Sunday, September 30, 2012

Strange Invisible: L'Invisible and Essence of IX

The beautifully designed, almost shrine-like Strange Invisible boutique in Venice Beach brought out my discerning nose. Ceremonial is the best way to describe how each fragrance was presented, and consequentially, I was bitten by two of these botanical perfumes. 

The first bite was L'IVISIBLEEau de Parfum. This is the line's namesake fragrance created by Perfumer, Alexandra Balahoutis. Over the past few weeks L'INVISIBLE has kept me preoccupied with thoughts about the skin, and the subtle dance between skin and fragrance that this perfumer and perfume allows. The more I wear it the more it remains out of reach, nothing about it is pointed. Meaning I can't easily deconstruct it, rather it keeps me intrigued and wanting to return to my perfumed skin to smell it and notice how it changes, and hovers above me creating a fragrant halo that then settles back on the skin to linger. Then in an "aha moment" I realize that I am smelling a classic Chypre, but this chypre pleads not to be dissected, but alas I must, (sorry Chandler).. Volatile top notes of lemon, orange and hibiscus quickly dissipate, leading us to heart notes of ylang ylang and rose that push and pull, resinous notes mingle with other base notes of amber and oak moss. Remember though that singular notes don't dominate here, rather they are well orchestrated by the perfumers hand, all the notes playing harmoniously together. This fragrance wants just to be.

The second bite, Essence of IX, a limited edition Pure Perfume is a concept fragrance, but I mean this in the best way. This perfume creates a feeling of expanse, as if I am alone in a fragrant valley, inhaling a wood, fruit, and flora abstraction. Essence of IX gives nourishment, and wakes one up to their senses and surroundings. IX is Balahoutis's bottled impression of her visit to the Colgin Cellars Winery during harvest, housed on the IX Estate, in Napa Valley. Balahoutis has bottled her experience of that time and place, the surrounding landscape, the earth, tasting the grapes at various stages, the acres of roses, a glass of fine wine, all contribute to this luxurious fragrance and all of its complexity. IX  finds itself to be a rich sensuous fragrance that remains strikingly fresh somehow. Its top notes are ripe and juicy, and lead us quickly to its center, a stunning rose. Notes of sage and lavender all live here too, and to my nose there is an oaky and cedar quality to it that rushes throughout the fragrance supporting this prickly rose. With one last drop I feel the warmth of honey. 

Thanks to Strange Invisible for samples, so that I could experience these fragrances more intimately. VV

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Two Impressions: Ramon Monegal Barcelona and Christophe Laudamiel both on CaFleureBon

Stephen at LA Scent Bar broke out the OUD

Commissioned by the Dia Art Foundation in 1977, The Lightning Field, by the American sculptor Walter De Maria,

This month via CaFleureBon I took a closer look at two fragrances and one fragrant hotel.  First up, two impressions found at the sunny west coast Scent Bar in Los Angeles on two leather offerings from Ramon Monegal Barcelona. Back on the east coast my visit to the Setai Hotel NYC  first alone, and then with perfumer, Eleanor Jane, Talluah Jane. Eleanor riffs on an ozonic note, all while experiencing Christophe Laudamiel's work via Dream Air together. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Le Labo: Vanille 44, Paris in Venice Beach

Today, my good friend reminded me of the special warmth of the Indian Summer Sun, and this made me ponder Vanille 44Spicy, woody, lemony, resinous, balsamy all describe Vanille 44 which would be confusing to most, but when it comes to Le Labo there is always a bit of trickery involved. Vanille 44 is ruled by a frankincense note, but its not bullied by it. It is a a smooth fragrance that runs deep with a direct connection to its ambery vanilla which at first takes on a bit of a boozy quality, but then settles peacefully into its ambery nest. At the same time the frankincense pulls this fragrance up an octave or two, and hits me right in between my eyes. I suppose it hits me at my third eye, which makes perfect sense given olibanum's (a type of frankincense) reputation to get deep into our being, raise consciousness, and awaken the spirit. In church when I was a kid I would easily become woozy in its stream. 

No matter, Vanille 44 has lured me. It was earlier today that its mist instantly transported me in so many directions. Back to Venice Beach, CA where I was visiting the boutique just a month ago. I sat at the bar; talked to Jaclynn about fragrance, smelled some single notes specifically, Gaiac a woody balmy smoky note, and one of the notes in Vanille 44, took my photo (with my friend) in their photo booth, learned about their limited Rose Bag (read a very "discerning" description here on the Discerning Brute's blog,, and ultimately grabbed a little a bit of Paris, via Vanille 44. Seems I had perfect timing and hit the Venice Beach boutique at a fortuitous moment, as for a limited time Vanille 44 was available to celebrate the opening of their new Paris boutique. Le Labo city exclusives fragrances are usually sold only in the the city that they represent. French Vogue's Beauty Buzz of the Day has the story here,

Next up Strange Invisible

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

First Stop: Creative Chakra Spa, Marina Del Rey

I hate to see summer go, but I finally have time to revisit my summer fragrance adventures.

Before I get to perfume though, I want to mention a quick yet restorative time I had one late afternoon in Marina Del Ray at the cozy Creative Chakra Spa. When I arrived, I was led through a maze of hallways until entering an enormous indoor/outdoor cabana. I think I was on a roof, but I'm not exactly sure. California can be a bit disorienting to this New Yorker, but at least I knew I saw sky. 

Creative Chakra's relaxed vibe screams old-school California. I took my first infrared sauna at the spa, which claims to be extremely healthful, even more than the old regular saunas, mostly because your body is able to manage the heat longer. Owner, and once Londoner, Sandie West, ushered me around and ensured that I had everything I could possibly need. Her generous spirit flows through her spa and her hand-made product line. I am still enjoying her  Lemongrass & Basil Spa Salt Glow, I love how soft it leaves my skin, and in the heat of the shower the lemongrass and basil release a warm anise quality that is just incredible. She also left me with one of her fragrant blended teas of rose, lavender, and mint. I'm not sure if I should drink it or soak in it. 

Next up is to sip some tea and remember my little piece of heaven at Creative Chakra.

Photo Credit: Hugh Holland, 1975

Monday, September 10, 2012

INeKe: Shout Out and Sweet William Contest

Okay, I'm not one for contests, but given the fact that I absolutely adore Sweet William, and my father had a thing for's your chance to have your very own .75 ML bottle of the EDP too, just follow the INeKE link below. It all started on September 9th and your chance will end on September 17th.

Tanti Auguri!

or you can just buy it at Anthropologie. ;-)

"The fragrance opens with a juicy peach note. The Sweet William floralcy is
further warmed with cinnamon, clove and cumin essential oils. The dominant
wood notes are a blend of cedarwood, sandalwood and patchouli, softened
with Bourbon vanilla."- Ineke Ruhland