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?

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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.

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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.