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Sampling’ Guerlain – Neroli Outrenoir: The greatest tea-based fragrance?

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Guerlain – Neroli Outrenoir

Per Guerlain Notes de tête : Petit Grain – Bergamote

Notes de cœur : Fleur d’oranger – Néroli – Thé fumé
Notes de fond : Graines d’ambrette – Mousse – Myrrhe

First thing first, be VERY liberal with this one; 5 sprays, 10 sprays, 20 sprays.. Just consider it lotion and lather in it, because it has about the same performance as Jergens on me.

Neroli Outrenoir is a tea lovers dream! Upon application I get a blast of smoky tea, mixed with myrrhe. At the same time, petitgrain give the opening moments this “aquatic” feel that luckily subsides rather quickly. Thé fumé turns into Thé vert in the heart as the neroli emerges, it gives it a creamy, milky quality, YUM! Imagine, green tea, with a pinch of whole milk added, much less smoky than the start. KEEP ON READING

Aldehydes, Past and Present

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Once you become interested in perfumes, you begin to search for answers to hitherto unknown mysteries, such as trying to learn what aldehydes really smell like. (A few years ago, before I had registered on my first perfume forum, I don’t think I had ever heard the word “aldehyde.”) The perfume neophyte soon realizes that aldehydes are everywhere in perfumery, although they do not seem to be terribly popular these days.

Revisiting Houbigant’s Quelque Fleurs

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Is it ever possible to separate perfume and myth? Perhaps there are a few deeply prosaic perfumistas out there who enjoy their perfumes simply as pleasant scents and nothing more, but for most of us, perfume ignites our imaginations, transporting us to faraway places and times, while reinforcing the specific superhero identity we have selected to perform for the day...flapper, biker, femme fatale, cowboy...and so on, ad infinitum

The problem of mugginess

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As the weather turns from the beautiful warm summer we’ve enjoyed in Wales this year, and we move towards what I hope will be a gloriously colourful autumn, this week I felt a bit stuck. Mugginess had me stymied.

You may have noticed that my fragrance choices are very much dictated by the weather. I’m lucky not to work in an office, so I don’t have to worry about wearing perfumes that are ‘office appropriate’ and when I do have to go to a meeting, there is Chanel No. 19. (Meetings were what No 19 was created for, surely?) So I can pretty much follow my instincts with what I choose to wear each day. I’m a massive fan of greens and citruses in the summer, but in autumn I tend to turn – like the leaves – to ambers. These are the scent equivalent of cosy fuzzy jumpers – not the full-blown winter warmers that you need to keep the frost at bay, but soothing, enveloping comfort scents that are as obvious and easy to wear at this time of year as a cashmere hoody. KEEP ON READING

A Rose Is a Rose Is a… Snob.

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Flowers & Trees

By 1952, the world was getting its mojo back.   World War II was a memory, much of the world was enjoying an economic upturn and Cadillacs were rolling off the production line faster than ever.  So what if the cold war was in full swing?  Vodka sales skyrocketed.  The 1950s, especially in America, are remembered for the youth culture of sock hops, poodle skirts and drive-ins but the truly stylish women—especially in Europe– were wearing strict tailleurs and sumptuous gowns.  Pulling off a Charles James or Dior ball gown required a whole lot of attitude; proud, haughty and smug, the fashion mavens of the day were snobs.  Beautiful, soignée snobs with scents to match. 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

Cologne du 68 by Guerlain – Complicated, But Good

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 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

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

Harmony and Me–We’re Pretty Good Company

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Parisian Niche House The Harmonist Opens Doors in Feng Shui-Compliant Los Angeles

It was with some trepidation—and excitement—that I entered the beautiful Los Angeles boutique of The Harmonist, a Paris-based niche perfume house using the ancient Asian concept of Feng Shui as its creative brief.  I mean, I am a middle-aged Aries with a penchant for powerhouse masculines and an inability to tolerate Bikram yoga—just how harmonious am I going to get?

The boutique is in trendy Melrose Place (the only other location besides their Avenue George V flagship) and is truly beautiful.  Sleek, pared down luxury completely realized in black and white (the Yin and Yang about which much more is to come) only relieved by the green of counter tops in precious malachite and plants growing in hanging glass terraria.  The Paris-trained staff, led by the amiable and knowledgeable Erasmo and Bobbi (also in pared down, luxurious black and white attire), patiently take you through the complex, yet simple, inspiring world that is The Harmonist. KEEP ON READING

Oh the Cologne!

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Part one – citrus classicism

Following NeoXerxes’ fascinating post on oranges in perfumery, I’m sticking to the citrus theme, but taking a different twist on it, looking at some of the simplest, most refreshing fragrances out there: Eaux de Cologne. While ‘Cologne’ has come to mean ‘perfume for men’, particularly in the USA, it actually is a very specific category of fragrance.

Just to start there with the name – ‘eau de’ means ‘water of’ and Cologne is a city in Germany, so when you have more than one, you multiply the water, rather than the city: hence Eaux de Cologne. While there was a perfumery industry across Europe in the 18th century it was Cologne where these refreshing light fragrances were made popular by Italian perfumer, Jean Marie Farina. But you can find more about the history of Eau de Cologne elsewhere on the interwebs. I will keep it simple and describe them as fragrances made at a lower strength (under 5% of scent ingredients) for more frequent application. KEEP ON READING

Singular Summer Soliflores

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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

Flashes of appealing simplicity

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I already gave a full review of my stand-out favourite of Andy Tauer’s Tauerville Flash range, Fruitchouli Flash, which turned out to be a happy modern peachy chypre that reminded me of Mitsouko. I have to let you in on a secret – I think Andy has had another little brush with the classic Guerlain fairy, more of which in a moment.

I’ve tried the whole range and overall I will say that I don’t think these fragrances have the complexity of Andy’s main line. However, this isn’t a complaint, because he has reduced his prices significantly with the Flashes and this must have an effect on the ingredients he uses. As a perennially skint perfumista, I applaud this. To be able to buy niche fragrance at high street prices is a wonderful thing. And of course, affordability also enables people like me to think about getting really funky with fragrance and layering, which is something I think the Flashes would be really good for. 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

Spring has Sprung: Linden and Lilacs

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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

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

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