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Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere

June 25, 2015
Sergey Melkonov / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

A beautifully sheer, crisp take on the enduring classic that is Chanel No. 5, the wonderful Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere is perfect for anyone who adores the original but who finds it too rich and too bombastic for use in the summer heat. Or indeed, for anyone who can’t stand the original.

To be perfectly honest, although I do have a healthy appreciation for the original (especially in its vintage extrait form), it’s not a perfume I ever managed to love. I do love Eau Premiere, though. To me, it smells like a glass of lemony champagne poured over powdered rose, jasmine, and sandalwood. If the original No. 5 is a luxurious cashmere, Eau Premiere is a gossamer-thin silk. Just the ticket for a lunch out with girlfriends on a hot day.

It’s been reformulated. The first version, in the tall bottles, is the best, but is very difficult to find these days. The current version, housed in the more standard-issue Chanel square bottles (those tall bottles must have made the OCD folks at Chanel shudder every time they walked past a Chanel display in a department store), is closer to the original No. 5, and is all around a heavier, muskier, more abstract thing altogether.

I’ve been through a whole 150ml bottle of the original version, but now that I’m out, I’m not bothering with the new version. I’m done. Switching to 31 Rue Cambon instead from here on out.


Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial L’Eau

June 25, 2015

Well, technically, Guerlain’s Shalimar Parfum Initial L’Eau Si Sensuelle. That’s right – a flanker of a flanker of a flanker.

I don’t care. Laugh all you like! I love this stuff.

And get this – this was my first Guerlain. EVER. It was my neural pathway to the original mothership oriental herself, i.e., real Shalimar. (Every time someone says that a flanker was their introduction to the original fragrance, a Thierry Wasser gets his wings.)

I can’t believe they just discontinued this little beauty, the bastards. I know that people are a bit sneery about this being a flanker of a flanker, but, honestly, it is just a fabulous smelling perfume. Whereas Parfum Initial is heavy on the iris/berry/patchouli and more than a few degrees closer to Dior Homme Intense than Shalimar, this one reads as a true Shalimar Light.

L’Eau is also, dare I say, a whole lot better than Parfum Initial. It is like a summer sketch of the original Shalimar using only the gauziest of notes. The heavy, stinky bergamot opening of the original, which can be utterly frightening to the unindoctrinated, has been replaced by sunny, zippy orange, neroli, and grapefruit. It smells like lemon tart or lime cheesecake sprinkled with candied rose petals. The opening is so irresistibly delicious and aromatic, you will want to drink your wrist.

The scent, being simple and direct, reaches the heart and base very quickly, where it stays in a lightly spiced, lightly creamy vanilla register for the duration. The lime cheesecake smell is utterly delicious. It makes me ridiculously happy.

Of course, don’t go into this expecting Shalimar – there is no smoke, heavy vanilla, leather, civet, or amber here. But this works fantastically as a sort of summer cologne-style version of Shalimar when you want to stay on the lighter side of things. Highly recommended, and stock up while you can still find this in shops. Knowing Guerlain, they will probably re-release this or Parfum Initial in the bee bottles in twenty years and try to charge us all $450 a bottle for it. So….buy it now.

Review Summer

Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana

June 25, 2015

Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana consistently comes in at the top of the bestseller lists in the United States – and with very good reason: it is hard to beat in the summer refresher stakes. Featuring a sparkling green apple note and a translucent amber base, Light Blue is a pleasure to spritz on liberally in the heat. Its fruit notes are sheer rather than syrupy, so the overall effect is crisp and bright – like biting into an ice-cold Granny Smith.

It’s a pity, though, that the bright apple opening cannot be maintained past the one hour mark. The sheer amber base reveals itself to be Iso E Super, and the remaining three hours limp on in an agony of synthetics (for me). A pleasure at the start, but a plain old Iso E Super or cedramber base makes this one a miss for me.