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Castaña by Cloon Keen Atelier

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Have you ever felt like you’ve missed the boat on a certain brand or a fragrance? I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling. Given the depressing frequency of botched reformulations and senseless axings, the life of a fragrance enthusiast is often fraught with the fear of missing out or, worse, the agony of knowing that you failed to strike while the iron was hot.

I’m no stranger to missed chances myself. I arrived too late on the perfume scene to scoop up two fragrances that would later become big loves of mine, namely Guerlain’s Vega and Attrape-Coeur. I dithered on Dior Privée Mitzah until it was gone – ditto Eau Noire. I had a bottle of Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’Une Fete, and stupidly sold it; by the time I’d realized my mistake, that too disappeared into the ether, along whatever raw material that made its production impossible. Other bottles carelessly sold or swapped away were Fendi Theorema, a bottle of pre-1950’s Chanel No. 5 extrait, and a large decant of Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit that I missed desperately the minute I’d mailed it off to its lucky recipient. I can almost feel you all wincing out there, so I won’t continue. I’m embarrassed. KEEP ON READING

Tabac Blond versus Tabac Blond

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Lately, I’ve been testing dupe oils against the original fragrances to see how they measure up. It’s for the attar book I’m writing – I realized that dupe oils fall into the broad category of concentrated perfume oils and that people are intensely interested in them. I went into the exercise reluctantly, fully expecting to hate the dupe oils on principle for lazily copying someone else’s hard work. And I do.

But I’ll admit: I learned some interesting things. Chiefly, that (a) dupes succeed best when they’re copying a fragrance with a simple structure, like Jo Malone perfumes and some of the Tom Fords, (b) that some dupes are so scarily close to the original that it becomes very difficult to justify shelling out for the original, no matter how much that makes me grit my teeth, and finally, (c) one can be perfectly happy with a dupe – ecstatic even – until you wear it side by side with the original. 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

On the doorstep of December

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I think I’m allowed to use the C word now, aren’t I?
I woke up this morning to a frosting of white on the leaves and grass, and friends in the Alps have been posting pictures of snow on the mountains. It’s cold and clear, with starry nights and bluebird days that merit a scarf and gloves. It’s time to pull out the special fragrances that work best at this time of year.

My hand reached into my perfume cupboard for Serge Lutens Arabie, a perfume I only wear around Christmas, but I was shocked to be unable to find it. (Sadly I have begun to succumb to putting things ‘somewhere safe’ – so safe you can’t find them.) This is infuriating, as I am now stuck with a yearning for the Christmas-pudding richness of Arabie. Stuffed with spices and dried fruits, this is a truly seasonal fragrance that I can’t imagine being able to wear in summer’s heat. In winter though, its richness is warming and mouthwatering, and just thinking about it makes me want to hit the kitchen and start baking hyper-rich fruitcake and pudding, with some mince pies for added yum. I think it may be ‘stir up Sunday’ this week, and we’ll put all the flavours of Arabie into our Christmas cake – candied mandarin peel, dried dates, sultanas and raisins, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla; all that will be missing is rich resins and woods – cedar, sandalwood, myrrh and benzoin. KEEP ON READING

Sammarco Naias – Deconstructing Violet

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When I heard that Giovanni Sammarco had shown mods of a yet-to-be-announced violet perfume called Naias at Pitti to a couple of friends, I began to salivate. Then, after wiping the drool from my keyboard, I asked for a sample. (More likely, I begged).

For the past year or so, violets have been a sort of secret passion of mine, and I’ve been collecting samples and even small bottles of some of what I see as the standouts in the genre. Opus III for a grand, oriental violet, Stephen Jones for weird crunchy space rocks, vintage Jolie Madame for leather, Insolence for trashy charm, Aimez Moi for kittenish cheer, Bois de Violette for candied darkness, and McQueen for grungy face powder. But each violet added to the collection shrinks the space left for others – could Naias really bring something new to the table? KEEP ON READING

Scented souvenirs

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I keep a bottle of supermarket Eau de Cologne in my fridge and just soused myself in it after hanging the washing out in the hot sun. It was gratifyingly cooling and refreshing, and its scent flashed me back to summers spent in France and Switzerland, where it was often this hot, and I learned this cooling trick.

Because I’m writing a review rather than simply enjoying my favourite eau, which by the way is Mont St Michel Eau de Cologne Ambrée, I took notice of the barbershop-ish initial impression it gives me. As a confirmed anti-frou-frou woman who loathes ruffles, pink and florals, I spent years trying to find fragrances that worked for me. (Thank goodness for Yves Saint Laurent, is all I can say.) Anyway, I came across this particular favourite of mine via soap (another weakness). I was in France and needed to buy a bar to use while I was away. After sniffing several packages, I found the soap version of this eau de Cologne and was pleased by its non-floral spicy and ambery notes. I used it the whole time I was away, and now it is one of my favourite ‘flashback’ scents. KEEP ON READING

When the Whip Comes Down

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Perfumery has long had a (sometimes prurient) fascination with flagellation.  Fragrances with names like Coup de Fouet (Caron), Cravache (Robert Piguet), and Riding Crop (Demeter) all suggest the menacing danger and pain of the lash.  There are no less than three called whip—Whip (Black Phoenix Alchemy), Whips and Roses (Kerosene) and Whip (Le Galion).

The act of whipping evokes images of cruelty: slavery, abuse and sadism.  From Jesus Christ to Kunta Kinte the whip has inflicted punishment.  Pleasure, too, is associated with its sting, as illustrated by the character of Séverine in Luis Buñuel’s 1967 film Belle de Jour.  The riding crop—a whip in miniature—has been wielded by villains and equestrians in equal measure and in fact is used in advertisements for Guerlain’s Habit Rouge. KEEP ON READING

Chanel’s Boy: Feminine Fougere

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The Les Exclusifs de Chanel collection is known for its groundbreaking fragrances that are as elegant as they are alluring. From the captivating Sycomore to the avant-garde Cuir de Russe, the simple Eau de Cologne to the scrumptious Coromandel, the quality of Chanel’s exclusives is unimpeachable. That is, until Boy.

Before its floral mid and vanillic base, Boy opens with an uncomfortably synthetic explosion of notes. For me, the first minute or two is a sinus-searing mashup of what smells like chemical-laden citruses and fixatives. Present in the opening is nearly the same cringe-worthy grapefruit note that is present at the opening of Bleu de Chanel. Sadly, the first few minutes always smell a bit cheap to my nose, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. Maybe it is the ingredient quality, the overall blend, or the perfumer’s particular style, but this fragrance does not belong in the exclusives range, smelling instead like a cross between a Chanel flanker and a Balenciaga fragrance. On that note, if this were a kind of modernized “fougere flanker” of Chanel No. 5, I doubt that anyone would be surprised. For what you get with Chanel Boy, many might agree that the significantly smaller price tag of the normal collection would more appropriate. Still, Boy is very pleasant, and I highly doubt that it will be a widely disliked fragrance. Performance is mediocre in all categories. KEEP ON READING

Lonesome Rider Review Series Pt. 3: A Beautiful Cloud of White

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[Part 3 of a review series on the new Tauer Perfumes fragrance Lonesome Rider. Please find the other parts here: Part 1 – Sjörn | Part 2 – Neoxerxes | Part 4 – Narada – Available for purchase here ]

Lonesome Rider strikes me as quite different to the impressions of my blog colleagues here and here. To me, it reads mainly as a bright, arid floral with a dusty, soapy trail, eventually winding up in a grey, mineralic cloud of resins and Ambroxan. If that doesn’t sound like I enjoy the scent, then you’d be wrong: I love it. It’s just that I don’t get much of the leather or any of the smoke that other people are talking about. To me, this is a beautiful white-grey cloud of soapy orris, spicy carnation, and other, mixed florals (rose, violet, jasmine) floating on top of that Tauerade of powdery sandalwood, vetiver, and Ambroxan. If Lonestar Memories is an oil painting done in thick reds, browns, and tar black, then Lonesome Rider is an acid pastel – strong but delicate. KEEP ON READING

How does the Fragrance Daily team smell at Christmas Eve?

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Fragrance Daily CHRISTMAS SpecialOh Christmas, oh Christmas – it truly is a very special time of the year. Despite all the commercialism, there is still this magic floating in the air, a relic from your very personal childhood. The silence that covers the snow on a Sunday morning walk, the December-long frenzy of activity that culminates in legendary and often disastrous family events and the breathtaking peace of the morning after – all wonderful. The feeling of seeing one’s beloved or estranged family members once a year, the joy of symbolically putting the whole “old” year behind us, and the act of preparing for the new one. And on top of that all: the fragrances that encapsulate this special time for us, that pervade our senses, and make Christmas time so remarkable and unique. KEEP ON READING

Roses and spice and everything nice: Lyric Woman by Amouage

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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

How to Smell Like a Manly Man: Ron Burgundy Fragrances

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Ok, ok, so the title is firmly tongue-in-cheek. I am a firm believer in the concept of wearing what you like regardless of the gender designation of said fragrance. And men should of course wear what they like. I wear some masculines myself, among them Dior Homme Intense and Caron’s Third Man, and applaud any man who breaks out of the generic masculine mold to wear florals and gourmands.

But let’s say, hypothetically speaking, you want to deliberately project a certain type of Alpha Maleness to your immediate surroundings – well, you’d need a fragrance so incontrovertibly male that wimmenfolk would instinctively shrink away and lesser men would sniff the air around you and immediately hit the ground in a submissive position. Here is a list of fragrances that would do the job just fine. KEEP ON READING

Paradise in a bottle: Songes by Annick Goutal

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Do you remember which was your very first niche scent? I do. This month I celebrate symbolically 4 years since everything started. The madness, I mean. One curiosity satisfied, then another and another, and so my passion for niche perfumes grew up becoming a never-ending search for perfumes that evoke emotions, far away places, perfumes that shape perfectly my moods and dreams. It all started after I found an article about perfumes connected to different destinations. The girly bottle of Songes tighten with a ribbon full of small golden stars captured immediately my attention. It was described a dreamy tropical scent. Oh, I had to try it! Short after that, I heard for the first time also about Fracas. I needed that one too and so on. My first step into niche realms was not shy at all. It wasn`t about one scent, but six. My God! Six blind bought bottles at once, no kidding. Of course I was naive and impatient and did not order samples first, I needed the full bottles as soon as possible as if it was the end of the world. To name them: Fracas and Visa by Piguet, Caron Montaigne and Bellodgia, Annick Goutal Songes and Lalique Amethyst. I briefly searched some reviews about them before pressing the order bottom, but as much as I tried to imagine how they actually smell I couldn`t. I didn`t had much experience behind regarding the notes, so I waited them to arrive with great expectations. It could turned out to be a total disaster, but fortunately it ended (almost) very good.

I immediately fell madly in love with Visa, which continues to be my favorite scent of all time, I felt myself positively overwhelmed by Fracas which I proudly wear mostly in warm temperatures (yesss, that indolic tuberose blooms erotically in summer), Montaigne was very plush and elegant, Bellodgia made me a bit confuse, it seemed too anachronic, powdery and melancholic, but at the same it showed me a different perspective compared to all mainstream scents I knew untill then, so I saw a good reason to keep it, and Amethyst proved to be such a joyful grown-up fruity with a perfect balance between tart and soft notes. KEEP ON READING

Caron – La Sélection – Lady Caron

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I bought my bottle of ‘Lady Caron’, because I liked the story behind the fragrance. It goes like that:

Ernest Daltroff, founder of the house of Caron, fled from Third Reich Nazi Germany and arrived as an immigrant in New York. He saw the Statue of Liberty and decided then to show his gratitude to the country that gave him freedom by dedicating a perfume to it.

Unfortunately, he did not have the time to keep his promise, but when Patrick Alès took over Caron in the late 1990s and read Ernest Daltroff’s memoirs, he decided to make his dream reality: Lady Caron was born! (Info: Essenza Nobile). KEEP ON READING

This is a beauty secret you must know about!

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Sentifique - Daim Rouge
Sentifique - Daim RougeI have always been charmed by the scent of cosmetics. As a little girl I used to climb on a chair to reach the face powders of my mother just to sniff their subtle scent and I still remember very clear how lovely she smelled when we kissed goodbye every morning when she went to work. She always took great care of her face using good face creams, powder, grey eyeliner and lipstick usually in a rapsberry shade. At the door she gently pressed her lips on my hand leaving in that spot a rozy “tattoo”, and later in the afternoon she lifted me up with joy and I could smell a mixture of make-up and the fresh air impregnated in her hair and clothes. I`ll never forget that, so naturally I inherited some of her beauty routine. For example I`m a huge fan at the moment of Guerlain lipsticks, which besides their great shades they posses a diaphanous violet scent that I find to be so wonderful. Then I love the Caron loose powders – they are amazinlgy scented with rose essence and incomparable to any other powders I`ve tried in terms of quality. But even if my care routine looked complete, something was still missing: a perfume that smells like make-up. So a few years back I started to be interested in perfumes inspired by the distinctive scent around the vanity table, so I searched and searched and found there are so many compositions that evoke the smell of make-up.

So far I discovered the classic L`Ombre Rose L`Original made by the French house Jean Charles Brosseau, a fragrance that smells like a delicate rose scented body powder you apply on fresh washed skin; then there is the biggest powder bomb of all time, one of the most renowned scents that duplicate the smell of make-up – the formidable Teint de Neige by Lorenzo Villoresi which combines an immense dose of heliotropine with sugar and pink roses laid on an rich musky base, boosting every woman`s feminity to the max; one can also be seduced by the irresistible Lipstick Rose Frederic Malle that reminds instantly of a lipstick thanks to the mixture of tender violets and pink roses, creating an über-feminine effect – in my opinion this scent is so demonstrative, like Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to JFK; and I need also to mention the atmospheric fragrance Moulin Rouge made by the house Histoires de Parfums. That one not only smells like a lipstick, but also recreats accurately the entire smell of a Parisian cabaret – the cigarette smoke, the dust lifted by the girls dancing on stage mixed with hints of bitter absinthe…it is mysterious, dark and very tempting. These are my go to scents inspired by make-up, but recently I found another real gem that could complete a beauty arsenal: it`s called Daim Rouge and is freshly launched by the Swiss house Sentifique. KEEP ON READING

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