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Fifty Shades of Mitsouko: Mitsouko, Jubilation 25, Chinatown, and Chypre Mousse

in Reviews/Thoughts by

If the category of fruity chypres is an axis, then Guerlain’s Mitsouko is its nexus – the point of origin around which all the other fruity chypres circulate. The distance between Mitsouko and Bond No. 9’s Chinatown, Chypre Mousse by Oriza L. Legrand, and Amouage’s Jubilation 25 is very real, but at times the distance between them seems like nothing, and at others, like a very long way away. In other words, sometimes I can clearly detect the gravitational pull of Mitsouko in these other perfumes, and sometimes, the relationship seems vaguer. KEEP ON READING

Amouage Fate Woman: Sookie’s Ball of Light

in Reviews by

I don’t know if you all follow the brilliant but recently departed series ‘True Blood’ or not, but if you don’t you should check it out. It follows a group of foul-mouthed fairies, vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters who are duking it out for survival in the backwaters of deep Louisiana. Penned by Alan Ball who also did the brilliant Six Feet Under, it’s actually an allegory for the fight by gays for their basic civil rights (in the opening sequence, you see a billboard that reads “God Hates Fangs” – swap out the spat-upon vampires for gays and you’ve got the key to the allegory). KEEP ON READING

Roses and spice and everything nice: Lyric Woman by Amouage

in Reviews by

Lyric Woman

Lyric Woman is a fascinating and poetical scent with one of the most enigmatic roses I`ve ever encountered. The composition is very well structured, smelling surprisingly different from one end to another, presenting a thick elixir produced by many oriental elements that needs hours and hours to unfold. The spices are densifying somehow the smell of the rose which is actually the pivotal note influencing it`s appearance, giving the flower a distinct character and…fame. Still, the rose doesn`t really show up immediately from the start, because in the first chapter of Lyric the rose is wrapped in this nimbus of spices and resins, waiting for the supreme moment of metamorphosis. It begins with an intense duo of sandalwood and incense gradually adding cinnamon, sweet cardamon, a bit of ginger, crushed flowers of ylang-ylang, iris and geranium and tonka bean. I`m glad they haven`t added too much vanilla here, because this would only distract my attention from the floral piquancy and besides, there`s enough sweet creaminess coming from sandalwood.

The initial mixture is hot, loud, complex and sophisticated with absolutely no harsh edges. The spices seem to melt into each other, creating a warm pedestal for the upcoming birth of the rose. When the perfect ambiance has been achieved, the silhouette of the rose becomes visible in the background, gently coming forth at the surface. Even if it`s barely there in the penumbra of spices, still unclear and foggy, it already spreads a pleasant velvety smell. Slowly, a dazzling vibrant red rose is being born, receiving a definite shape and odor. It`s time to reign, beauty! From now on, Lyric switches the spices with roses, all those flavoured dried seeds, smokey accents and woods taking a backseat to let the rose shine on stage.

In conclusion, Lyric is a kind of scent that transforms a lot on skin, developing over time a classical rose in the same manner as Caron Parfum Sacré for example, also an elegant spicy rose that I wear with great pleasure, presenting first a baby rose that hides behind a voluminous oriental cloud of spices, becoming equally scented in the middle phase, then defeating the spices in the end. A statement rose! KEEP ON READING

Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin-a master weaver’s golden thread cloth

in Reviews by

I’m a tactile person. I love touching, whether it’s the skin of a dear one, the fluffiness of cashmere, the smoothness of silk, the shimmering rustle of taffeta, the crisp translucency of organza, the suppleness of real leather, or the irresistible softness of a warm, purring Persian cat. And I love my skin clothed in the magical veil of Chypre Palatin.
Chypre Palatin, a “green oriental chypre” as deemed by Parfums MDCI, feels to me like an intricately sculpted gold trunk filled to the brim with the most precious textures of the world. Everything is in there, the airborne warmth of cashmere, the pearl like shine of raw silk, the plushness of thick velvet, the carnal touch of leather, the transparent delicacy of handmade lace and the seductive glimmer of opulent brocade.
Chypre Palatin it’s a perfectly woven piece of textural wonder. Every beautiful thread it’s tightly bound to another beautiful thread to create a structure so heartbreakingly diaphanous and so satisfyingly robust at the same time that, surely, in the creation of this perfume, Bertrand Duchaufour must’ve been helped by fairies, angels and other supernatural beings. I imagine thousands of tiny miraculous fingers weaving with uncanny speed, out of the thinnest possible golden yarns, a cloth of such filigree delicateness, that it feels barely there and yet, somehow, it’s warmer and cozier than a Merino wool shawl.
I will be honest, to my nose, this is so expertly blended, that no notes can be clearly discerned. This perfume becomes its own abstract creature, its own singular smell. It reminds me, more so than my other perfumes, with the probable exception of Amouage Fate(woman), of this quote from the “Diary of a nose” by Jean-Claude Ellena: “When smell is no longer linked to memory, when it no longer evokes flowers or fruits, when it is stripped of all feeling and affect, then it becomes material for a perfume. When I can no longer describe it, when it has consistency, depth, breadth and density, when it becomes tactile, when the only representation I have of it is physical, then I can bring it to life and create.”
Chypre Palatin is a warm, nebulous haze from which peak through in a sort of mesmerizing carousel its multitude of different, subtle facets: the aromatic, slightly bitter freshness, the caressing powdery floralcy, the inviting sweetness, the gentle sensuality, the opulent orientalism, and that addictive, downy feeling of the scent that it’s like the olfactory equivalent of Charlotte Gainsbourg’s voice.
It is a classical structure, but its airy lightness keeps it firmly in the present, and is a wonderful perfume for both sexes. Although marketed as a masculine, it has similar genes with Guerlain’s Habit Rouge for example, which successfully and seductively has been worn by many women since its creation in 1965.
And if the inclusion of this Parfums MDCI fragrance in the chypre category might lead one to expect a certain bracing, sharp, citrussy vibe and a tinge of dank mustiness, this is not the case with Chypre Palatin. Every harsh edge, every awkward seam have been blurred, and blended, and buffed to perfection until there’s only a soft gleam left in place of any jarring transitions.
Imagine a splendid mansion, generations old, nestled among gently rounded hills, every column, capital and tall crystal window bearing the mark of discreet, flawless luxury. There is manmade beauty and natural beauty all around and as far as the eyes can see. All you need to do is let your soul be filled by it. KEEP ON READING

Kalemat: Damn Fine Coffee

in Reviews by

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve put on a fragrance and thought, “I could wear this and only this for the rest of my life”. In case you were wondering, the perfumes in question were as follows: Chypre Palatin by Parfums MDCI, Blackbird by House of Matriarch, Lyric Woman by Amouage, and Bois des Iles by Chanel. Now, Kalemat by Arabian Oud joins them.

Now, I’m not saying that Kalemat is wildly original (like Blackbird), complex (like Chypre Palatin), or so beautifully composed that it brings tears to my eyes (Bois des Iles and Lyric Woman). But it’s one of those rare instances when you can just put on a scent and know that it smells damn good, and that you smell damn good, and that other people (all of the other people, believe me) will think you smell damn good too. It reminds me that things don’t have to be wildly expensive or original to give you pleasure. In fact, every time I spray Kalemat on, I think of what Agent Dale Cooper tells Harry, the local sheriff in Twin Peaks: KEEP ON READING

Une Rose by Frederic Malle: Too Much Rose

in Reviews by
Une Rose by Frederic Malle

Une Rose by Frederic Malle

I have a confession to make, and I fear that my perfumista card is just about to be revoked, but here it is: I don’t like Frederic Malle’s Une Rose. Cue horrified gasps.

I know, I know. You don’t have to say anything. There’s already a sort of Greek chorus going back and forth in my head every time I wear it, and it goes something like this:

Une Rose is the most photorealistic rose in the world.

Yeah. It is. It is almost hyper-realistically real, especially in that first hour when it explodes onto your skin, all huge and red and dripping with dew. But here’s the thing. Despite the fact there are thousands of different cultivars of rose, about a hundred different species, and over four hundred separate chemical compounds or ‘flavonoids’ that make up a rose scent, my unsubtle mind persists in linking the smell of a damask rose with the bottle of cheap attar of roses my grandmother had on her vanity table for more than three decades. To me, the smell of the Bulgarian damask rose, when not mixed with other notes as in a chypre or oriental, will always be the old-fashioned smell I associate with closed-up front rooms, handkerchiefs scented with rose oil, pressed flowers, and powdery, grandmotherly bosoms. KEEP ON READING

Amouage Memoir for Woman: Neochypre

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As soon as the warmth of summer begins to fade I tend to return to my good old chypre fragrances and also feel tempted to explore new ones that might encapsulate the vibrancy of autumn. It is the time I bring in the front row of my wardrobe precious scents like Aromatics Elixir from Clinique (almost gone and I`m in desperately need of another one), Dioressence (new version, but stil great), Gem by Van Cleef & Arpels (I have to write about this ahhhmazing one-of-a-kind fruity chypre), Mitsouko (ah yes, la belle Mitsouko) and Yvresse Yves Saint Laurent (is there a better peachy scent out there which feels as sparkling as Champagne bubbles on your tongue?). I belive a chypre (simple, floral or fruity – never mind) has the same capricious temper as the weather in autumn and on a chilly day or evening such a complex fragrance works best by adding a spark of glamour. Like a wine red lipstick on a bare face. KEEP ON READING

Fumerie Turque: The Morning after the Night Before

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Imagine a gentlemen’s club. It’s that grey hour before dawn, between the last of the stragglers leaving the bar and the first of the cleaners moving in. Ash from Sobranie cigarettes has been mashed into the deep pile carpets, there are sticky rings of cognac on the bar, and look, there’s Peter O’ Toole holed up in the corner, regaling the cloakroom girls with anecdotes from his time on the set of Lawrence of Arabia. He is smoking a cigarette, but his hands are shaking, and although the girls are too polite to say, at some point during the night, it is quite clear that he has pissed himself. He still looks fabulous, though. He looks like he was born in and will die in that slim white suit and those grimy leather gloves. KEEP ON READING

Ubar by Amouage: Some Other Woman’s Skin

in Reviews by

ubar_womanUbar by Amouage is a shimmering floral mélange so massively radiant that its heat signature can probably be picked up from outer space. Like its progenitors in the grand old French perfumery tradition, Chanel No. 5, Joy, and Arpege, the floral accords are so complex and blended to the point of abstraction that it becomes a guessing game as to what flowers exactly you are smelling. It just smells like a thousand different flowers (all of them hellishly expensive) gave up their life for a greater cause. KEEP ON READING

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