Holiday Gift Guide

 

It was difficult to edit my gift picks as I want everything I reviewed this past year and would love to give them all as gifts. In any event, here it is, an attempt that hopefully covers reasonable price points and varying tastes to aid in your gifting pleasure.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume Hedera Helix: Wouldn’t you love to receive the lovely compacts pictured above? I certainly would as they’re filled with Roxana Villa’s newest fragrance, Hedera Helix, an olfactory ode to ivy. Not surprisingly, this perfume is a leafy green chypre that has a dense and addicting note of oakmoss as its foundation. Both incarnations of Hedera Helix, solid and liquid, are a complex blend of nearly forty different essences, but I prefer the solid’s focus on the effervescent top notes of clementine, orange blossom, and grapefruit. (The liquid is much more resinous and inky and also very beautiful). The heart is full of warm beeswax and woods and the drydown is dappled with sweet rose and jasmine petals. I find this progression from chypre green to pale pink to be quite compelling and all together lovely. The mini compact is $30 for approximately 1.5 gm. If you live in the Portland, OR area, you can test Roxana’s perfumes at Spring Creek Store.

Red Flower Sweet Alyssum: Sweet Alyssum is Red Flower’s latest perfume offering which evokes the burgeoning blossoms of spring. And what better time to have your spirits lifted by iris, violet, honey and hay than in the middle of winter’s darkness? It’s a scent to daydream by. Plan that escape to a sundrenched shore, or imagine the color of that first blooming violet, heralding the new garden season. Whatever the dream, Sweet Alyssum will make it brighter. Sweet Alyssum is $138 for 1.0 oz, exclusively at Garnet Hill.

 

Alima Nourishing Lip Balm: Speaking of dreams, I can’t go to bed without putting lip balm on my lips. And I know I’m not the only balm addict out there. I bet you’re one yourself, or you know one pretty well. Alima’s Nourishing Lip Balm will satisfy even the pickiest guy or gal with its minty scent and smooth texture. Natural is sans color, perfect for bedtime or over lipstick, but I also adore Fig, a shimmering bronzy-plum that’s perfect for everyday wear. $7 per tube at Saffron Rouge.

Ilia Beauty Blossom Lady: I reviewed Ilia’s lipsticks in September and told you all how much I loved Blossom Lady. Well, I am still loving it. So much so that I need to get myself another tube. I also need to pick up a couple extras to give to friends since it’s such a flattering color. I just can’t think of a complexion this would not brighten up! More pictures and gushing are here.  $24 at Beautyhabit.com

For Strange Women Decadence and Debauchery: For Strange Women is a perfumery that I newly found this year and have been enjoying a great deal. I have a few favorites- Moss & Ivy, November, and Horse to be specific- but Decadence and Debauchery ranks high up there and strikes me as the one most people would be drawn to. It has a little bit of everything from tobacco to violet to vanilla and it’s all whipped up into one richly decadent perfume. $40 for 1/4oz bottle of perfume oil on etsy.

Aftelier Perfumes Pear Fir and Coffee Body Oil: Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes always has something new up her sleeve whether its creating Chef’s Essences®, perfumed teas, or candles. This time, she has caught me by surprise with her newest Body Oil & Hair Elixir; Pear Fir and Coffee. That’s quite a trio of scents! When I first applied the oil on my skin I thought, “Huh, that really is pear, fir and coffee.” After twenty minutes more I thought, “Wow! That still is pear, fir and coffee and I’m liking it!” Somehow these seemingly disparate notes- seemingly to me being a fragrance sniffer rather than a fragrance creator- work in concert to not only harmonize with each other but also allow each other room to shine as individual notes. This oil would be perfect for the perfumista in your life that is open to new olfactory experiences. $40 for 3.5 oz pump bottle at Aftelier.com.

Chanel No 19 Poudre: I will admit, unabashedly, that I have fallen hard for Chanel No 19 Poudre. I know it hasn’t gotten rave reviews from other perfume bloggers as it’s been deemed as a watered down version of the original, and not terribly inspired. Well, I disagree as Poudre makes me swoon with delight. The opening is a tender and sheer rendering of galbanum unlike the original which is much too cold and sharp for my taste. The iris glistens and remains steadfast throughout Poudre’s evolution, but is at its finest when it melds into the tonka-sandalwood base which is delectable! $85 for 1.7oz at Nordstrom.com.

DSH Vanille Botanique: Another new fragrance launch that has garnered a lot of praise, is Prada Candy. I like it well enough, but I’m not feeling the love quite so strongly. I much prefer DSH Perfumes Vanille Botanique which also starts off with smooth caramel but with a boozy twist. I find Vanille Botanique to satisfy the same type of craving as Candy, but in a more interesting manner. It might not be the “benzoin overload” the Prada PR claim Candy to be, but Vanille Botanique is a lush cloak of tonka, balsams and yes, benzoin. And even though I just sang praises for Chanel Poudre, when given the chance, I would rather spend my dollars on, and give my loved ones a gift from an indie perfumer. $130 for 30ml at indiescents.com.

Happy Shopping! ~Trish

Share

November in the Temperate Deciduous Forest

November in the Temperate Deciduous Forest is not a line from a poem, although it would be a lovely one if it were. On second thought, maybe it is a haiku that also serves as the name of a perfume. Regardless, these words and the accompanying fragrance feel very apropos at this moment because even though the Northwest is known for its evergreen glory, the city of Portland is surrounded by the deciduous splendor of fall.

Leaves are freshly fallen, and the soil is damp of course. The infamous rain has arrived. Fireplaces are being stoked once again and the outdoor smells of fall are among us. November in the Temperate Deciduous Forest- let’s call it November for short- is one of those fragrances that not only echoes these autumnal smells but also enhances them and makes them feel more vibrant.

November is a 2011 release from Jill McKeever of For Strange Women Perfumery. Jill’s product descriptions are vividly romantic, and the one for November is no exception. Her analogy of lapsang souchong tea brewing on a forest cabin’s wood buring stove could not capture the mood of this perfume more perfectly.

November starts with a smokiness that curls through the air, caressing the skin rather than consuming or overwhelming it. Lapsang souchong possesses a roasted, smoked scent and flavor and I wonder if Jill used a tincture of that tea since it is seems so prevalent in the opening. Additionally, a delicate lacing of neroli gives sparkle and a gentle floral quality to November’s rustic beginning. There’s also a minty quality that lends a fecundity and depth to the forest scene outside the cozy cabin.

The heart of November explores the richness of the woodland soil, digging up dark earth, roots and meandering mushrooms. The forest floor is now under your nails, knees damp with rain soaked dirt and crushed leaves. November is a long day of trekking through the trees, with an olfactory treasure as your reward.

The resins from the woods around you imbue the skin with a scent that is piquant, yet suggestive of an animalic muskiness. The fact that this is a perfume oil augments the process of November melding into your skin and becoming a fluid part of your natural scent, after much time spent in the temperate deciduous forest.

November is available at For Strange Women at etsy. $40 for a 1/4oz bottle.

Disclosure: I purchased this sample myself from For Strange Women. Opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

Image by Raceytay on etsy.com

Share

For Strange Women Natural Perfumery

I don’t know Jill McKeever, but I feel like I do. I have spent hours perusing her etsy shop and poring over her blogposts which is the way we get to know each other these days I suppose. Her natural perfumery is called For Strange Women, which speaks to Jill’s overall aesthetic. It’s slightly oddball, but certainly feels warm and inviting as it’s for us, quirks and all.

I became acquainted with Jill via Twitter when she followed me. I then popped on over to her etsy shop to see what she was all about. I was immediately taken by the descriptions and gorgeous photographs of her perfumes. The images have a vintage patina but are hyper-real as if you can feel the weight of the glass and liquid just by looking at them. Shortly after this introduction, I serendipitously found her perfumes at Flutter which is a beautifully curated Portland boutique loaded with everything you don’t need, but desperately want. After seeing and smelling Jill’s creations first hand, they went on my desperately want list.

 

My friend Bishop Lennon and I were together at Flutter that day, and we both swooned over Moss & Ivy. Seriously, the whole store probably heard our oohs and ahhs. I’ve since had the opportunity to wear Moss & Ivy several times and it’s had the same effect on me every time. When it melds into the skin it evokes an atmosphere which is deeply green and mysterious, like a forest teeming with emerald ferns, gigantic pines and wet mossy soil. As Moss & Ivy develops, its herbal greenness subsides and a softer resinous base completes the woodland journey.

 

Decadence and Debauchery is also a richly resinous fragrance that exudes intrigue. But this is not for woodland nymphs. It’s a glamorous scent “suitable for burlesque beauties, Victorian darlings, and vaudeville sensations alike,” as Jill herself proclaims. Decadence and Debauchery is laden with tobacco, vanilla bourbon and violets which might sound pretty and sweet, but don’t be misled. This all natural perfume possesses a strong, full-bodied tobacco that is more dry and smoky than sweet. Vanilla and violet simply add more curves to this voluptuous fragrance which boldly makes its presence known. Decadence and Debauchery ultimately settles down a bit, and gets smoother and sweeter as immortelle coats itself over tempered woods and dry tobacco. I’ve never been one to enjoy the maple aspect of immortelle, but in this composition it’s so well harmonized with balsams that it’s more bittersweet than sugary, a perfect ending for this gorgeous perfume.

Moss & Ivy and Decadence and Debauchery are $28 for a 7.3ml (.25 oz) vial of 100% natural perfume oil.

Disclosure: Samples were sent to me for consideration by For Strange Women. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

Share