An Oudriental Trio – Néa, Garuda and Nin-Shar by Jul et Mad

A little while ago I got a very nice parcel from Tara (formerly of Olfactoria’s Travels) including amongst other things three Jul et Mad fragrances, called ‘the white collection’ and comprising: Néa, Geruda and Nin-Shar.

The PR mentions the golden age of Byzance, Babylon and Angkor, so it’s clear at least that the intention was to do an oriental themed range with the Middle Eastern (oud, anyone?) customer in mind. For me it’s a welcome new direction away from the ‘bottling our love story’-theme.

Néa is a full-on gourmand with a nod to the oriental. The notes might say pomegranate and plum, but I instantly thought of peaches and berries. There is a huge candy rose blooming right after the fruity start, and the heart really is rather floral though still with enough sugar to scare your dentist. The sweetness increases and metamorphoses into a buff-coloured cream toffee (fictitiously) melting on the tongue. The caramel subsides slightly towards the dry down to leave room for a lower insulin producing mix of vanilla, wood- and musk-like notes (read cashmeran and ambroxan). It’s a happy and lavish gourmand.

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Next up is Garuda: this is ‘the oud’-one. Fair enough, I do understand that when doing oriental themed perfumes, one needs to do an oud. Garuda starts quite full-on oudy, and with a dry woodiness which makes it feel like more of a masculine perfume. There are also hints of pepper and hesperidic notes in the opening, but it’s really all about the oud here. A rum note enters, once again putting the emphasis on a masculine character. In my first wearing of Garuda, I was very surprised to find that the last phase of the perfume loses the dry, bitter oud/wood character, and becomes an amber woody skin scent with more of a cosy feel to it.

I was surprised when I sprayed the third perfume of the range ‘Nin-Shar’, and smelled oud. I had just had the ‘oud-perfume’; surely they wouldn’t do two oud perfumes in a three perfume collection? Well, they did, but this one starts off more feminine, and treacherous. If Garuda was a masculine with a soft well-hidden cosy side, then Nin-Shar is the feminine fragrance with a backbone. A well matched pair the two. It’s the by now well-trodden road of rose-oud. This one however starts with a big red rose together with a bitter, almost sour aspect of artemisia, in conjunction with a tiny bit of incense, adding to a strangely sour feel. The oud here simply is a part of a grander tapestry. The deep red rose is what gives Nin-Shar it’s mostly feminine character, and perhaps the added jasmine flowers enforces that feel. It comes once again as a real surprise, when the base therefore is where the oud really shines through and together with the embers of the incense creates a much tougher feel than what I would have expected.

To me Nin-Shar is the star of the collection. Although I do appreciate Néa and admire Garuda, in both perfumes I was a little disappointed with the perfumes relying on things like cashmeran, ambroxan and timbersilk aka iso gama super to carry the dry down of otherwise fine compositions. To me Nin-Shar is the one that has quality all the way through the composition right till the very end.

 

If you wonder about the feat picture; yes, it has nothing whatsoever to do with today’s fragrances, apart from the fact that it’s just a little view into what the non-messy part of my writing desk looks like.

Both pics by me.

Chocolate Days – EnVoyage Perfumes Café Cacao and Duftmanufaktur Chocolat Irisé

At the end of summer you notice the days becoming shorter, one morning there’s a chill in the air that wasn’t there before, the sky is clearer and is a deeper shade of blue which seems further away. But somehow the changing of seasons doesn’t announce the autumn itself. One day you just notice that you’ve put on the central heating, you wonder where you put your favourite jumper, or the yellow hat that you wore all of last year and you start craving chocolate again.

We perfume lovers have perhaps already retired the summer scents to the back of the cupboard and taken the autumnal orientals into rotation. But there are also the ones you didn’t have before and can now test for the first time in their perfect environment. It just so happens that I have two indie chocolate perfumes in this category, and today I’ll write about these two calorie-free delicacies.

EnVoyage perfumes’ Café Cacao starts of powdery dry and dark like being in an old spices shop full of spice jars and with cacao and coffee being weighed on old-fashioned scales. apotecary spice shopSome would say it’s salty, but what I get is just anti-saccharine, as in cacao powder drizzled with sugar rose petals on top. Now and again I get a faint whiff of something mocha-like, but as a coffee addict, I must say I don’t get an actual coffee note, more like a faint flavour to add gravitas to the chocolate. I can almost visualise the process of drying pods and beans, grounding them, turning them to powder. There is sweetness; like the sugared rose in the beginning, a tiny bit of cream in a hot chocolate or a sweet musky amber towards the end, but what I like is how all the gourmand facets, somehow manage to stay sober, there’s no Starbucks or Snickers association, this is all very tasteful (excuse the pun) perhaps with no little thanks to the real ambergris used.

Chocolat irisé by Annette Neuffer Duftmanufaktur on the other hand, starts possibly juicy by comparison. It opens on a dark chocolate orange flavour note, and if Café Cacao felt more powdery dry, the opening of Chocolat Irisé is like a baroque still life of melting orange chocolate dripping from a cacao jar. The citrus notes are quite decadent, neither tart nor candy-coated, but like rubbing tangerine peel between your fingers. However, it isn’t an actual ‘gourmand’; iris butter and a floral heart of orange flower and a tiny hint of rose keep Chocolat Irisé a very grown up guilty pleasure. still_life_with_a_bowl_of_chocolate-400Orange flower and vanilla add a touch of sweetness in the heart while the chocolate and iris keep going back and forth vying for attention. The dry-down sees a gorgeous sandalwood take over the role of the orange flower, adding that delicate touch of liquid sweetness to the dark cacao and iris.

Here are two wildly different chocolate centred perfumes created without regard for any research groups or fashionable notes. However, they have some common ground too; each has excellent longevity, I get 12+hours from them, and with that they also have a rather wonderful slow development. At several points I wondered if they were in fact linear, only to find that hours later a new facet had arrived. I admire how both manage to be adult chocolate sins rather than gourmie-teenage-sugar-bomb with glitter on top, and last but not least they both ‘bloom’ in the autumn.

 

Feature pic is mine,  ‘Rosalie’s spice shop’ from Grimms, Zurbaran still life. EnVoyage sample send to me by the perfumer and Duftmanufaktur sample purchased by me.

Today on Cafleurebon –

After a three year hiatus, I’m back as a contributor at CaFleureBon with a post of Patricia de Nicolaï’s new fragrance Ambre Cashmere Intense. There’s a draw for a 30ml bottle there too, so go and enter for the chance of winning the scent equivalent of an elegant autumnal chill shield. I hope soon to have a new post here too, it seems my scented ideas have difficulties manifestifing into written reality at the moment.

ambre cashmere intense

 

 

Rose Kaleidoscope- Nahema Guerlain (1979)

In my search for that perfect rose, the dark, decadent, luminous rosy rose, I have been through a mountain of samples through the entire rose spectrum from sweet innocent over photorealistic, decadent, oriental, avant-garde to Nahema!

Nahema gets a lot of mention when the talk is of dark, velvety roses. To me this doesn’t come across as dark but it is certainly a one of a kind. It spreads out a fan of greens, perhaps the bergamot and lily-of-the-valley together with some green aldehydes, it’s a smoke-screen for the up-coming rose tour. It’s like a walk through a rose garden presented with different varieties. There’s a fruity, tart rose, a wet mossy rose, a spicy one, a black tea flavoured one… There’s no denying the huge rose presence, but it’s kept almost bouncy by the feel as if on an emerald moss ‘carpet’ underneath your feet.image

Both photorealistic and abstract at the same time, it’s like watching a rose through a kaleidoscope, disintegrating before turning into another rose which turns into another rose again. Monsieur Guerlain-blog, writes that Jean-Paul Guerlain was inspired by Ravel’s Bolero, and its ongoing theme presentation in the various instruments. This is a somewhat tiresome piece of music in my opinion, and personally I find it easier to compare to Britten’s ‘A Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra’ which is based on a theme by Purcell, turned into theme and variations for each group of instruments in the orchestra, as a way of showing off the colours and capacities of the various sections of the orchestra, before ending on a huge fugue for the full orchestra. Yes, I find that Nahema can do that to the lucky ones for whom this perfume plays in perfect harmonies*, each rose is presented it its own perfect environment, showing off to highlight its qualities.

The base, or the end fugue if you will, lays all roses to rest on a bed of oriental notes; sandalwood, patchouli and tonka bean. This is a surprising twist for the first time wearer who might almost expect a mossy dry-down, which would have placed it firmly in the 70s. Even though everything up until now might sound like it could have been contemporary, a somewhat muffled green retro vibe maintained throughout the perfume’s wearing time, states loud and clear that it’s decidedly not. Nahema is a child of its time, but I’m thinking how oddly it sits as a perfume from 1979, with half its petals in the 70s greenery and the other half looking into the 80s of huge florientals. Is it nostalgically looking to its past or welcoming a new era? It’s hard to tell.

 

Here’s an interview by Persolaise with Thierry Wasser, the whole interview is wonderfully interesting, but about Nahema he says: “Nahema! There is so much rose in it. I think, with Après l’Ondée , it’s my second most-expensive concentrate. So much rose! Absolute, oil and everything. And that’s why IFRA is after it, because of the rose and the methyl eugenol. Rose from Bulgaria is between 1.5% to 2% methyl eugenol, and the absolute is 2.5% to 3%. And that’s the chemical which, allegedly, potentially, will kill us all. I really and truly suspect that Nahema is a weapon of mass destruction.”

 

*Unfortunately not me, but on others and the mouillette too. My Nahema is a bottle of the Parfum de Toilette from 1989, I think I like it better, just for knowing that it’s actually a WoMD.

Pictures are mine.