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)