Zen Leather- Hermès Collection Hermessence Cuir d’Ange

Notes: heliotrope, hawthorn, violet, narcissus, musk and leather.

And wow, I think, brilliant notes! Maybe this, this is ‘my’ J. C. Ellena fragrance. Ellena; an icon- and without a doubt a master of his métier, who puts Zen and grace in a perfume bottle, he draws you in. I want to love his perfumes. I try. It’s complicated.

Cuir d’Ange must be one of those perfumes that wears very different on all skin types, on me completely opposite to Victoria of Bois de Jasmin, this one wears for a substantial amount of time for a Hermessence fragrance, spraying it on skin in the evening, I could still smell the gorgeous reminiscences of it in the morning.

Putto by Rosso Fiorentino

Putto by Rosso Fiorentino

I have been wearing this for almost a week, and its unfolding has not been easy to put into words, or even how I feel about it, I kept spraying, sniffing, reapplying, sniffing, taking in the aura of the fragrance.

The first sniff was delightful. On as close to a summers day as one gets in late September, the scent unfolded with great beauty and a sunny presence, but consequently I kept getting an opening note which I can best describe as the scent of my childhood’s finger paint. I have no idea if finger paint smells different now, but a plastic-paint like scent, I can almost smell the primary colour of yellow and see the rough, slightly grainy structure stuck on paper and children’s hands. And I suppose it makes sense, even if my senses scream FINGER PAINT- my mind can think that perhaps a rather poisonous narcissus is to blame? This stage does last for quite a bit, and only after over half an hour, does this note slowly give way for a softer leather note underneath. The leather is neither butch as Bandit nor as lady-like as the leather in Bottega Veneta, I am in fact reminded of another fragrance, which at least on my skin is definitely related, albeit, a completely different animal in sillage, structure and atmosphere; Serge’s Daim Blonde.

Melozzo da Forli Angel with lute

Melozzo da Forli Angel with lute

On the tester there’s an obvious soapy violet note, which is completely lost on my skin, and I’m also deprived of a softening into a cosy almondy heliotrope as the notes had me assuming. I would have thought a bit of jasmine had worked its way into the heart; at least I can almost grasp a sense of a floral leather. As this stage of Cuir d’Ange mellows and deepens, I get a sense of an apricot suede, camel tanned, smooth and soft, and it blends with the skin until it reaches a ‘my skin but better’, and stays there for an (Hermessence-) eternity. When it reaches this point I want to run out and buy it, but I spray again, and get uneasy…

The angel skin I end up with is divine, but I fear that first finger-paint angel. My relationship with Cuir d’Ange might be Zen but it stays complicated.

 

*Read also this wonderful review of Cuir d’Ange by Denyse at Grain de Musc

**This time no own-illustrations apart from the photo, as I couldn’t face the angels, finger painted or otherwise.

Azure and Grey Skies- Ray of Light April Aromatics and L’Orpheline Serge Lutens

The two fragrances that I want to write about today really couldn’t be further apart. I could find some things that would bind them together, but really all that warrant this combination is that fact that the two fragrances arrived on the same day.

April Aromatics Ray of Light; “Ray of Light is an EdP flooding us with life (…) confidence, joy and clarity.”

Serge Lutens Orpheline; “Fragile but whole. Its name hints at a break but before the fissures show…”

Ray of light is lemon full on; you can smell the oil from the citrus peels and feel the yellowness in a way that makes this citrus dense, rather than the floating space-between-notes that one is used to from mixed and synthetic fragrances. What keeps the citrus peels fresh and thirst-quenching cool is a mint note, which works beautifully with the lemon peel and takes us in a fresh-earthy-green direction. In the middle of all the hesperidic notes and the greens, there’s a bit of sweet floral lightness and in the combination with bergamot, I’m reminded of a delicious home-made ice tea. Towards the dry-down what I get mostly is a mellow vetiver and a light blond tobacco, both maintaining a green and light feeling. Sipping ice tea under a lemon tree, above you the endless azure sky…

Ray of light orpheline 002retteWithout doubt this is a great summer citrus fragrance, 100% natural, for both men and women, or perhaps Mignon, the young girl from Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister dressed as a boy when she sings the famous ‘Kennst du das Land wo die Zitronen blüh’n?’ as I am reminded of wearing ‘Ray of Light’

“Do you know the land where lemons blossom,

Where oranges grow golden among dark leaves,

A gentle wind drifts across blue skies,

The myrtle stands silent, the laurel tall,

Do you know it?

It’s there, it’s there

I long to go with you, my love.”

 

Serge Lutens; ‘L’Orpheline’ is a fairly linear composition, consisting of notes of cashmeran, pepper (?), blond woods and light sweetness of coumarin swirled in a whisper of a clear incense. If Ray of Light was azure sky then the overall feeling of L’Orpheline is like watching a grey sky on an autumnal afternoon, being inside looking out, wrapped in an old blanket.Ray of light orpheline 003rette1 It’s the fragility of a single ray of sun trying to find its way through the clouds. The fragrance is more akin to the Eaux line than to the other Lutens’, and even if not the most exciting SL composition, I must say it’s very wearable and has a way of drawing you in, much like Serge’s stories. Because even if I don’t like to admit it, all this talk of orphans and a fragrance dusty, woody and with a bit of comfort in the middle of the solitude, reminded me of the boy Bastian Balthasar Bux, antagonist in the Never Ending Story by Michael Ende, hiding from the world in the school attic, reading a magic book which transports him to Phantásien/ Fantastica.

“Bastian was aware of the gray daylight, but he could not make out whether it was morning or afternoon. It was bitter cold in the attic, just as on the night of Bastian’s departure.

He disentangled himself from the dusty army blankets, put on his shoes and coat, and saw to his surprise that they were wet as they had been the day when it had rained so hard.”

And in the end, unknowingly, I ended up with a link between the two. Goethe’s Mignon who sings of the land she remembers as her homeland, before a travelling circus group took her away, is an Orpheline… And that’s the magic of perfumes; they speak to you, even when you need some time to take notice.

 

 

Samples send to me by Tanja of April Aromatics and Serge Lutens.

Translation of Mignon by Richard Stokes and of The Neverending Story by Ralph Manheim.

Pictures as always by me

 

The Greatest Perfumes Never Made part II, Tove Jansson ‘The Summer Book’

 

One thing that Scandinavians have in common is the childhood memories of their dearest authors. We grew up best mates with Pippi Long-stocking, being able to say “General Headquarters-Hindquarters-Gives-Orders-Front-and-Rear-Sergeant-Billygoat-Legs”, and we would have learned melancholy by the descriptions of the lonely winters in Moomin Valley.summer book

Tove Jansson is famous and beloved all over the world for her wise and eccentric stories and illustrations of the Moomins, however, she also wrote books for adults which hold the same sense of warmth, love, and knowledge of character.

Set on an island in the Finnish archipelago, ‘The Summer Book’ is a story of a grandmother, granddaughter and the island. The three get to know themselves and each other, and their travelling is a journey of love and understanding in a beautifully underplayed way. Nearly every page of the book is filled with mystery and fragrance. I could have picked many places in this book, but the one I chose, is for me also quite quintessentially Scandinavian in its vapours.

Tove Jansson

Tove Jansson

Writing this post, I realised that I couldn’t not also make a comment on the lack of true Scandinavian perfumery. Let me start in Sweden where they have some excellent brands, which have managed to manifest themselves internationally; Byredo, Agonist, Friedmodin… However, these are really international perfumes with no hint to their origins, and no attempt at a Scandinavian scent profile, it seems only the design angle is allowed to be Scandinavian cool. When it comes to Denmark, the story is sad indeed; Henrik Vibskov’s Type C (for Copenhagen) is nothing but a grim citrus-ozonic that is as far from the smell of the sea air of Copenhagen as you can get. Or for the new brand Zarkoperfumes, just go to Serguey Borisov’s reviews at Fragrantica to read what I couldn’t have said better myself.

sweden-2

In fact, so far the best Scandi-inspired fragrance that I have ever come across is by Neil Morris called Dark Season. Undeniably Finnish/ Swedish in its expression and made from a fond memory, sums up how to do it without becoming the equivalent of a fragrance ‘fancy dress’ party. What I mean is that these days, with ‘New Nordic Cuisine’, which uses all our very special ingredients and flavours, why not do the same in fragrance?

“Sophia made a path through this jungle with a pair of shears. She worked at it patiently whenever she was in the mood, and no one else knew about it. First, the path circled the rosebush which was large and famous and had a name, Rosa Rugosa. When it blossomed, with its huge, wild roses that could take a storm and fell only when they wanted to, people came from the village to look. Its roots were high, washed clean by waves, and there was seaweed in its branches. Every seven years, Rosa Rugosa died from salt and exposure, but then her children sprang up in the sand all around, so nothing changed. She had only moved a little. The path led on through a nasty path of nettles, through the spiraea and the currant bushes and the loosestrife under the alder trees, and up to the big bird-cherry at the edge of the woods. On the right day, and with the right wind, you could lie under a bird-cherry and all the petals would fall at the same time, but you had to watch for aphids. They held on to the tree if left alone, but if you shook the branches the least little bit they fell right off.

After the bird-cherry, there are pine trees and moss, and the hill rises up from the beach, and every time the cave is just as much of a surprise. It is so sudden. The cave is narrow and smells of rot, the walls are black and damp, and at the far end there is a natural alter covered with green moss as fine and dense as plush.”79550

One could probably make many different fragrances out of this description, but how about this:

The Summer Book-fragrance

Top: Currant, bitter cherry, salty air

Heart: Wild rose, white flowers (from the spiraea), almond (currant bushes), nettle.

Base: Roots, moss, pine and seaweed.

What do you think is this how it would smell to you?

skandi forfattere 1 - Kopi

 

Feature picture by me, with characters from the Moomin books, Elsa Beskow’s books, the Snow Queen, the sandman (Ole Lukøje), and Pippi and Brothers Lionheart.

Translation of The Summer Book is by Thomas Teal.

Vanillas, the cat’s pajamas- L’Artisan Parfumeur Vanilia, Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille & Metallica, E. Coudray Ambre et Vanille

Most people who know me know that I’m really not one for lists. The leaving out things feels oh-so-wrong and it means inner turmoil to mention 10 favourites even just as a ‘mind game’.

GUERLAIN

Guerlain Still life by Lilly Marthe Ebner

However, just the other day at ‘Another Perfume Blog’, I found myself naming my four favourite Vanillas. I did so without hesitation and without feeling that I neglected some other perfumes in my collection and it inspired me to do this post, and put the post I was writing on; the next episode of ‘Best Fragrances never made’, on hold.

Now, perhaps because I am not the biggest vanilla-fragrance lover in the world, I haven’t actively been seeking out all vanillas on earth, the way that I have probably sniffed most big iris perfumes out there, however I have been through quite a considerable amount, and these were the (FB-) ones that made it into my perfume cupboard, and will not be leaving again.

 

Vanilia; this discontinued* L’Artisan Parfumeur fragrance, is just a gorgeous non-foody, woody-smoky vanilla perfume. It speaks with a husky voice and has a crispness like fire logs disintegrating in the fireplace on a windy autumnal evening. It’s comfy, not in that it wraps you up in woolly blankets and brings you hot chocolate, but in the way it makes you comfortable in your own skin. I can’t believe that this one was made in 1978; it’s probably more visionary and contemporary than most other vanillas out there, even if in perfume terms this one is almost a vintage. Perfumer Jean-Francois Laporte

E. Coudray Ambre et Vanille; One of my first ever *niche* fragrances. This is a light and elegant vanilla amber fragrance. There’s a bit of a play-doh note due to heliotrope, and it’s a tiny bit flower-powdery to make it an understated amber-vanilla with a classic feel. It’s the waft that’s on your favourite well-loved woolly sweater. I find it incredibly easy to reach for, it’s sweet and inviting without serving cupcakes.DSC02292

Guerlain Metallica (discontinued); this one is gorgeousness. The vanilla mixed with ylang-ylang. Very special guest star, I bring you; Carnation! Lovely spicy and metallic, doh!, give that some soft iris to die for and the Guerlinade dry down. Guerlain heaven, sadly, very sadly discontinued. Impossibly elegant, silk scarf with tiger-print. You smell grrrreat. Perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain

Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille; foody, no, more like boozy. But liquor so dense you can almost cut it. Smokey, dark pitch-black, moist vanilla pods, with a bitterness of Pastis. This one comes fully equipped with an old library, mini bar and leather sofas, which makes it possibly a bargain! I always have men commenting on this one, but you know what? I’m wearing SDV and I couldn’t care less what other people think! Perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain

How do you feel about vanilla perfumes? Any favourites? Cupcakes or woody-orientals?

 

* As Ines made me aware of Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier’s Fleur des Comores is a great substitute.

** So many reviews for vanilla perfumes out there. Some pretty extensive lists on Olfactoria (a write up by Tara of Neil’s vanilla talk) perfume posse and the non blonde.