Niche Fragrance Magazine


Lisa Jones

Lisa Jones has 26 articles published.

A decade ago in a little secondhand bookshop, I bought a biography of an obscure biophysicist written by a New York Times journalist and my life changed. Yes, I blame it all on Luca Turin and Chandler Burr; thanks to them I fell in love with L'Heure Bleue and haven't looked back since.

Wear a leather jacket

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It’s getting chillier and after my last post about Chypres, I started thinking about other categories of fragrance that might be good at this time of year. It’s the perfect time of year to re-organise your cupboards for a new season and bring out the leather.

Leather fragrances, like chypres, hark back to the age of glamour and romance, summed up by the classic movies of the 40s, 50s and 60s. Can’t you picture Cary Grant or Kathryn Hepburn wise-cracking and arching an eyebrow sardonically while wearing crisp tailoring and smelling elegantly of leather with a faint hint of roses or sandalwood? KEEP ON READING

Sheep ruh

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Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run.

I can never see the first changing colours in the hedgerows without Keats’ poem coming to mind. As I drove to work today through the English countryside, I saw a blush on a beech and a flame on a poplar, as the mists rose off the river Wye. The time has come to put away the coconut, tiare, white flowers and aquatic accords and get sheepish. OK, I mean chyprish, but allow me the pun. KEEP ON READING

My Sainted Aunt, sugar

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I don’t often comment on the packaging of fragrances, being greedy to get into the bottle and sniff, but in this case I feel I must.
Josh Meyer at Imaginary Authors goes all-out to create a world around each of his fragrances, which you slip into from the moment you pick them up. My travel spray of Saint Julep arrived in a mysterious box, banded with a beautiful intricate design that reminded me of late Victorian ‘gothic’ book illustrations.

I read the notes and descriptions of Saint Julep, to immerse myself in the world of Milton Nevers. He is the imaginary author whose quotes are sprinkled into this packaging and across the company’s website – well worth a look, by the way, for its melding of perfume, art, and eccentric inventiveness. Imaginary Authors is a brand build on a concept, and they achieve it very well. Each fragrance in the range is intended to embody a novel, bring it to life and immerse you in the sights, scents and sounds of the story. Now, I could imagine what I think Moby Dick smells like (aquatic accord and ambergris, no?) but you might have a different opinion. Which is why these books and their authors are imaginary, and the fragrance that epitomises them and brings them to life is created by Josh Meyer in Oregon. He has a remarkable imagination. KEEP ON READING

Are you a Fragrant Flyer?

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I’m planning my summer holiday, as I guess many of you are. And along with the eternal question of ‘how many clothes do I need for a week in a tent?’ there is the greater problem of ‘which perfume to take?’

It’s more than just a frivolity though. Your finest fragrance is safest at home when there’s a risk of it being confiscated at customs, or wandering off if your luggage gets separated from you. And if you’re flying, you can’t take anything in your hand luggage in a bottle of more than 100mls, or anything that won’t fit into that little plastic bag. That bag doesn’t hold much, especially when you’ve got to fit toothpaste, mascara and suncream in there as well. Equally, if like me you’re going camping, you don’t want to take any precious fragrance that can get boiled in a hot tent, lost, squashed or stepped on. KEEP ON READING

Chypre but not tart

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Today Liz Moores of Papillon Perfumes released her latest creation, Dryad. She says that she’s been working on the formula for several years, including the when she shoved it in a drawer in frustration and left it there for a year or five.

I’ve known this green chypre was coming for about a year, as I follow Liz on Facebook and Instagram. Given my love for this genre and her other fragrances, particularly the voluptuous oriental Salome, I leapt at the chance to try it.

I am an unapologetic fan of what I call ‘proper’ chypres – ones that rely on oakmoss not patchouli married with bergamot to give them a brisk smack to start and a warm, skin-melding base. While fruits such as peaches (Mitsouko) or plums (Femme de Rochas) give a stained-glass warmth to some classic chypres, my preference is for the green or leathery variety. But these ladies are not what they once were; Cabochard with her purse-lipped leather smack is grumpier and more of a caricature now, my precious Miss Balmain with her ‘good leather handbag for church’ aura has been discontinued, and my Miss Dior (l’Originale) is now a shadow of her former eyebrow-arching, pearl-clutching self. While I can still enjoy my vintage bottles, before they give up the ghost and go off, there have been no genuine mossy green chypres to replace them. Until now. KEEP ON READING

It all began in the blue hour.

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I always liked perfume, but I wasn’t fascinated by it. Until, that is, I went on holiday to France eleven years ago, taking with me a book called The Emperor of Scent, which I’d picked up in the SciFi section for casual reading. It turned out to be real science, not fiction: the story of a talented biophysicist called Luca Turin who was researching how we smell things. It was a fascinating read, but what really inspired my imagination was Luca Turin’s comments on perfumes and the perfume industry. KEEP ON READING

The lavender rollercoaster

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I let slip a couple of weeks ago that Antonio Gardoni was creating a new lavender fragrance for Bogue Profumo. Well I have had chance to try it, and fortunately, you can too, as it has just been released. As you would expect from Antonio’s other fragrances, such as Cologne Reloaded and Maai, MEM is unusual, enormously wearable and interesting – wearing it is like riding a rollercoaster.

Sniffing the atomiser I had an impression of purple powder that made me think MEM might be a boudoir perfume. Spraying it on my skin, however, brought me a swirl of naturalistic ‘Goldilocks’ lavender that took me straight to the garden. Apparently Antonio used 5 different lavenders to create this fragrance, making it ‘Goldilocks’ lavender because it’s not too herbal and not too caramel-ish. Instead, opening up like purple-blue summer sky, it’s warm with a slight woody undertone, but clean and fresh. As a massive fan of Caldey Island Lavender, I love this; it’s invigorating but not simplistic. KEEP ON READING

Lavender’s having a moment

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Apparently lavender has a reputation as being for old ladies, but I’ve never felt that way about it. To me, its fresh, uplifting brightness is incredibly modern. I’m not alone, it seems, as lavender is having its moment in the sun this summer. (It was all about the gardenia a couple of years ago, remember?) With a movement towards bright, light, yet very radiant perfumes, lavender has a place front and centre in the perfumer’s palette these days. Indeed, perfume creator Antonio Gardoni of Bogue Profumo has been working on his next fragrance and lavender is a key element: more on that in a later post, but he’s promised me a sample to test and I’ll keep you posted. KEEP ON READING

Visiting Uncle Serge

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This Easter I was lucky enough to be able to take a trip to Paris with my daughter. Having spent our first day wandering around the Latin Quarter (she insisted on seeing the dinosaurs in the Musée Nationale d’Histoire Naturelle in the Jardin des Plantes, and the cafés nearby seemed to understand the need for coffee, crêpes and icecream after extensive paleontological explorations), my itinerary on our second day took us to the Champs Elysées. Here we strolled, munched, sniffed, and smiled in the April sunshine, managing to resist the temptation to spend a fortune in the shops. Instead, we headed down through the Jardins to the Place de la Concorde for a ride on the Big Wheel, which gave us remarkable panoramas of Paris, taking in the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur and the Louvre. KEEP ON READING

Oh, oh, OH! the cologne (Oh my!)

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Home Decor

You may have read recently that Maison Francis Kurkdjian has been bought by LVMH, joining a stable that includes Dior, Guerlain and Acqua de Parma. This sent me to my stash to wear some of the fabulous fragrances Francis has created, and when I went back to re-test one particular fragrance, it blew me away all over again. It is the antithesis of all the fresh, topnote-laden sparkling Eaux de Cologne I’ve written about in the past. There is not an iota of citrus zest or herbal zing here: this is a cologne that growls, purrs and slinkily winds itself around your legs. KEEP ON READING

My heart went Dzing!

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You may think it’s strange that a sane woman in her 50s has a schoolgirl fondness for enormous horses, but bear with me. The handsome fellow in the photo is Gilbert, half Shire, half racehorse, all character. He is 16 hands high, which is too tall for me to be able to see over his saddle and I’m no munchkin; he weighs a majestic 800kgs – that’s 3/4 of a UK Ton – and he has a white curly moustache like some delightful ex-military man. He knows which pocket I keep the Polo mints in and cheerfully nudges it with his nose to remind me that handsome chaps deserve sweeties after a ride. He’s a hoot. He’s even adorable when you see him taking part in Pony Club alongside teeny little Shetland ponies, picking up his soup-plate-sized feet very carefully to make sure he doesn’t step on anyone. KEEP ON READING

Scenting the ski lift

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Riding on a ski lift with my friend last week we were chatting, as you do, about our teenage years. When we got around to perfume – that most potent of memory-joggers – we laughed about the changing-room-filling cloud of assorted Impulse body sprays that were the compulsory scent of those years (have things changed much? My own teenage daughter has quite a stash of body sprays). When we moved on to our first real perfume, hers was Revlon’s Charlie (very sophisticated at the time) and mine was Cabriole by Elizabeth Arden, a gift from my wonderful Aunt Tina, who was a journalist. KEEP ON READING

All that glisters

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This is an historic day: the 45th President of the United States of America is being sworn in. I shan’t open political debate, but I will say that this has been a controversial election unlike any other in modern memory, and it’s provoking a lot of reaction. Knowing that I would be reviewing today I considered my choice very carefully.

As Voltaire said: ‘I have decided to be happy because it is good for my health’. I’m going to rise above flippancy, fatalism or bragadoccio and consider what to wear on A Very Big Day. When I looked in my perfume cupboard (yes, a whole cupboard, I am obsessed) I could set aside whole categories of fragrance: eau de colognes, citruses, gourmands and greens can all stay home. For the truly grand occasion I break out the big guns: orientals and chypres. My choice for today is something that I think of as a classic oriental as it has the elegant chic of a classic chypre coupled with the rich spicy presence of an oriental: Amouage Gold pour Femme. KEEP ON READING

My fragrance of 2016 – Salome

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I have often been heard lamenting the demise of many great old perfumes due to IFRA regulations on the ingredients perfumers can now use. My beloved Miss Balmain is no longer produced, so I guard my stash of vintage eau de parfum like Gollum with his precioussss. For a while, I turned my back on modern releases, believing that nobody could match my vintage beauties for sophistication and polish.

I’m hip to modern ideas about a banging vetiver or an overdosed ISO-E Super frag; and I can and do enjoy wearing startling new scents that conjure environments or occasions. I will happily wear an oudh that takes me straight to a soukh where hard-tanned leather is sold, or a fragrance such as Dzing! that somehow puts me straight into a horse’s stable. But truthfully, I like the mystery of composed, complicated perfumes like those of yesteryear. I like not knowing what makes Madame Rochas smell so off-kilter and interesting (strange aldehydes that add a ‘just snuffed candle’ note, according to Luca Turin), or which flowers are in my beloved Miss Balmain (carnations apparently, which explains a lot). For me, a great deal of the perfumer’s art is in creating something unknowable but beautiful that creates an emotion in me, melds with my memories and becomes part of my skin. KEEP ON READING

Fireworks on snow: Chanel No.22

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For Party People, New Year’s Eve is the night to break out the bling, leopard print and high heels and souse yourself like a herring with the most delightful scents you own – and that’s just the gents. If you prefer to stay home and go into hygge-overload, which has a lot of merits too, I still think you should be fragranced to the hilt – what could be more cosy?

Recently I luxuriated in the utterly snuggly Dr Zhivago fur hat, vodka and tobacco of Parfum d’Empire’s Ambre Russe, which has left a warm deliciousness on my coat collar I’m still smelling a week later. This transference and longevity makes it a sneakily clever party fragrance as well as a hygge hero, because everyone you hug hello will smell of you for the next week. I had a huge bearhug from my fragrant Uncle M over the holidays that left my scarf trailing Eau Sauvage for a few days, and every time I caught a whiff I thought of my lovely uncle, who I don’t see often enough. KEEP ON READING

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