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James Heeley

Bruno Fazzolari’s – Feu Secret: the floral blanket

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Somehow along this journey I’ve acquired a comfort scent and it’s none other than iris in its many fragrant forms. I was first introduced to iris on the designer side with Dior Homme and Dior Homme Intense. Immediately, I was drawn to these “lipstick-powdery-makeup bag” smelling offerings, that most manly-man wouldn’t be caught dead in. Iris has always impressed me, because it’s soft, delicate, and one of those “your skin, but better” aromas. Having never been scared to smell like a makeup bag, Dior Homme Intense and I paired quite well, I’m comfortable in my own skin and DHI just made it smell that much better. So, early in my fragrance journey iris has always been that one note I’ve sought after the most, hardly ever is it done up to my standards. Queue my Holy Trinity; Iris de Nuit, Silver Iris Mist, and Xerjoff’s Irisss, I figured it couldn’t get much better than those three. KEEP ON READING

Behold…..the SEA!

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Nature & Scenery

If there is one example of the musical arts that to me encapsulates the full majesty of the sea, in all its splendor and glory, it can be found in the opening bars of Ralf Vaughn Williams’ first symphony – his ‘Sea Symphony’ (you can hear those initial magnificent bars asking us to ‘Behold – the Sea’ at But what about the olfactory arts that we have come to love and admire – how do perfumers fare in their quest to evoke the sea, in all its variations and magnificence? Let’s take a walk down to the beach (or harbor) and see what fragrances are available to envelop us in the oceanic world and assess how they perform in terms of their ability to replicate our seaside perceptions. KEEP ON READING

Iris for a (Red) Wedding

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I’m just kidding about the Red Wedding bit. If you’re currently preparing for a wedding (yours or someone else’s), then of course we hope it turns out much better than it did in The Game of Thrones. Still, it never hurts to come prepared. A good iris perfume, if chosen wisely, can be just the steel dagger in your pants that you need.

Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle

Despite the name, Iris Poudre is neither very powdery nor very iris-heavy. Boy, it’s beautiful, though. Wearing it feels like a celebration. It envelops the wearer in a white, balmy, creamy cloud of aldehydes and sweet flower petals, with subtle hints of a cool, floral iris glinting like pearls threaded into layers of white tulle. When I wear it, I feel like I’m ten again, digging through my mother’s clothes and playing dress-up with her costume jewelry. KEEP ON READING

James Heeley Chypre 21

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The term “chypre” seems to be a rather fluid one these days. Technically, in order to be classified as a chypre, a fragrance should contain bergamot, labdanum, and oakmoss. But you can drive yourself crazy trying to sort perfumes into chypre and non-chypre categories, checking off notes lists, and so on.

In general, the nose can recognize a chypre right away, because of its immediately recognizable Yin and Yang of sweet and bitter. In its entirety, a chypre should smell the way a perfectly balanced Chinese meal tastes, with the bitterness and saltiness of oakmoss contrasting the brightness of the citrus, and the ambery base softening and sweetening the final “taste”. KEEP ON READING

Three Great Non-Rose-y Oud Fragrances

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Is anyone here just a teeny tiny bit tired of the rose-oud combination? Don’t get me wrong – there are days when I still crave that wonderful combination of smoky, sour oud and sweet rose. But increasingly, I am turning to oud fragrances that either do away with the rose part of the equation, or bury the oud in dark woods and crisp leather so that it becomes more of a bit player than the main attraction.

The key words here are subtlety and novelty. Can oud be presented in a manner that surprises and pleases even the most jaded of palates? Here are my thoughts on a few fragrances I’ve been testing recently that place the oud note in a new light. KEEP ON READING

Masque Fragranze Romanza: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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The latest fragrance from Masque Fragranze, Romanza, is neither easy to describe nor to wear. That doesn’t mean it’s not utterly brilliant, because it is. It features narcissus, but instead of wrapping it in sunshiney beeswax (Ostara) or sweetening it with rose (Lumiere Noire Pour Femme), Romanza plays up all its ugly, bitter facets, resulting in a fragrance that is a real punch in the gut. Do you want to be challenged, confronted, and swept off your feet? Well, Romanza may be just the ticket. KEEP ON READING

PHOENICIA by HEELEY…an Incense for all the ages

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For their latest release Heeley Perfumes of Paris return to antiquity relishing the days of the great Phoenician civilization who existed along the mediterranean coastal areas of Syria, Lebanon and Northern Israel. Although it is a tributary fragrance to an civilization that existed thousands of years ago, today it is an once in a lifetime classic incense masterpiece in that attempts to capture what the Phoenicians were known exclusively for in those days: Seafaring and Trade.

As seafarers, the Phoenicians were expert sailors and craftsman that built some of the best custom-made ships so it is makes sense that Heeley would choose such an interesting cast of wood notes which is that of Agarwood-Oudh, Sandlewood, Birchwood and Javan Vetiver. 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

Balsamo della Mecca: A Pilgrim’s Rest

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Does the intent of the perfumer when making a perfume matter to us? If so, do we subconsciously allow it to color the way we experience the perfume? These are questions I ask myself whenever I put on Balsamo della Mecca, by La Via del Profumo.

The intent here of the perfumer was clearly to imply devotional pilgrimage. The very name of the perfume (Mecca Balsam) suggests that this is an ancient salve to weary pilgrims on a religious mission. Somewhere, I read that Dominique Dubrana, or Abdes Salaam Attar as he is better known, wanted Balsamo della Mecca to capture the scent roiling in the wake of the hundreds of thousands of dusty pilgrims circling the sacred Ka’aba on their hajj in Mecca, chief among them the smell of frankincense, labdanum resin, and tobacco. KEEP ON READING

Cuir d’Ange: The Skin of Angels

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All exclusive lines need a good leather on which to hang their hat. The Chanel Les Esclusifs have their famous Cuir de Russie, the Dior Privee their Cuir Cannage, and now Hermessence by Hermes have theirs: Cuir d’Ange. Cuir d’Ange, meaning Angel Skin, is the tenth, and probably Jean-Claude Ellena’s last contribution to the exclusive Hermessence line by Hermes.

And, wow, it’s a good one.

It’s a delicate, translucent leather consisting of a series of cool grey and blue notes – violet, hawthorn, heliotrope, maybe some unlisted iris – all daubed on as if in a watercolor. There is something cool and hollowed-out about the leather, as if a note of air or water has been floated up through the scent. It feels somehow anisic or salty. I would even go so far as to say vegetal or savory, rather than sweet. This could be the violet, although it smells like no other violet I’ve ever smelled before. Personally, I think violet has a tendency to ride roughshod over every other note in a composition, and therefore, to see such a denatured, subtle, almost salted version of the note here is both a surprise and a pleasure. KEEP ON READING

Sideris by Maria Gentile Candida: Fairy Dust

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It’s impossible to talk about Maria Candida Gentile’s Sideris without a smile. If Tinkerbell and the Archangel Gabriel got together to make a perfume, Sideris is what they would come up with.

Two things are important to mention here – radiance and scale. In terms of radiance, Maria Candida Gentile has somehow managed to take the heaviest and stickiest substances in perfumery – French labdanum, incense, myrrh, beeswax – and infuse the whole thing with light and air. This is a perfume that radiates. It glows. In fact, what hits you first, when you spray it on, is this incredible note of powdered sugar, the result of a very hazy, diffuse mix of incense and rose. This powdered sugar note coats the entire perfume from head to toe, a sort of fairy dust sifted over the heavier resins. A gentle shake of the spice jar – pepper and ginger – add to the sprightly, nose-tingling effect. The dust is finally anchored and settled at the base by creamy woods. KEEP ON READING

A conversation between two women and one man about Heeley’s latest release. Bubblegum Chic.

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(From a conversation in three parts.)


Originally my plan was to write about a beautiful trio of fragrances from Frederic Malle. Geranium Pour Monsieur, French Lover, Bigarade Concentree. A Ropion, Ellena, and Bourdon. Absolutely stunning, provocative and almost ephemeral fragrances. But something else in my bag of samples came up, and I just had to write about it.

My favorite smell in the world….

Ah yes.

The smell of a stripper.

The eponymous scent of Heeley’s Bubblegum Chic; sweet, jasmine, pink, candy trash. KEEP ON READING

The Perfect Aquatic?

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This is an aquatic of truly natural nature. Something that I’ve spent a great deal of time searching for, an accurate depiction of walking the shorelines of the sea.

Last month I walked several hundred miles up the Oregon coast. My nose bombarded everyday by many smells.

The salt in the air.

The dirty smell of brine and hot sands.

The sweet coldness of the sea.

The moss growing sympatically with the old trees that cover the coast as you move inland off of the sand.

Beautiful scents, beautiful memories in time, the perfect notes came together while I walking. KEEP ON READING

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