Niche Fragrance Magazine


Ana Maria Andreiu

Ana Maria Andreiu has 48 articles published.

My name is Ana and I'm a lover. A perfume lover, a music lover (especially Depeche Mode and Nick Cave), a movies lover, a books lover, and above all else a lover of some wonderful people in my life (my parents, my partner and a few loyal friends). As you can see, love defines me, and with you I want to share my love for beautiful perfumes. I hope I will inspire you to try some of them yourselves. Come with me on a dream journey

Bogue Profumo MEM – an exuberant, passionate, sexy hot mess

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Ever since Aimee Guerlain decided in 1889 that lavender and a whiff of unwashed bottom would make a good pairing in Jicky, nobody has dared making lavender truly sexy again, with the possible exception of Vero Kern in her Kiki Eau de parfum which marries lavender to a scrumptious, creamy caramel note and the fizzy sulphurous tinge of passion fruit. Yet where Kiki is flirtatious, Jicky is unapologetically animal and so Jicky is still leading the sexy race more than 120 years since its inception. But enter Bogue Profumo MEM and we might be talking a serious contender to the sexy lavender crown. One a lot more flamboyant and exciting than Monsieur/Madame Jicky and somehow, in spite of its vintage nods especially in the base where things get classically musky and animalic, one that is perhaps better suited to modern tastes. Don’t let that ring the alarm bells, making you thing that MEM is one those anorexic, easily legible, usually soliflore type fragrances that ladies who lunch like to buy from their shiny, luxurious department stores. No, MEM is big, complex to the point of insanity and completely baffling. But it also smells new and original, which Jicky with its dirty vanilla powder and French boudoir vibe doesn’t anymore. I don’t know why perfumer Antonio Gardoni picked lavender as his next “knock-them-dead-and-drag-them-to-the-love-making-den” type of fragrance as we all know lavender isn’t exactly carnal pleasures material but he probably loves a challenge as most of us do from time to time. I also don’t know what particularly was his inspiration for creating this scent. Did he simply want to showcase the multifaceted beauty of plain ol’ humble lavender? Did he have a certain lavender related memory he wanted to translate into scent? Maybe MEM equals memory, who knows? I’ve never tried to find out. Sometimes I like to leave mystery alone. Lucian Blaga, a Romanian poet said “I do not crush the world’s wonders corolla, nor do I kill with reason the mystery I meet in flowers, in eyes, on lips, in graves.” Life and creation are mysteries which probably are never going to be fully deciphered and so is MEM to my nose. I can hardly grasp what is going on inside it. One thing is for certain, there’s lots going on. I mean let’s all take a look at the notes list: petitgrain, mandarin, grapefruit, lavender (several types), ylang-ylang, lily of the valley, white champaca, rose damascene, jasmine grandiflorum, bourbon geranium, vanilla, peppermint, laurel, siam benzoin, rosewood, sandalwood, Himalayan cedarwood, labdanum, ambergris, musk, castoreum, civet, amber. Enough to get your head spinning before you even take a sniff. At a first glance it looks like a chypre structure: bright, juicy citrus-aromatic beginning, voluptuous, rounded floral heart and a woodsy-animalistic base. But when you actually spray the perfume almost nothing is recognisable anymore. All the components are sort of skewed into a novel direction, a very peculiar kind of smell, although not exactly abstract either. In fact, the sense of modernity comes from the very naturalistic first impression, something which would appeal to the current customers who are always impressed by terms like pure, wholesome, unprocessed, organic. MEM was a completely blind buy for me, inspired by Claire Vukcevic’s brilliant and mouth watering short review on her blog Take one thing off. So when the bottle arrived I’m sure you can imagine the trepidation with which I pressed the spray nozzle. Mouth agape, sensations were flooding my brain in rapid succession and it was difficult to keep track. MEM starts with a citrus blast but not as you know it. This is so amped up it almost smells like a petrol station, and the lavender wave, leaves, earth and roots included, follows like a ferrocious purple tsunami. Funk is never too far away in Antonio Gardoni’s creations and for the briefest of time I can smell something somewhat bleachy metallic the kind of thing I tend to always associate with ambergris and semen. So there’s a powerful male impression at this point, but very soon the fragrance softens with a very interesting sweetness which is not vanilla or honey type but rather like malt molasses. The mix of lavender, malty sweetness, and a dry, waxed, rubbery type of floralcy gives birth to a very strange animal indeed : lavender beer. To me it feels like I’m taking a bath with my lover, in one of those free standing big tubs filled to the brim with fancy craft beer, lavender bunches and exotic flowers. It’s propped right in the middle of a half wild garden and the sun is almost falling down towards the sunset line. Huge cabbage head roses are trembling over the heavy porcelain rim and his beautiful eyes are hoovering above me like two blue-green moons. We laugh relentlessly, we touch and we lick, and it’s as if we’re lost in an alternate world, never to be found again. It’s surreal and amazing and I don’t want for this dream to end. And it doesn’t because MEM lasts forever and a day if you let it. The progression is extremely slow after the fast moving beginning, and all the better for it. That means I can enjoy the crazy lavender beer stage for hours on end, before the musky, sweetly animalic base takes over with its leathery castoreum inflections and snuggly amber. KEEP ON READING

Vero Profumo Naja – a safe haven

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I waited and waited for Naja. Two long years to be more precise. Rumours about Vero Kern working on a tobacco fragrance surfaced on social media and perfume groups around 2015. Naja was launched in March, at this year’s​ Esxence. I haven’t attended the fair. Naja was the only perfume there I was truly interested in and I was hoping to get in possession of a sample somehow, without traveling. And Valerie aka Cookie Queen from Australian Perfume Junkies fulfilled my wish with her infinite grace and down to earth attitude. Thank you, Valerie. How does it feel to smell a perfume you’ve been imagining and waiting for two years? In Naja’s case it still feels surprising, even now after wearing it for a few times. Sometimes life teaches you to brace yourself, fasten the armour, tighten the knots and pull up the moat bridge, but Naja always finds a way inside my fortress. It disarms me completely, in the most unexpectedly gentle manner. For a fragrance inspired by Cobra, as a spiritual symbol of the inherent contradictions backing human existence and existence in general (life and death, order and chaos, construction and destruction), Naja is astonishingly luminous and calm. Of course there are subtle tensions at work, beneath the surface, like a whale bone corset underneath an impossibly frothy, vaporous gown, but the overall impression is of grace, balance and serenity. KEEP ON READING

Aftelier Perfumes : an exploration of natural luxury – part three

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This is the last installment in my Aftelier miniseries and I think I’m right when I say I’ve saved the best for last. And when I say the best I’m not necessarily using any objective criteria like technical brilliance, composition originality, and so on but rather the subjective impact both fragrances had on me. They stirred me, churned my guts and soul in their perfumed vertigo, drawing me in like a feather towards the center of their whirlpool. And once you reach the center the only way is down, into the darkness of the depths.
Memento Mori genuinely frightened me. It is so evocative, almost too literal in reproducing it’s intended concept. Remember you are a mere mortal. Remember you are going to die. Remember all your loved ones are going to die. Over and over. Remember death. This perfume won’t let you forget. It grips your heart, twists your stomach into knots and pulls the curtain away. Mandy Aftel goes for the solar plexus with this baby. No pussy footing around the subject, no ultimately delicate, tender melancholy in the manner of Serge Lutens De Profundis with its dewy chrysanthemum​ blooms swaying in the chilled, smoky autumn air. Memento Mori is real despair, real decay, real anguished intimacy, real love and fear. Memento Mori is all too impermanent flesh and all too easily bruised skin. Vulnerable and unnerving. One sniff and I’m ten years old, back in my mother’s sick room. She was so ill we nearly lost her. And I was too​ afraid to cry because I felt crying would have made the nightmare come true. So I walked around in my childish trance, taking refuge in drawing and story books, trying hard to believe that things were ok and my mother is not going to be taken away from me. And she wasn’t. Not in the way I couldn’t even dare imagine. She was in hospital for a while and then she was back. Difficult episodes became sort of a new normal, because she’s a chronic sufferer and her condition has a habit of flaring up often and hard. We adjusted as best we could and the smell of her room when she was unwell made its appearance more habitually than any of us would have ever wanted. It’s that sickly sweet smell of suffering bodies, with fevered skin covered in a fine beading of sweat, the warm, vaguely unpleasant breath of a parched mouth and the slight musty odour of crumpled bedclothes. A bunch of dark red roses, redolent with fragrance, wilting away in a cobalt blue crystal vase in a futile attempt to soothe the sadness and cover up the waxy, buttery, yeasty, musky, sour smell of illness with its undeterred persistence, like a bad premonition of things to come. She was in her early thirties and she was fighting for her life. It chills my spine to think I’m older now than her age then. Puts things into perspective like nothing else. I think you can understand that it’s impossible for me to analyze Memento Mori as I would many other perfumes. I can tell you it’s an unsettling floral, mostly rose I think but perhaps jasmine too, and it’s part dry, part stale, part waxy, part sweet and part disturbingly ripe. But to even say Memento Mori is a perfume is to underplay it in a big way. I don’t know what it is. It’s as if the perfumer in a moment of alchemical inspiration, has thrown a few essences together and they coalesced into being, into breathing, a vision which could easily be real, tethering on the edge between life and death. Everytime I wore Memento Mori it felt like there was another presence in the room apart my own. I came out of this experience wrung out and teary eyed. I’m not strong enough for it yet. Maybe I have to learn first that remembering death is in fact remembering that I am still alive.
On the other hand, I can dance Mandy’s Tango. And I can let it dance me. I want it to dance me. If Tango was a man he’d have me in a second. It’s the head spinning sensation of falling in love or at least in desire. It’s crazy sex that lasts for hours on end and doesn’t happen in the soft comfort of a fluffy bed but on sweet earth under the stars.It’s burning away the boundaries between mind, body and soul. It goes deeper and harder than most. It’s an embrace that never lets go. You might be burn to cinders but that flame is worth any price. How can I describe this beautiful vortex? When I smelled Tango for the first time it was like a flash of recognition, in spite of it being almost unlike anything else I’ve ever smelled. I recently read in a Murakami’s book about the Tibetan Wheel of Passions. The wheel is ever turning and the outer rim’s feelings dip low or raise to the surface but one’s true love stays fastened to the axel, immobile​ and always present. Tango is like one’s true love. Rare. Exceptional. Memorable. Tango is one of Mandy’s most complex creations, blending many botanical essence to devastating effect. It is a sort of spicy marine oriental with leather and floral elements. Smoky, ambered, fiery hot, with a gutsy salty breeze blowing over the burning embers only to make them glow even brighter, Tango smells in turns oceanic, medicinal, sweet, creamy, herbal, fruity, resinous, bitter, animalic and the list goes on and on. Peering into Tango’s ever-changing kaleidoscope reveals more than anything else the passion and joy of creation. I like to think Mandy had a lot of fun making Tango. Maybe stomping her feet like an Argentinian flamenco dancer, hair loose and favourite sensual music resounding in the background. I should perhaps promise myself that one day, when I grow up, I will write the way Tango smells like. But then, there is only one Gabriel Garcia Marquez. KEEP ON READING

Aftelier Parfums: an exploration of natural luxury – part two

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As promised a while ago I’m returning with a few more impressions about a couple of Aftelier perfumes I tested. I know, it has taken me a long time. Perfume writing tends to be a slow and laborious process for me lately. I rarely seem to be able to get a peaceful hour just to sniff and think happy, beautiful thoughts. Today is about roses and vanilla and the third part will be about sex and decay. And if you want to read the first part (about meditation and elegance) you can find it here.


Aftelier Parfums: an exploration of natural luxury

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I was recently given the chance of getting to know better some of Mandy Aftel’s creations. I was most enthused about it, as for someone based in Europe it’s a relatively difficult line to explore. The cost of samples and shipping tends to be high, and there’s always the issue of additional import taxes. So I put the Aftelier Parfums alongside many other exciting American indie lines in the “too hard to get hold of” mental drawer and took my focus of the matter altogether. I was happy enough just reading Mandy’s books and let my imagination generate the rest. This until my Fragrance Daily colleague, Claire, proposed me to participate in an Aftelier Parfums sample pass thread organised by her on Basenotes. Of course I said yes, what do you think? As part of the European leg of the worldwide sample pass, I got to try pure Ambergris tincture, Ancient Resins body oil, Parfum Privé, Wild Roses, Tango, Memento Mori and Vanilla Smoke. You’ve probably guessed by now, this post is going to contain my impressions of the essences and perfumes tested. It’s going to be a two parts kind of thing and today I’ll talk about the Ambergris tincture, Ancient Resins body oil and Parfum Privé KEEP ON READING

Parfums d’ Empire Musc Tonkin extrait: the quintessential filth

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Perfume as medicine again. And again. When will this need end? This need for appeasing the pain? When will the pain end? There are too many days of it. I know I have no reason for it. From a logical point of view absolutely nothing is wrong, on the contrary. But I can’t get rid of the mental anguish. It’s with me when I’m chewing my food, when I smile to my friends, while I cuddle next to my partner. It’s with me today and it was with me yesterday. It was with me at night, keeping me awake and gripped in fear that it’s going to be with me forever, poisoning me slowly, killing me in the end. I’m fighting against it every time I get out of bed, forcing myself to breathe deeply, to wash my face, to put on makeup and get on with the day. Every time I’m choosing a perfume to wear it’s a conscious effort to cheer myself up, to remember good things, to soothe and console. Today it’s Musc Tonkin and I confess is not really working because nothing much works these days and today is one of those times when I’m just riding the pain wave. I let it engulf me and hope I won’t get swallowed altogether. Still, even in the midst of blackness, I feel the beauty of this perfume. It is more than beauty. It’s mystery. It is not meant to be worn to feel pretty and put together or clean and confident or even sexy and sensual. It is meant to be worn like an amulet. To remind you that are things beyond our grasp, that life is big and terrible in its magnificence. It doesn’t care about you or me, it just is. That we are impermanent and transient and we don’t matter but life in itself matters. That my tumult today is irrelevant, less than the tiniest blip on the radar, but that the fact that I’m alive and part of this big hot humanity soup it’s important. That I’m connected to others and they in their turn are connected to more and this has to amount to something. A sense of some sort. These connections between us, the only sense to life I can grasp. And Musc Tonkin is bodies. A lot of bodies pressed together, warm and alive. Naked and connected, because I’ll be damned if it’s not the only thing that keeps the spectre of death away. When I wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in cold sweat after dreaming about my loved ones dying, hugging my partner’s body it’s the only thing that gives me a bit of comfort. That human warmth is present in Musc Tonkin alongside the elemental, cruel forcefulness of life. It smells both very close, intimate and cozy but also remote and threatening somehow, majestically so. In my mind, although they don’t smell at all alike, I relate it to Vero Profumo Onda. Because they’re built on big, bold proportions and they have an almost mythical aura, it’s as if they capture the time axis from the beginning of the world until the shadowed end. Musc Tonkin is more human, Onda is more transcendent and spiritual, but they both have a shamanic presence, the feel of being swept into something eternal, that’s been part of our souls ever since the first people walked the earth. The mystery within us. The inexplicable yearning we feel when we’re staring at the sea or a starry sky. The electrical vibration between lovers. The way we can speak without words. A sudden, irresponsible but irresistible attraction towards something or someone. Sliding towards darkness in search for the key to our existence. There is no key. The key is simply existing and discovering ourselves. Incessantly and fearlessly. Accepting who we are, our innermost wants and desires. Because if we don’t dig deep, what would be the point of digging after all? And because Musc Tonkin partially smells like a salty, warmed, sexed up vagina I’ll leave you to meditate on this quote from the movie Nymphomaniac directed by Lars Von Trier. The quote is explicit and because of the fact I share this virtual space with other authors I will use asterisks in lieu of some letters but I’m sure you’ll all understand. So it goes : “Dear everyone, don’t think it’s been easy, but I understand now that we’re not and never will be alike. I’m not like you, who f*cks to be validated and might just as well give up putting c*cks inside of you. And I’m not like you. All you want is to be filled up and whether it’s by a man or by tons of disgusting slop makes no difference. And I’m definitely not like you. That empathy you claim is a lie because all you are is society’s morality police whose duty is to erase my obscenity from the surface of the earth so that the Bourgeoisie won’t feel sick. I’m not like you. I am a nymphomaniac and I love myself for being one, but above all, I love my c*nt and my filthy, dirty lust.” KEEP ON READING

Zoologist Civet – an elegant walk on the wild side

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I don’t want to mislead you. “Civet” by Zoologist is by no means an aquatic perfume. But this sea and its white foam spluttering wild horses made me feel that bit more alive today, alongside “Civet“. I was watching from a sheltered spot, a suspended parapet near the train station close to where I work and the combination of cold, salty breeze and the narcotic white floral scent emanating from the depths of my blanket sized scarf was about as close to perfection as I could possibly hope for an otherwise dreary Monday.  KEEP ON READING

Chanel Les Exclusifs Bois des Îles – The reflection of a fire

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On Friday morning there was a strange light floating above the ground, a pink-orange glow like candlelight, throwing a warm, soft focus radiance over the earth and the faces of people around me. The bus was swaying on its big, clunky metal haunches like a slightly inebriated fat lady on heels. It was warm inside and quiet. The humans were deep in their own thoughts, some listening to who knows what on their ear phones, others reading, others trying to steal a few more minutes of precious sleep. I was looking out the window, hypnotized by that light and its sundown feel. It tricked the senses into believing outside it might be summer and half eight in the evening instead of half eight on a cold, January morning. Somehow the bus seemed a magical ark suspended on a different time-space continuum and for a few minutes I was doubting the reality of my own body, my life and everything around me. In that light we all looked like Renaissance paintings in spite of the thoroughly modern trappings surrounding us. KEEP ON READING

Le Galion Sortilège: but this is Marilyn!

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The day has come to say what I never thought I will: I love aldehydes! And I ain’t talking about the delicious C-14, the one with an almost lactonic peach skin vibe which gives Mitsouko its lit-from-within glow, although I love that one too, in fact I loved it from the get go. I’m talking about the fatty, waxy, fizzy, soapy brigade: C10, C11 and C12 which are used abundantly in fragrances like Chanel no. 5, Chanel no. 22 and practically any other perfume that smells as if you’re drinking a glass of Moët while you’re soaking in a big, white porcelain bathtub filled to the brim with the bubbles of the finest, most expensive soaps money can possibly buy. KEEP ON READING

Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle – ice flowers

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I was looking out from the car’s darkened windows into the dark streets of the city I once lived in. The murmur of the voices inside was a soothing background to familiar places whizzing by and not meaning that much any longer. It was a strange feeling I was trying to make sense of for days. Being back in a city I knew so well and loved, the setting of many important events in my life, and yet I was oddly unmoved. And that’s a feeling I hate. I hate feeling indifferent and disconnected. It was somewhat of a sad pilgrimage seeing places where once I was feeling very much alive and not feeling that way anymore. Not even feeling like I was the same person as then. Not recognising myself. Those were unsettling thoughts and I tried to concentrate back on the conversation that was taking place between my partner and the friend I’d just met for the first time in person. I liked how her voice was sounding, melodious, calm and very sensual and I liked she was the bringer of my much awaited for bell jar of Tubéreuse Criminelle. We’d had settled on the exchange nearly a year before and I was finally getting my perfume that evening. I remembered well the first time I ever tried it and recoiled in horror at the camphoric blast coming out of the export collection bottle which I spotted at a department store in Dublin. I handed the paper strip out to my boyfriend and he just said “Yikes, this thing stinks of mothballs, please don’t buy it”. I think it was back in 2009 or 2010 and I was just a nose in training then. I failed to see, I failed to understand the fragile, vulnerable beauty embodied in Tubéreuse Criminelle. I didn’t buy it. I didn’t think of it anymore. I moved along, forgot everything about this fragrance until good few years later, more precisely last year, at a meeting with a friend who kindly brought with him a decant of Tubéreuse Criminelle. I put a bit on my skin and my eyes filled half with delight half with tears. I grasped it then instantly. All that beauty, hidden underneath a tough, Ice Queen mask. Masses of delicate, creamy tuberoses in a frozen casket made of crystal and silver, a tropical flower lost in a polar landscape. It reminded me of the story of Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen. I read it many times as a kid, fascinated by the Queen’s ice palace and white furs and how even something as magnificent and seemingly unbreakable as a Queen’s kingdom can be defeated by the strength of a single human heart. The way Tubéreuse Criminelle starts, severe and icy, with a lot of camphor, menthol and eucalyptus, pitched so highly that it almost smells like gasoline and it makes your ears ring, freezes your nose and numbs your brain, it is like an olfactive metaphor for the troll mirror splinters which have entered Kay’s heart in the story and made him forget about all the people and things he loved. If you judge Tubéreuse Criminelle only based on those sharp, evil splinters you’ll miss out on the perfect white beauty which follows after like a pure song of hope. Cool serenity sung from a warm heart. The bad spell is broken but the landscape is still flawlessly immaculate. Wich means that you shouldn’t expect a Fracas tuberose here: divaesque, buttery, sweet, basically sufocating. This is a clean, almost angelic creature, in the guise of something much more threatening. It is a perfume with a strange atmosphere, just as the story born out from the gothically bent imagination of Hans Christian Andersen, and I should have found it unsettling. In fact I did, all those years, ago but not now. That feeling disappeared and was replaced by consolation. Because it smells like a strange fairytale that I used to read as a child, but it also smells like my grandmother’s fur coat that was taken out of its mothballs cocoon once in a while for a good airing in the chilly breeze, it smells like the house that she didn’t inhabit anymore and was only used for storing everything from a needle to an anchor. I spent hundreds of hours in that house engaged in my favourite past time: rummaging. Through everything: old photographs, rolls of fabric, clothes, buttons, shoes, old toys and books. I remember coming across the most beautiful blue velvet fabric which my grandmother managed to save at the last minute from the “clothes-for-my-dolls” tragic fate I was planning for it. I used it years later to make my prom dress. But it looked somehow wrong on me then. Blue velvet it’s one of those things one needs to grow for. In all senses of the word. Just like Tubéreuse Criminelle. Or red lipstick. I think I did enough growing to finally win my pass for this kind of things. And when I eventually got the beautiful bell jar that cold autumn evening, receiving it with cold hands and a cold heart I was reminded again that is always enough to close your eyes and go back to your childhood memories. There is where your purest and truest self lies. That’s how you find yourself again and how the bad spells get broken. At least for a while. KEEP ON READING

Masque Fragranze Romanza: my wild, green romance

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The absinthe scene in Coppola’s “Dracula”, the world around swimming in a mysterious sea of green. My nana’s old, but strong hands burrowing deeper inside the black, fertile earth, planting her narcissi, hyacinths and tulips, cradling carefully the fragile bulbs from which sweet, spicy, musky beauty was going to arise. Honey dripping over tanned, hot skin. Oh, and the smell of his body, so warm, the feel of it, smooth like velvet, there, in those secret places. So damn intoxicating! I could rest my cheek against such preciousness forever. My mother bathed in the morning light, singing bittersweet love songs and getting the linden blossoms tea ready. Jumping up and down on hay bales. Tilda Swinton as Emma Recchi in the movie “I am love”, her white skin capturing the blinding sheen of a fallen angel, while she was being loved among tall grasses and insects buzzing lazily in the heat of the summer. A funeral during a blistering July, the incense smoke, and salty tears and the smell of decay escaping from underneath the masses of half wilted flowers. Life’s happiness and sadness and the myriad of small things in between. These were some of the images and thoughts flooding my brain the second I put Masque’s “Romanza” on. A fragrance that is first and foremost alive.
Young perfumer Cristiano Canali has achieved a rare feat: a passionate, moving tour de force around a difficult and expensive material, the narcissus absolute. He managed to create something completely beautiful without striping away any of the “ugly” bits of his raw ingredients, a perfume that is soothing and feral at the same time, elegant yet rough.
I love the complex textural feeling I get from this fragrance: dry and moist, sweet and bitter, oily and powdery, soft and scratchy, animalic and floral and so on. A way to simplify the complicated nuances puzzle of “Romanza”, is to look at it as an intensely, almost cutting green floral wrapped around a warm woody-ambery accord with animalic inflections. And this is basically it. But it would be a pity to try and simplify, analyse, box in, compartmentalise a thing that is living and breathing on the skin like that, a thing that keeps changing and pulsating like some weird alien just being born. Scary yet somehow tender and fragile. At  some point the animalic vibe it’s so golden naughty, so warm and addictive and comforting you forget all about the beginning’s poisonous floral trauma, and I mean that trauma in the best possible sense. It’s a shock to the senses, but it comes with the precious side effect of any shock: it makes you feel alive and totally immersed in the moment. The far drydown reminded me a bit of Molinard Habanita, with far less powder and sweetness, but the vetiver it’s just as scrumptious. To be honest I’m moved beyond words of such emotional display in a perfume. It truly is a liquid poem, and alas when it comes to words I’m not poet enough to sing its praise the way it should be sung. With force and vulnerability and realness. I hope at least you’ll try it and hear its message clearly: to live and love before it’s too late for any living and loving to be still done. KEEP ON READING

Amouage Opus III: chasing the light

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Finally we had some beautiful, sunny days on this bit of earth facing the Atlantic ocean. Such days are few and far in between and they are celebrated with all the panache of colourful flip flops, Hawaiian shirts and cotton Bermudas revealing skin so white, it’s almost translucent. And despite the sharp breeze still giving everyone goosebumps, we try really hard to convince ourselves that, yes, the elusive creature called Spring, or even the other more sacred monster called Summer, has eventually graced our shores. Alas, despite the fervency, the blind belief, the masses of people spread on the park’s green lawns, I can’t buy into it. This is not Summer. Hell, is not even Spring. I know Spring when I see it, and mostly when I feel it, with my skin, my nose, the tip of my fingers and my tongue, because yes I used to lick dew off lilacs when I was young and I still feel an irresistible urge to inhale and taste every rain kissed flower I see. Oh, those gentle late Spring showers, lasting just enough to underline the beauty all around, how I miss them! And how I miss the warmth, that lazy, langurous warmth, so indolent, so relaxed, like a cat stretching on her back showing a fluffy belly and half closed slanted eyes. To know that heat and sun weren’t going to suddenly disappear, that they’ll be there the next day, and the day after that and so on, like a trusted, loyal friend, well, what can I say? It was pure bliss. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fierce, terrible beauty of Ireland with its rugged coastlines, sweeping winds over the evergreen fields, grey, foaming sea and laden skies. This beauty has made a lily-white Celtic warrior out of me, just like the rest. But inside my soft, yielding heart the rounded, sensuous, mellow Spring of my homeland lives on, brewing gently inside this nostalgic feeling I can never really shake off. KEEP ON READING

The Different Company I miss Violet: sappy rapture

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I’m having a violet fixation. And an iris one. And it’s only getting worse. As time goes by, rich, powdery, wet-earthy fragrances centred around flowers like violet, iris, mimosa, osmanthus and any other ones with a vaguely leathery, animalic facet are the only ones I feel like buying. It all started with Une Fleur de Cassie, a shameless mimosa, continuing with Iris Silver Mist, iris as an artistic statement, Dans tes Bras the weirdo violet, L’Heure Bleue an unforgettable classic, Infusion d’Iris Absolue so refined, so posh, Dzongkha the weirdo iris, a blind buy of Opus III prompted by Claire’s review on her blog Take One Thing Off (crossing my fingers and toes for that one), and now The Different Company I miss Violet. And in spite of having Dans tes bras, which to me is like Après l’Ondée with Christmas lights on and spaceship technology, guess what: I want to have Après l’Ondée too, even if it lasts about half an hour at most. But I’ve long given up staring at the bottomless pit of my perfume hobby insanity and trying to do something about it, so let’s move on. So far I’ve given you a long list of iris, violet, mimosa themed things and the list could be longer still. Maybe not when it comes to mimosa, but iris and violet combos in various permutations have been done to death. It is a crowded field, and making one more seems like almost counterintuitive but The Different Company I miss Violet is to me the missing link between the neon lit flirtatious femininity of the lipsticked gang of iris-violets and the earthy, more plaintive and naturalistic band of the hippie chic violets. By bridging this apparently opposite styles I miss Violet becomes the happiest bohemian violet I’ve ever had my nose on. Created by Bertrand Duchaufour for “La Collection Excessive” I miss Violet is marketed as a floral-leather, but in my view the leather aspect is negligible, in the form of a slightly sueded, velvety finish, most apparent in the base. The true showstopper is the complex, indeed excessive, floral accord which marries sweet-powdery effects with a green apple crunch, a kind of shimmering aldehydic fizz and something which resembles vegetal sap, or how I imagine this to smell like: watery, green, fruity sweet and a little bit salty at the same time. Osmanthus, with its edible, delicious nuances of apricot jam is also coming through very strongly alongside a beautiful mimosa note. The whole things smells absolutely vibrant, alive with a glowing splendor. It is sophisticated and coquettish, reminding me of lipstick, powder and silky dresses but it goes way beyond that, into real joy territory, into living the moment with absolute intensity. With I miss Violet you don’t have to choose: you can have both ditzy, perhaps a touch vacuous prettiness and wild, rebellious abandon: like rolling on damp earth, laughing, crushing under your body delicate purple flowers, ripe fruits, sappy stems and blades of grass while wearing the softest, most luxurious suede frock and a face full of make-up. But you don’t care anymore: smeared lipstick, stained dress, messy hair what difference does it make when for the first time in years you’re able to experience again all-conquering, innocent, delirious glee. This is what I feel when wearing I miss Violet and I don’t give a damn about the fact it wears close to skin after the first, explosive half an hour. I’d give what I paid for my bottle and more to do pirouettes again and again surrounded by clouds of sweet powders in the nacre colours of an Abalone shell. KEEP ON READING

Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Noire Épices : the cold oriental

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If you ask me how I ended up with a big bottle of Noir Épices in my perfume wardrobe, I couldn’t give you a straight answer. Of course, I haven’t lost my mind, I do know from the logistics’ point of view, HOW it happened, but I’m not entire sure WHY it happened. Because you see, Noir Épices it’s so removed in style and feeling from what I naturally gravitate towards, that it may be well possible that my mind is not in its usual place anymore. This perfume wasn’t on my radar at all for a very long time, but once it came into focus it stayed there. It grabbed me, not at a gut level, it was more of an intellectual fascination rather than the sensual-emotional connection I generally have with my fragrances. Noir Épices was different, and certainly very different from the image I had of it in my head, which was partially prompted by an old Frédéric Malle promotional photo, this one underneath: KEEP ON READING

Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur: the whisperer rose

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I was in a bit a funk this past winter. My friend told me that long walks in the fresh air should help. My better half said yoga and vitamins. I took my vitamin D enriched cod liver oil and vitamin C. I’m having long walks regularly, in fact my work commute involves about 50 mins of that on a daily basis. I didn’t do yoga. I’m lazy and yoga bores me. I prefer to read. I’ve indulged in shopping therapy too: a brow chakra bracelet (I don’t do yoga but I like the symbolism, and I can’t be expected to resist a combination of gold and lapis lazuli at sale prices) and of course perfume. Quite a bit of it, but the only one that sort of helped with easing the fog in my brain was Mohur. If you ask me why, I haven’t a clue. It simply did. It helped me cope with this weird, black cloud hanging sadness thing. Beauty always consoles me, but this time it took Mohur‘s kind of beauty only. Everything else I was putting on grated me the wrong way: too strong, too slutty, too green, too smoky, too virginal, too happy, too sweet, you name it, nothing worked. Until I sprayed Mohur, that is. I could almost hear my heart and mind rustily clicking into place, shifting gears towards a calmer, brighter place. It is one of those rare fragrances which, in spite of it wearing like dandelion puffs on skin, it’s not spineless. The creamy, spiced rose whisp felt like a caress on my fried synapses and like lowering my trembling, cold body into a decadent milk bath, sumptuously scattered with velvety flower petals and my favorite, addictive Cardamom and Ambrette seeds, something fit for queen Cleopatra. I nearly cried with relief: “Thank you, Bertrand Duchaufour, this is so warm, so comforting, so kind, thank you, thank you, it’s exactly what I freaking needed it right now!” Mohur has the softness and tenderness of a mother’s touch, but also the poised elegance, the dignified composure of a high society lady. A character it reminds me a lot of is Ellen O’Hara, Scarlett’s mother in “Gone with the Wind”, the epithome of a true Southern gentlewoman, compassionate and caring almost to a fault, yet a stately presence, which imposed instantaneous respect wherever she went, even amongst rough, loose morals people. Scarlett always wanted to emulate her mother, but she never could, of course. Her stubborn, selfish, rebellious nature was impossible to contain within the self-effacing-for-the-sake-of others frame of her noble mother’s personality. Nevertheless, she needed her. Ellen’s perfect, oval face and Tara’s white, Greek style columns is what she kept seeing during the horrific road trip alongside defeated, retreating Confederate troops, they were what kept her pushing through the darkness in a rickety cart with only the help of a lame horse and a pistol hidden in the folds of her skirt. Ellen was her safety beacon, and Mohur was my safety beacon in the absence of my mother, the closest thing I had to her warm bosom, her rocking arms and her voice whispering in my ear: “There, there, child, stop fretting, everything is fine, there, there, my love, let me wipe your tears, shhhhhh, baby. Life is OK, my dearest, even when it’s sad, you’ll reach that shore, I promise. Just go with it, honey, just be, it’s all that’s needed”. It’s all I can tell you myself about Mohur. If you want to read about how it actually smells like head over to Claire’s review here or Alexandra’s review here. Both are perfect. KEEP ON READING

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