International Women’s Month: Cécile Hua


Welcome to International Women’s Month! Scents of Self will be celebrating with tributes to the female pioneers of perfumery all month long, culminating with a workshop on Saturday, March 26. Next up: Cécile Hua!

“My heroes are the people who try to stay true to their vision despite the industry and its pressure, the ones fighting against soulless products, the ones making sure there is a connection between the juice, the name, the packaging and the positioning: anybody who loves the product enough to make sure it will be done right. How do you expect an emotional response to a product that you don’t love yourself?” -Cécile Hua, Basenotes, 2008

My greatest perfume regret is selling my bottle of M.A.C MV3. I was 21, and I told myself that I needed the $50 a lot more than I needed another bottle of perfume. Three years later, MV3 is now going for $179 on Ebay, when it can be found at all. As well it should! MV3 was the perfect sweet leather.

The nose behind MV3, of course, is today’s International Woman, Cécile Hua. The French-Vietnamese Hua earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in chemistry before attending Givaudan’s perfumery school. She won the first Fashion Group International Rising Star Award for Fragrance Design in 2003, and has been working for the fragrance firm Mane for the past 13 years.

In interviews, Hua overflows with passion about the perfume industry’s future. She acknowledges perfumery’s current realities, the “soulless products” and “disposable commod[ities]”, but looks toward “a better tomorrow, where fragrance design will be given back the attention it deserves.”

And until that better tomorrow comes, Hua brings the same level of gravity to every project, even the soulless ones. With dazzling versatility, she jumps effortlessly between cheesy celebrity fragrances (Paris Hilton Fairy Dust, Jessica Simpson I Fancy You) and challenging niche compositions (Charenton Macerations Asphalt Rainbow, Atelier Cologne Grand Neroli). Cécile, you’re welcome at my basement perfumer compound anytime. (Bring some MV3!)

What Are Your Most Neglected Perfumes?

Image is from my all-time favorite Beyonce video, “Why Don’t You Love Me?”

I was the kind of kid who played with her toys on a rotating schedule so that none of them would feel left out. (Exception: Spice Girls Baby Spice Barbie, who was exiled to the closet for being even creepier than most Barbie dolls.)


barbie doll tiara gold spike emma bunton baby spice girl
This is the last face you see before you die.

Apparently I’m a significantly less lofty-minded adult, because I definitely play favorites with my perfumes. Two scents in particular have gone unsprayed for literally months:

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue EDP: Once you go parfum, you never go EDP. Who could be satisfied with the plain old EDP after a taste of the exquisite parfum formulation? I wish I had never set nostrils on that $337 seductress.

Serge Lutens Santal Majascule: My last few boyfriends have been all about the light, clean perfumes: Atelier Cologne, Chanel 28 La Pausa, that sort of thing. No matter how sensual I find Santal Majascule’s chocolate-rose combination, it’s way too heavy for these uncultured barbarians. It’s like a fabulous piece of Agent Provocateur lingerie when he’d rather see you in one of his old t-shirts.

Okay, your turn: what are your most neglected perfumes?

Dailies 10/07/14


Daily Fragrance: Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee. This little cutie is from the nicely-priced Miniature Discovery Collection. Vanille Insensee is my ex-boyfriend’s fragrance, so I hadn’t worn it in years. I’d forgotten how well-made and instantly appealing it is.

Daily Nail: Urban Decay Pulp Fiction Nail Color in Deep Red. On sale at Sephora for the ridiculous price of $5. (The Pulp Fiction palette is on sale, too!) It has a very subtle shimmer that I completely failed to capture in this photo.

Daily Graphic Novel: Jane Mai Sorry I Can’t Come In On Monday I’m Really Really Sick. My favorite cartoonist had a book launch last weekend! I had a lot of champagne.

Please feel free to share your own Dailies (and to use your own categories)!

Disclaimer: This post does not contain affiliate links. All products (and paws) featured in this post were my own purchases, much to my wallet’s dismay.

Atelier Cologne Rendez-Vous: Review and Giveaway!

Image courtesy of Ca Fleure Bon.
Image courtesy of Ca Fleure Bon.

The good: Rendez-Vous is stunning. A joyful burst of bright, juicy apricot and the softest leather. I’ve smelled vintage Iris Gris twice, from The Non-Blonde‘s precious vintage bottle. It was the most beautiful perfume I’ve ever smelled. Rendez-Vous instantly reminded me of Iris Gris and its famous peach note, made a touch fruitier for modern tastes. Rendez-Vous has great presence and good lasting power. This is the best new release of the year, no question.

The bad: Rendez-Vous is exclusive to Neiman Marcus and Atelier Cologne boutiques. Worse, it’s currently only available in a THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLAR set containing a 200 ml and a 30 ml bottle. This distribution strategy is particularly bizarre coming from Atelier Cologne, which has always been celebrated for offering perfumista-friendly 30 ml bottles. A somewhat sneaky solution is to request Rendez-Vous as the complimentary 30 ml bottle that Atelier Cologne provides with the purchase of any 200 ml bottle, but I really hope that we’ll eventually be able to buy the 30 ml separately.

The giveaway: I have an extra sample of Rendez-Vous for you! If you’d like to enter the giveaway, please leave a comment telling us your favorite Atelier Cologne fragrance (or the one you’d most like to try, if you’re unfamiliar with the line). This giveaway is open to U.S. and international readers. I’ll close the giveaway at 12 AM this Friday, and announce the winner later in the day.

Etat Libre d’Orange Cologne


Etat Libre d’Orange introduces their latest fragrance, Cologne Eau de Parfum, with the words, “It’s an easy pleasure, a scent for everyone, to splash on all over and wear everywhere… It’s a very nice cologne.” Cologne opens with a bright, flat orange note and soft orange blossom. I almost always loathe orange blossom for its syrupy sweetness, but the orange note keeps both in check very nicely. It’s easy to sniff a resemblance to the recent Atelier Cologne Cedrat Envirant during this beginning stage, but unlike Cedrat Envirant, the citrus in Cologne is very streamlined, intentionally unnatural.

Now, here’s the fun part. Traditional colognes are much like Hollywood ingenues: bright and fresh, with very limited lasting power. The delightful trick up Cologne’s sleeve is that it gets better with time instead of fizzling out. The best and most interesting stage of Cologne is the drydown, when white musks mingle with polished, unsweetened leather. The lasting power is surprisingly good, and the holographic silver label is gorgeous in person.

Cologne is not the most daring, exciting Etat Libre d’Orange fragrance. It’s not the one that I, personally, would spend $150 on (Cologne is currently only available in the 100 ml size). But it is exactly what Etat Libre d’Orange set out to achieve: “an easy pleasure”. “A very nice cologne” might be just what this heavy-hitting brand needed.