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L’Artisan Parfumeur

Castaña by Cloon Keen Atelier

in Reviews by

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

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

The Smell of Learning: Byredo Bibliothèque & Other Stories

in Lists/Thoughts by

 

Like most people, I love the smell of books. But my search for that book smell in perfume form has proved a problematic and often frustrating one.

Part of the challenge has been figuring out what it is that I want, exactly. Do I want to smell literally like a book? No, as it turns out, I don’t. Perfumes that smell literally like paper or ink are too on-the-nose for me. The best perfumes are those that bring you only 50% of the way, like those mood rings that require body heat for activation. A perfume that does all the heavy lifting for my imagination is no fun at all. KEEP ON READING

My heart went Dzing!

in Reviews by

You may think it’s strange that a sane woman in her 50s has a schoolgirl fondness for enormous horses, but bear with me. The handsome fellow in the photo is Gilbert, half Shire, half racehorse, all character. He is 16 hands high, which is too tall for me to be able to see over his saddle and I’m no munchkin; he weighs a majestic 800kgs – that’s 3/4 of a UK Ton – and he has a white curly moustache like some delightful ex-military man. He knows which pocket I keep the Polo mints in and cheerfully nudges it with his nose to remind me that handsome chaps deserve sweeties after a ride. He’s a hoot. He’s even adorable when you see him taking part in Pony Club alongside teeny little Shetland ponies, picking up his soup-plate-sized feet very carefully to make sure he doesn’t step on anyone. KEEP ON READING

Relationships teach us a lot

in Reviews by

Both the relationships between fragrances and those with friends can teach us a lot, as I found out this last week. I mentioned before the joys of having like-minded perfumisters and perfumsistas to chat to about this obsession with Obsession and craving for Chaos. This month one of mine tipped me off to a delicacy I simply had to try: Mauboussin de Mauboussin.

I made a small financial investment (very small – this is not expensive) and the three-sided pyramidal bottle is now on my dresser. My friend Pia from Olfiction  had been the catalyst for this, as she felt there was a similarity between Mauboussin and Femme de Rochas, a classic plum and leather chypre. I have a great fondness for chypres, and leather ones in particular, treasuring my tiny bottle of vintage Femme extrait. Even though the top notes of my bottle are starting to ‘turn’ to the burnt, hairspray-like sharpness of damage, the heart and base are still beautiful and I have vowed to wear this rapidly-fading beauty as much as possible while it still glows like a plum-coloured lantern. KEEP ON READING

The problem of mugginess

in Reviews by

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

Feeling hot, hot, hot

in Reviews by

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

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

Tea Fragrances for Men and Women

in Thoughts by

I love tea. Whether it is the artisanal blends, supermarket tea bags, or fancy Mariage-Frères sachets, I adore the delicate fragrances of tea and teahouses. Unfortunately, though lots of perfumes in the niche market are considered “tea” fragrances, only a few actually smell like tea or evoke any sort of associations with the drink. Here are my picks for the best of the tea (and tea-like) fragrances that can be worn by both men and women:

Tea fragrances:

By Kilian Imperial Tea: This is the most authentic of the tea fragrances. To me this smells like a high quality Chinese jasmine tea. It wears well, is extremely refreshing, and unisex when worn on the skin. Imperial? Not quite. But it’s certainly Tea. KEEP ON READING

The Different Company I miss Violet: sappy rapture

in Reviews by

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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

Iris Quest: Denouement

in Reviews by

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

Roses Volume V

in Reviews by

Wow, are we at Volume V already? I ain’t finished yet, ladies and gents. I might, however, be getting, if not exactly sick of rose, then a wee bit short-tempered with it. Before this frantic round of testing all the rose samples in my stash (see Volumes I, II, III, and IV), I had been inclined to go easy on rose fragrances when reviewing them, because rose is one of my favorite notes. But now, rose fragrances have to go above and beyond to impress me. Welcome to the tougher, meaner old hag that is now me. You roses have broken me. KEEP ON READING

Three Great Non-Rose-y Oud Fragrances

in Reviews by

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

Aeon001 – groovy bottle but what has Liechtenstein done for me lately?

in Reviews by

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There are so many new niche operation springing up around the stinkosphere these past few years, I’ve basically given up keeping track or even caring anymore. The law of diminishing returns applied to trends means that as the hype grows, the products that result from it is usually pretty crap. This is particularly true in the niche, or rather Nu-Niche™ perfumery hyper hype going around. So when I heard about aeon001  –  apparently from Liechtenstein of all places  –  I didn’t take note until a friend  “Nunzio”  showed a photo of the bottle that left him flabbergasted (and Nunzio is not easily flabbergasted! In fact in spite of his impeccable frag cachet, he’s been quite blasé lately….) He maintains that “There are two [most important] things for a fragrance: it has to smell good and it has to look good. Period.” Hmmm….although I keep most of my frag stash in drawers and rarely look at them, on this occasion the flashy,  singular look of the vessel had my curiosity piqued. And, according to Nunzio’s math, we were already halfway there. Result? A rather expensive blindbuy on which to blow some of my xmas salary bonus. KEEP ON READING

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