From L’Attesa to Zaffran- mini reviews PK perfumes, FM parfums, Opus Oils, Masque and Slumberhouse

 

I have a bit of a thing for saffron, in food, in perfume, to look at… It’s quite magical, so I’m always exited to see if perfumers can give this a twist, or make it stand out in a particularly beautiful way.

Zaffran was sent to me by the kind Paul Kiler of PK perfumes. It’s a strong saffron opening which is both leathery and astringent thanks to vivid orange-citrus notes, before slowly mellowing into a mélange of discreet warm spices and taking on the skin like quality of costus. Definitely does what it says on the box, and does it with aplomb.

Pouvoir Mystique by Fabio Luisi (FM Parfums) has almost the exact opposite development of the Paul Kiler’s Zaffran. It’s a skin and fur-like opening, which at first gives a gauzy impression which surprisingly develops into a smooth leather. The saffron here is wafting softly above the composition throughout, lending a little bite to the caressible opening and an edge to the leather of the dry down. It’s a fragrance which would lend itself to lavish spraying as a snug undercoat, the way I sometimes use EdC, with perhaps another perfume dabbed at the wrists.

Ode de Vampyre by Opus Oils, isn’t a soli-saffron. Although quite a perfumey-perfume it’s a bit of an enigma as it seems to shift a lot on me. While reminding me of other perfumes, especially certain 1980s creations, it isn’t easy to pin down. (Mostly) It opens slightly mossy on a beautiful fruity-rose note accompanied by saffron giving off a ray of sunshine. The milky sweet sandalwood blends beautifully with buttery iris. I like this perfume oil a lot, and would be very curious to try the EdP version. There’s no vampirism about this one, that’s unless you bathe in it, and you imagine vampires the equivalent to being locked in a confined space with ladies having massively over applied their 1980s perfumes. And BTW the notes of cedar wood, saffron, dark Rose, orris root, sandalwood, black agar, vetiver, honey and temple incense, make it sound a lot darker than it is, with neither oud, incense or honey being very dominant just adding to the overall oriental plushness.

Still talking of perfume notes I love, but moving from indie to niche, how excited was I to read of the new perfume L’Attesa from Italian House Masque Milano iris and champagne!

The opening is all iris, a rooty orris, leathery in feel. It’s modern sensual, creamy perhaps but not powdery. I do understand the talk of the yeasty part of champagne being what is tried to achieve here, and perhaps I get a whiff of it, though sniffing at an open bottle of Cremant (opened solely for purpose of writing this naturellement), I must say that L’Attesa never really smells like this, nor has it got the bubbly feel of my two go-to champagne fragrances; Arpège and Vega. (I realise talking of iconic fragrances is setting the bar high.). I was quite surprised when in the middle of the development of L’Attesa I was suddenly reminded of the sorrowful chrysanthemum in the outstanding Lutens’ De Profundis. If you’re looking for a leathery iris which still has a floral quality, this one is worth a try.image

Another Champagne perfume I was keen to try was Sådanne by Slumberhouse (how cool to finally have a perfume name for which my Danish keyboard has the letter, without needing to symbol-insert). The name doesn’t mean much by the way. Sådan means ‘such as’, ‘which are of a kind’ or ‘(t)here you are’, sådanne would be dialect of sorts and doesn’t exist as a correct word. It opens on a great big authentic strawberry syrup note. I’ve seen it compared to Victoria’s Secret Strawberry and Champagne, which I happened to come across in the Super Market the other day, and I don’t see the similarity. Sådanne has a beautiful sweet and dense strawberry note whereas S&C is like tinnitus for the nose. comparing them is like comparing silk and polyester. Anyway, in Sådanne I do get a tiny bit of a yeasty undertone from sparkling wine. After the strawberry has faded away, although animalic ambergris is mentioned, the sensation I get is that of soft moss, cedar and musk, no beasts to be scared of here (says the vintage-lover 😉 ). It’s a bit of fun, but not quite enough Champagne for my taste.

 

Pics my collages, in the main one, you might be able to see an amazing necklace by my friend of Trine’s Treasures

 

Anubis the Embalmer – Guerlain Vintage Djedi (1926)

In 1926 the perhaps most unusual Guerlain perfume ever saw the light of day. Inspired by the discovery of Tutankhamun’s Tomb in 1922, and the Egyptomania which followed in its wake, Jacques Guerlain created this broody, dry perfume, named after an age-old Egyptian magician who was able to ‘resurrect the decapitated’.

Curious as most perfume-nerds, a sample of Djedi in the reissued 1996 version has been in my collection for a very long time. It was a disappointment to me, having more in common with ‘Vetiver pour Elle’ than Pharaohs or any exoticism or glorious descriptions I read around the net.  Nothing dark or that unusual even, just rose and vetiver and gone in an hour or so… DISAPPOINTMENT! But hey, one less perfume unicorn to worry about, thought I.

When Guerlain enthusiast, collector and connoisseur ‘Bragmayer’ offered to send me some of the ‘REAL’ Djedi (from a 1936 bottle), I was at first only mildly interested (Mea Culpa). It wasn’t until he told me the most incredible story of a main ingredient of Djedi that I was all ears. Could Djedi be all it was hyped up to be after all?

What I’m about to write I haven’t tried to verify from any other sources, but since the story is simply to good not to share, I will recount it here and leave it the rest up to you…

From the middle ages up until early 20th century Mumia, powder of embalmed bodies/ mummies, had been used for medical purposes. Many stories around the net goes into this fact, only a short while ago Elena Vosnaki wrote a piece on Mumia at Fragrantica, so I won’t write further about this.wikipedia mumia

Certainly Mumia, at the time of the making of Djedi, would have been a known, if out-dated, remedy, and familiar to chemistry trained Jacques Guerlain. As a perfumer we could assume he would not have been oblivious to the scent either, which would have been that of 1000-year-old resin formulas, rather than of decayed corpses. What Bragmayer told me is, that original Djedi has some of this ‘vintage mummy’, or so-called ‘Mumia’ powder in its formula. The thought of this is as fascinating as it is macabre, and perhaps I love the thought of it even more, for not being able to ever verify it. I’m sure no Guerlain perfumer of sound mind, would ever tell us if this were actually true.

What is true, is that upon smelling real Djedi, and even with the expectations now raised sky-high, I was blown away by the first sniff. I have never smelled anything like it. I wrote in a comment recently that Djedi might be the closest thing in my mind, that perfume has ever come to art, and I stand by that. It keeps unsettling me, keeps showing new facets which are so unusual, one should think it impossible to wear Djedi as a perfume, and yet, having worn it several times in order to write this post, I find it highly wearable, at times even addictive.

Bone-dry, as Djedi is on the one hand, I also sense a green undergrowth dampness. The colour scheme has not a single primary colour, nor does it let light through its fumed layers. It is all hues of dark greens and browns in all varieties, a mud-luscious Nile-green perhaps, or dust-withered papyrus ochre?

image

The damp and dry does somewhat remind me of ancient enclosed spaces – stone, moss and smoke – of old attics and mausoleums, but it also reminiscent of fairy tale woods; Show White, Hansel & Gretel or The Little Red Riding Hood. A deep forest which is both lying-in-wait dangerous and caressingly familiar at the same time, I would almost say that Djedi works on the subconscious level similar to fairy tales.

Suitably mummy-esque and living up to the extraordinarily-aged magician’s name, Djedi last forever, and somewhere in the middle of the development I was actually reminded of vintage Habanita, with its sweet tobacco note supported by resins. The smoke could hint at ancient magic ceremonies, the resins (mummified or not) at burial rituals. But even if I sense vetiver, patchouli, clove, musk and leather, even if I could perhaps call this an animalic leather chypre, Djedi remains enigmatic and elusive. Djedi remains a mystery.

 

I wasn’t initially going to mention Verdi’s Aïda, thinking it just a bit too obvious. But the music from the closing scene has a similar eeriness to Djedi.

Radames condemned to die by being locked in a subterranean tomb sees the stone closing upon him. It turns out Aïda has locked herself in there with him, foreseeing his destiny. Singing their farewells to each other and the world, the priests above praise the God Ptah.

La fatal pietra sovra me si chiuse… (The fatal stone has closed above me)

*Anubis was the God associated with mummification

 

Quick Sniffs – Maison Incens’ Tabac Licorii, Figue Oudii, Musc Kalirii, Figue Eleii, Cuir Erindil

Today I want to talk about 5 perfumes from Maison Incens. The man behind the brand is Philippe Constantin and the perfumer Jean-Claude Gigodot.

I happened upon the brand by chance. A girl on a Fragrantica asked for liquorice perfumes with a salty feel (Scandinavian salty liquorice), and that’s where I came across Tabac Licorii. We decided to spilt a bottle, and I received samples from the rest of the line at the same time.

Tabac Licorii; Star anise, licorice, tobacco, violet, sea water and musk.

To me it smells of earthy tobacco and oak moss, sometimes there’s a bite of liquorice sometimes there isn’t. The same goes for the saltiness; like the sea breeze it comes and goes with the ebb and flow.image It’s a very rounded fragrance with a very natural feel, if somebody told me it was a 100% natural perfume, I wouldn’t have questioned it. As a liquorice fragrance, this might be a disappointment, but if you’re looking for a unique fragrance with a natural and cosy outdoorsy-feel, you ought to try it. It dries down a little warmer and perhaps muskier with a tad more liquorice, but still within a very natural feel. Perhaps the most masculine of the lot.

Interestingly the samples came without labels, so a fun sort of blind sniff at first, which luckily turned out to be easy’ish to verify due to strong compositions and the individual colours of the juice.

Figue Oudii; bergamot, orange, fig, ylang-ylang, violet, iris, leather, cedar, oud, sandalwood, amber and musk.

There are two fig perfumes in the line-up, the first one being the heaviest and perhaps more unusual of the two. It’s the unlikely combination of fig and oud, and if Tabac Licorii, was perhaps less true to its name, Figue Oudii certainly is. Fig is prominent, and it’s as if the oud is just the extension of the fig foliage. I should never have thought it but these two complement each other nicely. On the other side of the spectrum there’s creaminess from ylang-ylang, leather and sandalwood, which gives the whole composition a warm oriental feel. If you’re looking for an oriental perfume with more than a twist, give it a try.

Musc Kalirii; bergamot, orange, orange blossom, rose, jasmine, leather, vanilla and sandalwood.

Is characterised as a Woody Floral Musk, and funnily, it’s what it is, but again not your usual FWM: the flowers aren’t dainty but sort of ‘casually present’, the wood is not synthetic ‘blonde woods’ or whatever they are called now, but just a little woodiness, and the musk is neither laundry musk nor an animalic skank-fest, but just a bit of warmth underneath the composition.image

Figue Eleii; fig leaf, green notes, tuberose, iris, cedar, sandalwood and musk

At first sniff this one is much closer to the normal idea of a fig perfume; it’s fig, it’s green and those together translate into summery green freshness. However, it’s wonderfully paired with a creamy, milky tuberose and a more-buttery- than- not iris note, which gives this perfume a gorgeous opaline feel. I enjoy wearing this one a lot.

Cuir Erindil; bergamot, mandarin orange, incense, spicy notes, iris, myrrh, leather, musk, sandalwood and vanilla.

Although nowhere mentioned, I could swear the first few seconds of the opening smells of a mix of menthol and camphor. I’m reminded of tigerbalm in a leather bag, as the leather almost immediately takes hold of the scentscape. It’s proper leather, not suede, a little biting almost, but it softens fairly quickly into a warm and mellow base of resins, iris and just a touch of vanilla.

What I especially enjoy about all Maison Incens’ perfumes, is the daring to make perfumes that are a little different, and still eminently wearable. They are deceptively simple and quiet, but keep showing new facets with each wear and lasts way longer than I would have thought upon application. Another thing that hit me was, that I never feel overwhelmed with scent molecules blowing up in my face, rather there’s a naturalness about them which seems to leave a lot of space to take in other things than your perfume.

 

Pics by me.

Perfumed Thoughts and a Mini Review- Hermessence Muguet Porcelaine (2016)

This post is dedicated to all those random and less random thoughts regarding perfume, which pop up from time to time in the space of my brain that is perfumista branded.

First up: regular readers might know that I have a weakness for interior design blogs and mags. How fun to discover the perfume- blogger-sceptic Francis Kurkdjian presenting his home to an interior blogger at Coffeeklatch. It’s a beautiful home and a great interview.

Asked about perfume as art, he responds: “Yves Saint-Laurent summed it up very well when he said: “Fashion is not art, but you need to be an artist.” I think it’s the same with perfume, and why it isn’t considered as an art form. Art takes inspiration from different facets of life: happiness and darkness. When you think about poetry, movies or literature you can always find beauty in something dark, sad or ugly. Perfume, on the other hand, magnifies beauty. No one ever commissioned me to create a perfume for an ugly woman who’s a total loser. My job is to bring people happiness. Fashion tackles the same issue in pursuing beauty. There’s a line you can stretch but never cross. Perfume is conventionally sold in a bottle. But when I make art or olfactory installations, I can do whatever I want and show my dark side if I want to.”

Art and perfume pals #1. I was so lucky as to receiveimage some real vintage Djedi (as opposed to reissue), and otherwise being firmly on M Kurkdjian’s side when it comes to perfume as art, I would say Djedi is the closest I’ve ever come to smelling art. Thank heavens ( not knowing exactly which deity to choose for this exact vintage) for an amazing perfume pal who gave me the opportunity. I promise there will be more of Djedi another time, as that will warrant its own post.

Samples: what to do?

They are multiplying be the minute, a sample can turn up everywhere in my flat or in my clothes. And yet most samples, I’ve learned through the years, need to be kept for references. Perhaps I need to get a bit tougher on which perfume samples are reference samples, and which will need to go…image

Decants.

At the spur of the moment I decided to split a perfume, something which I hadn’t done in a while. It was a blind buy hard to get perfume which sounded weirdly attractive.

Most of us have been there: a truly annoying sprayer, impossible to get a perfect spray from, and dribbling down the sides, thus loosing way to much juice in the process. Aha, me thinks! syringe method!!! NoNoNo, warning to all, NEVER EVER USE SYRINGES no matter how easy it might look, and what a good idea some people think it is. The chance of the syringe breaking the spray mechanism are ( according to split Queen Ruth K, who is my helping perfume guide in greatest need) 50%. What happens when it breaks is mayhem, looks like thisimage imagewill cause grief and a ruined bottle, and that’s not to mention the tools and time it will take to break the bottle in order to get the perfume out.

 

Perfume bottles and wish lists

What to do if you feel you have a collection, in size and variety, you are happy with, we are taking the BLEQ ( beyond life expectancy quantum ) obviously, but there are still things on your wish list, and obviously perfumes will keep being launched? A new found and wholly unexpected perfume love, made me ponder this ever more pressing question. A whole lot of my perfumes I wouldn’t be able to repurchase, which significantly adds to the risk should I let them go. At the moment, save one or two which I have been trying to get rid off, all perfumes I own, I wear and love, but how then to deal with adding new stuff?

talking of bottles:( perfume pals #2) as if we didn’t already know that perfume pals are the best, out of the blue an envelope arrived with a label for my bottle of Bal de Fleurs, now it has been established thanks to said friend that it’s indeed what it is. Isn’t she pretty?imageedit_1_2158657547

And the mini review; Muguet Porcelaine is the new perfume by Jean-Claude Ellena in the Hermessence line. I love the name, I imagined a crisp and delicately transparent lily-of-the-valley lace veil. MP starts out beautifully reminiscent of vintage Diorissimo, the go-to for all muguets. Then the rose-tinted glasses are violently ripped from my eyes by an aquatic cucumber/yeasty note and a civetty ‘jasmine’?, threatening to destroy the whole china shop. After that, I suppose it gets green and perhaps a little woody by and by, but I would recommend this one mostly to lovers and brand-loyals of the Hermessence line, or hard-core muguet-fans, preferably both. For me, I stick to the vintage Diorissimo, dc’ed Lilia Bella, dc’ed Envy…  For lotv recommendation check out the Posse guide or Serenity Now’s Month of Muguet.

All pics by me, exept Djedi by ebay seller antiquecollectibles1900

 

 

 

 

 

What is Your Cup of Tea? and an aside on experimental infusions – Jo Malone Oolong Tea, Midnight Black Tea and Golden Needle Tea

The sheerness and longevity issues of the typical Jo Malone output has not exactly made them high on my favourites list, yet the combination of finding a new favourite in (the limited edition) Tudor Rose and Amber as well as wearing (another LE ) White Lilac and Rhubarb at lot this spring, when I first heard of the new ‘Rare Tea Collection’ I was intrigued.

image

The collection has a new and interesting price point, they are 300€ each for 175 ml, so I bought three small decants from a split of the ones that I thought might be what I was looking for in a tea fragrance. The three I left out were; Silver Needle, delicate floral, enveloping musk and a rose (- did anything ever NOT spell out my name quite so loudly?), Darjeeling Tea with freesia, jasmine (- ‘It’s not you it’s me, Honey’), Jade Leaf Tea, sencha, pomelo and maté (– chase me with maté tea).

What I have been looking for in a tea fragrance for some time, is a note of that dark smokiness, a real ‘brew’, a tarry, leather substitute note almost. A black tea that isn’t sweet. No more Chai Tea Lattes or Fresh Green Tea kind of thing. With 6 perfumes to choose from, each focussing on a different tea, surely it wasn’t too much to hope for, that one of them had that note?

The Rare Tea Collection contains 6 fragrances all ‘tea infused’. I’m not sure that the ‘infusion’ is not exactly my problem, but more of this later, first up the three fragrances that I ventured to try.

Midnight Black Tea; funnily I am not entirely convinced I would have smelled black tea at all had I not known of it. Midnight Black Tea has notes of vanilla, amber, guaiacwood and puh erh tea. On the strip I got more sweetness, and I detected something berry like and what seemed like almonds, none of which appeared on (my) skin. Its honeyed amber, a little inoffensive wooden smokiness and a touch of delicate spices is lovely and cosy, even if not exactly groundbreaking. It has good longevity, and for me it has just the right kind of airiness to not become cloying or sticky. It’s strikes a similar chord as Ambre Narguile, Nu_Be Helium, Oajan etc.

Golden Needle Tea; is another one where I’m not sure exactly how important the tea is. Supposedly it’s yunnan. The notes say; leather, sandalwood, benzoin and spice. It actually smells golden upon application. It took me some time to figure out why.

Last year, and here we actually get to the infusion part, I spend some time in the spring and summer collecting various plants, roots and resins infusing them (with perfumers alcohol) as an experiment and as a way of getting to know some plants and notes better. Among the stuff I retrieved were the fresh tears from the spruce tea, Picea abies. imageThe stuff is as sticky as it is fragrant, which is VERY. However, the scent is truly magnificent, with its golden bitterness. It’s almost as if you can smell the colour of the amber ‘stone’ it might turn into in some thousands of years given the right circumstances. It is this exact smell that I’m reminded of in Golden Needle, not ‘just’ myrrh or other resins.

A short note on the infusions is, that an infusion of a material is only very rarely a lasting or strong scent in itself, and wonderful as a 100 hour tea infusion sounds, it doesn’t really say much about whether it will actually add any significant flavour to the fragrance or not.

Back to Golden Needle and the slightly bitter resiny feel; it also reminds me of orange oil and ginger powder (remember always, we are talking Jo Malone, these associations are homoeopathic doses). It goes into a lovely suede like leather before resting on a sandalwood base. And a few hours in, best as you think it ends there, that little golden sticky resin pops up again, now as a faint driblet.

Oolong Tea has notes of cacao, tonka, hay and tobacco, and to me is the tea’iest of the lot.

It is powdery cacao dust, dry hay and smoked tobacco combined with a moist tea feel. I’m briefly reminded of the tea note in Bulgari eau parfumée au thé bleu, not least because of the buttery orris vibe I get, not that it’s mentioned anywhere in the minimalist note list. The tobacco sways and sometimes adds to a smoky tea feel and sometimes to a teaspoon of honey in a slightly bitter brew. It’s somewhere between haughty and enveloping and as such the perfume keeps itself poised and interesting, by always changing its nature slightly each time I wear it.

image

As it is I like all three, especially the last two, yet not enough to splurge on a humongously large bottle. I prefer my tea to be more than infused; I want the builders brew version of infusion, also when it is wrapped in a sheer and airy composition. And perhaps just a little bit more Mad Hatter than Tea in China.

So, like with my coffee search, my tea search goes on too. In the meantime I shall enjoy the scent of the Oolong Tea à la Guerlain called L’Heure Bleue, but that’s another story and it will have to wait for another time…

Have you found your perfect tea perfume yet?

The Greatest Perfumes Never Made – Bulgakov The Master and Margarita

Recently I started re-reading Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. This masterpiece novel had left so many visual impressions on me, that I wanted to visit them to put them back in the right order so to speak. The book seems to be made out of images, one stronger than the next; Behemot the speaking, gun carrying and chandelier swinging cat, Satan himself in the disguise as ‘professor’ Woland, a ‘magician’, the naked broom-riding Margarita as the Master’s mistress, Pontius Pilate and Yeshua a Notsri (as themselves). There’s even a short cameo for the atheist head of the literary circle called Berlioz, which makes me think of the ‘programme’ symphony, Symphonie Fantastique by that composer, which ends with a 5th movement called “Songe d’un Nuit du Sabbath” (Dream of a night at the Sabbath).

image

I shall not attempt at a summary, (I was personally sold to this book by the thought of a speaking cat), but the main story lines are that of Woland and his gang creating a mayhem in 1930s Moscow, that of Pontius Pilate and the trial of Yeshua a Nostri, and that of Margarita flying off to Walpurgis night and ultimately succeeding in being rejoined with ‘the Master’.

There are a few passages of scent, but to me by far the strongest is the start of the second chapter, when Pontius Pilate is suffering a terrible migraine, and describes the smells around him.

“In a white cloak with a blood-red lining, with the shuffling gait of a cavalryman, early in the morning of the fourteenth day of the spring month of Nisan, there emerged into the covered colonnade between the two wings of the palace of Herod the Great the Procurator of Judaea, Pontius Pilate. More than anything else on earth the Procurator hated the smell of attar of roses, and the omens for the day ahead were bad, for that smell had been haunting the Procurator since dawn. It seemed to the Procurator that the smell of roses was being emitted by the cypresses and palms in the garden, and that mingling with the smell of his escort’s leather accoutrements and sweat was an accursed waft of roses.image
From the wings at the rear of the palace that quartered the Twelfth Lightning Legion’s First Cohort, which had come to Yershalaim with the Procurator, a puff of smoke carried across the upper court of the garden into the colonnade, and with this rather acrid smoke, which testified to the fact that the cooks in the centuries had started preparing dinner, was mingling still that same heavy odour of roses.
“O gods, gods, why do you punish me?… No, there’s no doubt, this is it, it again, the invincible, terrible sickness… hemicrania, when half my head is aching… there are no remedies for it, no salvation whatsoever… I’ll try keeping my head still…”
Cypresses, palm leaves, leather, metal, sweat, smoke and above all; roses.
After my many attempt at finding the right rose, I feel that with perhaps exchanging sweat for warm animalics, this could be the foundation for rather a great dark rose.
A link here for the 5th movement of Symfonie Fantastique
pics mine, The Master and Margarita excerpt in the translation of Hugh Aplin.

A Rose (by any other name) – Or et Noir Caron (1949) modern extrait version

After searching high and low for my rose fragrance, I finally found it in Or et Noir*.

Caron has done several rose-centric perfumes, and I must confess that the lack of availability has made me unable to smell the ones which actually carry ‘rose’ in their name. Parfum Sacre and even Nuit de Noël are also amongst the ones mentioned when the talk is of ‘dark’ rose perfumes, however for me, as much as I love them both, they are neither that dark (more cosy in my book) nor strictly rose focused enough to be called rose-perfumes. Or et Noir is what the others aren’t, it’s both a rose perfume and deserving of the black name. (How often can you say that about a perfume called something with Noir? – Coco, Sensuous, Crystal et al) Knowing of its own worth, it was even deemed unnecessary to name it after its prime ingredient, the queen of flowers.

Starting off with fiercely high-strung metal, and thorns to draw blood, Or et Noir makes sure you do not mistake its rose for ‘pretty’. imageIn fact, to me it’s exactly its bright sharpness which makes it dark. The best way to describe it would be to compare it to another Caron classic, Narcisse Noir, where the ‘noir’ is more about the poisonous pull than about any typically ‘dark- notes’. In the same way the gold metal is also the black, as if it was a tattoo of a dagger through a dark rose.

It’s as if there’s some magnetic rejection between the lemony metallic scent of the geranium and the green slightly sour deep red rose. Different twists on similar scentsations vie for attention, and only as the rose wins the battle over the geranium, does it allow itself to soften up, open its petals and become a huge single rose attracting rays of golden sun and honeybees alike.

As the sun loses its power, a carnation starts casting its peppery shadow over the Caron rose, until completely covered, and the rose takes on the same dark hue as the carnation itself. Together they darken, sweeten and wither until mossy earth peeks through. I’ve seen people mention amber, but this is no amber rose dry down, this is a rose with all imaginable hues of darkness and light, gold and black. Or et Noir.

 

“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.” Nietzsche.

 

*A huge thank you to dear STC <3

 

Or et Noir was made in 1949 by perfumer Michel Morsetti. I own a large decant from TPC. Pictures are mine.

 

 

Musketeers – Aramis (1964) and Balenciaga Portos (1980)

Ivanhoe, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Musketeers. I must admit I loved watching the old costume movies and still am partial to any re-remake.

imageThough an avid reader, I never bothered reading any of these, surely in this case part of the (guilty) pleasure is in watching handsome bearded men in leather suits playing cloak and dagger.

Leather, men and musk is what it’s about today. I’ll start with the beast that is Aramis (in its current formula), so unashamed masculine, that I have no trouble seeing the musketeer straight off his horse from battle. The opening is herbs and there’s cumin, and then there’s some more cumin, perhaps you take cumin with that? I was pretty choked that in this combination for once the cumin doesn’t at all remind me of Chicken Jalfrezi take-away, it actually smells ‘masculine’, like fresh sweat from someone you like. (As opposed to stale sweat from someone you really don’t like!)image It’s in the company of wormwood and leather that cumin becomes more of a handsome French musketeer, than a Barbarian (Musc) Koublai Khan. Also consider, which Khan would have added a little green freshness and jasmine? Yes, in Aramis it’s all there, ending on soft bed sheets of (an uncanningly deep and authentic smelling) oak moss and musk.

I struggle to call it animalic because it’s more about human skin and testosterone than any animal I can think of. Even the warmth it exudes is something which spells more Musketeer than Musk deer to me. It says: “just a kiss”, but don’t believe a word Aramis says.

While I wouldn’t put it past women to wear this, it would probably be the equivalent of men wearing Vintage Rochas Femme ( pre the cumin stuff that is ’89). On anyone who can wear Aramis, I bet it smells sensational.

Notes: artemisia, bergamot, cinnamon, gardenia, pelargonium, patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, leather, oakmoss, amber (from fragrantica)

Portos EdC, was first introduced to me by a lovely Italian perfumista. A much overlooked fragrance which is no longer in production but can still be found online. imagePortos is much prettier than his fellow musketeer and much more obviously unisex. Wormwood, bergamot and especially geranium makes for a floral and lively opening. The absinthian mixes with minty-rose softness and becomes bittersweet, a little Dandyesque perhaps. As the opening wears of, a smooth leather and castoreum (beaver) becomes more evident. The base is rooty green, warm and velvety of vetiver, musk and moss.  The earthy oak moss lasts all day.

So is Portos an old-fashioned gentleman? More likely it’s a cologne for anyone tired of fruits, aquatics or blonde woods. I think on most people it would even wear a tad sweeter than on me, making it just too cool as a women’s fragrance. A player and a dreamer is Portos, I think he wouldn’t mind sharing his cologne.

Notes: artemisia, cumin, bergamot, coriander and galbanum, jasmine, geranium, carnation, cedar, patchouli and vetiver, castoreum, leather, moss, musk, myrrh, incense and labdanum (from fragrantica)

Musketeers from 1921 Douglas Fairbanks Sr silent film, 1973 Richard Lester film and the 2014 BBC series.

Main Musketdeers are mine. Aren’t musk deers the cutest?

image

 

Perfumed Plume – award winner at CaFleureBon

I’m very excited to tell you that Cafleurebon just won an award with my piece called Perfume as  Opera . The Perfumed Plume – awards for fragrance journalism, is a new award similar to the UK Jasmine Award and the French Prix Jasmine. Read more here.

The category was:
Visualization of Scent Stories – Overall Design Presentation: ÇaFleureBon Perfume as Opera Madama Butterfly and Turandot.

Thank you Michelyn Camen for putting my story and visuals forward and believing in me. And thank you to the Perfumed Plume Awards, I feel honoured.

Coffee Time – Sebastiane Espresso Royale and Reliquary Perfumes Café la Nuit

Only thing worse than your computer crashing once, is your computer crashing twice. And how about that second time being just after you’ve put the final dot in a post, and for reasons unknown the file has disappeared. Hours I spent in vain because I refused to believe that it had not been saved somewhere in the depth of the hard disc, but alas! Rant over, and many, many espressos later I’m trying to recreate my coffee post.

I was encouraged by a fellow perfumista and several online reviews that Sebastiane’s Espresso Royal would be worth a try in my ‘search for the perfect’ coffee perfume (to quote Undina).

Espresso Royale does what it says: it smells of coffee. It is an espresso with hazelnut praline. Its hazelnut sweetness reminds me of Italian Gianduja and goes down perfectly with a good espresso. I would say that the sweetness to coffee ratio is 50/50, but thankfully it never feels like a Tall Hazelnut Latte. The espresso stands its ground with a dark roasted bean even when the hazelnut gets a little help from caramel and tonka bean. The perfume feels quite linear to me, but as it evaporates I start getting a mere hint of cinnamon and butter, as if the praline had been exchanged for a Belgian speculaas. The dry down is coffee grounds, but the sugar has been consumed and the overall feel is less foody, more just comfort-coffee. In case you were in doubt this is definitely a Gourmand perfume, and even if I absolutely love both hazelnut praline and espresso, for me personally perhaps Espresso Royale is a little too much so. However, if you are a gourmand perfume lover looking for a true coffee note, this one must be tested.

Notes; Whiskey, coffee, hazelnut, caramel, tonka bean.

image

The indie perfumer from Reliquary Perfumes wrote and asked me if I would like to sample a few of her fragrances, and one in particular was instantly of interest to me; Café la Nuit, inspired by the famous Van Gogh painting La Café la Nuit.

The coffee note in Café la Nuit is one of the most natural and authentic I’ve come across. There’s not even a hint of coffee aroma chemical which I’ve found in so many coffee perfumes (A*men coffee, New Harlem a.o). The opening is like dark chocolate and espresso with crisp sugar, and it reminds me of another favourite chocolate of mine ‘Pocket coffee’.pocket coffee 1

There is the merest hint of lavender to lift this perfume oil out of ‘straight-up-gourmie’ territory and into something which although dense still somehow feels like it has a little more ‘space’ than your typical chocolate-gourmand perfume. Later enters a lovely smoky note changing the feeling of the coffee from a tasty dark brewed liquid to the roasting of beans, of cafés and perhaps even a cigarette… This is dark chocolate and black coffee in various shapes and forms. The coffee not only stays as the heartbeat throughout the composition, but manages to change character, going from buoyant to pensive as the night falls at the Terrace Café.

Notes; orange, cinnamon, lavender, espresso, café au lait, cacao, spilt sugar, tonka bean, vanilla, smoke.

Now I better get this published before more posts are lost, perhaps I should reward myself with a coffee afterwards.

Both perfumes can easily be enjoyed together with this little number;

Natalie Cole ‘Coffee Time’

Coffee time
My dreamy friend, it’s coffee time
Let’s listen to some jazz and rhyme
And have a cup of coffee

Let me show
A little coffee house I know
Where all the new bohemians go
To have a cup of coffee

Greetin’ time
The music box is beatin’ time
It’s good old fashioned meetin’ time
So grab a chair and take me there
‘Cause that’s just the place I’m at

Coffee time
My dreamy friend, it’s coffee time
Let’s sing this silly little rhyme
And have a cup of coffee

Hey, greetin’ time
That music box is beatin’ time
It’s good old fashioned meetin’ time
So save me a chair, I’ll see you there
‘Cause that’s just the place that I’m at

Coffee time
My dreamy friend, it’s coffee time
Let’s sing this silly little rhyme
And have a cup of coffee

We’ll have a cup of coffee
Just a little bit of Java
Yeah, we’ll have a couple of joke
Don’t you know?
‘Cause it’s coffee time

 

I bought the Sebastiane sample, the Reliquary sample was given to me by the perfumer. Pocket coffees photo didn’t have credits. Feat pic is mine as are my opinions.