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Scent of a Baker Holiday 2005 Round Up

Scent of a Baker for the Holidays 2005

Best in Scents for 2005

Candles

We are always on the candle trail. Yankee Candle and Blue Mountain are still favs but Country Candles from www.maximumscented.com are excellent and keeping the BB Test Kitchen extra hospitable during the season. They last forever; the containers (jars as well as jars with lids, and shades making a whole lamp out of the candle) are made of the best quality waxes and scents. You do not even have to light them to enjoy the scents! They are that potent and deserve their billing of Triple Scented – they are. Check out their full line at

www.maximumscented.com. We especially like their holiday line and exotic florals.

PERFUMES

Scents are easy to get in department stores and drugstores. Online, Sephora is a leading website for scent but I recommend www.Aedes.com for their excellent service, sampling program, range of perfumes and sheer knowledge of all they sell. Tons of places sell scent – few fragrance sellers really know them and will offer the personalized service Aedes does. No automated email replies – a real person who cares about customer service and fragrance does.  Please tell them BetterBaking.Com/Marcy Goldman sent you.

There are tons of new scents out there this year as aromatherapy, smelling good and feeling great, is going mainstream. Despite the plethora of new perfumes, there is an emphasis on ‘sweet florals’ or “Oriental florals’ and many brands smell the same. Sweet florals in the winter are always welcome but the trick is finding the gems.

Celebrity scents also rule and again, some are surprisingly exceptional and some are unsurprisingly, uninspiring, created by the whim of a name and brand. Celebs scents are more or less,versus scents created by someone or a company, known for their unique ‘nose’ and desire for a scent. A celeb scent is more about celebrity, marketing teams, and fragrance corporation collaborations that all want to capitalize on scent and the holiday season. This is fine but can lead to the best of and worst of. It also depends if you like the celebrity and want to sport their name in scent. I would be proud to wear something called Audrey (a la Hepburn) but wince at Paris Hilton perfume –even though, the peach laced perfume is rather nice.

I also recommend sites as www.nowsmellthis.com and a site for men, mostly, called www.basenotes.net, with Grant Osbourne, who is also launching www.facenotes.net and www.perfumereview.com. These are simply super  sites on scent in terms of design, information and substance.

Remember a few things about scent. Yes, perfume smells different after it settles on you, so wait. Always put perfume on at least 30 minutes before going out. You want to captivate, not overwhelm. Two, although perfume does smell different on everyone, Joy is Joy, Chanel 5 is Chanel 5 and no matter who you are, people can discern those classic scents. My point is – choose scents like choosing a fine wine that will bear your own label. Go further afield, try new scents (for goodness sakes!!!!) and find your signature scent. Nothing is nicer than someone saying, ‘you smell terrific. What IS that?”.

If you love something that is popular, chances are it will indeed smell great on you and pick up your spirits but don’t go for the obvious just because everyone says it is a must. Angel is one of the top sellers but I would not recommend it across the board.  Yet other scents, like Chanel’s Allure, probably makes everyone smell incredible (It just does; it is if you were stranded on a desert island which perfume would you take with you, perfumes…) and there is a reason behind its popularity.

Do seek out some nostalgic scents you wore when you were younger simply because it is the most fun you can imagine and brings back memories – mostly good. Google makes it easy to find them. Dorothy Gray’s Lilac is one I am having trouble finding but Heaven Scent is back and Blue Grass never left. Now if only they would bring back Oh!De London and Love’s Baby Cologne. Still, there is always Jean Nate…..and Chantilly, is it?

Angel continues to do Thiery Mugler proud. I find it pleasant but contains a strange note that is jarring. Nonetheless, it continues to perform well –it is the Shalimar of 2004. This year, Mugler is hyping Alien. Speaking of which – for a great deal of the time, the packaging of a perfume says a lot about its content (with the exception of FlowerBomb which is literal, versus thematic packaging).

Alien looks….alien –which means it is modern and youth-oriented (although in scent there is no such thing – never believe any perfume writer that tells you can and cannot wear this or that over a certain age. Just don’t wear bad scents at any age). But a beautiful, luxurious package speaks of feminine mystique and a classic scent. A very modern bottle or funky one suggests a modern scent or a fresh and dynamic one. The decanter is an indication of what lies within. Chanel, as you know, is always classically Chanel aka French minimalist, which is what I love about Chanel. But I also love the creativity behind the dramatic look of new entries in fragrance.

Remember that all perfume starts with an idea and a whim to create a special scent – some more so for a big splashy holiday marketing blitz and some more to set the world of scent on its heels. The philosophy behind something like an institution like Chanel, versus celebs scents like Britney Spears’ enterprises or Jennifer Lopez (who actually has some nice scents), versus designers (Ralph Loren, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, Baby Phat) versus make-up mavens (Laura Mercier, Origins), versus true perfumers (Guerlain, Patou, Serge Lutens, Jo Malone) versus concept lines (Avon, Victoria’s Secret, L’Occitane and The Body Shop) are vastly different headspaces in fragrance approaches. They each, except for true perfumers with a heritage, can range from extraordinary to terrible and in-between. But think a little bit about what is feeding into the creation of each perfume. That heritage and incentive behind it says something about the final product and what you can expect. Some designers are wonderful at designer and that gift and talent parlays into their forays in scent. Others know clothes or whatever else is their initial endeavor and might not have a gift for scent. That said, most companies are smart enough to hire the best noses in the business and chances are, you might have the expertise of one fine nose or another at the helm of a new perfume that you might otherwise dismiss.

If you want sophistication and feminine allure – think French perfume; if you want a bit of warmth, cautious romance, some regality and slightly more conservative perfume, and largely floral – think American (Ester Lauder has some incredible scents – Ester Lauder Beyond Paradise or check out Elizabeth Arden’s Provocative Woman). If you want sheer sexy femininity and romance, and a dash of fun, the Italians (Dolce Gabbana, Armani, Carthusia, et al) rule. For freshness, country garden florals, lavenders and such AND class, it’s (and all this politically incorrect perfume lore is to be taken with a grain of salt) the Brits. 

If you see a perfumer interviewed and they talk about how they like clean and fresh, chances are, these are not going to be real romantic perfumes. They will be fresh and sparkling but not boudoir. There is something to be said about personality of the perfumer, as much as their fragrance savvy. Like great chefs, who might have all the finest ingredients at hand, perfumers, like chefs, depending on their own taste and sensibilities, create vastly different products. Not to mention, different perfumers choose different qualities of fragrances to work with.  Personality figures in the art. Or, if you see a new perfume smacked onto a line of cars or clothes, it can either be exceptional (you never know – Mont Blanc, a pen manufacturer, has some fine perfumes) or horrid (Peugeot? Hmmm). Roots, makes fine sportswear but as for ultra feminine, complex perfumes…well, we are not there yet.

 

Perfume of the Year
This is a five-way tie:


Flower Bomb by Viktor and Rolf

The only bad thing about this perfume is the name and flask: it looks like a grenade which I find architecturally inspiring, as far as perfume decanters go, but wholly offensive in concept. My sons say you should simply bite off the top and then spritz yourself with FlowerBomb. That said, the samples of this perfume, free in stores, are actually selling for $9.99 u.s. in some cases, off Ebay.com.

This perfume is the brainstorm of Viktor and Rolf, two Dutch designers. This is their first foray in perfume and the Flowerbomb is a limited edition, i.e. we hope it becomes a classic but it might disappear in a couple of months. Buy it now. As the name implies, you would think it smells like flowers but it actually is a light vanilla and floral cloud that gets 6-Stars (see the SETT rating below) for sheer animal magnetism. This perfume will have people on their knees nearby – it is sexy but more so, feminine. Big kudos, for FlowerBomb, being hailed as the ‘Angel’ of 2005. 

Premier Jour by Nina Ricci
Gorgeous. Lily of the Valley, other white flowers for the most feminine scent around. A bouquet that is a breath of springtime, whatever the season.

Serge Lutens (whole line)
Orange Blossom by Serge Lutens is getting the press but almost anything in the SL line will serve you well. There is an amazing complexity to each Serge Lutens perfume and they range from woody, to floral and sweet but the expertise is definitely with their woody or sweet scents, versus the florals. For true sophistication, this line cannot be beat. Our friends at www.Aedes.com
 in New York has the full line. These are best described as sultry perfumes.

Love in White, Creed

The newest from Creed is light but memorable, ultra feminine (Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly come to mind) and one of those multi-dimensional approaches to a bouquet of white flowers. This is for a bride to be or a true femme fatale/goddess. Sure to be a classic unless expense out prices it – but then, it’s Creed so……Ok - it's gorgeous.

Iris by Aqua de Parma

Mostly known for their men’s scents, Iris by Aqua de Parma is on my new year’s wish list. It is distinct, fresh but sweet and wonderfully pure. Great alone or mixed with a bit of Diorissmo (lily of the valley).

Eau De Miel by www.loccitane.com

This is heavenly – it is sweet with honey but light with a heady dash of jasmine. It makes you smell ‘clean and fresh’ and stops everyone, male and female, in their tracks. In fact, I should label many perfumes by a SETT rating (Stops Everyone in Their Tracks). This has *****SETT.

Other Heady Perfume Delights for 2005

Original Musk Oil

Vanilla Oil

www.Kiehls.com

A classic from Kiehls, I really prefer this for men but mixed with your own floral oils or as is, this is a riveting scent for those that like musk. It is not cloying; it is rather je ne sais quoi – more of a scent magnet that gives the impression to those around you that is your own ‘scent’. A phenomes sort of scent – the cologne of the same name from Kiehl is a great gift for men who might not use the oil version of Musk. Kiehls Vanilla Oil on the other hand, is great mixed with Musk, on its own, or mixed with almost anything else. Kiehls’ Vanilla Oil is a wonderful sweet basenote to other perfumes you might wear. I wear a touch of vanilla oil, touch of rose fragrance oils (check my sources for fragrance oil suppliers) with Bylvari’s green tea fragrance or Elizabeth Arden’s Green Tea.

Armani Mania by Giorgio Armani

Billed as an aromatic floral, this is close to a best-of-2005 in my book. Romantic, luxurious, boldly female but sophisticated.

Aqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani
The cologne for men, for 2005. 5 tango partners can’t be wrong.

This is one of the best male scents on the market. My sense is that Italian men are comfortable being guys and an Italian designer is totally at home, creating a super male scent in a very bold way. If anything else, if you are a guy, just make a commitment NOT to wear Old Spice or use Irish Spring. Ever again. Better not to shower and not to use Aqua di Gio but just avoid the menthol/pine/oakmoss overdoes from now on in. Please.

Weekend by Burberry
Warm, up market, feminine, elegant but classy in an old world, old school monied way. A good one for anyone’s repertoire and when you want sweet but not cloying.

Love by Moschino

I am not a citrus perfume lover but this orangey, happy fragrance makes me feel good each time I try it out. It is simply up and orange and unexpectedly special.

Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker, Lancaster Group

I really wanted to love this perfume because I admire the actress who created it. This is a multi dimensional, truly complex scent but it is hardly the feminine cloud its packaging and spokesperson makes it seem. It smells a bit like the earth of a garden in springtime OR that odd scent of old fur coats and mothballs, when you wander into your grandmother’s hall closet. It IS well crafted and it IS oddly, really perfect for men. I could fall for a guy who wore something like Lovely. SJP wanted a fresh, patchouli based perfume that is almost like ‘nice sweat’ …This is admirable because it is intelligent, upscale, simply ‘well-done’ perfume. It is just not anything like the packaging or the usual. Actually, you won’t smell like anyone else if you opt for Lovely. You SHOULD try this one for yourself. Nothing else on the market is out there.

Baby Phat

Surprisingly nice – fruit, florals, and a real cachet – a sleeper for 2005.

Bylvari Rose Extreme
The design company that is known for every degree of green tea perfume for women, men and even babies, has a rose perfume. It is different, delightful (while not for everyone) and a rose bower, in a subtle way. If you are new to rose scents, this might be one pick.

Les Perfums de Rosine
A full line of rose perfumes, available at www.aedes.com  - this offers many combinations of rose perfume possibilities.

Heart by Clinique

Light, fun, sweet, floral – bit of a chai tea thing going on – slightly creamy scent –this is stirring and welcome at the same time. Safe but sexy.

Not Perfumes but Great Girlie Stuff

Best Nail Polish

Mavla

This brand can be found in drugstores or ebay. It lasts forever, coats like a dream and whereas OPI and Essie are the nail polish leaders, nothings beat Mavla (and it is 1/3 the price of the leading brands). Their ICE and Miami are the nicest, most inoffensive (non bubble gum) pinks in the business. Compared to Mavla Ice, every other light or translucent pink nail polish looks like cartilage on your nails.

Best Living Up to its Claims Product:
Hylexin for Dark Circles

www.hylexin.com

We saw this product in Oprah and a few other places and were doubtful. Now we are die-hard fans. This lotion, applied regularly, does indeed, take away dark circles. We were amazed but in 2-3 weeks, we noticed (all of us in the BB Test Kitchen) we had no more need for our concealer stick and other cover-ups for under the eye. Worth every sous! This is a super product.

Dove Firming Lotion et al

Dove has a great campaign this year – so much so, I bought some of their products. The great news is- this affordable line is the best scented, most easily absorbed product line every. Any and everything I tried was beyond the quality for the price point. Their ads are wonderful; the line deserves its own award.

Best Blushes (they last, they create that blush and flush, the color range is spectacular)

Nars
Mac

Lorac

Best Lipsticks

Guerlain – nothing outlasts Guerlain
Mac – again –the subject is choice in color. Rebel is naturally you but better.
Bobbie Brown

Laura Mercier –who should win an afford for M, French Lips, and Merlot – three lipsticks that suit everyone

Philosophy – their lip stain, Salvation, lasts more than any gloss and stains your lips just so. Still a winner.

Best Mascara
It is supposed to be Great Lash by Maybelline but Christian Dior is my pick.
Great length, sheer, no clogs, all drama

Hair Stuff (all drugstore pics)

For best results, use the l’Oreal Color Care for 3 minutes, after shampooing once. For the rest of the products that follow, mix a cocktail of all three, equal portions, and apply as a hair balm – then style as usual. If you want totally shiny, glossy, thick-looking hair, a mixture of products is best.

L’Oreal’s Color Care Dry Defense – leaves your hair like silk, a 3-minute treatment

L’Oreal’s  FX Studio Straight

Intrakerra by Image (check google for online sources) – like L’Oreal, leaves your hair like silk – a before styling product

Frizz Ease by John Freida, Daily Nourishment.
Looks like milk, leaves your hair baby soft and glossy and manageable

 

 


For more on scent, enjoy my other features:

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