSmellThis)

P.S. For those of you living in D.C.:

I recently ran across a large variety of Annick Goutal fragrances at a discounted price (~$50) at various Loehmann's stores in the DC area. Fragrances in the line available were La Violette, Neroli, Quel Amour, Petite Cherie, Eau du Charlotte, Eau d'Hadrien, Nuits d'Hadrien, Songes, Passion, Mandragore, and Gardenia Passion.

If you are wondering where to find the lines normally, Neiman Marcus has the largest selection of Annick Goutal fragrances I think. Also, Bloomingdales, some Nordstroms, and Saks have them as well. They are worth a try. For those of you obsessed with citrus try Mandragore and Eau d'Hadrien.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Blend Your Own Custom Perfume at Parfums Raffy

Parfums Raffy, an online sales outlet for discount designer fragrances and a few (non-discounted) niche fragrance lines (read Montale) also offers their services in blending customized perfumes. Unlike some other companies that make "custom perfumes" for low prices (such as Garden Botanika), which only allow you choose a one note in each category (top, heart, base) and that's all of your input, Parfums Raffy just offers a list of notes from which you select your favorites and then you even get to decide which notes to have in higher concentrations. You can choose from a list of about 90 singular notes to choose from and you can also order samples of any of the notes for $1 each if you wish to experiment with your blend before ordering. Once you have decided to order, just follow the instructions on the website and your 1.7 oz bottle costing $39 will be mailed to your home. I haven't tried it yet but I definitely will be.

Click here to read more about Parfum Raffy's Custom Blending

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Barney's Exclusives - Serge Lutens & Frédéric Malle

If you live in America and you love perfume you really need to go to the temple of fragrance that is Barneys New York. At the flagship store on Madison Ave, you need to visit the large collection of fragrances at the bottoms of the main staircase right inside the main entrance. On the right you'll see the Frédéric Malle boutiqe and L'Artisan counter and the left the Le Labo boutique. Anyway, the point is that there are two more recent exclusive fragrance launches at Barneys.

The first is Serge Lutens Chêne. Although it was originally launched in 2004, it has only been a part of the exclusives line (meaning only available in the Paris store and by mail order to European addresses). It is now available at Barneys' Madison Ave. store as well as through their website. Chêne (French for "oak") is composed of:
Top Notes: Sap Notes, Cedar Crystals, Black Thyme
Heart Notes: Silver Birch, Beeswax, Rum, Oak
Base Notes: "Undergrowth" Note, Tonka
Chêne is available in a 50 ml bottle of EDP from Barney's for $130.

The second is Outrageous from Frédéric Malle. Created by Mr. Malle himself and Sophia Grojsman (YSL Paris, Bvlgari pour Femme), the new fragrance is exclusive to Barneys stores and is not available anywhere else at all. It contains caipirinha, clean laundry, green apple, orange blossom, amber and cedar and is available in a 100 ml bottle from Barney's for $110.

My Own Sugar Scrub Recipe

I've decided to post my sugar scrub recipe. It's extremely simple, but very effective. You should note that it is only really appropriate for body exfoliation. It's too rough for the face. The recipe is not a science and it is really up to you to determine the relative amounts of ingredients. The ingredients are:

Turbinado Sugar (coarse organic sugar)
Light Brown Sugar
Carrier Oils (I prefer Vitamin E-enriched Sweet Almond Oil)
Essential oils

Now a few tricks to it. I usually make it fairly concentrated. It lasts longer this way and dilutes when you use it in the shower. There's no exact amount of essential oils to use. You usually only need about 4 or 5 drops of essential oil per 1 ounce of the carrier oil, but I find that adding more increases the fragrance and aromatherapy effect of the scrub. Use whatever oils you like, but my personal favorite is a combination of lemon (Citrus limon) and lavender (Lavendula angustifolia). You can formulate your scrub to treat a variety of skin ailments, for example acne can be treated with the essential oils of lavender, neroli, tea tree, clove bud, cedarwood, rosemary, and many others. This information is readily available online and many essential oils as well as the rest of the ingredients are available at organic markets, health stores, and any other purveyor of botanical health products. In Washington, DC area Whole Foods and Mom's Organic Markets carry a broad range of the ingredients. Of course, use organic ingredients when possible.

I usually use about 5 ounces of the carrier oil, to which I add about 30-40 drops of essential oils (of the desired blends). I then add both grades of sugar in equal proportions and keep stirring the mixture until I reach the desired consistency. I prefer a thick, but moist mixture that doesn't appear runny, but this is just a personal preference.

The scrub usually works best after you've used your soap and while you are standing in a hot shower. Using it after showering helps to return your skin to its preferred pH range and leaves more of the fragrance of the EO's on the skin. Be sure to store the scrub in an air/water-tight container and use some sort of scoop or spoon when using (the bacteria on your hands can speed the decomposition of the scrub mixture).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hermessence Brin de Réglisse - New Fragrance

Jean-Claude Ellena's newest creation for Hermés, Brin de Réglisse is the newest (and 7th) addition to the Hermessence line. On the heels of such beautiful creations as Paprika Brasil and Osmanthe Yunnan, Brin de Réglisse is said to be an atypical lavender perfume that is not overpowered by being combined with heady florals, but instead Ellena tried to create a drier, cleaner lavender fragrance. He was inspired by the strong scent of lavender one would smell in Provence in midsummer. Ellena said he wanted a more clean, stream-lined lavender fragrance. Other notes include orange blossom, hay, and licorice (hence the name Brin de Réglisse, or "a bit of liquorice"). Like the other Hermessence fragrances, they will only be available at Hermés boutiques and will cost 149 euros (about $211.00) for a 100 mL bottle. I'm not sure exactly on the US price, but that I will update this post as soon as I know the exact cost. Hermessence fragrances can also be purchased in sets of four 15 mL vials for 95 euros (about $135.00), for which you may select four of the same fragrance or any combination of the seven Hermessence fragrances. None the less I suggest you visit your nearest boutique and check it out. If you are in the D.C. area, the local Hermès boutique is located in the Fairfax Square Shopping Center in Vienna, Virginia. (They are usually quite generous with samples as well)

HO is back (Part Deux)

Well, It's been just about forever since I've updated this thing so I wanted to get things underway again. Summer was a busy season for me with college graduation, moving to Arlington, and starting a new job, but things are going well and settling down now and falls arriving, so I'm going to work on this blog a lot more frequently now. I am contemplating a name-change and a few other stylistic changes to the blog. Let me know if you have any suggestions.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Books You Need to Read....

There are three books that I've read lately that I feel I need to share. For all of you true fragrance freaks like me they are your required summer reading.

The first is the Secret of Scent by fragrance biophysicist Luca Turin. Luca Turin began writing perfume reviews almost on a whim many years ago in Paris. Always a sucker for any random tidbit of information he could get his hands on he started uncovering some discrepancies in the way the scientific world looks at the sense of smell. Through much thorough research and a lot of stone-throwing from the scientific community, Turin has reintroduced and expanded upon theories of a vibrational mechanism for the sense of smell. The book explains a bit of his background and the story of how he made his contribution to the theory and explains the theory in a fair amount of detail. It can be quite dense if you don't have much of a science background, but it's a good read nonetheless. The Secret of Scent by Luca Turin is available from Barnes & Noble for $23.95.

Secondly, the Emperor of Scent by New York Times Perfume Critic Chandler Burr. Burr met Turin by chance in a railway terminal several years ago. After much small talk, they struck up a conversation about Turin's work with smell. Burr was interested and as a reporter investigated the theory and Turin's story. Unfortunately, Turin's adversaries were unwilling to give their side of the story, so Burr's book is mostly a chronicle of Turin's story. A worthy companion to Turin's book, it should not be overlooked just because one has also read the Secret of Scent. The Emperor of Scent by Chandler Burr is available from Barnes & Noble for $13.95.

The last is The Fragrant Garden by Julia Lawless. The books is a great read for anyone interested in Gardner and/or perfume and fragrance. It includes many sections with widely varying topics. It's not just and encyclopedia of fragrant plants which a lot of fragrance gardening books are, but it includes much history about the history of fragrant gardening, exotic as well as domestic plants, information about essential oils and aromatherapy, and even some recipes and advice for the use of fragrant herbs. A great read for anyone who is interested in this blog. It is available from Barnes and Noble for $27.50.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

HO is back! + Reviews of Cococabana from Parfums de Nicolaï

I'm terribly sorry about the long delay. The last few months have been hectic ones (I've been moving, starting a new job, graduating from college, etc.) At long last, I have finally gotten around to starting this blog up again. I have to note that there are a few things I have decided to change. While I will try to include some news of new releases and such there will be a less comprehensive reporting of new perfume launches compared to other blogs like NowSmellThis. Instead I will be writing more random articles pertaining to perfume and botany and everything in between as well as other musings. You can expect perfume reviews and such as well as information about plants and specifically things that I find interesting that are going on at the US Botanic Gardens (where I work).

Cococabana: The scent of tropical flowers wafts towards you on hot, humid afternoons. You've deserted the crowded, noisy beach and instead lie by the courtyard pool of your hotel. In the distance you hear the waves pound the shore and feel the salty spray on the breeze. The chic boutique hotel boasts a beautifully maintained garden inspired by the ancient pairidaêza style. You sip your cocotini while the coastal winds whip the palms above you. You close you eyes behind your new sunglasses (your latest splurge) and feel the warmth of the sun radiating off of the cedar chaise you've made your own oasis. Despite the din of the other guests and nearby pool bar, you feel alone in paradise.

Presumably named for and inspired by the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, this 2006 release from Parfums de Nicolaï lives up to its name. Always a fan of summer scents I enjoy this addition to the Parfums de Nicolaï line. The main notes in the fragrance are Ylang-Ylang, Tuberose, Tiare Flower, Coconut, Cedar Wood, Bitter Oranges, and Palm. Tuberose takes the starring role dominating most of the play. It is a strong tropical tuberose which I personally prefer to some other fragrances that rely too much on tuberose combined with way too much vanilla. Although Cococabana does include a base note of vanilla musk, it is much more complex than that. Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) is a native of Mexico and a member of the agave family (Agavaceae). Yes, for those of you who are wondering Agaves are what tequila is made from. It is a fitting scent to dominate a fragrance inspired by Latin American beaches.

It is available from the official Parfums de Nicolai website or also from for $70 for 50ml (approx. 1.7oz)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

We'll be back soon!

Hey Everyone,

I've postponed updating Hortus odorifera for a short while because of the many hectic events of my personal life recently. I've been doing final exams and graduation things so I've been too busy to update, but I should be back on track in a few days and will put everything back up with lots of new posts. I promise!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Treasures from Barneys: Comme des Garçons Series 3 - Incense: Kyoto & Avignon

Last weekend I also got a chance to try out the five fragrances in Comme des Garçons Incense Series. The series was released in 2001 after the 2 previous series (Leaves and Red), which in my opinion were far less interesting that the incense series. Although they have been out a while and I've always wanted to smell them I never had the chance as I don't know of any places in Washington, DC that carry them. Well, that all changed when I (finally) got to go to Barneys in New York.

The five fragrances in the incense series (Kyoto, Avignon, Jaisalmer, Ouarzazate, and Zagorsk) were all inspired by five different holy sites representing different religions and regions of the world and the fact that nearly all religions have a history of the use of incense in holy buildings for both meditative purposes and to ward of the evil spirits. Of all five, Kyoto and Avignon were easily my favorites.

Kyoto: Inspired by the use of incense in both Buddhist and Shinto religious practices and the humility and meditative culture of the monks of Kyoto, Kyoto, the fragrance, is certainly light than some of the other incense fragrances in the series. I think that this may be due in part to its somewhat more "green" qualities and that I find it to be possibly the most exotic. The notes in Kyoto are vetiver, patchouli, coffee, amber, incense, cypress oil, teak wood, cedar, and immortelle. The initial burst of the fragrance is a inspiring rush of coffee and patchouli, however these soon give way to the dark, "incensy" woods at its heart. The combination of patchouli, coffee, and cedar probably explain why it's my favorite of the line.

I highly recommend Kyoto to anyone interested at all in incense fragrances. It truly will make you feel as if you are sitting in a zen garden in a Buddhist monastery. So spray a little on, close your eyes and feel the calm take over. (While you're at it check out some of Kyoto's famous gardens)

Avignon: Avignon, in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur in the South of France, was once the religious center of Europe as it belonged to the Roman Catholic Popes for 400 years (1349-1791). In the heart of Provence, its beautiful location on the banks of the Rhone River and its stunning papal palaces make it quite an inspiration for all who visit. It's no wonder that a city with such a wealth of Roman Catholic city should inspire a fragrance based on incense. Comme des Garçon's Avignon is a beautifully respectful and smoky fragrance that is not all dull as one may expect. Instead, like Giorgio Armani's Bois d'Encens, Kyoto is a remarkably accurate yet wearable (for men at least) recreation of the incense used in the Catholic churches of Europe to this day. The notes of Avignon include Roman camomile, ambrette, myrrh, cistus oil, elemi, incense, patchouli and vanilla. Unlike Kyoto, there is no initial burst when one applies Avignon. Instead, the smoky incense scent is present and one imagines that a priest has just walked by on his procession. The top notes progress into even deeper and darker notes and one can't help but think reverently about the grand cathedrals of France and Italy. Where Kyoto inspires a sort of connection to the peace of nature, Avignon inspires a a feeling of connection to the heavens above.

Note: If you're not finding yourself anywhere near a store that carries Comme des Garçons, look for them online at LuckyScent ($62 for 50ml or try a 1/32oz sample for $3)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Fragrance News: Lacoste Elegance

In July (for US and Europe, September for rest of the world), Lacoste will launch a new fragrance for men. The new fragrance, called "Elegance" is part of a movement on the part of Procter & Gamble to move Lacoste fragrances out of their current sporty niche and appeal to an older, more upscale audience. The target consumer group for the fragrance is 30+ year old men.

The new fragrance was described as an oriental fougère with "aromatic top notes around a spicy heart, and a dry chocolate accord at the base." The bottle is simple with clean lines and a metal cap (not much different from other Lacoste bottles to me--except perhaps more conservative). The new line will be priced at about 5% higher than the previous Lacoste lines and will be available in 30ml and 90ml bottles. (From

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Treasures from Barneys: L'Artisan Parfumeur: L'Été en Douce

Last weekend, during my most recent trip to New York, I made my first visit to Barneys. Despite my having been to New York many many times, I had never actually made the trip to the flagship store on Madison Avenue. I have to say I have never had such a pleasant shopping experience. Barneys makes Saks and Neiman Marcus look like JCPenny. It's a beautiful store with the best customer service I've ever had. The fragrance counters are especially great. The SA's are awesome and very helpful (My favorites were Lawrence Applebaum at the L'Artisan counter and Tyler Mayo. I'm sure many of you know of the great lines that Barneys carries, but for those of you who don't I'll list just a few: all of L'Artisan, Parfums de Rosine, i Profumi di Firenze, Frédéric Malle, Serge Lutens, Comme des Garcons, Carthusia; not to mention a full Le Labo boutique. All in all, it makes other department stores look dull and uninteresting and I'm finding myself wanting to move to NYC just to be near it.

While at Barneys I did manage to snag two fragrances for my collection and add two others that I plan to get (when I can afford them):

L'Été en Douce: First, I bought L'Été en Douce by L'Artisan Parfumeur. It used to be called Extrait de Songes, but was pulled from the market after a trademark dispute with Annick Goutal (who first released Songes). It has been relaunched in the classic L'Artisan bottle and is currently only available at Barneys in New York under the new name "L'Été en Douce". It is available in a 3.4 oz bottle only for $125.

I have to admit that this fragrance is quite out of my normal preferences for fragrances, but I am wholly in love with it. Literally translated from French it means "the summer in soft", but the idea of it is that it is meant to portray that soft fragrant smell of early summer. This it certainly does. Upon applying to the skin, first one notices the vibrant top notes of rose essence and mint leaves much like the crisp fresh, but fragrant scent of the morning mist in early summer. The top notes fade into the heart notes of orange blossom water, linden, and fresh hay and eventually the memorable base of white woods and musks emerges. The combination is magical and although I often think orange blossom and rose are used far too often, it is not overtly floral. The floral notes are well-balanced with the hay, linden, and base notes. When wearing the fragrance I can't help but picture fields of Provence in June. The image is so strong you can smell the lavender, even though I'm not sure it's even a true note in the fragrance (it's not listed as one). Perhaps, it's the combination of mint (both in the Lamiaceae family) and some of the other notes. Nonetheless, next time you want to imagine you are basking in the sunlight in the south of France, just spritz yourself a few times with L'Été en Douce. (More info and reviews: Now Smell This, osMoz)

Reviews of others are soon to follow!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Issey Miyake's New Fragrance for Men

Monday, BPI (Shiseido) announced the release of a new intense version of their original L'Eau d'Issey Miyake pour Homme. The company hopes to breathe some new life into the original fragrance that has somewhat fallen from its former popularity and is even now available at your local Wal-Mart. Recently, they have pumped much more into its advertising budget and this new release of the intense version is hoped to also bolster its slouching sales. No news of the notes yet, but the fragrance is a more "intense" version of the original with a similar, but darker bottle. Updates to come. (

UPDATE 7.16.07: L'Eau d'Issey Miyake pour Homme is now available at Nordstrom stores or at at $54 for 2.5 oz and $74 for 4.2oz.

Friday, May 4, 2007

New Fragrance Launches: Hermès Kelly Calèche, Kenzo Tokyo, Marc Jacobs Daisy, & Christina Aguilera

I've got some exciting new fragrance news today!

New from Hermès: First (and probably foremost in my mind), Hermès has announced the launch of a new fragrance for women, "Kelly Calèche". It seems that Hermès has returned to its roots in seeking an inspiration for this new fragrance. As many of you know, one of the two most famous Hermès handbags, the "Kelly Bag" was named after Princess Grace Kelly after she appeared on the cover of Life Magazine carrying one in 1956 (the other most famous bag being the "Birkin" named after British actress Jane Birkin). Kelly bags often have waiting lists of about 2 years and can range in price from $5,000 for the small version in plain leather to $50,000 for bags made of crocodile and other unsual materials. The new fragrance, designed by in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, was inspired by the iconic bag and princess and is described as a "leathery floral" and was inspired by the scent of Hermès' fine leather products. The bottle and name Calèche are shared with the original 2 Calèche fragrances, but that is about all they share as Kelly Calèche is not a spin-off fragrance of Calèche.

UPDATE: From, 5.11.07: The new Kelly Calèche will debut on June 21, 2007 when Hermès opens their new boutique on Wall Street (no word on when we will see it in department stores yet). It will include notes of Mimosa, Iris, Climbing Rose, and Tuberose specifically as part of the floral component of the scent. It will be available in 2 sizes: 1.6 oz (50 mL) for $75 and 3.3oz (100 mL) for $110.

New from Kenzo: Tokyo by Kenzo is a new men's fragrance that has been recently been announced by LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy). Created by perfumer Marie Salamange, it's described as a modern, urban scent for young men aged 18-25 years old and will be available in September of this year. It's notes are:

  • Top Notes: Ginger, Grapefruit

  • Heart Notes: Maté, Green Tea, Pink Pepper, Orange

  • Base Notes: Cedar, Nutmeg, Cloves

New from Marc Jacobs: An announcement yesterday was made about a new women's fragrance from Marc Jacobs called "Daisy". Unlike his previous two women's fragrances (Marc Jacobs Woman and Blush Marc Jacobs), which are based mainly on two major floral components: gardenia and jasmine, respectively, the new Daisy fragrance is built on a combination of notes that are meant to convey the personality of the daisy flower, which itself does not have a scent. Notes reportedly include:

  • Top Notes: Wild Strawberry, Violet Leaves, Ruby Red Grapefruit

  • Heart Notes: Gardenia, Violet Petals, Jasmine

  • Base Notes: Musk, Vanilla, White Woods.

The fragrance should be out in August and available at most stores that carry Marc Jacobs Products.

New by Christina Aguilera: A new announcement from Proctor & Gamble was made today bringing news of their newest celebrity fragrance made for none other than the fabulous Christina Aguilera. I have to admit I am a bit nervous about it as I am a huge Christina fan and not generally a fan of celebrity fragrances. From

"Targeting the 16-35-year-old consumer, the fragrance is an oriental floral with top notes of blackcurrant, a heart of peony and prune and a base of vanilla. It comes in a curvy glass bottle, intended to recall the star’s silhouette, and is embossed with a black lacy design and decorated with a black bow at the neck. "

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Fragrance News - Versace Signature, YSL L'Homme Eau d'Été, Boucheron pour Homme Edition Bleue

New Fragrances Available in Washington DC and online:

Versace Signature is now available at Saks Fifth Avenue Stores and online. The new fragrance that debuted by Donatella Versace earlier this spring at Harrods in Knightsbridge is now available in the US. I have yet to have had the chance to smell it, but it is described by the Harrod's Website as "a unique fragrance; floral, fresh and sparkling." It includes top notes of guava, dew drops, blackcurrant, wisteria and lilac followed by heart notes of exotic florals (lotus, orchid, and jasmine) and ending in base notes of musks, woods, cedar, and vetiver. Personally, I am dying to test this fragrance. It is an EDP and is available at Saks in a beautiful 3.4oz bottle for $89.

Edition Bleue is the new summer version of the original pour Homme fragrance from Boucheron. It is a limited edition and is only going to be available at select Nordstrom stores for a short period of time. It is not available on their website, but you can give them a call for more information about where to buy it. Although I am certainly a fan of the original Boucheron pour Homme, I love the newer version. The Edition Bleue was actually released in 2006, but is still available for the summer of 2007, but the bottle has been (thankfully) updated. Although the topnotes of verbena and bergamot remain, the floral heartnotes and vetiver and oakmoss basenotes of the original have been replaced with heartnotes of waterjasmine and an aromatic note and basenotes of cedar and patchouli. The new fragrance is certainly much lighter and summery. Personally, I feel that this edition of the fragrance should become permanent as the removal of notes like carnation and lily of the valley make the fragrance much more wearable and sexy for men. I actually detect some similarities in the aesthetics of Edition Bleue and those of Chanel No. 19, which is one of my favorites and one of my signature fragrances. Both are green and summery without being too fleeting and temporary. I am certainly a big fan and plan to add this one to my collection.

The new Eau d'Été is a lighter version of year's L'Homme, although the primary notes listed are the same. I've heard rumors that this new summer version is simply the original with its formula and concentration tweaked a bit to make it a bit less weighty on sultry summer days. It is currently available in Nordstrom stores (at least in the Washington, DC area), but is not yet online. Call your local store for more information.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fragrance Notes: Patchouli

This is the first of many posts to come about plants that are commonly used in perfume. I think it's important for us fragrance fanatics to have some idea of where the smells we wear come from.

The Basics:
Scientific Name: Pogostemon cablin
Family: Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
Origin: East Asia

The common name "Patchouli" originates from the Tamil language from India and Sri Lanka. The roots of the name are the Tamil words "patchai" (meaning "green") and "ellai" (meaning "leaf"). The plant has been used for centuries for perfume among other things.

Originally, patchouli was used in East Asia both for its scent and its health benefits such as its use in Japan and Malaysia for the treatment of poisonous snake bites and its widespread use in Asia for aromatherapy to promote mental clarity and relaxation.

In the 18th century, Patchouli was introduced to the west by Chinese silk traders transporting silk to the Middle East. The strong scent and oils of patchouli are known to have strongly-moth repellent properties and were packed with silk cloth to repel moth infestations during transit. The silk and leaves eventually found their way to Europe, where patchouli was considered to be a scent of luxury, likely because of the association with expensive Chinese silks. This trend has continued in the perfume industry to this day.

During the war in Vietnam, American soldiers would use patchouli to mask the smell of the graves of those killed in combat. At home in the US, patchouli simultaneously became very popular with the "hippies" and war protesters of the day. War demonstrators would scent themselves with patchouli to represent the fallen soldiers in Vietnam. It is also undeniable that another reason for its surge in popularity was the ability of its strong scent to cover the scent of marijuana smoke. It has experienced a somewhat negative connotation in the US as it is often associated with "hippie" culture as it was often used in the place of bathing.

Today, patchouli is one of the main ingredients of about one third of the world's luxury fragrances and is most common in chypre, woody and oriental fragrances. Fragrances containing patchouli include famous fragrances such as Anateus and Chance by CHANEL, Habit Rouge and Jicky by Guerlain, Eau d'Orange Verte by Hermés, and PRADA Woman. In some, it is the featured ingredient, such as Patchouli Patch from L'Artisan Parfumeur of Paris and Patchouli Pure from the Fresh Index line of fragrances. The oils can often be bought from most essential oil retailers and blend well with sandalwood, lime, and ylang ylang. In most recent years patchouli has fallen slightly out of vogue in Europe and the US, but is still very common in Asia and Latin America.

It is also used commonly in East Asian incense and for the scenting of household products such as paper towels, detergents, and air fresheners. The essential oils derived from the plant are used by some in herbal remedies and the scent is claimed to promote relaxation as it is said to promote mental balance and has a positive effect on emotional sensitivity. The oils are said to be effective in treating acne and skin inflammations. They are also said to have antifungal and insecticidal properties.

Today, patchouli is grown mainly in the East and West Indies commercially. Most distillations are done in China, Indonesia, and India. The oils are easily obtained from the dried leaves via steam distillation. The major chemical component of the oils is patchoulol, which like many terpenes is a complex organic molecule thought to be responsible for giving patchouli its characteristic scent (and flavor if Patchouli were edible).

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Update: Douglas Cosmetics, Union Station

Today I visited Douglas Cosmetics in Union Station. It was slightly reminiscent of a small Ulta store. This isn't to say that they didn't have some nice things available there. They (of course) had all of the typical fragrances such as Burberry, Kenneth Cole, etc. They also had a large selection of Bond No. 9 fragrances (including Bryant Park, Chelsea Flowers, Bleecker Street, Scent of Peace, Nuits de Noho, and Wall Street and a few others I can't remember) and a handful of Creeds (Love in White, Vetiver, Silver Mountain Water, etc.) They do have a few other designer frags that are somewhat more difficult to find, but older (Dior Higher and Higher Energy, Versace L'Homme, etc.) One big difference from Sephora is that they carry the cosmetics brands normally in department stores like Estee Lauder, Clinique, and Elizabeth Arden. Overall, the store is a bit small, but full of lots of things to look at. Oh! I had almost forgotten, they also have the Korres Body Water Sprays that Sephora dropped a while back. So, if you don't mind the floor rumbling and the sound of rattling glass every time a train goes by, it's worth a stop if you're there, but unless you love Bond No. 9, I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Douglas Cosmetics, Union Station

I recently discovered the Douglas Cosmetics store at Union Station. It was closed when I got there, but I looked through the window and discovered that they carried the Bond No. 9 line. Even though I'm not really a fan of Bond No. 9, this piqued my interest so I've done some research on the company. It's a German company (under the name "Parfümerie Douglas" in Europe) that is the largest cosmetics retailer in Europe with 600 stores in Italy, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, and others.

There are actually 2 stores in the DC Area:
Union Station (50 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002)
1145 Connecticut Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20036

The German site for Parfümerie Douglas lists many good lines (Balenciaga & Etro caught my eye). I can't comment on exactly what lines they carry, but I will go down soon and check it out and report back. If you be me to it feel free to comment here and let me know about it.

Search Basenotes with your Firefox search window!

A while back a friend and I made a search engine plug-in for those with a Mozilla Firefox browser. If you install the plug-in it'll add a basenotes search function to the list of search engines. Just add the plug-in, select the basenotes icon in the drop-down menu of search engines and then type in the name of the fragrance or fragrance house you are interested in and hit enter. It'll automatically search the basenotes directory for you and display the results.

To download, click here and click on the name to download it.

CHANEL Allure Homme Sport: Cologne Sport has arrived in Washington, DC

For all of you in the Washington, DC area, the new Cologne Sport Edition of CHANEL's Allure Homme Sport has arrived at area stores. As far as I know, they do not have testers yet, but they should be arriving any day now. The new fragrance is not a lighter concentration of the original Allure Homme Sport, but an entirely new fragrance that is actually of Eau de Toillette concentration with a lot of citrus.

"This season, the fresh, sensual men's fragrance gets a burst of energy from an infusion of sparkling citrus. The sporty scent, noticeably lighter now, exudes a newfound freedom, a sense of spontaneity, a non-stop vitality."

UPDATE: The notes in the fragrance are as follows:
  • Top Notes: Mandarin Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Bergamot
  • Heart Notes: Elemi, Spicy Note
  • Base Notes: Cedar, White Musks

UPDATE: The fragrance comes in a 5 oz. bottle and is on sale now at Nordstrom (online and in stores) and for $75. Now available online at Sephora, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Still unsure about the status of Macy's and Bloomingdale's.

(Image from

The Dawning of a New Era

Hey Everyone and welcome to Hortus odorifera. Just to start things off, in case you are curious about the name, it is Latin for "Fragrant Garden" in the binomial taxonomy style used for naming plant species. This new blog is going to feature articles written by yours truly about plants, specifically (but not limited to) those that are quite fragrant and which are important for the human uses, with a focus on plants commonly used in the art of perfume design. Expect to see posts on plants like Ylang-Ylang, Jasmine, Lavender, and Patchouli for example.

As for a bit of a bio of myself. I'm a college senior about to graduate from the University of Maryland in May 2007 with a degree in Plant Science. I also work at the United States Botanic Gardens in Washington, DC as a gardener and am a huge perfume and plant dork. I have always had a fascination for both the subjects of plant science and perfume/cosmetics and am writing this blog to fill a bit of a void I've found in the literature available for those who are interested in what it means to read that there is a note of Frangipani in their new bottle of Annick Goutal Songes.

For those of you near Washington or those of you who will be traveling through DC, I will also try to comment about where I've found good places to scout for fragrances and also what new and exciting fragrant plants are available at the US Botanic Gardens and other gardens in the area as well as whatever advice I may be able to offer about other areas.

I will also try to link various things in the entries to sites where you can learn more about them. I hope you find them helpful.

Image: "Frangipani" from (Plumeria)