May 232017

A few weeks ago, Sabrina at The Beauty Look Book and I shared a glorious day in New York City, makeup and perfume shopping, lunching, and generally having a wonderful time. In the many years that Sabrina and I have corresponded, this was the first (and hopefully not the last) time that we’d met in person. I can say that Sabrina is one of the smartest, kindest and most generous people that I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.

Consistent with her fabulous personality, Sabrina invited me along to her appointment at New York City’s Creed Boutique (794 Madison Avenue) on the Upper East Side. This little jewel-box contained an incredible range of hand-crafted fragrances, knowledgeable sales people, and a welcoming atmosphere in which to try some truly outstanding fragrances. Sabrina’s review of our visit is here. For those shopping online, Creed is sold at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Bergdorf Goodman.

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Jan 062017

This past Fall, Louis Vuitton expanded its luxury range to include Les Perfums, a series of fragrances. I was fortunate enough that a loved one gave me the Miniature Set ($290) for the holidays. As I’m living a bi-coastal life at present, this was particularly thoughtful because it gives me a variety of fragrances that I can keep in one home, while I have my larger perfume collection in another. The presentation box is quite understated.

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May 182016

Cartier Pathern Perfume 1

Cartier La Panthère Eau de Perfume ($55 and up) is a statement scent. I love it days when I need every bit of confidence. Walking into a room full of people, where I’d like to lead a wonderful impression, takes a great lipstick. From here on out, I’m adding some a spray of La Panthère as well. It literally gives me a soft lift that, although not overpowering, adds a bit of assertiveness that’s both lovely and entirely appropriate.

There’s a floral touch, some fruit, and a bit of musk. The blend synergistically combines to create something new–it doesn’t smell like anything specific but there is something familiar about it. Introduced in 2014, I’m happy to have discovered it now. The bottle has a highly styled panther carved into the glass.


It’s a gorgeous, heavy presentation with a large, flat spray top. It’s gorgeous.

There are floral notes (gardenia, predominately) in the scent, but they do not predominate. In other words, I don’t find that this has the overall impression of a floral scent. It may be because they are mixed with fruits, as well as musk and oak moss. It’s lovely and assertive. It’s feminine but not erotic. I believe the best way to describe it is to say that it’s one of favorite scents to wear when I have to meet important people, and to come across as confident and ready to lead.

Cartier Panther 2

Cartier Panther 4

Cartler Panther 3

Cartier Panther 8

There are scents that are made for relaxing, and others for a casual day. Cartier La Panthère Eau de Perfume is custom-made for days when you are pushed outside your comfort zone. Don’t worry–you can totally do this. Which is true whether or not you’re wearing Cartier, but still. It’s nice to have it along with you.

Affiliate link. Product sent without charge for consideration for review.

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May 112016

Armani code 8

Giorgio Armani makes lovely makeup formulas. It’s no surprise that Giorgio Armani Code Profumo is a beautifully formulated scent. Although designed for men (does that restriction even matter any more?), I find that I love this on myself as well. This is a warm, comforting and spicy scent that is based on notes of tonka bean, cardimom, and woody amber. There’s a sweetness in the scent as well that adds a light complexity that’s just gorgeous.

I think the sweet vanilla combined with the spice and amber are blended into something that women will find attractive on men. It’s a rich scent, with plenty of strength and longevity.  Although I think that it’s sort of trendy to disparage large perfume brands, I genuinely love this one (I tend to like heavier, richer scents). With Father’s Day around the corner, this is definitely one to keep at the top of your list.

Armani Code Profumo is available at Macy’s.

Armani Code 5_edited-1b

Armani Code 2

This scent was sent to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review/ Affiliate links


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Jul 192015

Paris Beauty CrawlHave you ever heard of a “pub crawl”? Or a “food crawl”? If you haven’t, these are little excursions where one can go from place to place, enjoying just a little bit from each, whether it’s drinking, eating, or what have you. I thought it might be fun to put together one possible Parisian beauty crawl  in case that you find yourself in the City of Light with some spare time on your hands. This is one of several possibilities.

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Jul 152015

buly 27After reading this recent review of Buly 1803 in The New York Times, I decided to stop by their shop at 6 rue Bonaparte, Paris, on my way to the Musee D’Orsay. It’s very easy to find, the tiny shop is just around the corner from Dries Von Noten’s shop. The shop is small, friendly, and offers a wonderfully unique and extremely worthwhile experience.

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May 272014

Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum01I love a beach fragrance. Among my favorites are CB I Hate Perfume At the Beach 1966 and Bobbi Brown’s Beach. This summer, I’m obsessed with Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum Edition Limitee 30 Ans Eau de Toilette ($73). This very sophisticated scent was formulated by Thierry Wasser, the “nose” of Guerlain, to celebrate the legendary powder scent. As Guerlain describes, “Bathed in sunlight, as an invitation to travel to distant lands. A sensual and irresistible fragrance, exotic and bright, inspired by the radiating world of Terracotta.”

Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum04

This perfume was incredibly difficult to locate, as I seemed to have missed a short window of availability. I was finally able to find it by calling Neiman’s, who had just placed a second order. I had heard a rumor that a Nordstrom in Hawaii might have a bottle or two, but I never called them.

Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum10

This beautiful fragrance unfolds cinematically, opening with a sophisticated floral notes, including bergamot and yang ylang. This phase is a bit overwhelming for me.  The overall feeling is walking through a floral area that is very near the beach. After about an hour, this floral scent recedes completely and does not reappear until my next, fresh application.

Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum09

After the initial floral phase, the scent mellows into a very sensual beach oil. Unlike Bobbi Brown’s and other beach fragrance, Guerlain’s sensual phase is far more exotic, rich, worldly and luxurious.  There’s no hint of Coppertone here–instead, there is a rich, deep, uniquely Terracottta vanilla oil that I find immediately relaxing and warm. I swear, on days that I wear it my pace is slower as this very elegant and complex scent occasionally makes a slight appearance. It’s gorgeous. 

Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum07

This very lovely scent is highly limited edition and hard to find. If you have any hints as to its availability, won’t you please share in the comments section?

Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum06

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Apr 062013

Dries Scent

Frederic Malle has recently released Dries van Noten par Frederic Malle ($185/50 ml.), the first of three in a series of “olfactory portraits of extraordinary individuals.” As the description goes, this is “a modern oriental evocative of classic perfumes which translate the distinctive sensuality of Dries van Noten’s world.”

Fashion Designer Dries Van Noten

Fashion Designer Dries van Noten

I find the mens and women’s clothing designed by Dries van Noten to be fascinating, beautifully made, and timeless. There is always a deeply human element to them, sometimes a quirk, sometimes something deeply evocative of culture, and extraordinarily well tailored. His shops are like a journey, I always feel like I’ve been to foreign land when I’m inside, and enjoying every step along the way. His research and originality in developing interesting and original fabrics is legendary. And, as his critics have pointed out, his clothes look modern but, due to some twist in the Dries-time continuum, it becomes impossible for them to look outdated. One could wear something made ten years ago, and still look completely up to date. A sketchbook of his work (click to enlarge):

Dries Van Noten Collage

When I learned that Frederic Malle was introducing the Dries van Noten fragrance, I was immediately curious. I obtained sample, and have been experimenting and gathering opinions about the scent.  The notes include sandalwood, vanilla, sacrasol, a refined patchouli, saffron and jasmine absolute.

As one might expect from a scent based on a designer of both mens and women’s clothing, the scent is appropriate for either gender. My first apray, which I shared with a friend, gave us both the same impression–this was easily one of the most complicated fragrances that we’d ever experienced. The notes were as separately defined, yet as harmonious, as Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. In that first moment, I had the experience of sensing a tapestry of individual spices, wrapped in a bit of vanilla and sandalwood. Unlike some scents which hit emotionally, Malle’s Dries van Noten strikes me as an intellectual scent, a Rubic’s cube that holds together but is unquestionably made of many individual moving parts. The sillage is robust, and the scent lasted easily all day. The dry-down was powdery and comforting, with a strong harmonious spice. After a few hours, the notes seemed to blend and blur into a pleasant, slightly sweet spiced fragrance.

Frederick Malle

Frederic Malle

Dries van Noten is a fragrance is office friendly for either gender. As an interesting and pleasing scent, the effect is strong but far from overpowering. There’s a level of sophistication in the works, clearly the work of someone who is operating at the height of his craft. This is an eminently gift-able fragrance to someone who has a library of excellent books and a very high taste level.

The sample that I have is generous enough to last me for several weeks, particularly as I’m trying out several others at the same time. For now, this is on my “maybe” list, but I haven’t placed any orders yet and there are a few others above it. Perhaps this has more to do with my mood for a more feminine, emotional scents at present, rather than a reflection of the superb craft of this fragrance.

Available at Barneys (also available in 100 ml. size)

Other reviews:

  • Bois de Jasmine is here.
  • Grain de Musc is here.
  • Now Smell This is here.



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Mar 102013

Chanel 19321

Chanel has just released another Exclusif fragrance, 1932 ($130/ 2.5 fl. oz./ $230/ 6.8 fl. oz.) The fragrance is available online at, Chanel boutiques which carry fragrances, and Chanel Studios within department stores. I received this small sample from Nordstrom Seattle, a designated Chanel Studio which carries the Exclusif line, when I placed my phone order for some other products.

This fragrance release commemorates Chanel’s new 1932 Fine Jewelry collection. Like Gabrielle Chanel’s original 1932 jewelry exhibition, this latest fine jewelry line is based on the beauty and purity of the diamond.

Chanel 1932 jewelry

Rather than coldness, the fragrance seeks to evoke comets, stars and ribbons–the shapes used in the original collection. According to Chanel:

1932 evokes a dazzling array of diamond stars and comets. Created petal by petal, the soft,woody fragrance expresses an enveloping heart of White Jasmine.

Chanel 1932a1

Jasmine is the strongest note that I pick up when first applied, a note that I do not typically like. In 1932, the white jasmine the note is so soft and refined that I actually do like this as it is blended. The jasmine plays with the other floral notes and woods, and lacks the unpleasantness that jasmine often has.  It’s a diamond jasmine, if you will, in the sophisticated sense of the term. I’m picking up other bright, soft notes of rose, ylang-ylang, and the slightest touch of carnation. The base is a very soft wood, perhaps with a bit of vanilla. A full list of all of the notes appears here at Basenotes.

Chanel 19325

Chanel 1932 has a floral feminine delicacy. There is something a bit formal and light about it, like dress worn in a proper French garden. It is soft as silk jersey. It does transform one back in time. Although I find the jewelry design quite modern, the fragrance does seem to derive from 1932 as appropriate for  teas, weddings, and other daytime social events of the era.

Chanel 19324

Chanel 1932 is quite gentle in its sillage and lasting power. If you shy about strong fragrances, you will love Chanel 1932. I applied several dabs and found that it was not at all strong. In truth, I had to work to find the scent after about six hours of wear. As my skin warmed during a late afternoon walk, the scent re-awakened again for a few more hours. However, those who love strong scents should note that 1932 is perhaps the most subtle fragrance that I’ve ever worn. It’s quite pleasant, it will go on my “gift list” for future occasions.

Bottom line:  This is a lovely, polished floral that will appeal to those who love a soft, feminine, traditional fragrance.

For more about Chanel’s 1932 jewelry collection, please enjoy this video:

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Mar 032013


At Cafe Makeup, we must admit to adoring deep, relaxing fragrances. Maison Francis Kurkdjian has a collection of three based on the oud note– Cashmere Mood, Silk Mood, and Velvet Mood ($375 each/ 2.4 fl. oz. extrait de parfum spray, available online).  This trio was imagined by parfumier Francis Kurkdjian “as feelings, sensations, rather like those one would have when wrapped in a fragrant stole. The play on shimmer, comfort and warmth. They are precious, intense and concentrated.” We received samples of all three:

Maison Francis Kurkdjian1a

Our samples

As you likely know, “oud” is a fragrance note that derives from the resin that is formed in the heartwood of Aquilaria and Gyrinops trees (beautifully explained here at Blogdorf Goodman). We found that each shared the soft emotion and a touch of spice. All had a lovely lasting quality, as you would expect from an extrait de parfum. They were rather strong at the first spray. After some time, they became part of the skin in a more subtle way but continued to project a sillage. I notice the scents later in the day seemed to have mellowed, they were not overpowering but continued to remind me of their deliciousness. Each has a completely different character.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud trio3

Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Silk Mood was my favorite. This is the lightest, with a very slight touch of floral and spice that is absolutely appropriate for either gender. According to Kurkdjian, it is “airy reminiscent of the soft touch of a petal,” although there are woodsy and warm notes  that ground the overall impression. According to Kurkdjian, Silk Mood’s notes are Bulgarian rose, Moroccan blue chamomile and papyrus. This is an extraordinarily complicated and mysterious fragrance for one that is so soft. I strongly dislike shrill florals, and Silk Mood had none of that. The wood and rose notes are the strongest, particularly at the first spray, although I sensed some green and spice (although not nearly as green as Serge Lutens De Profundis). I had the impression of being inside Silk Mood, the blend was very comforting and natural, yet very refined.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian3

Kurkdjian Cashmere Mood is perhaps the most classic oud of the three, although there is a softness that best fits the parfumier’s vision of a comforting wrap. Certainly a universal scent, this oud has Moroccan labdanum, Loatian benzoin and vanilla. This is beautifully harmonized and slightly addictive. Like Silk Mood, this is both very complex and very refined. There seems to be a bit of smoke, a fair amount of spice, and masculinity in this (I feel as though I’ve borrowed Cary Grant’s cashmere blazer and “forgot” to return it). I agree with Kurkdjian that this gives a “second skin” effect, there is nothing distant about this fragrance. Rather, this perfume holds you in its center and creates a world of deep, warm comfort.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian2

There cannot be any question that Velvet Mood is the strongest, and most long-lasting, of the three. This combines cinnamon, saffron, and Brazilian copahu balm. It has a resiny quality that brings out the fullest scent of the oud. Velvet Mood has a very assertive quality that gives it some muscle. This is a very full, strong, almost heavy fragrance that in intended to cast you into its spell. It cannot be just my imagination that this lasted longer than a day on me, as the Scentrist noted the same quality in its review. Although Velvet Mood can be worn by either gender (I would certainly wear it), the style is more tailored and masculine.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian4

Maison Francis Kurkdjian is carried worldwide at these retailers (including Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus in the U.S.). Please call before going to a store to ensure that stock is available as these are just now slated to release in March 2013.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud trio1a

Bottom line: Intense, incredibly unique, and well worth exploring.

Cafe Makeup was provided with these sample bottles without charge for consideration for review.

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