Areej Le Doré Cuir de Russie

Cuir de Russie, the upcoming S6 release from Areej Le Doré puts me in a tricky spot as a reviewer. On the one hand, it is one of my favourites out of the new S6 collection when worn on skin, evoking at different stages Roja Dove‘s Fetish Pour Homme, Jacques Guerlain‘s aesthetic in old vintage classics, and even Serge LutensCuir Mauresque for a brief moment.

On the other hand, Cuir de Russie should NOT actually be worn on skin, due to its core ingredient of crude birch tar which is deemed inadvisable and unhealthy when in contact with the skin. In fact, the use of crude birch tar is flat-out prohibited in any fragrance that is intended for the skin. (Only rectified birch tar can be used, and in highly regulated levels at that.) Consequently, Russian Adam calls Cuir de Russie a “garment fragrance” and explicitly advises that it should only be applied to fabric. I did not follow the advisory and wore the fragrance both ways. I doubt I will be the only one to do so.

Which brings me to my dilemma: How do I write about a fragrance that is a singular monolith when worn in the way that is advisable and when that description would entail three short paragraphs but when the inadvisable, health-dangerous way would yield thousands of words of enthusiasm?

Photo: NASA, the Horsehead Nebula.

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Areej Le Doré Grandenia

I hadn’t planned on writing about Areej Le Doré‘s new, upcoming Grandenia here, but this is such a complex fragrance that I couldn’t do it justice or convey its character and numerous twists properly via simplified text presented as screenshots on Twitter. It’s also a fragrance that, completely unexpectedly, made me think of how Serge Lutens approached white florals several decades ago and his then-revolutionary goal of turning their traditional or quotidian presentations on their head by avoiding Fracas-style, singular floralcy and by playing with dark elements that were traditionally the preserve of “masculine” fragrances. I see the same sort of mission and objective here, albeit taken to extremes.

But this only pertains to one of Grandenia’s many stages. Subsequent twists and turns unexpectedly took me into territory firmly dominated by non-floral, dark, masculine-skewing fragrances like SHL 777’s Oud 777 and Naomi Goodsir’s Bois d’Ascese  before moving on again. In essence, Grandenia morphs across a wide spectrum and it’s not easy to explain how it transforms — from a sweet, bright, white floral gardenia bridal bouquet to a sepia-stained, gender-fluid gardenia-jasmine oriental in the same universe as Serge Lutens’ Une Voix Noire before becoming a dark masculine in the style of Bois d’Ascese and Oud 777, then twisting into further unrelated creatures (some with unexpected, unlisted tobacco and booze aromas) and finally ending up similar to War & Peace (I)‘s drydown—  on Twitter, even in a 13 screenshots of text. So, let’s begin.

Smoke #6 by Stefan Bonazzi. (Website link embedded within photo.)

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Areej Le Doré Agar de Noir (+ Santal Galore)

Hello everyone. I hope you have been well and, above all else, safe and healthy in this utterly wretched year. No, I am not back, but I have been inspired and impelled by the latest Areej Le Doré collection, Series 6, to do pretty lengthy reviews on Twitter. And since I typed everything out via screenshot for Twitter, I figured I might as well copy and paste it some of it here for those of you who aren’t Twitter fans. This may be the only review that I’ll end transforming into a blog post, or it may not. I did a pretty lengthy review for the new Santal Galore as well, but since I stupidly deleted the source document, I’m going to be lazy and just link to the Twitter thread at the end instead of re-typing everything from scratch.

None of this will be like what I’ve written and done in the past in terms of photos or all the rest. I pecked the reviews out on my phone, which comes with a whole series of likely auto-correct and typo issues, but I figured it’s better than nothing. For now. At least it tells you something about the fragrances if you don’t read me on Twitter. (And I strongly advise you not to follow me on Twitter if you’re not interested in politics.) Continue reading

St. Clair Scents Casablanca: Sultry Darkness & Vintage Beauty

Casablanca vintage movie poster via Pinterest.

For people of a certain generation, “Casablanca” is a name which instantly evokes passion, longing, and romance. The famous Oscar-winning film starring Humphrey Bogart as “Rick” and the beautiful Ingrid Bergman as “Ilsa” was, on the surface, a war-time drama involving spies and Nazi resistance figures in Casablanca, Morocco, but it was ultimately a heartbreaking romance involving star-crossed lovers. “We’ll always have Paris,” Rick’s quiet words as he said goodbye to the woman he loved, a farewell full of sacrifice, tenderness, and yearning as she boarded a plan to leave, have become one of the most famous lines in movie history.

Photo, left: Casablanca movie still. Photo, right: Oer-Wout Photography. Collage: my own.

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