Review: Maria Candida Gentile Hanbury

Italian niche perfume house Maria Candida Gentile is new to me; until yesterday, I had not had the pleasure of exploring Ms. Gentile’s creations. After having tested the lovely, citrus-y/floral Hanbury this morning, I long for more.

Maria Candida Gentile’s Hanbury is most certainly an exercise in metamorphosis. Its transformation is a lovely one, unique and dramatic. It smells almost like a different perfume 4-5 hours after application – its opening citrus notes are a ghost hiding amongst flowers, finally giving way to the sweet and light musk dry down.

mgc hanbury

Top notes: lime, bitter orange and orange; middle notes: mimose, white honey and calycanthus; base notes: musk and benzoin.

My sample is a glass vial with a “dabber,” so I don’t have the same experience, perhaps, as spraying. While the perfume is still wet on my skin, I get a very sharp citrus-y opening – the brisk bitter orange and lime notes dominate. It transports me back to my childhood, breaking apart a lime Popsicle, even getting hints of the wooden stick beneath (though there are no wood notes).

As the Hanbury starts to dry, it immediately becomes sweeter. The mimose and honey sweeten the citrus, sort of pushing the orange forward and rounding out the sharper bitter orange and lime. Hanbury, thankfully, doesn’t fall over into creamsicle territory or anything – there’s nothing gourmand about it.

Within 30 minutes, the mimose is front and center. It is a sweet floral, almost reminiscent of lime blossom, or Linden, and heliotrope.  Hanbury hangs here for awhile deepening somewhat, almost like flowers that had been picked the day before, now hidden from the sun, and that are just starting to wilt ever so slightly. The honey adds to the depth and sweetness, though the note is not discernible separately to my nose. It seems to play a supporting role.

calycanthus floridus

calycanthus floridus

So…what about this mysterious calycanthus? I’ve never heard of this flower. According to Fragrantica, it smells of “Burgundy Wine or fruit (grapefruit and strawberry) according to variety.” Ok. Wikipedia says that the scent of the flower resembles bubble gum. Now that makes sense to my nose. I get almost a non-indolic and clean tuberose-like waft every once in awhile. Ta-da! Bubblegum! Perhaps that is indeed the calycanthus I’m smelling. This note lasts all the way through wearing, but takes on a minor role in the final dry down.

It takes a couple hours for the base notes to make an entrance. The musk is slight – sweet and clean and friendly. No skank here. The benzoin adds to the sweetness, and fills out the mimose and calycanthus – the two flowers no longer the predominant notes, but certainly respectably noticeable. After a full 6 hours, there is a hint of calycanthus and clean musk. Gorgeous. I want to dab more on and watch this movie again!

I really like Hanbury; I will definitely order a larger decant so that I can spray it and wear it a bit. Lately I’ve been a bit of an impulse shopper, a few blind buys this summer have taught me a lesson not to do so! Hanbury wears close to the skin – definitely a soft sillage perfume that is perfect for office wear. It is said to be unisex, but smells more feminine to me. It is both fresh and sweet – not cloying, which I really like. I think I would reach for it when I want something easy-breezy to wear, and I like it for warm weather.

My sample was generously sent along with my purchase from an eBay seller.

Maria Candida Gentile Hanbury can be found on indiescents for $185, samples $5

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Chanel Jersey: Woven just right.

I have been perfume-less. For a whole week! Well, unless you count Deep Woods OFF! as perfume… (Though I must admit, OFF! Unscented is vaguely reminiscent of Chanel No.5. Do I dare utter those words??? Maybe it was the lack of perfume that made my nose register it as such!)


I went camping, and the woods are no place for perfume. Direct sun, tents, mosquitoes, dirt, and rain are not ideal conditions for spritzing. Needless to say, I came home to my perfume collection ready to spray with abandon! I’ve been looking for The Summer Scent, as if I didn’t already have suitable perfumes. But it’s an excuse to get one specifically for summer, right? I decided that I would reach into my collection of neglected samples. I went right for the box marked “Full Bottle Worthy,” and pulled out Chanel Jersey. I haven’t tested this since last fall, but remember loving it. Of course, it was 50 degrees then, not our current 90 and 70% humidity! I will certainly have to take that into account while testing.

ImageChanel Jersey

Notes per Fragrantica: Lavender, musk, vanilla, grass, rose, jasmine, tonka bean.

Right away, I get a blast of fresh lavender. It is the herbal, green, and sharp English variety, and not as floral as French lavender. The lavender quickly softens to a glow, and gives way to a soft caramel-y vanilla. Though it hovers close to too sweet for a few minutes, I do not agree with other reviews that believe it to smell cheap. The caramel then mellows to what I would consider a sweet and clean musk – not a sexy, dirty, deep musk. I also do not agree that the musk is a “laundry musk,” though I have to admit that I use unscented detergent and have not smelled many scented ones. The herbal lavender continues to peek out though the vanilla/musk veil, and stays all the way through the final dry down phase. I do not get the rose, wildflowers, or jasmine that Fragrantica lists in the notes.

Jersey could easily fit into the “skin scent” category. It is light, soft, wears close to the skin, and wouldn’t offend. It lasts about 4 hours on my skin. I prefer it for casual wear – for bed, to the gym, or running errands. It’s a nice light summer scent. I suppose it would be office appropriate, if I worked in one.

Do I still consider it “Full Bottle Worthy?” Perhaps. But I will get a larger decant first, and see if I end up draining it like the first two samples.

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A Few Favorite Late Spring/Early Summer Perfumes

As I look out my window today, I finally see some sunshine. Unremarkable? Not to those of us in the Land of (over) 10,000 Lakes. Our winter, which is normally 5 months long, was longer than usual- we had lots of snow in late April. And for the last few weeks, we have had rain and clouds. FOR WEEKS. With all of the rain we’ve had, a little sun shines and we can literally see the grass and plants growing by the hour. I have scrapped my plans to build an ark.  😉

We are about a month behind, weather-wise, than we usually are. We are having our springtime now. But it won’t be long until we have 90 degree days, with 70% humidity. In this brief and magical time, everything is waking up and blooming; lilacs with their 2 week feverish blossoming season, lily-of-the-valley – equally as short-lived, roses forming their fragrant buds, and linden trees making their fuzzy little Seuss-like flowers. These are the smells of spring, and some of my favorite perfume inspirations.


pacifica lilacMy favorite Lilac perfumes are Pacifica’s French Lilac and Puredistance Opardu. French Lilac is far more within my budget, so this is the one I own and reach for. Notes according to Fragrantica: lilac, magnolia petals, heliotrope, ylang-ylang, hyacinth and nectarine. French Lilac is by far the closest rendition of real Lilac to my nose. It smells like the days I go out and gather Lilacs – huge bouquets of them – and put them in every room of my house. I bury my nose in one and breathe in the scent – creamy, floral, smooth. I don’t smell the officially stated notes in French Lilac, but I think the heliotrope helps to capture the creaminess. One of the best “bangs for your buck!”

The results of one of my lilac-picking expeditions.

The results of one of my lilac-picking expeditions.

When I picked my daughter up from school the other day, the parking lot was lined with huge lilac bushes. They were all in bloom and I could smell them from quite a distance. Another mother and I spent about 30 minutes gathering as many boughs as we could, filling up the entire front seat of my car. I was so enamored of the scent, that I stopped by the store to pick up a refill of French Lilac later that day!


tea roseAs I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I don’t normally gravitate toward rose perfumes. An exception: Tea Rose by Perfumer’s Workshop. Notes according to Fragrantica: bergamot, rose, lily, tuberose, sandalwood, amber, cedar and brazilian rosewood. It is such an unabashedly, enormous, real rose: the flower, the stem, the grass below. It isn’t the jammy, raspberry-like rose of the garden. Tea Rose is the old-fashioned, trellis-climbing, almost citrus-y rose at your grandmother’s house. I wore this in high school. In fact, the jocks in math class teasingly called me “Eau de (Oh Day) Rose!”

Linden Blossom

linden tree

Linden tree from my yard.

I am charmed by the linden tree and its lore. The linden is much revered in many cultures. Slavic, Germanic, and Greek mythology tells of the linden, or lime tree’s sacredness, its beauty, and its virtues. Even the Moldovan band Ozone mentions the linden in the song “Dragostea Din Tei!”


lindenI haven’t tried any other Linden perfumes, but I adore Demeter’s Linden. It is a soliflore Linden – I don’t normally go for soliflores – and it is a dead ringer for the blossoms on the tree in my yard. There is no other smell like a linden blossom, it is a sweet and almost fruity smell. Linden is a great and inexpensive way to really experience the lovely linden.

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley, outside of my daughter's school.

Lily of the valley, outside of my daughter’s school.

The delicate bell flowers of the lily of the valley are part of some of my earliest memories. As a child, I found them along the foundation of my grandmother’s house, their deep green foliage preferring the semi-shady side. In my mother’s garden, they are always interspersed among the hostas. Mum claims endearingly that they “just keep spreading and taking the space they need.” Their sweet waxy bells produce the loveliest scent – a sweetened, musky lily – not the pungent, indolic scent of the tiger or Easter lily.

lotvIt is said that it’s impossible to obtain the scent of the lily of the valley other than to smell it directly. One cannot make an essential oil, extract, or perfume from the flower. That being said, I do love the Grand Dame of Muguet – Diorissimo. But it isn’t my favorite. I love Yardley’s Lily of the Valley. This is a simple composition that smells like a soliflore to my nose. Notes, however, according to Fragrantica are: Lily of the valley, green notes, jasmine, gardenia. Yardley’s Lily of the Valley is clean, light, and refreshing – enough so that it’s also perfect for very hot days.

Are there any scents, unique to your location, natural surroundings, and/or climate that inspire your current perfume choices? Are there perfumes that you avoid in a certain season?

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Finding Love in an Unlikely Place: A Review of MFK’s Lumiere Noire Pour Femme

I don’t normally gravitate toward any perfumes with rose or patchouli. Those notes are typically ones I avidly avoid, as a matter of fact. There is one exception: Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose. This is a perfume from my teenage years, worn nostalgically on rare occasion. (I usually just pull off the cap and inhale deeply, then put it back.)

I think my aversion to rose is due to it’s being so recognizable. I like my perfumes to be a complex blend – I don’t really want any particular note to stand out. Well, not such a recognizable one. As many people can attest to, I also associate rose with older ladies wearing lace and gloves. As for patchouli – I just think of a dirty hippie. Having been a follower of the Grateful Dead for a couple years, that association isn’t far off for me. No, I will not share pictures…

I first tested Lumiere Noir Pour Femme (I’ll shorten it to LNPF now) about a year ago. I don’t know how I ran across the sample. I wasn’t inspired to do so from a review or word of mouth, and my sample wasn’t passed on by one of my fellow perfumeistas either. It was probably purchased in a fury of sample ordering.

I put it on while running out the door. By the time I was in the car, I was distracted enough to turn down the radio and huff myself. I didn’t want to use any more senses than I had to (hearing), in order to concentrate on smelling. Well, I did have to keep my eyes on the road… I huffed all day, reapplying at lunch to enjoy the top notes again. I knew I smelled rose, but I almost didn’t want to believe it. I perceived LNPF as having a sophisticated green rose, hidden by something deeper and more complicated. After about 10 minutes, there was a woodiness to it. But the woodiness wasn’t sweet or heavy, just deep. It was earthy. I also smelled another flower, but not a “flowery” one – sort of green and stem-y. LNPF was smooth, cool, rosy, sophisticated, and sexy. There was plenty of the complexity that I appreciate in my favorite perfumes. I couldn’t pin it down. What was in this stuff??

I reluctantly looked up the notes. I say reluctantly because sometimes, like when I learn the notes in wine after tasting it, the knowledge influences how I feel about the perfume.

LNPFNotes per Luckyscent: Cumin, pimiento, rose, narcissus and patchouli. WHAT? Reeeeeally… Cumin? Patchouli? Pimento? Ok, not so freaked out about the narcissus. I adore the note in anything. Wait…CUMIN?? Whatever. I’m in love! LNPF made it to the top of my full bottle list. I drained a few samples, and my DH can’t pull his nose away from my neck – this is not a bad thing, certainly, but it makes normal everyday activities a little more difficult.

When planning my perfume-shopping escapades on my recent trip to San Francisco, I researched my game plan. Where could I go to finally fulfill my dream of owning a bottle of LNPF? The gorgeous Neiman Marcus carries it!

Needless to say I learned a lesson. Let my nose be my guide. Try everything that sounds interesting. You never know when you might fall in love!

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Perfume shopping in San Francisco…

More to come, but here’s a picture of my spoils!


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These are a few of my favorite things…

Ok…so…I have a bit of anxiety over writing my first post. But here it is. I think I may try to do one of these posts about my favorite things once a month or so.


A Few of My Favorite Things…


ImageWeleda Skin Food. This stuff is the best. It’s thick, to be sure, but it cures whatever ails the skin. It’s deeply moisturizing, penetrates well, and smells great. As an added bonus, it’s totally clean and non-toxic. I’ve been using it for years in every way – dry skin patches, cuticles, chapped skin, eczema, scaly hands, and cracked heels all benefit from this magic cream. RUN to the store and get some. You can find it at Whole Foods, Target, and Co-ops.




photo borrowed from SSS site.

Perfumes that remind me of spring. Enter Robert Piguet FUTUR, Guerlain Chamade, and Sonoma Scent Studio’s Lieu Au Reves. Both FUTUR and Chamade boast a greenness that I long for as I imagine the green things that are sleeping under the layer of fresh snow that is outside my window. With Chamade wafting from my sleeve, I imagine the daffodils that will be some of the first signs of spring to appear. Futur is the green, and slightly dirty mossy-ness that is hidden under the deciduous trees in my yard. Lieu Au Reves just makes me happy with it’s violet-y depths and aldehydic brightness.



Borrowed this photo from Mr. Jame’s site.

  Jim James’ music.

Please enjoy Know Til Now, courtesy of YouTube. You have to click on the link until I figure out how to add a video into a blog entry. Yeah.





Thanks, Wikipedia, for this photo.

A good book.

I always enjoy book recommendations. It seems that I have a very hard time picking out something to read. I stand in the library or stare at the Amazon Most Popular lists, endlessly hoping for a book that will grab me right away and carry me to the end. When I finish a book, I have an anxiety like that of a breakup. What will I read next? How am I to decide? I need to be in another book relationship!  Per a recommendation, of course, I did start Game of Thrones. Three times. I am well aware that I am late in coming to the party. I wanted to love it right away, as it came so highly recommended. But I found it hard to get into. There are so many characters, and it took me some time to get used to George R. R. Martin’s writing style. Nevertheless, I have pushed my way into it, arriving at the 20% mark last night as my Kindle only tracks the percentage of the book read versus the the page number. I am now enjoying the story, and coming to know the characters. I am wrestling with the idea of watching the show. But I know myself, I may not finish the book if I do.



photo borrowed from The Nature of Beauty

Vapour Siren Lipstick

I am a big fan of lip products, as are most women I know. I’m not a glosser, I prefer lipstick. I believe Vapour Organic Beauty’s Siren lipstick to be one of the best EVAH. I love Tempt, which is a mauve-y (a bit like MAC’s Cosmo), and Intuition (, which is a little deeper than my lip color. I haven’t made any swatches, but certainly can if anyone is reading this and interested. These lipsticks are incredibly rich and creamy, actually moisturize the lips, and have impressive lasting power. They are totally clean and non-toxic, and do not contain petroleum. The color payoff is fairly opaque, and they are mostly a cream texture though there are a few that have some small-particle shimmer. They feel like MAC’s Sheen Supreme lipstick, or Bobbi Brown’s Creamy Lip Color. I can’t recommend them enough.


So there you have it. These are things that are currently bringing me joy, focusing my thoughts on spring, and soothing my spirit. Please share you current loves! 


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