a fragrance for every fetish

Anoint your inner at Goth with perfumes from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

On the blood type diet? Go all out with Italian Blood Concept‘s blood type perfume.

Penchant for the island exotic? Escape to the tropics with EnVoyage‘s lush new fragrances, Nectar des Îles and Vents Ardents.

Indulge your historical curiosity in Daria Boyd’s historical fragrance line devoted to capturing the olfactory essence of famous historical figures like Billie Holiday and Abraham Licoln.

It’s Springtime in California…

and it’s time to tune up your noses:

Check out work by San Francisco scent artist Sita Bhaumik at the CCA MFA Show
May 12th 6pm-10pm, 1111 8th St San Francisco

Embrace the last days of one sweet sale:
Velvet and Sweet Pea Purrfumery is commemorating this year’s spectacular bee season with a sale.
From April 11-30, all liquid perfumes, crème perfumes, eau de parfum, colognes and limited edition perfumes will be Buy 1, Get 1 Half Off. All hail the queen bee! This is a marvelous opportunity to try a scent you have been coveting, and get another one of equal or lesser value at half the regular price. (Psst! Don’t forget that Mother’s Day is right around the corner on Sunday, May 8!)

I absolutely love the Purrfumery’s baroque floral fragrances. They are all natural and worth every pretty penny! Try the new Rose perfume!

To get in on the fun, email the Purrfumery or call 510-528-8040.

a novel for smelly, history-lovin slackers

** This review contains spoilers **

I avoided Tom Robbins’ novels for years particularly because my old boyfriend was such a fanatic about him and even when I was deep into him, we disagreed on most literature. The way he and his pretentious 20-something arty bros talked about Robbins put me off in a big way. Lately, I’ve been getting multiple nudges from friends who know I’ve been researching olfaction so I finally gave in and read Jitterbug Perfume for research.

My original instinct was correct: this is a novel for the all-male tribe I call “toilet philosophers” because most of the philosophy they read was while they were on the pot. Aside from its misogyny, the lamest thing about this novel is the spiritual message clumsily tacked onto the plot and heavily underscored in the last 40 pages.

I must admit that there are some admirable aspects about Jitterbug Perfume. It is well researched and I like the playful attitude towards myth, history, perfume and food. I found the narrative arc (minus the pseudo-spirituality) well crafted and interesting. For these reasons, it is worthwhile if you are curious.

What I cannot stand is the novel’s sloppy, infantile lewdness and its utterly misogynistic treatment of women. Each and every female character is about as deep as raindrop. In many ways, this novel is like a macho version of a Jackie Collins’ novel where the plot gets in the way of all the more important sex scenes and blowjobs.

Don’t get me wrong, I like sex scenes and Jackie Collins. The sex scenes in Jitterbug Perfume, however, feel like watching a really drunk fatso try to get his groove on as if he were James Bond. The detail with which blowjobs are described makes these scenes grotesque literary money shots. In Robbins’ perfumed porn, the women are gagging to be groped by slobs, crusty old lechers, handicapped, satyrs, and so on. It’s truly painful. This book had so much semen on the pages, I felt I needed to wash my hands after each time I picked it up.

And in case you think that sexual subservience can be some sort of “modern, women-choose-to-please-on-their-knees feminism,” it gets better. When the would-be heroine finally gets laid, her attempts to be sexy are mocked by the narrator’s painstaking description of how shamefuly ugly and ill-fitting her clothes and underwear are. Lucky for her, the handsome one-eyed Irishman is a horndog and she’s the only woman in the room. Except for the fat spinster, the female characters are all led by their vaginas despite their professional ambition. And that’s what turns out to be the main joke of the novel: that women have professional ambition at all.

The “lesbian” character never gets the girl she’s lusted after but settles instead for becoming her best pal. Sounds modern and empowering, right? Another female character is gruesomely stung by a bee on her perineum and luckily a creepy Frenchman is present to soothe her sting. Barf.

Other problems are Robbins’ really bad, self-indulgent puns, mixed metaphors and wrongheaded literary elbow nudges that seem designed to show the readers how well read he is since they add nothing to the plot. There are real groaners, for example, “a populace that was puting Descartes before des horse.”

Reading this novel made me so glad I left that Robbins’-lovin dude and his horny toilet philosophizing crew behind. Tom Robbins reminds me of other writers who combine vulgarity and humor (Vonnegut, Rabelais, Chaucer, Boris Vian, Alfred Jarry) but without their soul, intelligence, political engagement and verbal finesse. Read their work instead for hotter sex scenes, finer wit and more sophisticated style.

Eastern Inspiration: gilded lilies light up the Fog City summer

Inspired by the lovely golden flower from Japan, artisanal San Francisco-based perfumer INeKE and the Alembic are both currently serving up the Gilded Lily in the form of a seductive eau to parfum and a decadent cocktail.

The champagne cocktail takes its name from the stunning gold leaf sheen on the surface of the drink, capturing the delicate sweetness of its floral namesake with hints of herbaceous chartreuse, orange blossom water and gin softly transported to your nose and mouth by the gentle effervescence of demi sec.

INeKE translates the Asiatic lily more literally from the gorgeous muse blooming in her front garden into a sexy modern chypre fragrance with a soft whisper of fruit.

Angelinos will be lucky to get the first sniff of Gilded Lily eau de parfum at its Nordstrom launch tomorrow and Saturday (8.27 + 8.28) in Santa Monica.

INeKE’s latest addition to its perfume alphabet – G for Gilded – will be available in late September 2010 online or at the following SF retailers:

Azalea 411 Hayes Street      Nest 2300 Fillmore Street       Gumps 135 Post Street      Carrots 843 Montgomery Street      Circle & Square 344 Presidio Street.

Learn A-F of INeKE’s  perfume ABCs by ordering the gorgeous deluxe sample set at only $25 online. OR try them in person at Fred Segal in LA at 500 Broadway and in NYC at Henri Bendel at 712 5th Ave, Takashimaya at 693 Fifth Avenue and The Plaza Beauty at One West 58th Street.

learn about natural perfumery this SUNDAY

Join Olfactive and perfumer Laurie Stern of Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery for the next scent lecture Honoring Antiquity: The Art of Natural Perfumery in What the Nose Knows series at the University of California Botanical Garden this Sunday August 8, 2010 1-2pm.

Admission is free with general admission ($9 – discounts for seniors and students). After the talk, guests are welcome to explore the rest of the Garden on their own.


Honoring Antiquity: The Art of Natural Perfumery

Natural perfumery is an ancient art form that consists of capturing the essence of flowers, leaves, and woods and mixing them to create something new and delightful. During this event, Laurie Stern, the artisanal botanical perfumer behind Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery, will share her expertise and sense of delight in the world of natural perfumery. You will have the rare opportunity to experience some of Laurie’s aromatic treasures from all over the globe. Laurie will also share perfume stories from antiquity to the present that are inspiring, rich and sensual.


Most garden enthusiasts are drawn to the magnificent visual display of the diverse landscapes at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley, CA. Why not give your eyes a break and the your nose lead you instead through the labyrinth of flowers, bushes, herbs and trees?

“What the Nose Knows” is a series of unique, interactive scent-based experiences of the UC Botanical Garden held in August and September 2010. Each event features a talk or walking tour with a scent expert in the Chinese Herb Garden, Asian and Californian sections. Guests will meet at the main Garden entrance just before 1pm.


August 15, 2010 1-3pm    Birds Do It, Bees Do It

Matt Osowski, biologist at WRA, Environmental Consultancy, and wetlands and California native plants expert, leads a walking tour of the California Garden focusing on fragrant plants, flowers and pollination.

August 29, 2010 1-2pm    Scent and the Art of Tea

Toshiko Ueda, educator at the Urasenke Foundation San Francisco and proprietor of Atelier B Pastry in San Francisco gives a presentation on the role of scent in Japanese tea ceremony.

September 12, 2010 1-2pm    Scents that Heal

Have you wondered why such potent incense wafts out of your acupuncturist or holistic therapist’s office? Kil-Young Yu, LAc, acupuncturist and herbalist at Oakland Community Acupuncture explains this and the medicinal properties of other odoriferous herbs in the Traditional Chinese Herb Garden.

quick tips for creative perfume wear

When you wear any extra scent, you have to think about how your body will express it. I like to discuss scent in musical terms.

Try to keep in the following facts in mind when wearing scent:

1. What your natural odor is – musky, sweet, spicy, sour – these tones will affect the way scents smell on you. Think of your natural body odor as the core note in changing chords made through all of the scents you use. Like clothing, many people like the way something smells “objectively,” on a piece of paper, in a bottle or subjectively on a friend, a lover or even a stranger. You should wear the scent, and not let the scent wear you.

2. Soaps, lotions, hair-products, make-up, fabric, clothing detergent, the things you cook, eat and drink along with any odors in your home have scent, even if they claim to be “fragrance-free.” These items will produce notes in your scent ensemble.

3. What kind of a chord are you creating? Do you prefer perfect harmony or some dissonance? Pay attention to whether or not certain scent notes stick out or blend and which are stronger or fainter.

4. Remember that other people experience your scent differently than you. This is obvious when we get into a crowded train or bus, but your application of scents might be announcing yourself to strangers blocks away. Is this something you want to achieve? Don’t be afraid to ask friends if they can smell you or your scent. You might not care at all how you smell to others or you might care a lot.

5. Scent changes throughout the day and in different environments. The quality of the air around you will impact your own scent song like an ever-changing orchestra or symphony. As one perfume expert remarked recently, the same perfume on the same person at the same time of day will smell different in San Francisco and in LA, again different in Paris, Kerala, Lubbock, and Dorset.

This is my habitual way of wearing my signature scent when I’m not feeling a particular mood:

spray left wrist, then right wrist from about 4 inches away (not one then rubbing wrists together – who taught that technique anyway? It’s a waste of good perfume!)

spray behind left then right ear also 4 inches away

spray chest (décolletage) about a foot away

spray one foot in front at about neck level, then walk through, repeat one more time

Note: I have normal-dry skin and wear medium-light scents. For anything heavier, I only spray my wrists or neck.

Tips for creative scent use:

1. Blend your scents together with awareness:

your natural odor (sweet) your shampoo (green apple) + body wash (almond) + moisturizer (honeysuckle) = one pretty harmonious chord.

Adding a floral oriental like Obsession would probably clash, but also overpower all of the other notes. You might choose CKONE instead to keep a consistent green fruity song.

2. Apply perfume to only certain areas of your body for effect. The closer you apply to warm, oily areas (behind ears, nape of neck, cleavage, wrists and inside of elbows), the longer scent will last. Try applying only to wrists or to neck or just to your hair. For subtler scent, apply only to your knees or ankles!

3. Mix perfume. Experiment with two scents (either perfume or perfume and soap, lotion, etc) you like. You can spray them on separate sheets of paper or one on each wrist and smell them side by side. Put one scent on your wrists, another on your neck or both on the same spot. Don’t over apply with this technique!

4. Evaluate the potency of different scents. If your soap is strong-smelling, wear lighter perfume or apply less. Perfumes also come in a range of power. In order from strongest to weakest:


eau de parfum

eau de toilette

Liquid spray, oil or solid, even these versions of the same scent, will smell differently because of concentration and the chemicals in alcohol and oils used as their base.

5. Keep a log that records your reactions to your own scent. What do you learn about your natural odor regarding your preferences, you friends and loved ones preferences for your scent? How do you respond to a perfume at first spray (top notes), after several minutes (middle notes) and after several hours (base notes)? How does your perfume change after intense activity outside or at the gym? And at the very end of the day? Record the range of feelings that the scents you wear cause in you.

6. Write your own scent journal or story about your personal adventures in scent! Enjoy the myriad of smells at play around you during your travels and in everyday life.