International Women’s Month: Akiko Kamei

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Before Frederic Malle began putting the perfumer’s name on his bottles 16 years ago, perfumers were mostly unknown and uncredited outside of their industry. Acknowledging the perfumer would have risked shattering the illusion that Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors sat around blending their perfumes themselves. As a result, it can be very tricky to find information about perfumers, particularly older perfumers from more secretive generations. But I have never found so little information as I did on Akiko Kamei. One photo, a list of creations, and an unverified claim that Ms. Kamei once worked at Givaudan. No interviews, no quotes, nothing!

So this is really less of a post and more of a cry for help. Does anyone know anything about the woman who created Rouge d’Hermes, Caron No. 3, Diptyque Oyedo*, and L’Artisan Mure et Musc eau de cologne**? I hate seeing such an accomplished perfumer come so close to being forgotten. I’ll update this post with anything we can find! Let’s solve this fragrant mystery.

* Source: http://olfatheque.com/fiche-personne-194-Akiko-Kamei.html

** Source: http://boisdejasmin.com/2006/02/mure_et_musc_an.html

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Bvlgari Black

A few months ago, I dismissed Bvlgari Black with the words,

Black is supposedly a smoky vanilla scent, with the smokiness coming from a lapsang souchong tea note. The reality is that Black smells like straight-up burnt rubber. Now, rubber may have sexy connotations galore to the BDSM crowd, but I personally find it disorienting and unenjoyable.

Well, I feel like an asshole.

Inside that strange little hockey puck of a bottle is probably the most interesting mainstream fragrance on the market today. Pure intellectualism, however, does not a great perfume make: above all, perfume has to smell good. Black succeeds on both counts. If I had given that rubber note a few minutes, I would have found that it softens into sexy, smoky leather underscored by soft vanilla. In a time when the legendary leather scents (Bandit, Tabac Blond, etc) are being reformulated, Black is an extremely welcome addition to the category.

Black reminds me of the “cool girls” in high school. Not the popular girls, the ones on the cheerleading squad, but those worldly ladies with older boyfriends who picked them up in flashy cars. Black is a cologne, and therefore unisex, although I can’t imagine any of the men in my life wearing such a daring scent. It would, however, be perfect for the man who inspired this review: Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With that scar over his eyebrow and his charismatic swagger (not to mention his motorcycle and leather duster), Spike was the ultimate bad boy. Black wouldn’t be half bad on Buffy, either.

Early Billy Idol, anyone?

Isn’t he the most perfect thing you’ve ever seen? Whenever I watch Buffy, I find myself screaming, “Buffy, you fool, the hottest vampire in Sunnydale is in love with you, so move the hell on from Angel, because he has his own spinoff now and is NEVER COMING BACK, except for like 5 minutes at the end of Season 7.” Then I remember that the little people in the TV cannot actually hear me. Incidentally, this little habit is the reason that everyone but my most loyal friends refuses to watch Gossip Girl with me.

Disclaimer: I own a bottle of Black, which I purchased from Sephora.

Caron Aimez-Moi

Caron Aimez-Moi opens with the prettiest candied violets. It feels so delicate that you fear that it might burst into tears at the slightest provocation. A mint note makes Aimez-Moi feel cool-toned, especially to an oriental lover like myself. With a name like Aimez-Moi (Love Me), I had assumed that this treasure from the Caron house would be similar in tone to Marilyn Monroe singing “I Wanna Be Loved By You” in Some Like It Hot. Not seductive, exactly; alluring, yes, but strangely innocent at the same time.

I was wrong, for two reasons. First, Aimez-Moi is a rather dry violet. It does not have the creaminess of Marilyn’s exquisite skin. I have only really ever smelled violet in combination with rose before, so the dryness really surprised me. Second, after that initial phase passes, Aimez-Moi is no longer quite so fragile. While it remains soft, it reminds me of two fragrances, Lolita Lempicka (the anise) and Bond No 9 Broadway Nite (the slightly green violets), that are both known to be powerhouses.

Aimez-Moi is a relatively new Caron (it was released in 1996), and I do not find it at all old-fashioned. The anise-violet combination is just as lovely and delicious as it was in Lolita Lempicka, which makes Aimez-Moi a great choice for people who were overwhelmed by the sweetness of LL. I really find Aimez-Moi to be rather beautiful. It makes me imagine one of those naturally gorgeous blondes who always has a dreamy, far-away look in her bright blue eyes. In the end, a better song for Aimez-Moi would have been “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”, from Dreamgirls. Aimez-Moi commands, “You’re gonna love me”, and I cannot help but obey.

Aimez-Moi can be found for very good prices at online discounters.

Disclaimer: The best SAs ever at Saks Fifth Avenue made me a sample of Aimez-Moi.