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Papillon Perfumery

Chypre but not tart

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Today Liz Moores of Papillon Perfumes released her latest creation, Dryad. She says that she’s been working on the formula for several years, including the when she shoved it in a drawer in frustration and left it there for a year or five.

I’ve known this green chypre was coming for about a year, as I follow Liz on Facebook and Instagram. Given my love for this genre and her other fragrances, particularly the voluptuous oriental Salome, I leapt at the chance to try it.

I am an unapologetic fan of what I call ‘proper’ chypres – ones that rely on oakmoss not patchouli married with bergamot to give them a brisk smack to start and a warm, skin-melding base. While fruits such as peaches (Mitsouko) or plums (Femme de Rochas) give a stained-glass warmth to some classic chypres, my preference is for the green or leathery variety. But these ladies are not what they once were; Cabochard with her purse-lipped leather smack is grumpier and more of a caricature now, my precious Miss Balmain with her ‘good leather handbag for church’ aura has been discontinued, and my Miss Dior (l’Originale) is now a shadow of her former eyebrow-arching, pearl-clutching self. While I can still enjoy my vintage bottles, before they give up the ghost and go off, there have been no genuine mossy green chypres to replace them. Until now. KEEP ON READING

My fragrance of 2016 – Salome

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I have often been heard lamenting the demise of many great old perfumes due to IFRA regulations on the ingredients perfumers can now use. My beloved Miss Balmain is no longer produced, so I guard my stash of vintage eau de parfum like Gollum with his precioussss. For a while, I turned my back on modern releases, believing that nobody could match my vintage beauties for sophistication and polish.

I’m hip to modern ideas about a banging vetiver or an overdosed ISO-E Super frag; and I can and do enjoy wearing startling new scents that conjure environments or occasions. I will happily wear an oudh that takes me straight to a soukh where hard-tanned leather is sold, or a fragrance such as Dzing! that somehow puts me straight into a horse’s stable. But truthfully, I like the mystery of composed, complicated perfumes like those of yesteryear. I like not knowing what makes Madame Rochas smell so off-kilter and interesting (strange aldehydes that add a ‘just snuffed candle’ note, according to Luca Turin), or which flowers are in my beloved Miss Balmain (carnations apparently, which explains a lot). For me, a great deal of the perfumer’s art is in creating something unknowable but beautiful that creates an emotion in me, melds with my memories and becomes part of my skin. KEEP ON READING

Smoke, Woods, & Resins: Top 15 for Fall/Winter

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2016 has been a bad year for celebrity deaths and an even worse one for celebrity presidential elections, so I’ve found myself craving and wearing mostly woody, resinous perfumes that perform like one long howling basenote, working my tired neck muscles like a Russian massage therapist. This year, no roses, no leathers, and no ambers – just a long line of calming, resinous woods that make me feel like I’ve slipped into the Nirvana of a silent forest, isolated from all the problems of the world around me. KEEP ON READING

My ten autumn perfect perfumes

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I’ve always loved autumn, even as a child. Of course, a child loves most things anyway, but even if the arrival of autumn meant the end of summer holiday’s freedom and the beginning of a new school term, I still loved autumn. The colours drove me wild with excitement. I used to spend hours collecting the most beautiful fallen leaves for the collage projects we always had going in the art class during autumn months. I loved the smells too, the smoke of burnt dead leaves, the damp scent of foggy mornings, the tangy sweet aroma of soft fruit fermenting on the ground, the huge yellow and white chrysanthemums from my grandma’s garden, and that dark, mossy forest smell of autumn soil slowly warming up in the gentle, pallid glow of October sun. KEEP ON READING

Puredistance M-to Roja or not to Roja?

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Aahh, Roja Dove! Cannot help a smile when  I think of this perfumer. God forbid, not because his work is silly, far from it and in fact quite the opposite, but because we share a love of sequins, colorful silks and more than anything, an enthusiastic appreciation of the oriental and chypre fragrance genres.
And what is Puredistance M, if not a leather oriental almost on the verge of transforming itself in a leather chypre. But almost is the key word as the mossy character of any chypre worth its salt is barely present on my skin. That  doesn’t mean M is less impressive because of it, but it’s certainly less aggressive. M is just as much of a chypre as Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin is, which means it’s an incredibly smooth one and very oriental in nature.
Roja Dove, who composed Puredistance M, prior to launching his own independent career as a perfumer and luxury products PR specialist, had been steeped for 20 years in the finest Guerlain tradition and heritage, and I believe it shows. From what I’ve smelled his perfumes are deliciously old school: multilayered and opulent, formulated with good quality raw materials.
M is no exception: it is multilayered, opulent and formulated with good quality raw materials. It is also a very balanced kind of leather: not too soft, not too harsh, not excessively smoky, or sweet or dry. It is just right, in perfect equilibrium of nuances. And it’s beautiful and a pleasure to wear from the first moment until the very last, many hours later. It unfolds slowly, it’s like it knows it’s gorgeous and it takes its own time,bencasing the skin in stupidly perfect after perfect layer.
It has a way of making you feel better dressed or undressed (depending on circumstances), more sophisticated and with a bigger bank account. Alas,it’s only olfactory illusion, at least in my case.
M is not only a leather fragrance, depending on the approaching angle it could also be a spicy floral, a woody incense and a vanillic amber, but somehow they all combine to give the impression of supple, thick, luxurious hide, the impeccable type that Hermès use in their lusted over leather goods.
Puredistance don’t release an official list of notes with their fragrances. My nose and I enjoy a challenge and I think I can identify some of the things M is made of: bergamot first of all, with its softly floral citric undertones, jasmine for sure voluptuous, sweet and slightly indolic, rose maybe, not sure about this one, definitely spices possibly cinnamon or cloves or both, anyway spices with a sweet facet, certainly vanilla, 100% certain about labdanum, patchouli, leather, and some animalic, musky notes plus a whiff of incense smoke. There’s a kind of slightly acrid, green bitterness, very faint, it could be the mossy layer that perhaps would justify the inclusion of M in the chypre category. One fragrance that it reminds me strongly of is Papillon Perfumery Anubis, but M is more suave and refined, a bit more complex and better blended, not necessarily more lovable though. Anubis is rougher, smokier, more indolic floral, more animalic, and with saffron instead of cinnamon and M is softer, sweetly spiced and woodier. It has fantastic longevity and good projection, one or two spray are usually enough for a full day’s wear.
M is suited, buttoned up, not a hair out of place, shiny shoes, perfect trouser crease, all together impeccable. There’s a hint of sex in the only fetish element of his attire: the honey colored pilot leather gloves. This man reeks of money, success, good taste and high quality fashion, and yet I feel there’s a little something missing. Not in terms of image, that is flawless and beyond improvement, but maybe in terms of spirit. It would be unfair to judge M outside of  the Puredistance line up, which is one of extreme refinement and elegance, and yes of distance. I cannot imagine losing my head over any of their fragrances, because those perfumes reject the very notion of it. They’re all about poise, composure, a kind of luxurious restraint, not really in sink with my personality. Basically I was unable to connect emotionally to this perfume, in spite of its remarkable shape and beauty. I know this sounds stupid, because for most people perfume is only another fashion accessory. Well, not in my case.
I do own perfumes that I consider to be perhaps on the same level of sumptuousness as Puredistance M, namely Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin and Amouage Fate(woman) and just to make things clear I’ve bought the last one with a fantastic 50% discount, but I consider Chypre Palatin friendlier and Fate deliciously over the top, and as such both a lot more likable.
I also cannot give an answer to the question contained in the post title: to Roja or not to Roja? In some ways yes ,because he does a bloody fantastic job in showing us how perfumes were and can still be made, but on the other hand, no because of the, frankly, ludicrous pricing. After all, I’m convinced good perfumery can be produced at a reasonable cost, and anything beyond a certain point becomes a bit cynical.
Mr.Roja Dove is a legendary nose, but in my view he has yet to make a legendary perfume. Partly because he financially excluded a large chunk of the possible audience and partly because he’s not a revolutionary. He’s the loving custodian of a very polished, elegant, refined, classical French way of making perfume and I don’t think that is the realm of future perfume legends, and I believe this even if I’m a traditionalist and classicist at heart. His world is too rarefied, snob and luxury orientated. It is also true that perhaps to create perfume legends is not possible anymore.The niche perfumes have too little exposure and are a lot of times too expensive and the mainstream ones are too numerous and more often then not, too little thought and time goes into their creation. There’s also the issue of audiences, which have been fed so many mediocre perfumes in the last decade or two, that now they simply don’t know any better.
Only time will tell if we’ll witness the birth of another Shalimar or Chanel no.5. KEEP ON READING

Papillon Perfumery Anubis – smoking hot

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I confess I had certain expectations for Anubis. It’s never a good way to approach a perfume or anything else for that matter. You have to be prepared for the unexpected or at least take it into account. Such is life, such is perfume. I have to confess something else too: my expectations were not met. Anubis proved to be different from the image I had in my mind. My third confession: I absolutely love it!

Yes, Anubis is a smoky leather with spicy, resinous, floral and ambered elements. I was expecting that. And I was also expecting something incredibly powerful, aggressive and very masculine, the smoke and leather to rule them all. But Anubis is a lot softer and more rounded and probably all the better for it. It has that textural feeling of something a bit oily, but also powdery, creamy and silky, like rubbing pollen between fingers. Texture is very important in a perfume for me. It has to entice  me, to want it on my skin, to slip into it like I would in a beautiful dress. KEEP ON READING

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