Scratchy Glitter

Observations for the easily irritated.

Category: Unwanted Reviews

Curl Up in a Perfume Bottle: L’Eau d’Hiver

full frame shot of snowflakes

Photo by Pixabay on

…by Jean-Claude Ellena

Top note: bergamot

Base notes: iris, hedione, hawthorn, heliotrope

L’Eau d’Hiver (“winter water”) may be the most comforting fragrance there is.

Almondy scents, like heliotrope blossom and almond extract itself, have a uniquely comforting effect on me–aromatherapy, if you will. I’m not quite sure why. I could say “Grandma’s baking,” or maybe Grandma’s cherry-almond Jergens lotion, that iconic scent of boomer childhoods. At any rate, I love the smell. And I’m in particular need of comfort now, due to the sooner-than-expected loss of my beloved cat Esmerelda, done in by kidney disease at the age of 11. And I can say with confidence that Ez would have approved of today’s review. She once came nosing around while I was sampling a candied-almond fragrance (L’Artisan’s Jour de Fete, for those keeping score at home), sniffed the sample vial, and burst into purring. I’ve never had a cat react that positively to a perfume before. (This was not Ez’s only assistance with perfume sampling. When I was sniffing Annick Goutal’s citrusy Eau du Sud, she raced up, grabbed the sample card, tossed it up in the air, and raced away.)

So. On to L’Eau d’Hiver. Winter is my least favorite season, so I approached this scent with some trepidation. Would it have a chilling effect? There is a breath of freshness at first, due to the bergamot (a particularly fresh form of citrus) and hedione (an aromachemical used to impart radiance to fragrances). The opening is cool and delicate, like a thin rind of ice, but the body of the scent is warm. The heliotrope (also known as “cherry-pie flower” because of its scent) gives it that almond quality I love, but the scent is still delicate, not doughy or cloying. For some reason, this scent smells “periwinkle” to me, a pale lavender-blue. Which happens to be my favorite color. So, all in all, this is a winner for me.

Let’s do our 3 Criteria (remember them?? Seems like a long time since I did a perfume review. Or any post, for that matter.)

Personality: I’m not sure it’s exactly “me,” since it’s such a pastel scent. But it has such a personal effect on me, it might qualify for that reason alone.

Preferences: Love.

Comfort level: Comfort in a bottle.

Rating: 5 out of 5

In the Weeds: Vetiver Extraordinaire

{It should come as no surprise that I don’t know how the photo ended up at the bottom of this post instead of the top, and that I don’t know how to move it back, or if that’s even possible.}

…by Dominique Ropion

Top notes: bergamot, bitter orange, pink pepper

Middle notes: vetiver, cedar, sandalwood

Base notes: oakmoss, musk

For the first time, I’m dealing with a fragrance that’s primarily marketed to men. So I won’t be judging it according to my usual will-it-work-for-me criteria, but I will include Rom’s opinion.

Vetiver (derived from the roots of a grass found in, for example, Haiti) is a love-or-hate note for me. Some of my favorite fragrances (Mitsouko by Guerlain, Sycomore by Chanel, Vetiver Tonka by Hermes) contain a bunch of it. It lends a smoky dryness to a scent that I find very appealing. However, it also has a “nutty,” almost meaty aspect that I can find bothersome, and that is the case here.

The notes list would indicate that vetiver is just one of many components here, but trust the name of the fragrance instead. This is all about the vetiver, and the other notes are just accents to make it even more Vetiver.

For that reason, it’s taken me a long time to get around to reviewing it. Not because it’s complex, but because–it’s vetiver. What else is there to say? If you already know what vetiver smells like, you’ll already know what this smells like. If you don’t know what it smells like, but want to find out, try this and you’ll know.


“At first there’s something harsh, almost like detergent. And something that tickles my nose–maybe the pink pepper. But after that, there’s something stony, kind of mineral, that I really like. It smells like something a wealthy middle-aged man would wear. But for evening, not for the office.”


green tree photo

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on

Oranges: Bigarade, Cologne & Concentree

mandarin fruit

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on

…by Jean-Claude Ellena, whom we’ve already met in connection with Angeliques sous la Pluie.

Top notes: bitter orange (that’s what “bigarade” means), cardamom, pink pepper

Base notes: hay, cedar

I’m not burningly interested in citrus scents. I don’t dislike them; they just bore me. However, I was surprised by my enthusiasm for this one.

That being said, there still isn’t a lot to say about it. If you like oranges, you’ll like it; if not, not. The main note is mouthwatering, juicy orange, accented by greenness and a bit of wood, like the leaves and twigs of the orange tree. (Not its flower, fortunately, since I am a long-time hater of orange blossom.) I found it surprisingly lovely–for some reason, “lovely” is the exact word that came to mind when I smelled it.

This is, technically, two different scents–Cologne Bigarade and Bigarade Concentree–but it’s a difference of intensity more than anything. When the line put together gift samplers of their scents for Christmas awhile back, they put Cologne B. in the women’s sampler, and B. Concentree in the men’s, which seems about right, since the more concentrated version smells a bit earthier, and the lighter one more delicate.

Since these reviews are All About Me…

–Personality: Not really me. It is, after all, orange, and therefore irrepressibly cheerful and sunny, even though the green/wood notes provide a bit of shade.

–Comfort level: No problem. Even the Concentree is basically a light scent, just not as light as the Cologne.

–Preferences: Like I said, lovely, and I was surprised by how much I like it, but basically, I don’t want to smell like oranges.

Rating: 5 out of 5, nevertheless.


Retro Decadence: Une Fleur de Cassie

women s purple and yellow lips with yellow liquid

Photo by Oleg Magni on

…by Dominique Ropion (creator of Ysatis, Amarige, and Alien, among others)

Top notes: aldehydes, bergamot, rose

Middle notes: mimosa, cassie (another type of mimosa)

Base notes: sandalwood, vanilla

One thing I’ve learned in my sampling is that perfumes that smell weird to other people don’t smell weird to me. Maybe this means I’m weird. At any rate, Une Fleur de Cassie has been described by others as smelling like wet cardboard at best, and at worst like things I won’t mention here, except that they involve babies or the circus. Use your imagination.

Using my imagination is proving difficult for me, though, because I find Cassie a bit hard to describe. It’s centered around mimosa, a note I usually find too prim yet perky for my taste. But Cassie is neither of those things. It is lush and honeyed. This is another of those deliberately-retro scents, like a woman who only wears vintage clothing–that woman on a sultry summer night.

While racking my brain trying to think of a comparison for it (because you have to think of something while you’re walking to the bus stop), it occurred to me: There used to be (maybe still is) a line of erotic oils, unguents, etc. called Kama Sutra. They had a product I was fond of called Honey Dust. This was honey-scented (and flavored, for that matter) powder. So it smelled like honey and powder, in a hippy-dippy sort of way. And Une Fleur de Cassie is like that hippie honey powder–if a time warp brought it back to the Roaring Twenties. Got that?

Personality: I’d like to think I’m the sort to lounge about with kohl-rimmed eyes, but kohl is wasted behind glasses.

Comfort level: Like with Iris Poudre, there are aldehydes in the opening. It doesn’t always bother me, but it sometimes does, and we’re going zero-tolerance here, so I must regretfully reject it.

Preferences: Love it, but with reservations.

Rating: 5 out of 5

But I am not the rightful wearer of Une Fleur de Cassie.


Unafraid of the Dark: Noir Epices

healthy holiday dry eating

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on

…by Michel Roudnitska, son of Edmond who did Le Parfum de Therese

Top notes: orange, geranium

Middle notes: clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper

Base: sandalwood, patchouli

Now THIS is “introverted but intense”!

If you’d told me I’d fall in love with a fragrance called “Black Spices,” I’d have said you were insane. I tried it, well, because it’s there. Also, the Malle website has a little abstract art for each scent, with the colors that represent it, and this one was the picture I liked best–black with bands of brilliant blue.

Noir Epices is simple, stern, and austere. First a “rind” of orange, tinged with geranium (kind of spicy in its own right, though not as much as the scent of carnation, which I hate), then a layer of the namesake spices–very dry, not sweet like the spices in Musc Ravageur. These two stages last only moments, though, before the fragrance settles into sandalwood, sweet in the way that wood can be sweet, and very smooth. The whole reminds me of a high-class version of Old Spice. Noir Epices is unisex, while Old Spice is marketed to men, but it was originally a women’s fragrance, called American Old Spice.

Surprisingly, as a long-time spice hater, I love this fragrance. Maybe it’s because the spices don’t last long enough to annoy me, and that smooth wood scent is gorgeous. It’s not comforting like Musc Ravageur is, but it makes me feel good anyway.

On to our criteria:

Personality–Oh, yes.

Comfort level–No problem.

Preferences–Again, surprised by the spices, but no problem again.

Verdict: I might be the rightful wearer of Noir Epices, but I still have a lot of ground to cover. Let’s call it a runner-up at this point.


Weighted Blanket: Musc Ravageur

closeup photo of silver tabby cat on red textile

Photo by Jenna Hamra on

…by Maurice Roucel

Top notes: bergamot, mandarin, lavender

Middle notes: cinnamon, vanilla, amber

Base notes: sandalwood, musk

This is The One, at least according to my adviser at Frederic Malle responding to my questionnaire. He did recommend a couple others to address specific concerns, but this is the one he recommended in response to my personality and style answers–the core of the argument, as it were.

I was a bit bemused by this, as Musc Ravageur is not one I would have thought likely for the honor–although I didn’t think I’d dislike it, either. Musk and woods,  with vanilla and sweet spices. And no flowers. It sounds like the scent equivalent of those weighted blankets they recommend to soothe anxiety–which seems so counter-intuitive that I feel a bit anxious just thinking about it. (I used to hate when my mother would tightly tuck me into bed, as if to keep me from falling out. I’d ruck the covers loose as soon as she left the room.)

But considering my specific answers to the questionnaire, I think I can see where he got the idea. I said I wanted my scent to be “introverted but intense.” Well, I don’t know how “Ravageur” I am–very cool name, though!–but this perfume does suit someone who sorts the laundry every week and ends up with a pile of dark clothes twice as big as the light-colored ones. Also, I said I usually wear “soft knits with dramatic jewelry,” and this is certainly Soft Knits with Dramatic Jewelry in a bottle.

The touch of brilliant citrus at the top leads quickly into the deep darkness of the other notes. I often find cinnamon problematic, in perfume as in food, but I like its use here; it keeps all those dark opaque notes from smelling flat. The fragrance gets increasingly vanillic as it wears, but the vanilla, though creamy, is also smudgy with musk and woods, so that this unisex scent is not too sweet for a man.

Opinions seem evenly divided on just how “Ravageur” this stuff is. I fall in the middle here. I wouldn’t recommend it if “clean and fresh” is the highest praise you could give a perfume. It is a straightforward fragrance, and a very sensual one. But it doesn’t smell like a hooker who’s been working too hard.

And so…

Personality: It could go either way, I suppose. It doesn’t smell flagrantly Not Me, but like I said, it wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind.

Comfort level: Surprise! In spite of my fears of being smothered, I feel comfortable with this from start to finish. Maybe I could use a weighted blanket after all.

Preferences: When I first tried it, while I liked it well enough, something in it reminded me of root beer–I guess the cinnamon and vanilla–and I don’t like root beer. But for some reason, the more time I spent with it, the less I smelled root beer, or the less bothered I was by that. By the last couple of wearings, I enjoyed it heartily all the way through.

Rating: For the above reason–most of the time, I’d have said 4 out of 5, but I’d have to give it a 5 for the last couple wearings. I guess this is why we sample first.

Verdict: I am reserving judgment at this time.


Blinding White: Lys Mediterranee

nature blue summer yellow

Photo by Pixabay on

…by Edouard Flechier, the creator of Poison, a scent which will always make me think of partying at the old F.O.P. Club in the ’90’s. I shudder to think of how I probably over-sprayed it.

Notes: bergamot, orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose, ginger lily, clove, sea breeze accord, musk

This perfume is a study of ginger lilies. I’ve never smelled those, but I do have Casablanca lilies, and their blooming is an event every summer–creamy white, saucer-sized flowers,  gorgeously-scented, almost vanillic.

The idea with Lys Mediterranee (“Mediterranean Lily”) is to present the scent of ginger lilies permeated with Mediterranean sea spray, and I think the perfume accomplishes this brilliantly. There’s a leafy green note at first, then that magnificent lily smell, with a spiciness I assume is the “ginger” aspect. It gets softer and muskier as it dries down, but it is a bright scent throughout, like a day in the blazing sun.  The “sea spray accord” marks one of the few times I’ve sniffed a marine note without feeling queasy. It’s very subtle and well-done.

Yet another masterpiece floral portrait from the Malle line, but….

Personality-wise: I am not a white floral lover. I like to sniff them in small doses, not live with them. I am not a white floral sort of person, either. I doubt anyone has ever used the word “sultry” to describe me.

Comfort level: This scent actually grew on me with repeated sampling, but still, no. It’s not the smell itself, exactly, it’s just that it’s so bright. It’s like a blindingly bright day, and I’m not a sun-lover. Combine this with its potency–a mere dab is long-lasting and well-projecting, and I can’t imagine what a full-sized spray would be like. More than a drop is too much for me.

Preferences: Like I said, another in the I’d-like-to-smell-this-but-on-someone-else category. But if you love ginger lilies, I can’t imagine a better rendition.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Verdict: I am not the rightful wearer of Lys Mediterranee.

Pink Flamingo: Lipstick Rose

pink lipstick with green case

Photo by on

…by Ralf Schwieger

Top notes: grapefruit, violet

Middle notes: rose, iris, raspberry

Base notes: vanilla, sandalwood, musk

For anyone who loves the smell of old-fashioned lipstick. This even has the somewhat-waxy smell that lipstick does. It starts out more floral and powdery, with a hint of fruit, ends up with more vanilla than flowers, but still lipsticky. This is such a retro scent that it’s a bit self-conscious, but it does what it sets out to do very well. It has a sense of humor–if you can imagine that in a perfume–in a modern, arch sort of way, like a pink flamingo placed on one’s lawn ironically.

What it reminds me of most is my mother, that lover of lipstick. Although I don’t know whether she’d be amused by this concept in perfume, or more bemused. (Her main comment about fragrance that I remember was, “I don’t know why all you girls wear musk oil now,” although I was not one of those girls.)

It did not take me long to form My Personal Opinion about this one:

Personality: So not-me, it might be the anti-me. This in spite of its prominent rose note.

Comfort level: It’s such a bad fit for me that I feel uncomfortable wearing it for that reason alone–it’s like clothes that don’t fit, although I do enjoy the vanillic drydown.

Preferences: I don’t dislike it, but I don’t find it compelling, either. It’s not one of those perfumes where I get all conflicted–“It isn’t me, but it smells so good!” (Creed Spring Flower comes to mind, which actually comes in a bright-pink bottle.) It’s just…OK. The very definition of…

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Final verdict: I am not the rightful wearer of Lipstick Rose.

Blue Flame: Iris Poudre

beautiful bloom blooming blossom

Photo by Anthony on

…by Pierre Bourdon, creator of Davidoff Cool Water among other things

Top notes: aldehydes, rose, violet, ylang-ylang

Middle note: iris (orris)

Base notes: sandalwood, tonka bean, musk

This is the “bluest” scent I’ve ever smelled. It makes me think of the blue of a gas flame.

The scent of iris is actually derived from the roots (called orris), not the flower, and has a powdery, chalky, rooty quality. Iris Poudre means “Powdery Iris,” and this perfume emphasizes the more powdery, refined quality of iris, rather than its earthiness. (For emphasis on the earthy, vegetal quality, check out Iris Silver Mist, which I’ve reviewed previously, but I can’t get the link to work. For something less sinister than ISM, try Bois d’Iris by The Different Company.)

Iris Poudre is just beautiful. A bit powdery, but not smotheringly dusty, a bit floral, but not overwhelming, and blue, blue, blue. Quintessentially cool and sophisticated. The drydown warms up a bit as the wood and musk come out, but it never gets exactly cuddly.

Rating: 5 out of 5

So how does it stack up for me personally?

Personality–Well, non-cuddly is kind of a defining characteristic for me, so it works.

Comfort level–There’s a minor problem here. Iris Poudre is an aldehydic floral, like Chanel No. 5 or Chanel No. 22. Aldehydes are synthetics that give “lift” to a fragrance, rather like carbonation to a beverage. I’m not opposed to them on principle, but a little goes a long way. Iris Poudre has just a touch too much to suit me first thing in the morning.

Preferences: It is gorgeous in its blueness, but…

Final Verdict: I am not the rightful wearer of Iris Poudre.

By the way, Rom is watching “Forged in Fire” on TV, watching people make knives, while I review perfume. It’s a gender-role festival!


Lilac Fanatic: En Passant

white petaled flowers

Photo by Lubov Tandit on

…by Olivia Giacobetti

Notes: white lilac, orange tree leaf, cucumber, wheat, white musk, cedar

I am not a lilac fanatic (although I do enjoy them), but if you are, you need to try this. It’s another “rainy” scent, and it’s like spring fever in a bottle.

Olivia Giacobetti is known for hazy, delicate scents (she did  Hiris and Passage d’Enfer , which I’ve reviewed previously), and this is a classic example. But it has a clean, wet-pavement sort of feel that makes it more “modern” (I hesitate to use that word, because what seems modern one year seems quaint and dated the next) than the description “lilac perfume” would seem to indicate. It’s supposed to evoke a lilac bush next to a bakery (the name means “Passing By” or “In Passing”), and I find the wheat note very apparent. Of course, being married to a baker might help in that regard.

There isn’t much more to say about it, it would seem. It’s a simple scent, but is so much greater than the sum of its parts. It is SPRING, with all the hopeful yearning that evokes. It’s nostalgic, without being old-fashioned. It’s a great fragrance.

Rating: 5 out of 5

But as it relates to me personally…

Personality: It’s not really me. Too pastel. It’s like a watercolor I’d admire in a gallery, but would feel no desire to buy.

Comfort level: This is my major problem with it. Something about it makes me queasy, even though I love the scent. I often have that reaction with aquatic or grain notes, and both are present here. So I feel a bit smothered after awhile.

Preferences: Like I said, great smell. But something I’d only want to sniff occasionally, preferably on other people.

Verdict: I am not the rightful wearer of En Passant.


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