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.

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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.

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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).

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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.