Niche Fragrance Magazine


Claire Vukcevic - page 2

Claire Vukcevic has 127 articles published.

My name is Claire, I'm a 39-year old mother of two, and I am a freelance writer and consultant. I love perfume, any perfume, practically all of 'em. Other interests such as writing, reading, and painting fall tragically behind the perfume. It's a hobby that tends to be all-consuming (of both my time and my money).

Amouage Opus X – A Story of Blood, Violins, & Metal

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Slumbering my way down the line of modern Amouage releases, I tripped over Opus X and was jolted awake. Not rose, I thought, but rhubarb and custard sweets, with a green note so acid that it could strip the enamel from my teeth and the protective lining from my tongue. Amazing – superb! A metallic, oxidized rose that will either slit you or crumble away into dried blood flakes.

The convoluted Amouage back story makes sense this time – a 1681 violin maker loses his wife in childbirth, and sobbing, he rubs her blood into the rosin of the violin he is making so as to allow some part of her to live on forever. The story, told in the 1998 film, “Red Violin,” has the violin passing from generation to generation, causing sorrow wherever it goes. KEEP ON READING

Cadjmere and the Danish art of Hygge

in Reviews/Thoughts by

This year, we spent our summer holidays in Copenhagen. And apart from serious wardrobe envy that had me fighting the urge to tackle every glamorous Danish woman to the ground and steal her clothes (and bicycle), I also discovered the Danish art of hygge.

Pronounced “heuuurgah”, as if trying to dislodge a hairball from one’s throat, hygge translates loosely to “coziness,” a concept that the Danes take very seriously indeed. This involves snuggling under cashmere blankets, lighting candles, drinking hot chocolate around a blazing fire, lounging around on sheepskin rugs, and, well, resting your face against the furry belly of a sleeping kitten. Basically, anything that gives you comfort and ease. The best explanation I found was in an article that defined it as “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.” KEEP ON READING

Cologne du 68 by Guerlain – Complicated, But Good

in Reviews by

 Very few people talk about Cologne du 68, and I think I know why. For one, it’s not as widely distributed as the other “summer” Guerlains like the Eau de Cologne series, and when it was first launched, it was sold in large jugs of 480mls, then in 250ml flagons, and finally in a limited series run of 100ml bottles – all of them overpriced for an eau de cologne concentration. The sales assistants also clearly didn’t know how to sell this to customers – I don’t blame them – and there were reports of SAs telling customers to buy now “because when it’s gone, it’s really gone.” KEEP ON READING

Donna Karan Signature

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Of all the Donna Karan reissues I own, Signature feels like the most “me”. This surprises me because I would have thought it would be Black Cashmere, based on my tastes and preferences – but Black Cashmere, while indeed beautiful, just feels like a sheerer version of other perfumes I own, like Idole de Lubin, and its sisters, Chaos and Wenge.

Signature, on the other hand, doesn’t smell like any other perfume I know.

But if it doesn’t smell like any other perfume, it does recall the smell of an entire decade – specifically, the 90’s. Whenever I wear it, I get images of MAC’s Spice lipliner, bottles of Dewberry and White Musk from The Body Shop, and black bodies that fasten down at the crotch (also invented by Donna Karan, I believe). KEEP ON READING

AL02 by biehl parfumkunstwerke

in Reviews by

When I was 17, my parents made me go to an intensive exam preparation psychologist who tested me over the course of a long (very long) weekend to determine which would be the best course of study for me in college. Most kids, you see, know where they’re headed before their final exams, known as the Leaving Certificate in Ireland, but all I wanted to do was to lie on my bed, eat chocolate, and read magazines. Unfortunately, there are no college courses in Ireland for that.

At the end of the weekend, the psychologist called in my parents and solemnly said, “It is clear to me that your child has a natural talent for mathematics”, at which point my parents burst out laughing and I looked behind me to see which of my three brothers had followed us in there. KEEP ON READING

Chanel Sycomore: A Few of My Favorite Things

in Reviews by

I’m a freelance writer-slash-odd-jobber, which means that I write articles and blog posts about all sorts of things, like retinoic acid, how to sell your own home without a real estate agent, and the top ten things you can learn about social media dominance from Don Draper. Seriously. Those are all articles I have written. You will not find me half as ridiculous as I find myself, believe me.

Freelance writing is soul-destroying work for the most part, because most clients don’t value writing and they are always pissed off that they have to pay someone to do it. Plus, nobody feels bad about being mean or rude to a freelance writer. The one thing I do like about it, though, is that you get to learn things you didn’t know before. KEEP ON READING

Singular Summer Soliflores

in Reviews by

Confession: I don’t actually like soliflores. I mean, I don’t like to wear them. I like sniffing them from a sample and I consider them useful to have around as a reference, but wearing them simply wears me down. Soliflores say one thing, and one thing only. I admire the single-mindedness of their message, but as the day goes on, it grates. Flowers must be part of a more complex composition for me to wear them.

I will say this, though, and my apologies if this sounds like a contradiction – there is nothing like a good soliflore to move me to tears. The smell of a Bourbon rose, a tuberose bloom, or newly opened jasmine flowers are so astoundingly beautiful in nature that any successful attempt at recreating their smell in perfume has a similar effect on my senses and emotions. KEEP ON READING

Spring has Sprung: Linden and Lilacs

in Reviews by

For many people who like heady, strong florals – rose, tuberose, violets – linden and lilacs can seem like the “other white meat”, in other words, second-string players to more forceful or more characterful stars. Ask any one to describe what a Bulgarian rose otto smells like, or tuberose absolute, and words such as beefy, rich, and buttery come spilling out; strong words for strong scents. Flowers like lilac, linden, and to a certain extent, freesia, and peony cannot be so clearly described – people tend to use vague terms such as fresh, green, watery, honeyed, or soapy. KEEP ON READING

L’Attesa by Masque: Wait Up – This is Great

in Reviews by

It is fair to say that Luca Turin’s decision to start writing about perfumes again – and specifically perfumes he loves – in his new WordPress blog, has sent a gust of fresh air through the dusty halls of perfume reviewing. Everyone’s ears are pricked, wondering whom Luca is going to shine his avuncular love on next. For niche brands, it must be utterly nerve-wracking – they’ve all either sent him samples or cornered him at Esxence – and now they must wait for Turinesque rapture….or worse, total radio silence. KEEP ON READING

Beauty and the Beast: M/Mink and Teint de Neige

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M/Mink by Byredo

A while ago, I wrote an article for Basenotes on the top ten niche fragrances that every beginner should sample. I got one comment from a guy that I must repeat here because it is (a) very funny, and (b) kind of indicative of how people perceive my, or other people’s taste. The comment read as follows:

“I don’t agree with the entirety of this list. It is not well-rounded at all. It seems this amazing writer has a fetish for burning rubber, smoking resins or charred flesh/leather with squirt of stale urine. I’m pretty sure there are some amazing niche fragrances that are on the more comforting, clean, snuggly, socially appropriate and less “trying so hard to smell like I don’t try (or shower) at all.” KEEP ON READING

Perfume 101: From Beginner to Aficionado

in E-Book by

Are you new to the world of fragrance? Or maybe you know somebody who’s just starting out in this hobby?

Then I wrote this guide for you!

The “Perfume 101: From Beginner to Aficionado” guide is a completely free booklet that will take you through the basic things you need to know about fragrance, from the different concentrations of perfumes to a breakdown of the various notes you will encounter in fragrances along the way.

At 20 pages, this guide is hardly comprehensive; it doesn’t claim to be. It is, however, a good basic introduction that should answer the pressing questions a beginner might have about fragrance. Like, for example, what is a chypre? Are niche perfumes better than designer perfumes? And why, oh why, does it all cost so much? KEEP ON READING

Iris Quest: Denouement

in Reviews by

For the fourth and final installment of in my Iris Quest (see Parts I, II, and III here), I’m focusing on all the iris fragrances that I (a) either forgot to include the first time round, (b) features iris not as the main player but as one important element in a larger whole – iris as part of an incense, woody, or oriental composition, and/or (c) features iris in the role of cosmetic or lipstick-style scents.

Let’s begin with an absolute heart-breaker….the amazing and utterly unaffordable Irisss by Xerjoff. KEEP ON READING

Iris for a (Red) Wedding

in Reviews by

I’m just kidding about the Red Wedding bit. If you’re currently preparing for a wedding (yours or someone else’s), then of course we hope it turns out much better than it did in The Game of Thrones. Still, it never hurts to come prepared. A good iris perfume, if chosen wisely, can be just the steel dagger in your pants that you need.

Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle

Despite the name, Iris Poudre is neither very powdery nor very iris-heavy. Boy, it’s beautiful, though. Wearing it feels like a celebration. It envelops the wearer in a white, balmy, creamy cloud of aldehydes and sweet flower petals, with subtle hints of a cool, floral iris glinting like pearls threaded into layers of white tulle. When I wear it, I feel like I’m ten again, digging through my mother’s clothes and playing dress-up with her costume jewelry. KEEP ON READING

Iris is Coming: Prepare for Iris

in Reviews by

This installment in my Iris Quest (see Part I here) is loosely based around the type of iris fragrances that will eat you for breakfast or at least force your nose down into carroty roots like a stern school mistress trying to train a puppy not to poop on the floor.

Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens

This is not perfume.

It is either art or a form of water boarding, but it’s not a perfume.


Iris Silver Mist teeters on a tightrope between aching beauty and ugly brutality for much of its duration. The first blast out of the gate is of the purest iris root note I have ever smelled – it an exhalation of pure luxury. KEEP ON READING

Iris Quest: The Beginning

in Reviews by

Chandler Burr writes that iris is “liquid good taste” and that description has stuck in my mind when thinking about, and wearing iris fragrances. I am not a natural lover of the note, but lately I’ve been charmed by the silvery elegance it brings to any fragrance, as well as by its ability to manifest itself in a myriad of ways ranging from violet, leather, vegetable roots, cosmetic powder, wet earth, metal, rising damp, and even (disturbingly) dirty, unwashed hair. Depending on what notes iris is matched to and what materials have been used to recreate the smell of either the iris root or petals, iris can mean a hundred different things. KEEP ON READING

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