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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

Sample Impressions: Byredo’s Bal d’Afrique

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I’ve been thinking about Bal d’Afrique for a long time now. Sometimes it is one of the most interesting fragrances I’ve ever tried. Other times I am bored before I hit the dry down. After many, many samplings, I’ve begun to develop a more consistent view of this fragrance, which I will offer to you today:

Many Byredo fragrances are not my style, as their creative elements seem to embrace an aesthetic that is nowhere near mine, as I prefer more classical, austere fragrances. Byredo is certainly more avant-garde than my preferences would demand, and Bal d’Afrique is more different. KEEP ON READING

Sample Impressions: Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules

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Molecule 01 is a sneaky fragrance and a triumph of marketing, though not in a negative way. It is marketed as a “radically minimalist” fragrance, one that changes based on the skin chemistry of the wearer. Even calling it a fragrance is somewhat of an overstretch, as it is more of a skin scent and an aura than a proper fragrance.

In terms of the value proposition…. Well, Molecule 01 has a single substantive ingredient (ISO-E Super) and is the most simple composition possible, if it is even reasonable to call it a composition. It would be a stretch to call it beautiful, though it does appear to attract both attention and compliments. Following the design philosophy of the company (and perhaps perfumer Geza Schoen), the fragrance might not necessarily be intended to smell beautiful. 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

Fan Dance

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If you spend any time at all on the perfume forums, you have may seen a few posts posing one of the essential philosophical questions of our age: "What is a stripper perfume?" At first, I had great hopes of learning about unusual, seductive perfumes in these threads...

Tea with (smelly) friends

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Two weekends ago I went to London with a good friend I’ve known since I was in my 20s – that’s her in the photo with me – Sam who writes the I Scent You A Day blog. We went to hang out and drink tea with a group of perhaps twenty people, many of whom we hadn’t physically met before. What did we have in common? Perfume. How did we know these people? The internet.

Now some people get upset when I refer to them as Smelly Friends, so I may need to use some other terminology, such as Fragonerds, Perfumistas and Perfumisters, or just fragrance afficionados, but it all boils down to the same thing. We are people who love perfume. You, dear reader, may very well be one too. KEEP ON READING

Feeling hot, hot, hot

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When I moved back to Wales from Switzerland, where summers are HOT and winters COLD, I found I couldn’t wear some of my favourite fragrances because they need the extremes of weather to work. This was a surprise, to put it mildly. I had assumed that fragrances just work, regardless of climate.

Here in Britain this summer has been a comparative heatwave, with temperatures reaching a scorching 30C at times and surprisingly regular sunny days. I know this is lukewarm for many readers, who are used to coping with 40+ regularly, but in Dear Old Blighty it’s worth commenting on. Especially for me, as I have been able to get out those much-missed hot weather fragrances and have been wearing them delightedly, trying to figure out why they are now enjoyable again. KEEP ON READING

Absolue d’Osmanthe Eau de Parfum — Perris Monte Carlo

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The Osmanthus, or Osmanthus fragrans, is a flower famously associated with the Chinese provinces of Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan as well as Taiwan and Southern Japan.  In fact, it is the city flower of Guilin, the beautiful city by the Li River, whose name actually means “Forest of Sweet Osmanthus.”   Osmanthus is famed for its fragrant flowers which have a strong, sweet fruity scent often associated with smell of peaches or apricots.

With its strong ties to the lore of the Orient, the Osmanthus fragrance note is often paired with tea notes like Oolong (Providence Perfume Company’s Osmanthus Oolong) or Yunnan (Elléna’s Osmanthe Yunnan for Hermès).  However, given its Far East associations, Osmanthus is used in a surprisingly large number of perfumes (Basenotes lists over 400 perfumes containing the note) across a wide spectrum—it is even successfully paired with oud (Tom Ford’s Oud Fleur, Mona di Orio’s Oudh Osmanthus and Xerjoff’s Oud Stars), which, given the current craze for oud fragrances, comes as no surprise.  Given its distinctive nature, it adapts well to the soliflore category, like a The Different Company’s Osmanthus and Absolue d’Osmanthe. KEEP ON READING

Oh the cologne! Part 2

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If you can’t stand the heat, get (fragrance) out of the kitchen

I am fascinated by the wide array of notes that are eminently suited to eaux de Cologne – it means that everyone can find a version that suits them. Today I’ve gone into the kitchen to try eaux based around food and drink – from a mouthwatering herbal refresher to a nice cuppa tea.

You may think it’s not worth spending money on a fragrance that is essentially built around topnotes and designed to be fleeting and gone in a couple of hours. However, many big-name brands are ridiculously affordable for fine fragrance (15 Euro for 125mls? no, that’s not a typo), and supermarket brands are even cheaper. I almost always have some Maurer and Wirtz 4711 original eau de cologne in my handbag, just like my Grandmother before me (no violet sweeties though – mint chewing gum is more my speed). I use it like the French do – to cool down and refresh my skin on hot days. I have family in France where in every bathroom there is a bottle of Eau de Cologne, usually a litre bottle of a supermarket brand, and it’s treated like any other bathroom consumable such as showergel or shampoo. 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

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

Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Noire Épices : the cold oriental

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If you ask me how I ended up with a big bottle of Noir Épices in my perfume wardrobe, I couldn’t give you a straight answer. Of course, I haven’t lost my mind, I do know from the logistics’ point of view, HOW it happened, but I’m not entire sure WHY it happened. Because you see, Noir Épices it’s so removed in style and feeling from what I naturally gravitate towards, that it may be well possible that my mind is not in its usual place anymore. This perfume wasn’t on my radar at all for a very long time, but once it came into focus it stayed there. It grabbed me, not at a gut level, it was more of an intellectual fascination rather than the sensual-emotional connection I generally have with my fragrances. Noir Épices was different, and certainly very different from the image I had of it in my head, which was partially prompted by an old Frédéric Malle promotional photo, this one underneath: KEEP ON READING

Roja Parfums Fetish Pour Homme: Debonair, Classical Leather

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As with other expressions of artistry and craft, perfume has its share of masterpieces. With paintings and similar artifacts, owning a treasure would cost a fortune. Fortunately, in the case of perfume, a masterpiece comes relatively cheap, and for the best of the best one need look no further than the Roja Parfums line. Priced at around $500 for 50 ml of perfume, Roja Dove’s work might seem extravagant, perhaps even a little ridiculous. But as with comparable artistic endeavors, one cannot put a price on perfection. KEEP ON READING

Exploring Frederic Malle Samples (Part 3 – Feminines)

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We now come to the third and final installment of my explorations of Editions de Perfums Frederic Malle, focusing today on a selection of the brand’s feminines. As before, I attempted to provide balanced commentary on each of these fragrances, and have tested each of them a few times on both my skin and a woman’s skin. Enjoy:

Carnal Flower (Dominique Ropion):

How it smells: Carnal Flower is a celebration of the exotic tuberose. Instead of presenting a one-dimensional, synthetic snapshot of the flower’s aroma, Dominique Ropion has captured the overall feel of the tuberose and its environment. The fragrance feels damp, like the humid air of a greenhouse. All of the facets of tuberose are captured well, including its camphorous, sweet, and animalic nuances. Not only is this a magnificent fragrance, but it also performs very well, lasting many hours on the skin with excellent sillage. KEEP ON READING

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