Michelle Phan’s Fall Lookbook and smelly things

First of all, this is the most creative approach to a video lookbook I’ve ever seen anyone do, though I admittedly don’t look at a lot of people’s lookbooks so that might not mean much. Still, Michelle’s been one of my top YouTube loves since I was 11 so I’m fine supporting.

I’m currently sitting in a Starbucks enjoying my small coffee-priced WiFi and electric connection and feeling happy I put on Westbrook instead of the TF Plum Japonais that is slightly inappropriate for the warm autumn day. Read More

By Kilian: Imperial Tea and Love and Tears Review!

By Kilian won the Indie Fragrance Foundation Award for Amber Oud and Playing with the Devil, so perhaps I should have started with those two, but I’m on a jasmine kick at current, so this will just have to do until I go back.

Imperial Tea

Wet: magnolia, jasmine, green tea, water
Dry: jasmine, magnolia, violet, musk 

This one confused me when I sat down to review it. In the air, it turns into something closer to what jasmine green tea smells like. And I’ve sprayed it on other people and each time, I more or less received a black tea in a jasmine garden. Light, fragrant, tannic but not aquatic, and the jasmine took its place where it realistically would in a black tea: as a strong background character. Now it’s a green tea with jasmine and magnolia dropped in it, maybe a tablespoon of cream near a pond. I don’t take cream with my tea, so that takes the dry down away from the water and into the sun for me. It’s a great, uplifting scent, and not too sweet. I find it really comforting. This is perhaps for the librarian who doesn’t take sugar in his tea.

Love and Tears, Surrender

Wet: white floral, indolic jasmine, dandelions
Dry: jasmine milk tea, ylang-ylang, cedar, mulch

Mm, so I just read about the galbanum and petitgrain in this, and I’m almost positive they’re what leads to that realistic, piss-like under-bite to this. Does cedar, styrax and oakmoss together smell like mulch? Because the flowers I’m wearing are definitely still alive and feeding on something.

I feel like my head’s stuck in the roots of a jasmine bush in Asia because of the grassy and indolic facets of the jasmine, but it also reminds me of jasmine boba milk tea and I’m sure that’s due to the creamy ylang-ylang and soft lavender among other things.  It makes my nose feel funny. Now I’m light-headed, but it’s all good. I like it. Like really enjoy it. I sprayed this one a few times before as well, and this one was the one that earned me compliments like “That smells really good, is that you?” and “I need to give whatever that is as a present to someone.” It’s rather sensual and sweet, but still light enough not to trigger headaches. This is the type of scent you want to be rubbing into someone else’s sheets.

Jo Malone Rain Series – White Jasmine and Mint

Gather quickly
Out of darkness
All the songs you know
And throw them at the sun
Before they melt
Like snow

– Bouquet, Langston Hughes

Jo Malone Rain Series
White Jasmine and Mint

Wet: strong jasmine, citrus (like a lime juice and vodka), freshly chopped peppercorns, mint
Dry: jasmine, cream, nutmeg, back hint of mint

While I expected this to be floral-heavy, it’s actually surprisingly spicy, and reminds me of a mojito, or a vodka and lime juice a fraternity brother once made for me while we were all…relaxing. The jasmine stays strong throughout, but it’s warmed by spicy notes and unexpected creaminess, and then cooled off just slightly by the mint at the end which strokes the back of the throat. My boyfriend hates mint, but enjoyed this mix, and I have to agree.  I’ve always loved a nice jasmine, and White Jasmine and Mint doesn’t disappoint.

This is a really interesting scent, fitting for both summer and winter days, and perhaps a little mismatch for the autumn. I can equally see someone wearing this while snow drifts overhead, or on a beach lightening the scents of the sea. I can’t wait for winter to start.

Jo Malone Rain Series – Wisteria and Violet

And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.
I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;
But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook
– The Tuft of Flowers, Robert Frost

Jo Malone Rain Series
Wisteria and Violet

Wet: violet, magnolia
Dry: wisteria, violet, mahogany, cucumber

This is a warm rain smell. The first hit was intensely violets and really no wisteria at all, and in fact the patchouli was more present coloring the violets and making it all remind me more of violets and magnolias warmed under the sun than violets and wisteria in the rain. As it dried though, and I started to sniff up and down the place I applied, the wisteria came through softly, and the punch of violet faded into a more harmonic place along with the patchouli. And it became more aquatic, and more like rain and seems to end like Rain and Angelica.

I can see this on a taller woman whose favorite color might be dark orchid, and who aces those interviews like no one else at a law firm or something similarly high-powered career. It’s certainly feminine, but less girly than Rain and Angelica. It’s mature.

Jo Malone Rain Series – Rain and Angelica

As promised!

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of “Ha, ha, he!”

– Laughing Song, William Blake

Jo Malone Rain Series
Rain and Angelica

Wet: citrus, floral, vetiver, a little pepper
Dry: vetiver, pepper, citrus, floral, water

This is definitely a more feminine leaning fragrance. A big punch of floral, tempered little by the warm, almost powdery vetiver and bright lime in it. In fact, the last two really just serve to highlight the angelica on me. Very floral heavy. And actually less aquatic on my skin than Black Cedarwood and Juniper. Definitely more dewy than rainy in my head, but it’s perfectly pleasant.

It’s not quite for me because it’s a little too sweet. The lime fades away too fast for me to really enjoy the juxtaposition. It’s still a lovely scent, and I can see this on someone whose favorite season is spring and also stirs honey into their tea.

Jo Malone Rain Series – Black Cedarwood and Juniper

Review time!

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
– Sonnet XVII, Pablo Neruda

Jo Malone Rain Series
Black Cedarwood and Juniper

Wet: juniper, spice, tree bark, cedar
Dry: juniper, spice, tree bark, water

I love how woody this scent starts out, and am a little disappointed it falls to the background after a few minutes. Although the distinct cedar dies out on the dry-down for me, it leaves a warmth that I feel like is necessary to round out the sweet, watery juniper. Apparently there’s chili in this as well, which likely supports that point. I can’t stop sniffing it. It smells like how I want my sheets to smell after a night in, and a scent I could get used to on my pillow at night. Quite seductive, at least to me.

I like it on myself, but I would absolutely love this scent on a guy. It’s warm and sweet without being the masculine go-to sandalwood which I feel gets overplayed, and it’s just dark enough that there’s depth and passion implied, but light enough for day wear.

Surrender to Chance – April

Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist
Wet: baby powder, lotion, vetiver, carrots?, tiny bit of pepper
Dry-down: baby powder, carrot juice, sandalwood, musk
From far: baby powder, sandalwood


It honestly just smells like Vaseline lotion to me. Like all I can think of is putting Vaseline Intensive Care all over my hands and having the pleasant but slightly medicinal smell follow me throughout the day. I’ll try it in a month and see how I feel then, but it’s just…I mean, it’s nostalgic in a way, but in a way that makes my hands feel a little greasy. I’m so damn confused.


All of the notes I got were the same and it’s still…weird. It’s less like lotion and more like I’ve been peeling carrots all day (and I know what that smells like since I just did that the other weekend for an event!) and it’s just odd. Not entirely unpleasant, just not anything like something I would wear for any reason. Ah well. Win some, lose some, right?

The Surrender to Chance site just in case you forgot 🙂

Surrender to Chance – March

March: CB I Hate Perfume Black March Water

Wet: cut grass, wet leaves, moss, sandalwood?
Dry-down: cut grass, moss, pink flowers, rain, orchid
From far: Nothing really; the floral notes
Lasts: Not long at all. It’s gone within an hour for the most part

This is so interesting. It starts out like taking a drink from a fountain with rain and twigs and leaves in it or walking through the woods during, well, March, on a cloudy day. I don’t even think I can get over it; it’s so delightfully fresh. It’s almost like I’m sinking my teeth into the ground and instead of tasting disgusting the way eating dirt really does, it tastes like what I feel like it should taste like. It’s how dew or rain on a head of hair should smell.

It legitimately makes me feel happy in such cold, unforgiving weather. And then it fades into a liquid flowers smell, as if you took a bouquet of mostly honeysuckle and orchids and a rosebud or two and submerged them in water. A little like what rosebud tea would smell like if it were mixed with violets and a peppercorn or two (and now I have to go make tea. Thanks a lot, designers at CB.) The end scent has a lazy, warm, sunny element to it, as opposed to the beginning’s chilly, cloudy day.

Honestly, I’m in love, and I’ll have to stash this for a rainy spring day. I see this being worn by someone wearing a navy or red trench coat, holding a non-descript umbrella, wearing some knee-highs boots on a wet road. If this all sounds overly pretentious and poetic, I apologize. These are just the images that have been making an appearance in my head.

No seriously, it’s kind of insane how much I like this. I keep sniffing it and audibly sighing.

I’m done now, I swear.

Surrender to Chance! (More perfume reviews!)

Surrender to Chance is an online fragrance decant and sample selling website that has some great ready-made sets for certain occasions or off of note preference, time of day, and other characteristics! I just purchased their 12 Months of Scent sample pack and I’m stoked to share my feelings on them :3

Let’s get to it!

  •  January: Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Women

Wet: pine, dill, cucumber, vetiver, pepper
Dry-down: pepper, pine, wood, jasmine, amber
From afar: pine/wood, violet, jasmine, amber
Lasts: Medium length, three obvious hours and then it fades off.

It’s very fresh and dry and soothing. It’s what I’d think of sophisticated without being too “old.” It may be a few years more mature than myself though, but that’s perfectly fine. It’s spicy, and I like the vetiver a lot. It’s actually fairly masculine for a feminine fragrance, and that suits me just fine. It’s almost less sweet than the Versace Blue Jeans for Men, which is my go-to day scent.  It’s definitely more mellow and more flowery than Blue Jeans.

I’m a big fan now. I think it’s flirty, but flirty in the awesome conversationalist, half-smile, bedroom eyes sort of way. It gives off an air of intelligence if that makes any sense. It seems like it would translate well to a business office or to a low-key night out.

  • February: Jo Malone Blue Agave & Cacao

Wet: musk, the chocolate, vanilla
Dry-down: taro, cardamom, bubblegum
From far: nothing really; musk and bubblegum
Lasts: Medium length, two obvious hours and then only when you’re really up close

It’s definitely sweet, and quite interesting. I only get the cacao at the beginning when it’s wet, and then it’s completely overtaken by other lighter and sweeter scents. Fragrantica says this should start with citrus, but I can’t detect any on my skin. It smells like warm bubblegum or taro bubble tea. It’s a pretty bouncy, fun smell, and a little like a slightly dusty room on a hot day.

It’s a nice scent. It’s fun and tasty and cute, and I can definitely see someone with a non-confrontational and cheery personality pull this off. It’s too sweet for me right now in the winter, but I would consider wearing it to the beach.