Souvenir Scent – Paglieri 1876, Agrigentum, Florentia, Venetiae (2016)

Perfume can carry us away in an instant; to faraway places, to memories of time long past, to new horizons and places we didn’t know exist, and even to the abstract of unlimited imagination. Of course, it works the other way around too; when we travel, what better way to keep a memory than to buy a special perfume connected with that place, and to revisit through scent, when you long for a break or a memory.

As a perfume lover, we like nothing more than getting hold of liquid holiday memories in pretty bottles, (hello city exclusives!) preferably closely related to the destination, and even if scented memoirs are not a new thing, the Italian brand Paglieri 1876, which makes a speciality of scenting the most famous cities in the boot country, was new to me.

Through a dear friend I got to try the three of their perfumes; Venetiae, Agrigentum and Florentia

Florentia has notes of bergamot, rose, clove, cedar, iris, leather, styrax, amber, tonka bean and sandalwood.

And obviously, Florentia is an iris fragrance, based on the Iris Florentina, (how could it not be?) and what a pretty one it is. Up top it’s crispy with a little peppery clove, while a fresh-ish rose, aided by the dryness of woods, alludes to starched white shirts cool against sun warmed skin. The iris that follows, throws on a hand-tailored Italian leather jacket, and becomes warm, noble-spicy and the tiniest bit dirty. While I might not truly need more iris perfumes, this lovely Florentine postcard would surely come home with me as a souvenir if I came across it in its name town.

Venetiae; Geranium, cinnamon, rose, sea-notes, freesia, saffron, oud, sandalwood, tonka bean, amber.

Most astounding Venetiae doesn’t start by hitting you with the rose-oud hammer, rather it opens on a combo of spice, rose-oud and… nothing! …Nothing? Air perhaps?

I couldn’t understand why something could smell of air until I realised that it was the scent of Copenhagen air, salt-water air, which was a part of this rather unusual oud opening. Like a little riddle hidden inside the perfume, I was delighted that my reaction was actually sea-air, rather than ‘someone trying to recreate salty air, but it just smells hideously synthetic’. The secret being in the dosage I believe, which is minimal. The rest of the perfume is nicely done; woudy (wood and oud in just the right amounts), enough flowers to waft a bouquet breeze and warm spices round of Ventiae. Yes, in a weak moment, I could see myself buying into the salty gondolier air and the merchant bazar of Venetiae.

Agrigentum; mandarin, lemon, orange, almond, ylang-ylang, jasmine, violet, patchouli, tonka bean, vanilla, praline.

Agrigentum starts as an alcohol-free cocktail hour and turns into a creamy gourmand. The citrus fruits are juicy, refreshing yet sunny and sweet, with a hint of berries adding tartness. The almond, paired with ylang-ylang, vanilla and praline is sweet, yet not completely tooth-decay-category. It’s Dolce Vita, Baby. The sun is shining and even The Godfather is having dessert in the shade, while Etna looks too cute and postcard pretty from a distance to be worried about.

Agrigentum is too gourmand for me, but then, I have yet to travel to Sicily, who knows which perfume I’ll choose to bring home as a souvenir?

Perhaps in future perfumeries with regional perfumes will replace all kitschy souvenir shops, perfumista heaven?

Did you bring perfume home from your holiday?

 

My Vega, My Sin – About a Vintage Perfume and a Black Cat

I remember reading Undina’s series of her love of orange cats. Now Rusty has to be the blogosphere’s most photogenic cat, but for me; I like all cats, or so I thought because, in hindsight, I see a few black influencers…

L to R in circle; me in ’78 with my favourite songbook under the arm, the cover of said songbook, Dinah Alice’s kitty from through the looking glass, Chat Noir, My Sin advert, Cat Woman, Bacall obviously with Black cats, Behemot, another My Sin. middle: another childhood fave.

Starting here; with my favourite song book as a child, over to Alice’s kitten, Cat woman, the famous Chat Noir, the infamous Behemot and last but not least My Sin! What a lineage…

I never thought that my cat the cat who would accept to share my home with me, should be called anything perfume related, so going through endless names, her name was actually from the star rather than the perfume. As she had three white dots from neck to underbelly, I decided she should be called for the brightest star in the summer triangle; Vega! And this is how she ended up with a perfume related name after all. So or so, it suits her and she likes it as in; she doesn’t ignore it.

I’ve been talking about getting a cat for ages but also been very aware of the responsibility going with it. Perhaps too much so, forgetting what a pleasure it is sharing your life with an animal.
I had been scouring the various shelter sites for ‘the one’, for ages. A cat for which it wouldn’t be a deprivation being in a flat, a ‘single’ cat, since I felt two was a bit much for my flat.
‘My’ cat had been on the site for some months, one reason being that the description by the woman who had taken care of her while Vega was fostering her kittens, was not encouraging. She wrote that Vega had only been out of her hiding at night when the house was quiet, and she was uncertain if Vega would ever become accustomed to people. I am sure that didn’t help matters, considering that black cats are still harder to shift than other colours, and a one-eyed cat to boot. A black, one-eyed, scaredy-cat in short.

I decided to take a look since she had been there for more than 4 months, perhaps they knew more about her development now?

At the shelter, I played with her delicately and tried to hand her a treat to which she responded by rolling on her back for me, and, by doing so, telling me in ‘Cat’, that she would like a forever home kind-of n(e)ow.

I thought that visit proved that there was more than a tiny hope that she could become a happy cat if I was willing to risk that she might also be forever shy.

The first night was spent underneath my bed, and it took about a week for her to become familiar with more than my bedroom and the floor, but then the development was speedy.

Now, there are only a few signs of her early timid behavior, and quite a few that she has accepted me as her humble servant.
Since I already wrote about Vega here, let me end up with a short My Sin ‘review’, in honour of all black cats.

Before My Sin gets its reputation butchered by this new version – folks do write the funniest things when they are indignant about something- I want to have a look at the old Dame that is vintage ‘My Sin’.

“It actually reminds me of (…) the little lapdog from the movie Legally Blonde. Take a tiny chihuahua, dress it in pink, and name it Bruiser, this is what Lanvin did now”

“Shame, shame everyone knows you’re lying with this name”

“It’s like spray painting primer over a Rembrandt, drawing a stick figure on it and calling it art.”

“THROW IT IN THE TRASH”

All Fragrantica quotes for the new version

Unfortunately, I only own a sample of the original parfum, which might mean that it has even less resemblance to what the fresh and original My Sin would have smelled like back in 1924 when this particular Madame Zed perfume was released for the house, Lanvin.

I can, however, still smell the full intention behind the name. The, by age, soften molded aldehydes, reminds me of the grease once used in the practice of floral oil extraction, known as enfleurage. The heart of the fragrance which must once have been addictively intoxicating is a buzz of bees around decaying and debauched white flowers. Its base is lush and drunken with sensual feline animalics and bodily warmth. Oh my, to own this… Oh my, even more, to have been the woman who wore this back in the days, some woman she would have been…

 

Black cats can be hard to photograph as the shadows only seems to blur their features, but catch them in the rays of the sun, and you see the beauty of the black cat: where the fur catches the sun, it turns a glistering white, and in this magical way, there are no shadows just light…

 

And finishing on that note

Black Cat by Rainer Maria Rilke

A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear:

just as a raving madman, when nothing else
can ease him, charges into his dark night
howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels
the rage being taken in and pacified.

She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen
into her, so that, like an audience,
she can look them over, menacing and sullen,
and curl to sleep with them. But all at once

as if awakened, she turns her face to yours;
and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny,
inside the golden amber of her eyeballs
suspended, like a prehistoric fly.

Translated by Stephen Mitchell.

Swap-Shaming and Aging Gracefully

I was slowly getting curious about the new releases when I was swap-shamed!

It happened like this.

I was, as I said, getting back in the new release-mojo when I read that Guerlain had a new perfume out in the L’Art et le Matière series called Joyeuse Tubéreuse. I wanted to test it, and when I saw that a woman, Dimitra, at Parfumo was ready to swap 5mls, I initiated a swap.

I want to tell you the story as to thoroughly warn you of this person, but it also serves a higher purpose than to merely shame the swap-shammer.

I send the small swap parcel containing one ml of L’Heure de Nuit and 5ml Spiritueuese Double Vanille (SDV) as well as several samples. Then I heard nothing for 16 days, although I enquired, since normally the post from Denmark to Germany takes 5 days at the most, and often 2-3 days only. After just over 2 weeks, she said she had received the swap, but the SDV had turned and was completely black, that she had compared it to the one in the Guerlain shop and it didn’t smell the same and that she had sent my end…

I then wrote that I was terribly sorry and asked what I could do to rectify this, that to the best of my knowledge it hadn’t been off when I last wore it, and whatever touched my skin when I decanted (by pipette) had not made me suspicious, but that I would check again using the sprayer.

Back to SDV; You see my photo here and the perfume has certainly darkened, (if not exactly blackened!) testing it with the sprayer, I found that although it hadn’t turned, which is an acidic disgusting and absolutely unwearable smell, it wasn’t fresh anymore, and it had definitely changed and now smelled like it was aging/ perhaps starting to go off. Even if after 15-30 seconds this stage was over.

 

SDV in the middle, the ‘black’ juice.

 

One of the reasons it would never have occurred to me that what I decanted could be questioned to its quality, was the fact that it was a Guerlain and a very ‘oriental’ one at that, so much less likely to turn than a lighter fragrance. I like my vintage fragrances, and so far, have not come across a turned perfume from Guerlain, even if I have many vintage bottles, some are even just decants and samples as old as 50-80 years and still pristine, aged but certainly not turned. Even my Chamade extrait (known to be problematic) is superb.

Could my, probably 10 yr old bottle of SDV already be turning? And I saw a complaint from someone whose Guerlain perfume in bulb atomizer had started flaking. I’ve not read anyone complaining about SDV before, so, am I just unlucky or is this the new future of perfume? Will there be no ‘vintage’ from 1990s-2017 for people in 2050 to smell?

 

Jessica Lange, with a little help. (both actresses born 1949)

 

Sigourney Weaver as nature intended

This did make me think how contemporary fragrances no longer have time to age,and no longer made so that they can in fact age gracefully. The newmolecules get used before anyone knowsif they are stable ( I remember a case of Frapin over at Olfactoria’s) Again, and again, vintage lovers are told that the perfumes they worship were meant to smell different intheir day, yet many smellfresh, and the best ones smell divine. The materials used might age, but stored properly they rarely go completely off. It made me think of the difference between aging gracefully and plastic surgery.

Perhaps a harsh comparison, and after all most people DO use up their perfume, and do not hoard collect like perfumistas.

 

Take another fragrance of mine and compare these two: Fath de Fath 6 yrs old approx. and Fath de Fath from somewhere between 1946-1949! Vintage still fresh, and look at the flaky stuff of the new one…

Fath de Fath new and old, see the flaky stuff?

It saddens me to see so many new fragrance launches and thinking that most of them will probably not stand the test of time. The way I unearth an old sample of Djedi, and still get to time-travel and experience a bygone era, will that be a possibility from today’s perfumes? Storing your most loved contemporary fragrance for 50 years, would you still have a fragrance worth wearing?

Getting back to my unhappy swap experience. A month after that last message from her, and many messages (from me,) later a parcel finally arrived, and I couldn’t wait to rip it open, only to find: everything, even extras, returned to me, except 1 ml missing from the SDV and the sample of L’Heure de Nuit, which she had kept. I got: No message, no explanation, no Neroli Outrenoir as thank you for the L’Heure de Nuit perhaps, even no parcel at all had been better than this awkward and petty reaction. And just like that, I had been swap-shamed by Dimitra of Stuttgart!

 

Have you ever experienced contemporary perfumes turn? Have you been swap shamed?

I’ll Take My Perfume Fearless, Please – Camelia Intrepide Atelier Cologne, Tobacco Mandarin and Leather Artemisia Jo Malone

I’m still here, writing from my old patience-trying PC, which is in desperate need of being exchanged for a younger model.
When it comes to perfume and younger models, not so convinced…. As much as one understands the need for new blockbusters and niche-cum-mainstream/ mainstream-cum-niche, the new models seem to all be cut of the same caramel soaked pie in the sky.
Some companies thrive by using the gray area, the high-end department store, as a force, by making interesting yet wearable fragrances on a certain level with a strong brand profile.

I would count among them brands like Jo Malone and Atelier Cologne. Pretty on the shelf, great design and accessibility and wonderful customer service.

The 2016 Atelier Cologne release Camelia Intrepide is a name created of the fantasy note of a scentless flower and ‘intrepid/bold’, add the story of a female aviator (C-Amelia Earheart) from the PR, the fragrance has something to live up to. It’s created by Jerome Epinette and notes are; lemon, bergamot, nutmeg, camellia, orris root, violet leaf, Turkish rose oil, leather and amber.

We all know by now that notes are a guideline only, however here I was completely baffled that notes and fragrance had anything to do with each other. For the longest time, I’ve been looking for a smoky tea perfume, and basically, here we have it. On a friend, it behaved differently, much cuter, peony-rosy and ambrox like, but on me, it stayed smoked tea with a hint of bergamot with just a drop of rose. The scent strip smells that way too. Is it my smoked tea? Not sure, perhaps it isn’t quite intrepid enough for me…

Whereas the Jo Malone main collection has left my purse closed so far, I have on several occasions been pretty smitten with the seasonal Limited Editions. As the name suggests, these can be hard to come by, especially if you are the type who wants to try before you buy. If you do not have a JM shop near you, before you get around to try a LE, it’s likely to be sold out. I was quite excited to find that the new JM stand in a Copenhagen department store carries the LE, and the lovely SA was even happy to fill testers for a picky customer like myself. From this Limited Edition called ‘The Bloomsbury Set’, I chose Leather Artemisia and Tobacco Mandarin (both by Yann Vasnier).

Members of the Bloomsbury Group 1915

Tobacco Mandarin has notes of mandarin, sage and honeyed pipe tobacco. The mandarin is not a loud citrus burst, more a warm flavor, a backdrop to the tobacco. The tobacco is hay-like, it’s sweet but not overly so, and there’s only the vaguest hint of something smoky. That’s it really, at least to me… Pleasant, probably an office kind of scent, if one likes such terms.

The other one I was curious to try was Leather Artemisia, being quite a fan of artemisia also known as wormwood. According to the PR these are the notes “the striking green facets of anise-tinged absinthe blend with aromatic artemisia, soft orriswood and the deep richness of leather enhanced by the amber woody notes of Cypriol”. Orriswood??? Is that like Krispy Kreme? Like there’s no orris and no wood, so if we call it orriswood we are not lying? Orris is the iris root, and I’m quite sure they are incapable of growing into trees? Sorry, this is just me not liking the fancy-schmancy gloss-over ingredients which seem to pop up everywhere.
Leather Artemisia has a bit of green sharpness in the opening, where after the wormwood (also not wood, but different to orriswood, wormwood is the name of the plant ;-)) takes over with its dominant herbal sweetness with a touch of fennel, so characteristic for this plant. The leather is more suede than leather, and the overall feel is rounded, making for an amiable scent.

Both can be shared, and both are nice but kind of ‘thick’ in the structure making them more scent than perfume.

Overall, these three fragrances are all very nice and quite office friendly, but next time I would wish for a bit more intrepidness all round.

 

pic by me.

A Silver Lining- Agartha April Aromatics (2016)

I never meant to be away for so long it just sort of happened… If you’re still there, and you actually read this, thank you for your patience.

When Tanja of April Aromatics asked if she could send me a sample of her newest creation Agartha, of course I was happy that she wanted me to get to know her new perfume, but it was also wonderful to get the much-needed nudge to start writing again.
Well, that’s not strictly speaking true; I’ve been writing loads, just not about perfume. Anyway, as work and many other things have taken up my time, the story of Agartha is actually very relevant. More than once have I wished for the ‘rabbit hole’ (not referring to the perfumed one for once) to appear before me and let me step into a time pocket to do all those things which the roller coaster of life doesn’t seem to cater to, while not ‘wasting’ time outside in ‘real time’.

Agartha seemed a strange name to me at first, but Tanja chose the name for a place which, in her words, is ‘about hope, a perfect place a bit like paradise’, and to quote wiki “Agartha  is a legendary city that is said to be located in the Earth’s core”. And for those who thinks this a little too steep, she wanted to create the perfume around; sweetness, happiness, hope.

Agartha on my skin is fairly linear, but with great longevity, even more so when you consider that this perfume is (as all of April Aromatics’ perfumes) 100% natural. There’s the honeyed part of the fruit melting with the honeyed part of Himalayan mimosa into the honey and in a wondrous way balancing to be fresh rather than cloying. I don’t mean like in green or hesperidic-fresh, more like this bright liveliness, like sunbeams!
The other notes are cardamom, hay, tobacco leaf, labdanum, patch and oud. Pressed I would say I get the hay, and I can see how the oud interacts beautifully with the honey to make it earthy and even, rather than having the sharp, or dare I say urinal, scent that honey can sometimes have. This should by all sense make for a quite heavy perfume, yet there it is light, peaceful and uplifting.

Agartha is the most unusual easy-wear perfume I think I’ve come across in a very long time, as in it isn’t something seen a thousand times before, and at the same time it’s eminently wearable.

Perhaps it took Agartha to remind me what perfume can be at its best; a means to transport you somewhere where you can be the best possible version of yourself.

Something Old, Something New – Boy Chanel (2016) Exalting Aroma Allegoria Guerlain (2002)

This whole naming perfumes after people Coco Chanel knew, is not quite my thing, I think it probably caters to brand loyals and Coco Chanel fans, of which I am neither, particularly. In a way, when it’s named for somebody mostly known to posterity because of his affair with Coco, it feels almost like we’re into retro-pseudo- celebuscent domain. Could you imagine the Kim Kardashian perfumes being called after her friends, lovers and family? Not so much.

img_3521

Anyway, putting my initial reservations aside, Boy is a lovely perfume. And it does feel like the side kick to Misia and 1932, the last two exclusifs. I hesitate to call it the ‘masculine’ side kick, as this is more dandyesque, and reminds me that I must try to watch ‘Transparent’ soon. It’s certainly as cross-perfumed as it gets.

The almost candied lavender feels like opening an old French linen chest. Behind the lavender there’s tonka, coumarin, talcum powder and (the inevitable) white musk. Like starched white shirts and brilliantine hair (ok, I see the latter rather than sniff it), it smells old-fashioned clean, and contemporary smooth. Boy is easy to wear, easy to like and great for everyday use. Especially for someone who finds the floral elegance of Misia and 1932 a bit too much.

Oh, I should have given the Anthony Andrews picture right, a purple tinted hue, that would have been just perfect for Boy.

img_1027While I like Chanel perfumes (but only have two bottles in the cupboard), I can’t run from being a lover of most Guerlain classics (with a fair collection). A perfume that I’ve been wearing loads as the colder weather set in, is the discontinued Exalting (or Exaltant) Aromaparfum as it’s called, from the Aroma Allegoria line by Guerlain. It’s a true autumnal perfume, for the first days of grey sky and a myriad of brown coloured leaves. It’s purifying and velvety, comforting and mood enhancing. The perfume is a balance act between zesty and luscious. There is a distinct spicy bitter orange and neroli but also pepper and a crisp-bitter green scent of cypress. Perhaps there’s even a spruce bud tinge. To keep the tart juiciness in check there are warm spices of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and a touch of vanilla (it’s a Guerlain after all), there are resins and tonka and it’s all wrapped up in an exalting sandalwood coat. Indeed, Exalting is a warm and exuberant woody-oriental perfume with a Christmassy touch.

I’m left with the image of walking down an Italian path of tall cypress trees, exaltingly striving towards the sky.

 

 

A mini of Chanel Boy was sent to me by the sweetest cookie on the blog, Val da cookie queen.

Except Anthony Andrews as a dandy (couldn’t find credits), the pics are mine.

Here Lies a Rose – Rose perfumes for those who can’t wear them

So dear fellow rose sufferers, you know who you are, the ones that all rose perfumes turn sour on in varying degrees, at least if they are ‘true’ roses.

The good news is, that after extensive research I managed to find some roses that work for me and might work for you (because I found that even if one rose works for a rose-rejecting skin, it doesn’t mean it works for the other). The bad news is, that a lot of them are discontinued…

Still I decided to write about my findings, and note that I’ll only add the perfumes that I consider to be true soli-roses, not perfumes like Parfum Sacre, Nuit de Noel etc. (both work very well for me btw)

Also a little note on the so-called ‘dark’ roses. The patchouli rose combo doesn’t translate as dark to me, it just reads rose-patch, it mostly smells hippie, (I ghost smell the henna, cheap incense and corduroy) and it makes my nostrils itch, metaphorically speaking.

Let me start by contradicting myself; a lot of Rose-Oud combos work just fine, in fact most do. However, I find most of them not really me, I also find these to be pretty samey, and only a few stand out so much I wanted to actually own them. I suppose there’s enough of them to warrant a post of their own, so rose ouds to follow sometime in the future.

Jo Malone: Rock the Ages Tudor Rose and Amber was a limited edition and discontinued like the rest of the few Malones that work for me. This one is light, but not as high-end home fragrance-like as most of the line (Sorry Malone lovers 😉 ) I’ve seen it compared to Stella, but apart from being an ambery kind of rose, I don’t really feel they are similar, but maybe I don’t smell half of Stella due to too much ambroxan or whichever molecule it is. Perhaps it’s the use of ginger which cleverly overshadows any sourness, and the clove which takes the rose in the ambery almost carnation-like direction which makes it so instantly pleasing. Although light, it has moderate staying power and sillage, and is an excellent everyday fragrance.

Damask and Tudor rose, ginger, pink pepper, clove, amber, patchouli and white musk

Les Parfums de Rosine Secrets de Rose: The note list plum, orange, rose, saffron, liquorice, magnolia, ylang ylang, rose absolute. jasmine, cumin, sandalwood, amber, labdanum, musk and moss and you would think from reading that, that’s it’s massive and thick. However, Secrets de Rose is a subtle spicy and quite sheer metallic rose. The cumin is not detectable and the liquorice and saffron not more that an afterthought. It all adds up to a light perfume in a deeply saturated rose-colour. One of my favourite everyday roses. It’s at the same time a no brainer as it’s satisfying and womanly.

Dame Perfumery Desert Rose; what a surprise: a powdery rose, but a true rose and what a beauty. It came to me by chance from a Canadian perfumista, and I didn’t even give it much notice when I first sprayed thinking it would be another soli-flore rose of the cute sort – unwearable for me. Imagine my surprise when discovering a gorgeous warm rose. A dry and grown-up rose, but neither anachronistic nor old-fashioned powder wig. I suppose once again it’s the carnation which makes it wearable for me, and the lack of the usual make-up powder, which makes it very much about the rose.

Turkish rose otto, Damask rose, peach, Sicilian lemon, Egyptian jasmine, geranium, carnation, heliotrope, sandalwood, amber, musk and vanilla.

Theo Fennell Scent: very difficult to get much info on. Notorious for getting a 5***** review at Mr and Mrs perfume Godfather.  Opens of a terrific rose, deep red and almost fleshy. What a stunning opening, it does quite quickly go into a mix of spices and bodily warmth. I’m a near cumin-phobe, thinking that cumin belongs in food, not perfumery, but here cumin is excellently mixed with a skin-like musk to become this stunning brave sensuousness. Most definitely carnal, and not for the faint of heart, or the ones who prefer their roses dainty pretty. Booty call Bootiliciousness in a bottle.

D’Ame de Pique a highly wearable jammy oriental rose which I wrote about.

Or et Noir– the gorgeous black and gold soli flore, a classic somewhere between ‘witness for the prosecution’ and damask velvet. I wrote about Or et Noir here.

Opus V: Iris-Oud-Rose. A quite stunning combination on the days it works. It gets together and becomes this warm sexy thing with nothing comparable to it. On the days it doesn’t, it starts to stray in all directions.

Last but not least the darkest bitch rose of them all, bade me post the following message:

Dear Youths (hipster girls),

How am I to be respectful of you? You wear the fashion of my days, yet, you do not seem to realise that it is highly unbecoming. That it was a mistake once, does not make it worth repeating. You want to be dark, feel deep, but I am looking at you with contempt and disapproval as on top of that mistaken outfit you wear a cloud of cupcake. The only darkness in 1994 was I. I am the diva of darkness and the evil fairy godmother you’re happy to never have had. I could not resent you more if I tried,

(Yours) sincerely fierce and scornful,

L’Arte Gucci

image 

Ok, so maybe rather too cute for this post, there being no innocent roses around, none the less it has to be ‘Spectre de la Rose’ by Berlioz, text by Théophile Gautier. (if you’re interested this version of the same song is the equivalent of how roses usually smell on me ;-))

Soulève ta paupière close
Qu’effleure un songe virginal.
Je suis le spectre d’une rose
Que tu portais hier au bal.
Tu me pris encor emperlée
Des pleurs d’argent de l’arrosoir,
Et parmi la fête étoilée
Tu me promenas tout le soir.

Ô toi, qui de ma mort fut cause,
Sans que tu puisses le chasser,
Toutes les nuits mon spectre rose
A ton chevet viendra danser.
Mais ne crains rien, je ne réclame
Ni messe ni De Profundis,
Ce léger parfum est mon âme
Et j’arrive du Paradis.

Mon destin fut digne d’envie,
Et pour avoir un sort si beau
Plus d’un aurait donné sa vie.
Car sur ton sein j’ai mon tombeau,
Et sur l’albâtre où je repose
Un poète avec un baiser
Écrivit : “Ci-gît une rose
Que tous les rois vont jalouser”

 

Open your closed eyelid

Which is gently brushed by a virginal dream!

I am the ghost of the rose

That you wore last night at the ball.

You took me when I was still sprinkled with pearls

Of silvery tears from the watering-can,

And, among the sparkling festivities,

You carried me the entire night.

 

O you, who caused my death:

Without the power to chase it away,

You will be visited every night by my ghost,

Which will dance at your bedside.

But fear nothing; I demand

Neither Mass nor De Profundis;

This mild perfume is my soul,

And I’ve come from Paradise.

 

My destiny is worthy of envy;

And to have a fate so fine,

More than one would give his life

For on your breast I have my tomb,

And on the alabaster where I rest,

A poet with a kiss

Wrote: “Here lies a rose,

Of which all kings may be jealous.”

Mojo Lost – Sweet Morphine Ex Nihilo (2015) and Bohea Bohème Mona di Orio (2016)

The weather outside is gorgeous, the perfumes… Well, let’s just blame it on me, I was a tad uninspired. Bloggers and forums raved about stuff I found disappeared after a few hours of uninventiveness. I’m not quite here but I can absolutely relate to all Victoria’s sentiments.

I got the mojo back after sniffing some excellent stuff at our local ‘drug’-store, the wonderfully curated and hip Crime Passionnel; the boozy range from Les Liquide Imaginaires consisting of Dom Rosa (Champagne and strawberry), Blood Wine (cherry, red wine and oak barrels), Bello Rabello (port and immortelle). Also, finding fougeres not the easiest of genres, I found I had skipped ever testing Fougere Bengale, a staple in the Parfum d’Empire line up. Apart from the lavender note up top, this one (as the enthusiastic Aivaras of CP pointed out) actually has a smokey, honeyed vetiver in common with the spellbinding Djedi.

Anyway, since I don’t have any of them, today is not going to be about these perfumes, that will have to wait for another time, it is going to be about a few of those I tried which stood out to me.

Always a lover of iris perfumes, and interested in lilac perfumes. I was attracted to the sound of Ex Nihilo’s Sweet Morphine by perfumer Nathalie Gracia-Cetto. Top notes are lilac and bergamot; middle notes are iris, mimosa absolute and rose; base notes are vetiver, patchouli, bourbon vanilla, heliotrope and orris. image

You see double whammy of iris/orris, mimosa, rose and lilac, you need not know a lot about perfume to know that this will probably be powdery.

Sweet Morphine starts on a fluffy sweet lilac note, real pretty. Nothing heady or even soapy, just a downy puff of lilac powder dispersing itself into a purple cloud. I was reminded slightly of a more present version of Opardu, which to me is more nostalgic and softly soapy. Sweet Morphine is velvety and iris-sweet until the latter stage where the vanilla takes over and it becomes adult-gourmand. It’s quite delightful, even if personally I could have done with less of a sugar fairy ending and instead something just a little bit more edgy. Anyone who loved Opardu but found it too quiet should most definitely give Sweet Morphine a try.

Composed by Fredrik Dalman ‘Mona di Orio’ the house, has released Bohea Bohème, the second fragrance after the last of the late di Orio’s compositions had been released. The fragrance features bergamot, cardamom, iris, chamomile, balsam fir, boxwood, geranium, black tea, juniper, smoke, oak, sandalwood, beeswax, bay leaf, benzoin,vanilla absolute and poplar buds.

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Smokey black tea is the sense of that first intake of air, there’s even a shortly a fresh sharpness, juniper I suppose, although my first thought was of a mix of spruce and eucalyptus. There’s the underlying spicy scent of fir trees, and the discreet mix of resins, benzoin and vanilla/ sandalwood softens the smoke and fir into an obedient and sheer unisex perfume, rather than a becoming a German sauna oil.

I like its easy wearable, even friendly, smoke and black tea, and I should dearly like to test this one sprayed lavishly, rather than from a sample, to feel if that would change the effect into something feistier. Even if deep, it’s more nice than naughty, and probably how most people prefer to take their tea perfume. I’m not most people, I like double espressos, and I should have like double up of BB too. However, if like me you were disappointed by the Jo Malone exclusive tea perfumes, and you were looking for black tea, not Chai latte, definitely give Bohea Bohème a try.

How do you feel about recent releases? Did you find beauty or boredom, or have you perhaps tried the two I mention above?

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?

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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