The Scented Hound

Perfume blog with abbreviated perfume reviews & fragrance reviews.


The 2013 Scented Hound Christmas Gift Guide

Ahhh, tis the season.  Thanksgiving has passed and our thoughts now turn to Christmas.  Of course, I have not yet begun to start my holiday shopping, but lucky for you I have mapped out some of my favorite finds for Christmas 2013.  This year, I have some fragrance related and not so fragrance related picks for the perfect Christmas gifts.  I hope you find something that you like!


Penhaligon’s really knows how to package their wonderful fragrances with the most inventive and charming holiday gift sets.  This year, the theme for the sets is “A Songbird’s Christmas.”  Each gift collection carries this songbird in a cage theme and I know I would love to receive one of these charming sets.

From the Penhaligon’s website:

Inspired by Victorian music boxes, Penhaligon’s A Songbird’s Christmas Gift Collection features stunning illustrations of singing mechanical birds, each of the ornamented tin boxes are filled with an array of scented treasures.

The collections are reasonably priced from $50 to $150 depending on the collection.  Additionally, you can purchase for $50 a songbird music box that you can fill the the products of your choice.  Collections include a ladies and a gentleman’s miniature, as well as Blenheim Bouquet, Artemisia, Vanities and Sartorial collections.  All of the offerings can be found at the Penaligon’s website.


Cuir GardeniaI was lucky enough to be introduced to Cuir de Gardenia by the wonderful Mandy Aftel after she launched her latest fragrance.  In the past month, Cuir de Gardenia has easily become my favorite after work comfort scent.  Basically, after a long day at work I apply just a little and let the warmth and beauty of this magnificent fragrance whisk me away.    But besides being a fantastic scent, Mandy offers it in both liquid and solid form.  And even better, you can purchase this wonderful scent in an antique holder filled with the solid fragrance.  It’s perfect of a one of a kind gift.

From the Afelier Perfumes website:

Cuir de Gardenia retains the unique beauty of the tiare flower, not allowing it to morph into the hundreds of petals of a floral bouquet. I had been incredibly fortunate to find an artisanal grower and distiller of the ultra-rare, costly, precious gardenia. In Cuir de Gardenia, I wanted to retain the pure loveliness of the creamy sweet and singular gardenia fragrance, and knew that the rounded warmth of an oil-based perfume (solid and extrait) would be the perfect format.

compactCuir de Gardenia is unusual in that it has no top notes; I created it in such a way that the gardenia appears immediately, unimpeded from the opening of the perfume onward, merging seamlessly with the leather. The natural isolates ethyl phenyl acetate (reminiscent of a bunch of sweet peas) and the candy-like maltol contribute sweet and floral notes to the animalic base of the perfume. 

Featured Notes
Middle: tiare (gardenia) absolute, jasmine grandiflorum absolute, benzyl acetate.
Base: astoreum, ethyl phenyl acetate, maltol.

You can purchase the .25 oz solid perfume for $240 and slightly more for the solid perfume in an antique container (click here to see all the available antique containers).  The 2ml Parfum Extrait is $55.  Cuir Gardenia and Mandy’s other fragrances can be found at


OK, if the Scented Hound wore lipstick I would buy this in a heartbeat for myself.  Kitten lipstick is just too cute and this makes for a perfect gift for the younger set.  Comprised of an eye color duo, blush and a kitten lipstick, this all comes in a kitten print zip pouch.  Available for $65 at Urban Outfitters (online only)!


rance-fc-soapsThere is nothing more luxurious than a gift that is classic, timeless, yet simple in its beauty.  Rance soaps make wonderfully long-lasting and wonderfully elegant gifts.  One of my favorites in the collection is the Francois Charles soap collection.

From the Rance Soaps website:

Francois Charles was created and dedicated for the only son of Napoleon Bonaparte, year 1811.  Bold intensity of this fragrance embraces the favored Mediterranean tones.  A very masculine fragrance that includes Basil, Cardamom, Lavender, Bergamot, Calabrian Lemon, Ginger, Geranium, Carnation, Jasmine, Virginia Cedar, Florentine Iris, Ambergris, Leather and Musk.   Fresh, aromatic, Amber and woodsy.  Elegant dark gray linen paper covered handmade box with gold and silver overlay.  Each bar of soap is embossed with the Rance Crest.

You can purchase a single bar for $10.99 or a collection of 6 bars in a boxed set for $67.99 through the Rance Soaps website.


I was lucky enough to meet Barbara Herman at this past fall’s Sniffapalooza and found her to be a wonderful engaging and incredibly knowledgable perfumista.  Barbara’s new book Scent and Subversion has been the talk of the perfume community this fall and rightly so.  Luckyscent has a great recap of Barbara’s book:

ScentandSubversionIn her first book, blogger Barbara Herman offers a well-written glimpse into “an aesthetic of pop culture that is worthy of analysis, shaped by and shaping the culture in which it’s embedded.” Indeed, the 20th-century scents she focuses on—in their olfactory personalities and advertising—were often a reflection of the politics, social mores, and evolving sexual identities of their time, and serve as sensory snapshots of history. So 1912’s L’Heure Bleue, with its “melancholy” blend of soft, sweet notes “evokes a prewar, romantic Paris, before darkness descended upon the city, ” while flappers of the ’20s were dabbing on smoky, traditionally masculine scents like Habanita (to mask the smell of cigarettes) and musky Arpège, a perfume that Herman likens to a “sensual beauty, slightly corrupted, at the end of a night of dining and dancing.” Rosie the Riveters redefining their post-WWII roles could reach for scents that were “butch” or aggressively feminine, while the 70s brought perfumes that imparted a sense of “loosening up, ” and the ’90’s, which ushered in technological advances, saw “clean, uncomplicated” scents like CK One. Illustrated by vintage ads, Herman’s decade-by-decade study is followed by engrossing interviews with “scent visionaries, ” and tips on boosting expertise and creating a collection of classic scents. The book will delight perfume lovers.

For a great price of $24, Barbara will take you on an incredible perfume journey.  Scent and Subversion is available from Luckyscent and other fine retailers.


I guess it should come as no surprise that I am also a huge fan of fragrances for the home.  The new Manhattan collection by Anitca Famacista is fantastically refreshing and vibrant.

From the Antica Famacista website:

In honor of the classic cocktail and the city that never sleeps. Our tribute to both is a captivating infusion evoking warmth, sparkle, and mystery. 

Top notes of zesty Satsuma and bergamot citrus balance the spice and aromatic black pepper. A subtle brandied cherry note is an elegant accompaniment to the rich notes of deep cognac, vetiver, amber and bourbon.

Manhattan comes in candle, diffuser and home spray forms and is available from fine retailers or through the Antica Farmacista website.


You cannot deny the finest of ingredients and quality.  Rive Sude’s candles are ultra luxurious and are the epitome of understated elegance.  One of my favorites in the collection is Via Della Basilica.  The fragrance to me is like stepping through the doors of a 15th century church in Italy.  I can almost hear the echos of footsteps on the marble floors.  Beautiful.

From the Rive Sude Interior website:

Like a poem by Pavese, the streets Will open into a hill of pines and stones leading to the basilica silently.

Head: black pepper 
Heart: myrrh 
Soul: incense

Via Della Basilica is available for around $340.  It and the other elegant candles in the collection are available via the Rive Sude Interior website.

Naked-Decor-Cat-and-Bird-Double-Sided-Cotton-PillowNAKED DECOR

One of my favorite finds this year was right in my own home town.  Naked Decor, based out of Washington DC, offers fun and fresh products that will sure to make you smile.  I especially love that they have many products that revolve around cats and dogs.  Products range from pillows to home decor and other fun offerings.

You can find all of the products at their website at  And through December 8th, you can get the following discounts:  $20 off for spending $45 with code – GIFT20; $30 off for spending $75 with code – GIFT30; $40 off for spending $95 with code – GIFT40



Of course my list couldn’t be complete without the mention of my favorite stocking stuffing stores, Archie McPhee.  This year one of the best products is fun, yet genteel…the Jane Austen Action Figure.  She even comes holding a quill pen along with her copy of Pride and Prejudice.  For you darker types, Archie McPhee also carries a Edgar Allen Poe action figure complete with his own raven.

The Jane Austen Action Figure is a mere $13 at the Archie McPhee website.  Check it out along with all of their other fun and sometimes down right rude and crude offerings that always make the perfect unexpected gift.



Baggu bags are fun in design, inexpensive, and can hold 2-3 plastic grocery bags worth of stuff for only $9 a bag.   Plus they can fold up and fit into a 5″ pouch.  What’s not to love?  You can find all of the Baggu bags on their website at

I hope that you find something here that you like.  It’s time for me to run off and start my own shopping!

Happy Holidays from The Scented Hound!


Ramblings for a Monday Morning

blah-blah-blahI finally had a chance to sit down and get a little writing in.  It’s been so busy with work that any random thoughts and ideas seem to be rattling around loose in my brain.  But things are actually quieting down nicely and we had a nice quiet Easter Sunday and I managed to eat a ton of candy and Easter ham and all the fixins!

OK… I told you this would be a bit rambling…

I was putting on some perfume for work the other day and as I was digging through my what I believe to be minimal collection, I started thinking about Spring and that I could once again start wearing some more warmer weather fragrances (or puchase some :)).  But in looking at my perfumes, I noted that there were a few this winter that I barely touched but once or twice.  But last year, I wore these same fragrances multiple times per week (Serge Luten’s Ambre Sultan for instance).  I started wondering if my tastes were changing or if my interest in perfume was dominated by the thrill of the chase in purchasing new perfume rather than for the pure love of the fragrance.  And then I thought with the increasing size of my collection, how many of those old loves will never ever see the light of day?  Or, will next winter become once again, the winter of Ambre Sultan?  Is anyone else this fickle in their perfume loves?

Rambling on…

YsastisThanks to the wonderful Kafkaesque I am now hooked on vintage Ysatis by Givenchy.  She graciously included a sample of vintage EdT which I emptied in quick time.  Thankfully, this is not hard to find on eBay and I recently purchased 2 5ml pure parfum minis for a song.  As much as I loved the EdT, I love the  pure parfum even more as the floral aspects are tinged greater with the animalic civet.  It’s a beauty that is extremely loud and feminine but I don’t care.  I am wallowing in it’s loveliness as I write this!  The following is the description from Fragrantica:

Magical floral fragrance. Ysatis woman is smart, emotional and distinct. Elegant bottle matches the opulent fragrance that smells like luxury. The top notes are citrus, ylang-ylang, galbanum, coconut, rose wood, and aldehydes. The heart notes are jasmine, rose, iris, tuberose and narcissus. The base notes are musk, amber, vanilla, vetiver, patchouli, sandal wood and civet. The fragrance was created by Dominique Ropion in 1984.


I recently reviewed the wonderful Haute Claire Parfum by Aftelier Perfumes giving it a 5 bone rating.   Mandy Aftel graciously sent me the EdP version of Haute Claire and I can easily say that it too is a star.  Of course, being an EdP vs. a Parfum concentration means that it’s a little lighter but the overall essence is the same.  However, strangely with the EdP I almost get a light cocoa vibe as well.  Maybe I’m just smelling all the Easter chocolate in the house?

and finally…

Did anyone else sign up for the Olfactif sample program?  The first month was free and I have no idea what to expect.  I did receive an email the other day stating that my package had been shipped.  No doubt, more to come on this soon.

Happy Monday all!


Haute Claire by Aftelier Perfumes



About a month ago, I was lucky enough to be the winner of a Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes drawing.  This was a real thrill as I have not really delved into the realm of natural perfumes and after hearing Freddie from Smellythoughts rave about the Aftelier fragrances I knew that I would be in for a lovely surprise.  As part of the drawing I was able to choose 3 miniature perfumes from Mandy’s collection.  Based on notes that I love and review of others, I decided upon Wild Roses, Secret Garden and my favorite of the three which I’m reviewing today, Haute Claire.  Of course, Mandy couldn’t have been sweeter and actually sent me a few more samples along with the minis.  My package arrived in the most exquisite box and the 3 perfumes were housed in these sweetly small bottles in their own little carrying case.  As wonderful as the juice always is, the packaging just adds that something extra that makes it so much more special.  Mandy obviously understands this to perfection!  Now, these fragrances are masterful in their composition and you can immediately tell that they are blended perfectly and my nose is not sophisticated enough to really give the justice due with words, so please bear with me.

WHAT I SMELL:  In the bottle it smells strong and biting and dare I must say, a little musty (galbanum?).  Once you apply it, that strong and musty opening makes way for an orange and ylang ylang intoxicating delight.  It somehow is fresh and cool and warm at the same time.  It is substantial in that there is a depth, an almost layering of various notes that seem to rise and sink back each time I put my arm to my nose.  I have always thought of natural perfumes in the sense of earthy and oily.  This breaks that  thought in that it is like a 1200 count egyptian cotton sheet;  substantial, smooth and ultra luxurious.  Haute Claire is thick and ripe and the honeysuckle sticks to the back of your throat.  It’s not sweet, but it’s pungent with a thick and palatable consistency.  I love to be intoxicated by a perfume and this does the trick in spades.  After quite some time in the end you are left with a wonderful warm green vetiver fragrance.  The vetiver is deep and luxurious and this is coming from a man who typically doesn’t care for vetiver scents.

From the Aftelier website:

Haute Claire is both crisp and soft, cool and warm. The fresh edgy greenness of galbanum is offset by the creamy floral of ylang ylang edged with honeysuckle. The green and floral notes harmonize in perfect pitch, with neither dominating the other. A warm base of vetiver and vanilla provides a soft finish of sweet grass.

Top: galbanum, Mexican lime, wild sweet orange, ylang ylang co2.
Heart: honeysuckle absolute, ylang ylang extra, clary sage.
Base: vetiver, ethyl phenyl acetate, vanilla absolute.

mother earthWHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  The perfume that I believe Mother Nature herself would be wearing as her signature scent.

THREE ADJECTIVES THAT DESCRIBE  HAUTE CLAIRE:  intoxicating, rapturous, wise (you can tell that Haute Claire was composed with a great deal of experience, knowledge and wisdom)

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT HAUTE CLAIRE:  smellythoughts, EauMG, This Blog Really Stinks

BOTTOM LINE:  This was a wonderful surprise for me.  I can’t thank Mandy enough for the opportunity to experience her artistry.  I am thinking at this point that a mini of Haute Claire will not suffice.  Thankfully, Mandy has 30ml EdP bottles for sale too!!!  Please do check her website and all the wonderful fragrances and other products at

  • Bone Rating: 5 out of 5 possible bones
  • Scent: Green
  • Nose:  Mandy Aftel
  • Classification: Unisex
  • Expense: $50 as tested, 2ml perfume