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Around the World in a Bottle

photo by eivindtjohei

I could totally go for a trip to Paris right now. How about you? Spending a week lazing about on a beach on some remote tropical island also sounds very good. But it’s just not quite in the budget at the moment. Fortunately, I make sure I’m well stocked in perfumes and other fragrant treasures that take me on mini-vacations even if I never set foot outside my house. When I spritz or slather on something lovely, I get a total Calgon-just-took-me-away feeling (but I don’t actually use Calgon).

Fragrance is incredibly powerful in the way it can transport us.

Fragrance is incredibly powerful in the way it can transport us, in how it can evoke strong emotions and a sense of a place – even though we may have never even been there. It’s hard for me to imagine an unscented life. Since I’ve got travel on the brain, I decided to take a look at some perfumes and fragranced treats in terms of place, on where they take me, so to speak. Consider this your fragrance travelogue through Paris, tropical islands, California beaches, Napa, Manhattan, St. Barths, Morocco, and Asia. All aboard! (Sorry, that was so dorky. But I couldn’t help myself.)

Romance in Paris

Villainess Pyromania reminds me of many romantic café visits on my honeymoon in Paris. Now we weren’t setting fire to anything as the name of this fragrance might suggest. But we were eating crème brulee at practically every meal. Villainess Pyromania has a smoky, spicy sweetness that takes me back to that lovely vacation. As with other Villainess fragrances, you can get it in a perfume oil, soap, body scrub, and body cream to fully drench yourself in their decadent concoctions – at surprisingly affordable prices.

Strange Invisible Perfumes Urban Lily is another perfume that evokes the romance of Paris. This is a new, fresh, sophisticated fragrance that brings a smile to my face. It smells like a gorgeous bouquet of the lilies that make their way to street corners in Paris every May. Urban Lily is a fair trade, wild crafted, biodynamically cultivated, organic essence that makes me want to steal away to Paris. All Strange Invisible Perfumes products are pure, natural, free of synthetic preservatives, genetically modified ingredients, parabens, petroleum, coal tar and industrial phthalates, in ecologically sound packaging.

Basking in the Sun on a Tropical Island

I am clearly drawn to the scents of tropical islands that evoke thoughts of warm, relaxing breezes and gently swaying palm trees. Even though I’ve never actually been to a tropical island, I feel like I have with a few of these fragrances and beauty products. Super-rich JUARA Candlenut Hand & Body Balm is a tropical island in a tube with its delicious, coconut scent – although maybe I’m actually smelling the mix of candlenut oil and shea butter. Whatever it is, it’s heavenly. I can certainly see why this is their best-selling product.

The Body Shop White Musk White Hot Summer is a new special-edition scent for this summer. It’s a heady mix of pink pepper, bergamot, and violet leaf top notes, heart notes of rose, carnation, heliotrope, orris, in a base of sandalwood, musk, and vanilla. It’s warm, sweet, and fruity all at once and definitely evoking a carefree, island vacation.

Benefit b spot is a popular favorite that smells fun, fresh, and summery. When I smell this, I see myself laughing and sipping a fruity drink from a coconut in Hawaii. Seriously. It’s such a fun fragrance – a blend of mango, freesia, peony, and sandlewood. It also includes a ‘body map’ to help you pinpoint your ‘b spots’ and show you exactly where to spray it for maximum seduction. I can never get enough of Benefit’s wonderful sense of whimsy.

Lounging on a Beach in a California

Bobbi Brown Beach instantly gets me daydreaming about trips to beaches around California. It reminds me of lovely, warm, sunny days hanging out along the Pacific. This fresh, fragrance collection is made with a beautiful blend of sand jasmine, sea spray, and mandarin. I’ve never smelled anything like it. It’s delightful. The body lotion in the collection will even reduce peeling and prolong the life of a tan and protect skin from the ravages of the sun with antioxidants from green tea and vitamin E.

AHAVA Mandarin Cedarwood is very different from Bobbi Brown Beach; but it also makes me think of a visit to the beach. I smell this and want to lay down a towel and doze off in the sun. Too bad the beach near my house here in San Francisco is usually too cold for sunbathing. But I can at least linger in warm thoughts. I adore the Multi-Vitamin Dry Oil with its essential oils of mandarin and cedarwood, vitamins, antioxidants, and algae extract. It’s silky and moisturizing without a heavy, oily feel.

Lazing about at a Spa in Napa

I love the smell of cucumbers. They remind me of summer salads and visits to spas where they serve cool water with slices of cucumber and put cucumber slices on my eyes during facials. Ahhhhhh. Mountain Rose Herbs Cucumber Mist Aroma Spray brings all that back to me with a single spritz. It’s refreshing, cooling, and crisp – just as described. It smells like the real thing, because it’s handmade from real cucumbers, not a synthetic fragrance like most cucumber-scented products. It has soothing, healing, and anti-inflammatory properties so it’s a skin care product as well.

The High Life in Manhattan

Estee Lauder Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang is a warm, sophisticated scent that combines the richness of amber and ylang ylang with the depth of sandalwood and vanilla. It reminds me of days when I lived in Manhattan – having high tea across from Central Park, taking in a choral concert at an incredibly old cathedral, imbibing on way too many martinis (but really, how many is too many?) at the latest, hot restaurant, sauntering around Barney’s and leaving with way too many bags (but once again, can you really have too many?). It was such a fun, exciting time.

Relaxing at a Posh Café by the Sea

Manuel Canovas of Paris has created Le Fantaises Parfumees, a line of decadent fragrances reminiscent of exotic, opulent locales around the world. Anse Turquoise makes me feel like I should be wearing a wide-brimmed hat, large Gucci sunglasses, and showing off my sleek, supple bronzed skin. I don’t actually have any of those things; but I do when I wear this and close my eyes. Anse Turquoise was inspired by St. Barths Port of Gustavia, a jewel of the French West Indies, and its striking turquoise waters. Top notes include Calabrian bergamot, caramel, Greek grapefruit, Silician citron, vanilla cloves with ylang ylang from Madagascar, Ceylon cinnamon, Indian sandalwood, Egyptian jasmine, Turkish rose, tuberose, French violet, Caribbean magnolia in a base of white musk, amber, Peruvian balsam, orange blossom, and oakmoss.

Strange Invisible Perfumes Aquarian Rose is also evocative of a luxurious afternoon of basking in the sun at a cafe by the sea. This new perfume blends the passion of wild roses with the warmth of marjoram and sandalwood. I smell this and think about sailing around the world in a fabulous yacht and dropping into exotic ports to lunch at the finest, seaside cafes. As with other Strange Invisible Perfumes, this is a is a fair trade, wild crafted, biodynamically cultivated, organic essence set in a base of 100% organic grape alcohol.

A Field of Lush Roses in Morocco

The Body Shop Moroccan Rose Bath & Body Collection is new for spring. It’s a romantic, feminine floral with a distinct rose note that I adore. It’s made with rose oil harvested at dawn – when the roses are at their most fragrant – in an area called ‘the valley of the roses’ in Morocco, where the roses grow between the picturesque snow-capped Atlas Mountains and the scorching, sandy desert. Rose is mixed with lemon oil, spice, warm vanilla, and sensual musk. I love to just float around in a cloud of this after I’ve layered the Eau De Toilette over the Body Butter. I’ve never been to Morocco. But now I want to go, and particularly to this valley of roses.

Meditating in a Lotus Garden in the Orient

Pacifica Lotus Garden is a bright, contemplative experience for me. I’ve never smelled a lotus ‘in real life.’ But I am fascinated by the symbolism of the lotus. It is a symbol of strength, enlightenment, and love. It reminds me of my own journey of finding strength and peace in myself and being aware of what is right before me at this very moment. I was surprised by this fragrance – the layering of green and citrus notes with lotus, jasmine, and olibanum. It’s a fresh, sparkling floral. Everything in the collection – from the perfume and the body lotion to the shower gel and candle – are both refreshing and grounding. The creator was inspired by her visits to lotus gardens in Angkor Wat, Cambodia, and Santa Barbara, California.

Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Lotus is part of the Green Tea Fragrance Collection. It also reminds me of the beauty of the lotus and has some of the same notes as Pacifica Lotus Garden but with a very different feel. This is a more calming, delicate fragrance. The citrus is more subtle while the florals are more pronounced and warmed by the green tea. This includes top notes of plum, cherry blossom, yuzu, and mandarin with a middle of  lotus, green and jasmine teas, and osmanthus in a base of musks and white birch. This aims to transport you to an exotic Japanese garden; and I think it succeeds. It makes me want to sit down and relax over a tea ceremony.

An Asian, Jasmine Excursion

I’ve been wearing a lot of jasmine lately. I feel instantly intoxicated and transported by this rich, sensuous fragrance. I definitely don’t feel like I’m in Kansas anymore. I like to layer JUARA Tiare Jasmine Tea Body Milk – a light moisturizer that smells like fresh, jasmine tea leaves – with the classic Pacifica Tunisian Jasmine Perfume – which is a mix of jasmine with Mediterranean almond. For an extra dose of jasmine throughout the day, I spoil my hands with rich Akhassa Jasmine Hand Cream. In aromatherapy, jasmine is used to calm the mind, relieve depression, and act as an aphrodisiac. It definitely gets my husband’s attention.

Buying Spices in Indonesia

Aroma Sothys Delicious Scrub and Energizing Shower Gel make me think of a market where the air is filled with the fragrance of aromatic spices. I breathe in deeply when I use these new bath treats from the luxury Parisian skin care line Sothys. The exceptionally moisturizing scrub is warm and sensuous with its ginger, nutmeg, orange and mandarin essential oils. While the thick, rich shower gel is uplifting and refreshing with its eucalyptus, cardamom, nutmeg, and neroli essential oils. They complement each other well and are a heady way to start the day. I recommend following with a hot cup of spiced tea.

Do Tell

Do fragrances transport you to places you remember fondly or places you dream of visiting? Are you in the mood for a vacation? Do tell.

P.S. Check out our regularly updated Beauty Resources page for some amazing beauty deals from companies like Bobbi Brown, The Body Shop, and Skinbotanica.com.

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11 comments for “Around the World in a Bottle”

  1. I love this post! So cute. I would definitely go on that trip to Paris with you!

    It’s crazy how powerful the sense of smell is…now that it’s getting warmer where I am, I’m smelling some of the same smells from when I first got here in September and they totally take me back in time.

    Posted by Kayla | April 30, 2009, 5:50 am
  2. Yes, yes, yes. When I was growing up, my best friend’s extremely chic mother wore Penhaligon’s Bluebell. I have so many visceral associations of that scent. When the Penhaligon’s store was still in TO (in the 80s) I bought a bottle and wore it till it was gone. Then the store left (but this was before internet commerce) and I couldn’t find it anywhere. Finally, just a couple of years ago, it occurred to me I might be able to get it online. It’s one of the few things I’ve bought that way. Had it mailed to US (parents) because the shipping/duty costs in Canada are needlessly prohibitive.

    My mother brought it to me on a visit but it was just at the time when you weren’t allowed to bring liquid on planes anymore! The guard took pity on my mother and ran to put the perfume in her luggage (not carry on). Which is how I have it now.

    I savour it everytime I wear it. Which is often, but only in the spring / summer.

    Posted by K-Line | April 30, 2009, 8:18 am
  3. SUCH a fun post, Sonja! I’ve never been much of a perfume gal, but the ones that tickle my fancy inevitably conjure up imaginary places. Mainly woodsy glades and tree-covered mountainsides. Can ya tell I like an earthy scent?

    Posted by Sal | April 30, 2009, 9:21 am
  4. ❤ Kayla, thank you! Let’s totally go to Paris together! I’ll go pack my bags.
    ❤ K-Line, that’s amazing and wonderful that the guard at the airport saved your precious perfume. That’s great that you were able to find it again. I still need to check out Penhaligon. Must put it on my to-do list. Thanks for the reminder!
    ❤ Sal, thank you! It’s so interesting to see what fragrances we gravitate to. I tend to be all over the map, because I choose fragrances depending on how I’m feeling. But I definitely gravitate to green scents. Delightful!

    Posted by Sonja | April 30, 2009, 12:30 pm
  5. [...] Sonja placed an interesting blog post on Around the World in a Bottle | THE COVETEDHere’s a brief overviewUrban Lily is a fair trade, wild crafted, biodynamically cultivated, organic essence that makes me want to steal away to Paris. All Strange Invisible Perfumes products are pure, natural, free of synthetic preservatives, …. It is a symbol of strength, enlightenment, and love. It reminds me of my own journey of finding strength and peace in myself and being aware of what is right before me at this very moment. I was surprised by this fragrance – the layering of green and … [...]

    Posted by Topics about Fairtrade » Archive » Around the World in a Bottle | THE COVETED | April 30, 2009, 3:21 pm
  6. ahhh… time for a vacation! thanks for the dreamy and fun-to-read article!!!

    Posted by deborah | April 30, 2009, 6:45 pm
  7. i really love these…. man.. i’ll have to go perfume shopping with you! i can never pick out scents for myself..though the indonesian spices really speak to me… mmmm… spices..

    Posted by jennine | May 1, 2009, 12:28 am
  8. ❤ deborah, thank you! So glad you enjoyed the post. It’s definitely time for a vacation!
    ❤ jennine, yes! Let’s go perfume shopping! How much fun would that be?!

    Posted by Sonja | May 1, 2009, 11:53 am
  9. A trip around the world with fragrances in about 3 months.

    Posted by che | May 3, 2009, 3:01 am
  10. It’s amazing the power that scents have. They encompass more than just an aroma, they capture a mood, a time, a memory, a way of life, etc. I have such a huge collection of fragrances-some I use everyday and others I use on a less frequent basis. Either way, one spritz and I’m swept away. Fashion is Life!


    Posted by Antwonne | May 3, 2009, 7:48 pm
  11. ❤ che, totally!
    ❤ Antwonne, that’s so true. I’m the exact same way with fragrances.

    Posted by Sonja | May 6, 2009, 9:29 am

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