RSP: Easy Tailoring

In RSPs (Runway, Sidewalk, Perfume), I try to connect current fashion trends and perfumes.

One of the big style feelings on my radar at the moment is easy tailoring. This has been around for a while, but in my opinion may have reached its zenith of perfection in the Celine Pre-Fall and Chanel RTW Fall 2014 shows.

easy tailoring

Sources:,, Zimmerman

I’m referring to it as easy tailoring because classic, tailored shapes are modified and eased by elements like sloping shoulders, extra volume, cocoon shapes, loads of usable pockets (yippee), etc. As someone who was a teenager in the 90s, this style feels very comfortable to me in many ways, a modernized version of clothes I already know, so to speak. It also complements my ongoing love affair with sneakers.

For this post, I’m pulling the “sidewalk” images from The Sartorialist, just to save time. What’s nice about these clothes is that they are so easy and casual, all that need to be added are good grooming and individuality.



sartorialist 2


To pair with perfume is a bit harder. I had to laugh at this realization, given how comfortable and easy these styles are. But how many perfumes are both dramatic and streamlined, style conscious and utilitarian? I don’t think minimalist or very masculine perfumes pair well, but neither does anything very grand.

However, I did eventually come up with some pairings: Serge Lutens Nuit de Cellophane, L’Artisan Parfumeur Bois Farine, Bottega Veneta Parfum. What do you think?

Also, for those of you who see perfumes as colors, I wonder if you think the photos above call for a perfume that is camel-colored, and which perfumes you think are camel-colored?

The entire Chanel show is here. A fashion blogger who embodies the more minimalist side of these clothes is Fash-N-Chips.

Reviews are never compensated, and posts are never sponsored. See my Media & Disclosure policy for details.

Iris Prima

Is there any art form that is more subject to fantasy and fetish than ballet? From little girls dreaming of tutus and tiaras to movies featuring battered feet and pointes (and mentally ill ballerinas), the image of ballet in many people’s minds is one of masochistic self-immolation–beautiful, but mostly painful.


Fantasy: Painful and bloody / Source

When Penhaligon’s announced that it would be launching a perfume representing ballet, Iris Prima, and that it was being inspired by a behind-the-scenes look at the English National Ballet, I was intrigued to see the result. Would they invoke the pretty-but-painful stereotype? The drama of ballet? Or the same-old-same-old tutus and tiaras image? You get three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

Yes, in the end, the perfume is pretty and boring. Very much the tutus and tiaras route. Sparkly pink pepper ushers in a veil of iris, cosmetics, and kid leather. It is so pretty and benign that I could almost believe it is intended as a parody of some ballet cliches.

(Side note: There is a particular ingredient in Iris Prima that was used in Bottega Veneta’s initial perfume, and it is strong enough that I perceive more of a resemblance than is actually there between the two fragrances, but I think it is worth noting that they are very much in the same style. It is further worth noting that Bottega Veneta is a vastly more interesting fragrance.)

I wish Iris Prima had taken some risk in its concept. The fantasy element of ballet is important (after all, part of the art is about making it look effortless and highly stylized), but I hoped for more. Having spent half my life in ballet studios, when I think of ballet, I think not of the beauty or the pain, but the less dramatic realities: routine and discipline. Doing the same things, working on the same things. Have you ever thought about how many movements comprise classical ballet? There aren’t that many, but dancers spend a lifetime working on them. American ballerina Julie Kent has been quoted as saying “My friends say to me ‘Are you still practicing? Don’t you have it yet?’” The true artists keep finding new meaning in the same movements and often the same ballets.

It’s too bad Penhaligon’s couldn’t find a way to explore that effort and artistry, which would actually have fit very well with their restrained aesthetic. I’m sure the result would have been more evocative than Iris Prima.


Reality: Pretty normal / Source: Mine

For another review of Penhaligon’s Iris Prima, see Now Smell This or Bois de Jasmin.

Sample of Iris Prima was my own acquisition. Reviews are never compensated, and posts are never sponsored. See my Media & Disclosure policy for details.

FR 01 / No. 02

Fragrance Republic’s 01/No. 02 (I believe that is season one or year one, fragrance number two) was created by Julie Massé. It features notes of rose, tuberose, and cocoa resin. Massé said she “wanted to create a vaporous, almost ethereal Tuberose by combining it with an absolute of Rose of May.”


01/02 is ethereal, but not waifish. The combination of rose and tuberose reads more white floral to me, with the rose cutting the butteriness of the tuberose and giving it a subtle sweetness. The entire composition is creamy, dewy, and feminine, so it is a welcome surprise that it carries on firmly for six to eight hours, with the rose blooming more on the skin as time goes by. I’m tempted to put this in the same category as fragrances like Kai and the original Marc Jacobs for Women, although those two are more voluptuous white florals, because they all share a pretty-but-sophisticated vibe — nothing vampy.

Fragrance Republic is a subscription program that delivers to its members fragrances created exclusively for the Republic by established perfumers. I considered it the “idea whose time has come” in my best and worst list of 2013. I am finding it to be a very fun way to experience new fragrances that aren’t available anywhere else.

For another review of 01/02, check out Victoria’s take on EauMG.

Image courtesy Fragrance Republic. Fragrance provided by Fragrance Republic. Reviews are never compensated, and posts are never sponsored. See my Media & Disclosure policy for details.

Three by Krigler

I always feel grateful when a perfume shatters my preconceptions.

Krigler is a perfume house that has been in existence, off and on, since 1880 or so. Most of its perfumes are remasterings of fragrances from its archives, and there are many mentions of glamorous historic clients (Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, F. Scott Fitzgerald) in stories about the brand. There is nothing wrong with any of this of course. But the way that some brands overuse these “marks of authenticity” has made me skeptical.


Established Cognac 66 (if I understand their numbering system, this means it was originally created in 1966) is my reigning favorite cognac fragrance. In one word, it is chewy. It smells like fruit, warm liqueur, caramel, oak, and toasted almonds (or perhaps amaretto). The drydown is woody, but not especially dry. It’s very much in the vein of a “gentleman’s library” fragrance, but when something smells this good, I see no need for it to stay in such a small box. If it isn’t too masculine for me, I’d venture to say it isn’t too masculine for very many people. For a very different review of Established Cognac 66, see The Scented Hound.

Ultra Chateau Krigler 212 (2012?) is supposed to be an aldehydic floral, but I struggle to think of it as such because the prominent rose, lily of the valley, and aldehydic notes are almost transformed by a big gin-and-tonic accord. There is nothing like a bracing slug of quinine to make lily of the valley less insipid, right? The last time I wore Ultra Chateau, I ran across Blacknall Allen’s post on “bitter chypre martinis” and decided this perfume could be an honorary member of that club. For another review of Ultra Chateau Krigler 212, see EauMG.

Lieber Gustav 14 (1914?) was allegedly F. Scott Fitzgerald’s choice, but I remain unbiased, since I didn’t know that until I sat down to write this post. I’m proud to report my taste may be the same as that of my literary hero (if he actually wore this). It’s the standout of a strong bunch. Notes of lavender and black tea hover like a fluffy cloud atop woody notes that sometimes waft something much dirtier. (1) I don’t normally care for dirty notes, and lavender is hit or miss for me, but I adore Lieber Gustav. Any thoughts I had of Vero Profumo’s Mito are but distant memories.

Despite having more perfume than I’ll ever need, I plan to buy Lieber Gustav. A trip to the Plaza Hotel for perfume and a drink at the Champagne Bar? Yes, please.

(1) A baby’s stinky diaper smelled from across the room and partially smothered by the powder his mother uses to do whatever powder is supposed to do in children’s diapers.

Photo courtesy of Krigler. Samples courtesy Krigler, at my request. Reviews are never compensated, and posts are never sponsored. See my Media & Disclosure policy for details.

Magnolia Grandiflora Michel and Sandrine

Grandiflora‘s two magnolia fragrances are the latest in the wave of magnolia scents launched over the past half-year or so (see my review of another noteworthy launch, Zelda, here). Magnolia Grandiflora Michel was created by Michel Roudnitska, and Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine was created by Sandrine Videault, who was trained in part by Michel’s father, the legendary Edmond Roudnitska.


Magnolia Grandiflora Michel (Michel) is a blooming white magnolia, a luscious exploration of the creamy, sweet, and lemony aspects of the flower. It is a magnolia in bloom, skillfully blended. If not for really searching for them, and for the flowering of ylang ylang trees that are currently surrounding me, I wouldn’t pick out the individual notes in Michel. But since I am looking, I smell distinct notes of lemon, ylang ylang, vanilla, vetiver, and milk.

Roudnitska’s interpretation of magnolia almost perfectly matches how the flower smells, which is impressive. But for me, it doesn’t capture the magical quality of the flower, its size and waxy feeling of its flowers. Magnolias are almost other-worldly, and Michel doesn’t reflect that. It feels too restrained, too sedate.


Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine (Sandrine) is a starched magnolia. If Michel’s interpretation is the fresh flower, Sandrine’s is a bloom that has been picked, sprayed with a copious amount of starch (the smell of starch is actually there), and laid out in a white bathroom. It is one of the more surprising perfumes I’ve smelled. Although I recognize that there is a lot going on structurally—a green-forward, chypre-influenced approach to the scent of magnolia, for example—the end result is so unusual that I find, when wearing it, that I can’t attend to the parts. Sandrine smells, most of all, like an ultra high end version of Ivory soap or wet wipes. It is the kind of scent that reminds me how iconic functional product scents can be, but simultaneously makes me sad that I can’t always appreciate a perfume that smells like one.

While neither of these perfumes lived up to my personal hopes, I have to say that the brand has done a lot of things I like. They launched just two perfumes to start, in pretty bottles with especially pretty labels (in person, they are a beautiful rose gold and moss green respectively, with a subtle sheen that looks very classy).

For a different and more satisfied take on Magnolia Grandiflora Michel and Sandrine, see Denyse’s review on Grain de Musc.

Sandrine Videault has, sadly, passed away. While this particular fragrance is not a favorite with me, I approach it with respect and appreciation for her undoubted talent. My heartfelt condolences go to her family and loved ones.

Images courtesy Fragrantica. Sample obtained at the Grandiflora store. Reviews are never compensated, and posts are never sponsored. See my Media & Disclosure policy for details.

Lolita Lempicka EDP

I spent almost 10 years thinking I didn’t like Lolita Lempicka For Women (created by Annick Menardo). Since I love licorice and anise notes in perfume, Lolita Lempicka came up a lot. It is, after all, practically the reference licorice perfume. I’m also a big fan of almond and heliotrope, which feature prominently in Lolita Lempicka. But, I clearly remembered picking up the poison apple bottle, spraying it on a tester strip, and thinking it was shrill, gauche, and way too sweet.


After reluctantly giving Lolita Lempicka “another try” earlier this year, I think maybe that super-clear memory I have involved one of the flankers or other Lolita Lempicka perfumes that come in the same bottle style, not the original Lolita Lempicka For Women. Lolita Lempicka is at the edge of my tolerance for shrill, but it doesn’t cross the line. What I like best about the perfume is the opposition of the notes. A fresh side of green violet is juxtaposed with woodsy notes and black licorice. The entire thing is dusted with a fine layer of toasted almonds and powder.

Although it was launched in 1997, Lolita Lempicka continues to feel very modern. Like its cousin Angel (launched in 1992) it has a unique stamp that hasn’t been replicated in similar perfumes, even though the enchanted forest theme is one that is commonly riffed upon. I’m so glad I gave it a try. I love a fragrance that isn’t milktoast.

For a review of Lolita Lempicka For Women, see Katie Puckrik’s video.

Image via Perfume was my own acquisition. Reviews are never compensated, and posts are never sponsored. See my Media & Disclosure policy for details.


My love for Byredo is unrequited. They don’t sell samples. Their perfumes aren’t sold in very many stores, and they don’t list stockists on their website. They don’t respond to emails about distribution. They don’t respond to tweets about distribution (or anything else). Their perfumes go “out of stock” on their website for weeks at a time. They are pretty much a silent black void that periodically spits out perfumes that I love. Yet I remain loyal, because I think Byredo is making some great perfumes.


1996 is the latest launch, and finding it was the usual song and dance: my local stockist didn’t have it yet, and Byredo ignored my pleading email about ordering a sample. I eventually tracked it down at Barney’s in San Francisco last month, where the SA took pity on me and made me a sample. Had my luggage not already been full of perfume, I would have gone back for a bottle the next day. The fragrance was originally a private commission by photographers Inez & Vinoodh, and was partially inspired by their photograph Kristen 1996 (above).

The initial top notes are strongly reminiscent of cherry Chapstick. If you know what’s coming, you can detect notes of wood and smoke underneath, and within about 30 minutes, those notes are dominating over the cherry wax accord. The fragrance really begins to warm on the skin at this point, and there are lashings of leather, iris, incense, vanilla, patchouli, and carmelized butter spiraling through it. As it dries down, it becomes a comfortably inviting cherry leather incense.

The manner in which 1996 unfolds is really masterful. From an offbeat, wink-and-a-smile opening, it evolves into a fragrance that could inspire all kinds of different stories. Without assuming this is what Ben Gorham and Inez & Vinoodh had in mind, it does seem appropriately paired with the image of a young girl whose story is just beginning.

1996 was my runner-up for best fragrance of 2013, and a close runner-up it was. If you can get your hands on it, I would. I presume it was created by Byredo’s frequent perfumer, Jerome Epinette.

For a review of Byredo 1996, see The Candy Perfume Boy.

Image courtesy Sample provided by Barney’s. Reviews are never compensated, and posts are never sponsored. See my Media & Disclosure policy for details.


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