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A VERY Late Xmas Wishlist & Gift Ideas pt. 1

23 Dec

The older I get, the less I buy for myself and the more I buy for others. I’ll buy you what I think you’ll like or need, or I won’t buy you anything at all. If I see something I think you’ll like, I probably won’t be able to wait till your birthday/anniversary/Christmas – it’ll just show up at your door. I’ve bought stuff for everyone else but myself this year, but think I’ll start my wishlist around Xmas and hopefully acquire it throughout the year.

Here are a few things I’m lemming, and hoping that if you’re stuck for some last minute Xmas gifts, my list will give you a few ideas.

  1) CHOCOLATE – you can NEVER go wrong with chocolate, unless it’s Black Magic or Ferrero Rocher (not that I’m a chocolate snob, but these are GIFTS, you see). I always go local (no Godiva) because the local stuff are more artisan and tend to be fresher (there IS a difference). My go-to places for impressive, unique, local artisan chocolates are Thomas Haas (they also have the most buttery pastries) and Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France (new on the chocolate scene). Like last year, order a day or 2 ahead at Thomas Haas (they’re closed on Sundays and Mondays, unfortunately), but I spotted their gift boxes at Whole Foods on West 8th and Cambie Street. If you want to impress someone, the Earl Grey chocolate at Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France is to die for.  

2) LOLLIA WISH PARFUM – I’ve always loved the Lollia line, especially their Shea Butter handcremes (the perfect hostess gift) and their candles. I was in a store the other day and overheard 3 different people inquire and rave about the Wish parfum (which were conveniently sold out, by the way) and they were added to the waitlist. I have the Wish handcreme, and it dawned on me how dreamy it would be in a parfum (a sweet bouquet of sugarcane, vanilla bean and jasmine). Now on the hunt for it. Get on the list at Beautybar, U Life and Nikaido Gifts. Or online at Anthropologie.

3) URBAN DECAY NAKED PALETTE – This gorgeous neutral palette has sparked a lemming and buying frenzy almost as crazy as Chanel Vamp (’94)and Black Satin (’06) which went international. No, it’s more of an underground lemming craze a la Bobbi Brown’s Shimmering Nudes Palette (’08) that’s not based on the current fashion craze or fad but because it’s timeless. This palette was released at the end of summer and is completely SOLD OUT.

I have to admit I’ve lapsed on this beauty thing, but when I saw Jen from FrmHeadToToe.com use it (I’ll write a post on her later – she’s my newest makeup guru), I just HAD to have it, only to add myself to the waitlist of 300 at Sephora at Pacific Centre. Want to know how many people want it? I posted on Twitter that I was going to look for it and 4 girls joined in on the conversation – everyone wants it! I stood in the UD section just looking over the collection when the salesperson approached me and said “let me guess, you’re looking for the Naked palette too. Let me add you to the list, we should have some coming in after Christmas.” The proof is in the pudding. If I ever get my hands on it I’m buying 2. I can’t review it because I’ve never held it in me hands (there wasn’t even a tester at Sephora! Guess someone pried it out of the case and swiped it!) but Temptalia, Makeupgeek, MusingsOfAMuse and many other beauty sites gave it full marks, no cons and pretty much a must have in everyone’s collection!

Smells Like a Beach

5 Jun

I can’t believe it’s June already. And like you, I can’t believe that though it’s technically summer, it’s still raining. Accuweather predicts that in the next 15 days, 11 will have some form of precipitation. *sigh* There goes half of June. With that said, as a seasoned Vancouverite, I just shrug my shoulders, make sure I’m properly layered for the day and pack an umbrella.

But don’t despair! Summer will come soon – it has to eventually. All I’m doing is mentally and physically preparing for it because when it hits, I will want to enjoy every moment of it. How I’m physically prepping for summer? Getting highlights, a layered cut for those easygoing waves, putting on a touch of bronzer everyday and starting the self-tan process. How I’m mentally preparing for summer? By smelling it.

As I get older, it’s less important for me to smell good than it is for the fragrance to conjure up a mood,  invoke a feeling, rekindle a memory or transport me somewhere other than here. I wear Hermes Un Jardin sur le Nil on those cold rainy days because it adds a warmth to the dampness, prefer Carriere by Gendarme for those morning meetings and dab on Comme des Garcons Kyoto as it reminds me of my grandfather. But I’m digressing… again.

During the summer, I don’t let Coppertone do the talking, I get my fragrance to. Here are my picks for summer, or for now if you want to sniff, close your eyes and dream of sunny days to come.

Estee Lauder Azuree from Tom Ford Collection (fragrance and body oil) – when this launched in 2006, the perfume forums went crazy, it instantaneously sold out, there were waiting lists at all the department stores, eBay was selling at ridiculous prices and I stocked up like a mad woman. Why? It wasn’t because it was by the sexy Tom Ford, or because it was in stylish retro turquoise/gold packaging, or that it was limited edition… it was because it smelled like “white sand beaches, azure waters and sultry afternoons that go on forever.” It didn’t smell like the beaches of Miami or Mexico, but of beautiful, tanned people without a care in the world sunning in St. Tropez or the Cote d’Azur. It’s my staple fragrance for summer because the fragrance is sophisticated and subtle enough for work, and layered with the body oil it’s sexy enough for play. In 2008 it was reincarnated as Bronze Goddess (without Tom Ford), which it still remains today, but was reformulated with less Tahitian gardenia and more coconut.

Beach by Bobbi Brown – this is a more sophisticated beach scent that’s more Atlantic East Coast than West Coast or anything tropical. Think sea and salty – the Hamptons or Nights in Rodanthe.

At the Beach 1966 by CB I Hate Perfume is Bobbi Brown’s Beach + (more) Coppertone.

Miami Glow by Jennifer Lopez – I would never admit  that I own a JLo fragrance, but I have a soft spot for this one. It’s perfect for those really hot days/nights when you’re drinking sangria on the patio at Havanas with your girlfriends, smokin’ a cuban or flirting with a hot boy toy. It’s exactly what the name implies: Miami = coconut + suntan lotion + fruity drink with a cocktail umbrella. Wear it anytime or anywhere else, and you’d be deemed a social and olfactory menace. Yes, it’s that offensive. Sadly, it’s been discontinued but you can still find a few bottles at Shoppers Drug Mart and other drugstores.

Articles:

If you’re interested in reading more about scents and places, you’d like this article by Chandler Burr. He has also written about the conceptualization and development of Hermes Jardin sur le Nil for the New Yorker, and recently published the ‘must have’ list of salty/beachy/ocean scents for summer. If you want to get away, Elle magazine has a great perfume guide for travelling around the world without leaving your desk.

When it’s hard to wake up

26 May

You know you’re having one of those Mondays (or for me, it was the Tuesday after a long weekend) when you start the day using eye cream as face cream and spritzing hairspray instead of Evian on your face. All before that morning cup of coffee. But you know it’s not the caffeine in that cup that gives you that instant perk – what it really is, is the aroma.

I’m a scent connoisseur. Not that I collect bottles and bottles of perfume, though I do have a scent wardrobe and am very discerning about fragrances, but scents and aromas for me sets an atmosphere, recreates a memory or invokes a feeling. Whether using Narciso Rodriguez For Her to set a sultry mood for a night out, or burning Nippon Kodo’s Happy Valley in a hotel room to remind me of home. I keep Chandler Burr on my nightstand and Lucas Turin near the tub. I know when you walk by if you overloaded on Victoria Secret’s Love Spell, or you’re one of those lucky ones who can carry off Thierry Mugler’s Angel. But I digress.

Using scents and music (or droning news if you’re not prone to depression) is what helps me get out of the groggy and get ready for the workday (this does not apply to weekends, vacations btw – that’s a totally different scent category).

Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser – Perfect for the mornings whether you’re groggy or not. The orange scent is perfect as a pick-me-up and the gentle exfoliating and cleansing removes all traces of last night’s face cream and sloughs off all the dirt, toxins and pollutants after a night of skin detoxing. Just not around the eyes, please.

Sephora Collection: Indulgences – Coffee & Cream Morning Body Scrub & Nyakio Kenyan Coffee & Sugar Body Scrub (line relaunching 2011). Not only is caffeine a cellulite-buster, but you get your coffee fix through your pores first thing in the morning. What could be better than that? Either works great, just depending if you prefer your coffee black or with cream.

Aesop Mandarin Facial Hydrating Cream – the line is from Australia, but I discovered this in Asia where it has a major cult following. They are GREAT with samples, by the way. Buy on the continent online or at Barneys.

As for fragrance, that’ll be in another post. My music of choice to wake up these days is Annie Lennox’s Little Bird, Utah Saints Remix. Starts off mellow-ish, and within seconds you’ll be dancing around the room circa 1993.

Fragrance thoughts

23 May

There is always a difference between fragrances you receive – which says a lot about what people think you are and therefore like, or worse, what they think you should be or smell like – and fragrances you buy for yourself. It’s not only a matter of personal taste, but a sensory conveyance of who you are, what you’re feeling, or where you want to be. It is so gauche to wear a fragrance loud enough to announce to the world that you are able to buy and smell like Chanel, when you’re a teenager wearing Havianas and a belly baring tshirt. Saying that it’s wrong isn’t quite right – more like the contradiction is hilarious. But if personal and done right, no one is there to judge you except for yourself. Fragrances should leave a trail that whispers your presence when you walk by. Or a secret that you keep to yourself.

With that said, I am sitting in an air conditioned office, with stale air circulating and staring out the window at the ominous grey clouds threatening to spoil my weekend. I am wearing something cruise inspired – dark wash jeans, open toed Anne Klein ivory kitten heels and a ruffled shirt. I should be wearing something from Estee Lauder, Dior, Marc Jacobs, Chanel….

Instead.. I am wearing JLo’s Miami Glow.

It’s faint enough to not breach our workplace’s Health and Safety rules on fragranced products, but just enough for me to catch a whiff now and then, and transport me to anywhere else but here.

Fragrances ramble

22 May

Faves (and hope will never be discontinued):

  • Commes de Garcons – Kyoto: Barneys, Luckyscent. There is a free standing store at the eslite flagship store in Taipei. Available at Richard Kidd in Gastown?
  • Hermes Ambre Narguile – sweet, sweet Amber

Reaching for these days:

  • Gucci Envy Me: sweet and perfect for spring and cool summer days. Tends to get a bit sticky. Peony, Jasmine, Pink Pepper, Litchi, Pomegranate, Pineapple, Pink Musk, Seringa, White Tea, Sandalwood, Teakwood, Sensual Musk.
  • Musks
  • Carriere by Gendarme – soapy, citrus linen.

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Bottling Your Own Personal Smell

22 May

Bottling Your Own Personal Smell

Luxury perfumers create singular scents—for a price.

Famed French perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain once said, “To imagine a scent is to imagine the woman who wears it.” He probably didn’t mean it quite as literally as today’s perfumers are taking it. With the top end of the fragrance market booming, it’s no surprise that luxury brands—titans like Guerlain, Cartier and Jean Patou, as well as smaller specialized houses—are investing in the rapid-growth niche sector of bespoke perfumery. And Paris, with its concentration of the fragrance world’s most highly trained noses, remains its capital.

The process of creating one’s own personal fragrance is not unlike building a house or designing a couture ball gown. Clients at Cartier, which launched its bespoke scent creation in 2005, meet with in-house nose and industry leader Mathilde Laurent for a preliminary three-hour “conversation,” in which she gently asks questions designed to reveal their intimate tastes and subliminal desires. Laurent, who works on about eight perfumes a year, interprets the information to imagine fragrance ideas, which she then presents to the client. The process can take up to 10 meetings, resulting in the creation of a final perfume over several months. Ingredients such as jasmine from Grasse can cost up to $55,000 a kilo, but Laurent has complete freedom to use the resources she wants. “The sky is the limit,” says Mary-Ethel Siméonidès of Cartier. “When our clients acquire a lavish piece of jewelry or a watch, they want to distinguish themselves and wear a unique scent. It’s about subtly reflecting the nuances of their personality.”

Similarly, Sylvaine Delacourte at Guerlain invites clients to meet her in the company’s 1914 Champs-Elysées boutique. Delacourte seeks to uncover her clients’ “olfactory heritage” by discussing their memories of smell, using visual triggers and materials. “We have all been marked by certain olfactory memories,” she says. “I seek to uncover their personal history of smell.” After several months of concocting, the client receives three liters of the final product in specially commissioned Baccarat crystal bottles.

Luxury heavyweights such as Cartier and Guerlain charge from $45,000 to more than $90,000, drawing an international repeat clientele that includes Russian oligarchs, financial gurus and some Middle Eastern royal families. But while these companies capitalize on the romance, history and quality associated with their brands, smaller houses are moving in on the less expensive end of the luxury market. L’Artisan Parfumeur has branches around the world, but offers bespoke perfumery at its Paris flagship store. Lyn Harris, who trained in France, was the pioneer in the British market with Miller Harris in London, where she offers a custom service for about $16,000—and has a waiting list of a year and a half. For a fee in the region of $12,000, Francis Kurkdjian, the nose behind several Jean Paul Gaultier fragrances, will travel the world to meet his customers for multiple “fittings.” He calls his work “haute couture for the soul,” and has seen his client base grow to 40 clients since 2001. “Bespoke perfume is the x factor of one’s own personal brand,” he says. In the world of perfumery, luxury lies in the sweet smell of excess.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/137482

Online beauty buys… fragrances

19 May

There are other options to buying beauty proucts other than Sephora. Sephora is a great place for research and making wishlists and then scouring ebay, but there are a lot of boutique sites that cater to a more discerning clientele. Some recent finds are:

YourCosmetics.com

Sure the site isn’t spiffy, or pretty, or stylish. It looks like one of those default sites that you end up at when you mistype the url. But I was presently surprised that this site offered some premium beauty brands:

  • Anthousia
  • Antica Farmacista
  • Calypso
  • Esteban
  • Jalaine fragrances
  • Keiko Mecheri
  • Lothantique
  • Miller et Bertaux
  • Mor
  • Nyakio
  • Perfume d’Empire
  • Sage Perfumes

http://www.your-cosmetics.com/

Never underestimate a site by its design.

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Lothantique

18 May

On Granville is having 20%-70% off all merchandise and closing its doors at the end of June. June 15th welcomes its online store http://www.shoplothantique.com.

Faves are the Esteban fragrances (home and body), and Lothantique brand Grapefruit shea hand lotion. Also worthy is Amelie et Melanie Matin Precieux Eau de Toilette.

Online store with feature the much anticipated Esteban’s Andalouse – grapefruit and star anise.

Must get book

14 May

Perfumes

The first book of its kind: a definitive guide to the world of perfume
Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez are experts in the world of scent. Turin, a renowned scientist, and Sanchez, a longtime perfume critic, have spent years sniffing the world’s most elegant and beautiful as well as some truly terrible perfumes. In “Perfumes: The Guide,” they combine their talents and experience to review more than twelve hundred fragrances, separating the divine from the good from the monumentally awful. Through witty, irreverent, and illuminating prose, the reviews in “Perfumes” not only provide consumers with an essential guide to shopping for fragrance, but also make for a unique reading experience.

Estee Lauder Tom Ford Azuree Collection 2007

21 May

Azuree Soleil +

  • SL Bois de Vanille
  • Azuree Oil
  • Ananas Fizz
  • Chinatown (or any floral)