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Histoires des Parfums

Voyage Extraordinaire

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Gérald Ghislain’s Histoires de Parfums—self-described as an olfactive library telling stories about famous characters, raw materials and mythical years—has sought inspiration from a fascinating array of disparate literary personages ranging from Casanova and the Marquis de Sade to George Sand and Ernest Hemmingway.   Squarely in the middle of this is my favorite offering from this range, 1828, which celebrates the year that Jules Verne, French novelist, playwright, poet and father of science fiction, was born.  Verne lived through a fascinating time in French history, his life spanning the Restoration, July Monarchy, Second Republic, Second Empire, Third Republic, the Commune and into the Belle Epoch.  His best known writings—the Voyages Extraordinaires—were penned during the Second Empire, that period of High Victorian colonialism and—in America, civil war. KEEP ON READING

Iris Quest: Denouement

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For the fourth and final installment of in my Iris Quest (see Parts I, II, and III here), I’m focusing on all the iris fragrances that I (a) either forgot to include the first time round, (b) features iris not as the main player but as one important element in a larger whole – iris as part of an incense, woody, or oriental composition, and/or (c) features iris in the role of cosmetic or lipstick-style scents.

Let’s begin with an absolute heart-breaker….the amazing and utterly unaffordable Irisss by Xerjoff. KEEP ON READING

1740 Marquis de Sade by Histoires de Parfums: The Gentleman Animal

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FragranceDaily’s own Claire Vukcevic and Ana Maria Andreiu have written eloquently about 1740 Marquis de Sade by Histoires de Parfums. Today I offer my own perspective:

Marquis de Sade is an interesting muse for this fragrance. In true French style, Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade, was a writer that mixed philosophy with pornography. A particularly shady and licentious fellow, he was tossed in prison and spent time in an insane asylum for exploring the eyebrow-raising themes of 50 Shades of Grey (and worse) far before its time. The themes of his writings are far too explicit to discuss in detail here, but let’s just say that there is a reason why the modern term “sadism” is derived from his name. KEEP ON READING

Roses Volume I

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Guys, I’ve made a sort of New Year’s promise to myself (not resolution – because I always break my resolutions): this is the year when I am going to plow through that large stack of samples I have lying around the house. The rose perfume stack is especially high, so I’m going to write a series of Rose Volumes until all the samples are gone and I have a better idea of which ones make my top ten wish list, and which do not.

Lipstick Rose by Frederic Malle

Human
Lipstick Girls

A beautiful swirl of jammy violet ionones, rose, and iris whipped up into the classic scent of a high-end waxy lipstick – what’s not to like? It aims for a lighthearted cheerfulness and stays there, not changing or progressing much in its lifetime on the skin, save for a brief flash of sharp, soapy grapefruit that (mercifully) drops back once the topnotes have dissipated. KEEP ON READING

Exploring Frederic Malle Samples (Part 2 – Unisex)

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In my previous post, we explored some of the masculine offerings from the wonderful house of Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. Today we will be exploring a few of the house’s most interesting unisex fragrances. I have sampled each of these extensively and will attempt to provide balanced commentary. These are my impressions:

Cologne Indelebile (Dominique Ropion):

How it smells: Cologne Indelebile is an eau de cologne that actually lasts. Instead of the traditionally fleeting and citrus heavy spritzers that define the genre, Ropion’s creation pairs an intensely floral orange blossom (cut with narcissus) with a blend of musks. Here the musks have significantly more depth than the somewhat flat white musks used in other colognes – it feels like a combination of laundry-clean white musks, something steamy and ozonic (think of the steam note in Penhaligon’s Sartorial), and the tiniest drop of a musk with mild animalic facets. Bright (but fleeting) citrus top cut with mint and a dash of narcissus, floral mid, and musky base. KEEP ON READING

Testing captivating scents from Slumberhouse, Histoires de Parfums, Robert Piguet and Making of Cannes

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I begin here a series of posts that will consist of mini-reviews for some of the most interesting scents I have recently discovered and enjoyed the most. Some are new, some are well known and through my reviews I hope to get some of you consider testing them out.

Slumberhouse Kiste (2015) – A gourmand with a twist

This is the first scent from Slumberhouse that I tried and it immediately sparked my interest to explore the rest of the line. Fans of Arabie should give this one a try. Astonishing rich and potent (no wonder as this little 30 ml potion comes as an extrait) Kiste captures the smell of all sorts of exotic fruits left in the sun to dry. They become sugary and denser over time receiving some balsamic aspects. After a while a tone of tobacco comes at the surface along with a blush of earthy patchouli giving the scent a darker edge. Even if it touches the limit of sweetness, Kiste as experimental as it is and having nothing artificial manages to be easy to wear, so it will have its followers for sure. It could be an interesting choice for cooler days in autumn.
Official notes: tobacco, peach, scotch heather, tonka, henna, elderberry, patchouli, honey KEEP ON READING

Immortelle Beloved: My Top Four Immortelle Fragrances

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Immortelle Tree Quinten Questel / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Etat Libre d’Orange Afternoon of a Faun: Afternoon of a Faun muscles its way into the green chypre category with an overall vibe halfway between a drenched forest and a bowl full of crushed iris roots. It’s described as an aromatic, spicy scent on Fragrantica, but actually, it comes off as a scorched-earth chypre. It shouldn’t work. But the contrast of wet, bitter green iris and the dry woods is all kinds of addictive.

I love the way it takes me on a ride every time I put it on. It reminds me somewhat of a vintage No. 19 pure parfum I had from the 1950’s which had turned badly – it shares something of that singed woods and burned coffee smell the parfum had. But in contrast, Afternoon of a Faun smells really good to me. KEEP ON READING

A tale of two roses: Histoires de Parfums 1876 Mata Hari and Noir Patchouli

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Lazy Saturday evening, warm bed, Internet connection leading inevitably to perusing Facebook perfume groups. I’m certain that are many more useful or pleasurable ways of spending an evening, especially a Saturday one, but that evening was joyful because I became reacquainted to a couple of really lovely perfume samples I hadn’t used in a very, very long time. It was thanks to a thread started in one of the said groups in which somebody was looking for advice regarding the blind purchase of an Histoires de Parfums fragrance. For people that might get confused by the term, in the perfume junkies’ world,  blind buying means buying a scent without having tested it beforehand, just based on the list of notes, reviews, and advice from other perfume junkies that know what your taste is. It’s a risky endeavor in which I’ve indulged a few times myself, usually with good results. I still don’t recommend it when it comes to very expensive perfumes. In the case of “too good to pass” deals it might be worth it. I confess I do take pleasure in the surge of adrenaline and the sense of surprise that comes with blind buying, but even so in the last couple of years I’ve drastically reduced this habit because it leads to having too many perfumes that you simply like not love. KEEP ON READING

My Favorite Fruity Florals

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Maybe it’s old age creeping up on me, but I’m beginning to appreciate fruit-heavy fragrances in a way I have never done before. Key to unlocking a whole category that you’ve previously dismissed is, of course, finding one example of its form that steals your heart before you even know what’s happening – for me, that fragrance was Robert Piguet’s Visa. I ordered a sample of it as something as an afterthought (I was exploring the house of Piguet and didn’t want to leave one off the list), and let is sit in my sample box for over a year before finally trying it out in a fit of boredom one night. KEEP ON READING

Black, Blue, Brown, Red and White: The United Colors of Montale

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There are 104 Montale fragrances registered in the Fragrantica database, all of which were released in the last eight years. It is impossible to keep up, so I am just going to give a brief rundown of some of the most popular ones (well, the only ones I’ve tried outside of Aoud Cuir d’Arabie, that is, but I  refuse to talk about that one).

Blue Amber: Ambers, and especially vanillic ambers, are the comfort blankets of the perfume world for me, so I have to constantly be on guard against my Pavlovian response to them (basically, sit, roll over, and present tummy for rubbing), otherwise I’d end up with ten bottles of minute variations on the same theme. My response to Blue Amber’s big, dopey play-dough amber is initially the predictable one – I want to roll around in it. Done in the Montale style – rich, slightly synthetic, and none too subtle – it has the potential to be someone’s baby bear porridge of the amber category. Weight-wise, it sits between the sheer woody-rose amber of Histories de Parfums’ Ambre 114 and the heavier, more aromatic Ambre Precieux by MPG. Blue Amber is nicely balanced – its toffee and whiskey opening is cut with a huge dose of that icy bergamot oil Montale uses in their aoud compositions, and a big saltmarsh vetiver note in the base adds a pleasing shot of brine. Salt and lemon are very effective palate cleansers. Still, my wallet is safe. It is very nice but, in the end, nothing exceptional. Ambre 114 satisfies me on the sheer amber side, and Ambre Russe is my heavy hitter for winter. Having established – after much trial and error – my North and my South of the amber territory, I am finding it easier to dismiss contenders that fall in the middle. KEEP ON READING

Histoires de Parfums 1740 Marquis de Sade

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I’m a sex specialist. Sex in perfume I mean. I sniff it from a mile away. That erotic undercurrent that quickens my pulse and widens my eyes’pupils ever so slightly. I can tell you there’s not much of it in Histoires de Parfums 1740 Marquis de Sade, which for the sake of my sanity (I don’t like typing)  I’ll just call 1740 from now on.
Incredible comfort is what you find inside this unassuming perfume bottle, its design reassuringly suggesting the spine of a book. Sometimes I’m tempted to add more Histoires de Parfums bottles to my collection just for the pleasure of seeing them all lovingly aligned, with their promises of scented stories. KEEP ON READING

Kalemat: Damn Fine Coffee

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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

MAAI by Bogue: Bridge between the Past and the Future

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MAAI

There is a road that stretches exactly 674 kilometers from Rimini on the North-East coast of Italy up through the Alps to Zurich, in Switzerland. This journey, were you to make it by car, would take you seven hours to complete, and by the end of it, you would have taken in most of the independent and artistic perfume making that still exists in Europe today. We are talking here about small, mostly self-taught perfumers who, instead of designing according to briefs set by the big fragrance conglomerates, create perfumes that take big, bold leaps into the dark and are limited only by the outer boundaries of their imaginations. KEEP ON READING

Ambra Mediterranea by Profumi del Forte: Amber with a Five O’ Clock Shadow

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natural-amber-textute-3-1023017-m

Profumi del Forte’s Versilia Vintage Ambra Mediterranea is a woody, smoky, and resinous amber that I see as the John Wayne of ambers – uncompromisingly masculine, rough around the corners, and utterly compelling. Nothing soft or vanillic here. You won’t find people on Fragrantica or Basenotes describing it as the perfect ‘cashmere sweater’ scent. No, this is an amber with dangly bits between its legs and a five o’clock shadow.

Amusingly, the presentation of this fragrance is at complete odds with the character of the scent itself. The bottle is a slim, white classical-looking thing with what looks to be the paw prints of a pussycat all over it. It’s just straight up fricking adorable. The press babble – ‘gentle luminous notes remind us of the Mediterranean breezes’, and so on – is more than a little misleading. If you ask me, the people at Profumi del Forte have missed a prime marketing opportunity here. If they’d put it in a matt, black bottle with horns on it and wrapped it in leather, I bet you anything it would have been catnip to all those overgrown schoolboys on YouTube looking for ‘panty-droppers’ and ‘beast mode projection’. As it is, this fragrance only seems to attract attention among hardcore amber fans. That’s a pity, because this is a truly great fragrance, and would make a superb masculine. KEEP ON READING

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