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.

Quick Sniffs – Maison Incens’ Tabac Licorii, Figue Oudii, Musc Kalirii, Figue Eleii, Cuir Erindil

Today I want to talk about 5 perfumes from Maison Incens. The man behind the brand is Philippe Constantin and the perfumer Jean-Claude Gigodot.

I happened upon the brand by chance. A girl on a Fragrantica asked for liquorice perfumes with a salty feel (Scandinavian salty liquorice), and that’s where I came across Tabac Licorii. We decided to spilt a bottle, and I received samples from the rest of the line at the same time.

Tabac Licorii; Star anise, licorice, tobacco, violet, sea water and musk.

To me it smells of earthy tobacco and oak moss, sometimes there’s a bite of liquorice sometimes there isn’t. The same goes for the saltiness; like the sea breeze it comes and goes with the ebb and flow.image It’s a very rounded fragrance with a very natural feel, if somebody told me it was a 100% natural perfume, I wouldn’t have questioned it. As a liquorice fragrance, this might be a disappointment, but if you’re looking for a unique fragrance with a natural and cosy outdoorsy-feel, you ought to try it. It dries down a little warmer and perhaps muskier with a tad more liquorice, but still within a very natural feel. Perhaps the most masculine of the lot.

Interestingly the samples came without labels, so a fun sort of blind sniff at first, which luckily turned out to be easy’ish to verify due to strong compositions and the individual colours of the juice.

Figue Oudii; bergamot, orange, fig, ylang-ylang, violet, iris, leather, cedar, oud, sandalwood, amber and musk.

There are two fig perfumes in the line-up, the first one being the heaviest and perhaps more unusual of the two. It’s the unlikely combination of fig and oud, and if Tabac Licorii, was perhaps less true to its name, Figue Oudii certainly is. Fig is prominent, and it’s as if the oud is just the extension of the fig foliage. I should never have thought it but these two complement each other nicely. On the other side of the spectrum there’s creaminess from ylang-ylang, leather and sandalwood, which gives the whole composition a warm oriental feel. If you’re looking for an oriental perfume with more than a twist, give it a try.

Musc Kalirii; bergamot, orange, orange blossom, rose, jasmine, leather, vanilla and sandalwood.

Is characterised as a Woody Floral Musk, and funnily, it’s what it is, but again not your usual FWM: the flowers aren’t dainty but sort of ‘casually present’, the wood is not synthetic ‘blonde woods’ or whatever they are called now, but just a little woodiness, and the musk is neither laundry musk nor an animalic skank-fest, but just a bit of warmth underneath the composition.image

Figue Eleii; fig leaf, green notes, tuberose, iris, cedar, sandalwood and musk

At first sniff this one is much closer to the normal idea of a fig perfume; it’s fig, it’s green and those together translate into summery green freshness. However, it’s wonderfully paired with a creamy, milky tuberose and a more-buttery- than- not iris note, which gives this perfume a gorgeous opaline feel. I enjoy wearing this one a lot.

Cuir Erindil; bergamot, mandarin orange, incense, spicy notes, iris, myrrh, leather, musk, sandalwood and vanilla.

Although nowhere mentioned, I could swear the first few seconds of the opening smells of a mix of menthol and camphor. I’m reminded of tigerbalm in a leather bag, as the leather almost immediately takes hold of the scentscape. It’s proper leather, not suede, a little biting almost, but it softens fairly quickly into a warm and mellow base of resins, iris and just a touch of vanilla.

What I especially enjoy about all Maison Incens’ perfumes, is the daring to make perfumes that are a little different, and still eminently wearable. They are deceptively simple and quiet, but keep showing new facets with each wear and lasts way longer than I would have thought upon application. Another thing that hit me was, that I never feel overwhelmed with scent molecules blowing up in my face, rather there’s a naturalness about them which seems to leave a lot of space to take in other things than your perfume.

 

Pics by me.

Fig for Spring- Atelier Cologne, Figuier Ardent (2015)

I had started a few other posts, none of them seeming to want to finish themselves, when a small parcel from Atelier Cologne arrived, containing samples of their new line ‘Collection Azur’. Atelier Cologne has so far stood out by being a great entry-level niche brand, with accessible fragrances of great quality and beautiful design, perfumes with interesting twists on familiar themes, as well as already having a few fragrances asserting themselves as perfumista loves and stables. I expected these to be in the same vein, perhaps fresh summer colognes with a niche and Atelier thumbprint.

Of all of these fresh and summery looking fragrances, the only one that seemed to not be too opposed to the very showery Copenhagen ‘spring’ with the odd occasional silver-lining, was Figuier Ardent (Fiery Fig). Fig, for me tends to be too green and fresh, and even if I do like fig fragrances, I do not love Philisykos, Premier Figue, Figue Amere etc. So imagine my surprise, when the first sniff was pure and utter delight.

fig

Figuier Ardent doesn’t smell like the usual top note suspects of citrus and/or pepper, pink or otherwise. It smells straight off like Mediterranean green figs and fresh little fir buds. Something akin to really juicy greenness, with a sap like quality, and fluorescent green as only those first buds can be. Right underneath is a comforting fresh milkiness, not too sweet, mild rather, but invigorating and a little salty- somewhere between fig milk and fresh soft moss.

I’m unsure about when I was last so enthralled by top notes straight out of the sample vial. I went to instantly look up the notes, and it ‘clicked’- whatever gives the fir buds-like scent, those are not in the notes, but perhaps only in my imagination[i], this is however a fig-iris fragrance[ii]. If you like those two notes, well, chances are you’ll love this. I feel like there are all different layers of the fig as well as of the iris, each bouncing beautifully off each other, green to green, white to white, softness and edge in perfect measure.

There are supporting roles too, of bergamot to the fig, or cardamom to the milkiness, and even a little anise which in this combination reminds me just the slightest of the dreamlike quality in lends to Après L’Ondée. However to me none of these are very discernible but, like the perfect supporting actor, there to add layers to the leads. Only very late in the development, do I detect sweet powder zooming in and out between the basenotes. At this stage the cedar becomes ever more prominent, and even if I normally have a problem with some aspects of cedar notes turning a little rancid and too oily to/on me, here it makes perfect sense and gives a mossy feel, and is, again, a great platform for the smoothness of the iris powder and milky fig to stand out from.

Figuier Ardent, is a parfum concentration, so it has a lot of character and tenacity, but stays relatively close to the skin.

If, like me, for a while you’ve been sighing for an iris fragrance paired with something new and exciting, or indeed a fig fragrance with a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’, well here it is, and whereas it might not exactly be fiery, it certainly is one of the most unique and delightful fragrances that Atelier Cologne has produced thus far. Spring will smell great this year, come rain or come shine.

 

The feat by me, and the stunning tableau by Atelier Cologne.

 

[i] Having sniffed Figuier Ardent, and looked up the notes, I took out the Atelier design postcard from its envelope, to discover that although fir or spruce might not be in the pyramid, it’s on the gorgeous tambleau depicted on there. Perhaps I’m not all that crazy then.

[ii] My second thought was; why has no one done this combo before, because what perfumer Ralf Schwieger does with his two protagonists smells like perfect ‘twosomeness’. Well, somebody did have the idea before. Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Figue-Iris from 2000, but it seemed to play more to the green in the fig, and the light floralsy in the iris violet, before turning into Meterorites. Nice, but this one goes the whole way.

Sing me O Muse… Tempted Muse April Aromatics (New Release)

Sweeter than roses, or cool evening breeze*

On a warm flowery shore, was the dear kiss,

First trembling made me freeze,

Then shot like fire all o’er.

What magic has victorious love!

For all I touch or see since that dear kiss,

I hourly prove, all is love to me.

  • Anon

So what is sweeter than roses, sweeter than the evening breeze on a warm flowery shore? Apart from love’s first kiss, I’d say it’s Tempted Muse. But, but, I am moving ahead of myself and need to start at the beginning.

About a year ago Tanja Bochnig of April Aromatics was working on mods of two different fragrances**that she was interested in hearing my opinion on. Amongst the several samples she send,  she for some reason included one that had nothing to do with anything else simply named XX#1.

I LOVED what I smelled. Warm, sunny, embracing, golden, nectar of the Gods, a tempted muse in a grove steals a kiss from Apollon’s lips.

So I wrote back along the lines of; I like version blah and version blah for this and that reason BUT WHAT IS XX#1 – WHEN WILL YOU RELEASE IT? Tanja likes to hear people’s opinions, but as far as I’m aware, in the end she always sticks to her own (as so she should). But I was not going to give up. Basically every single correspondence we’ve had over the last year has more or less included a hint or a plea to consider releasing it into her collection.tm 002k

And finally the Goddess heard me, and the fragrance ended up as Tempted Muse. Although in this case I was not the muse even if I’m sure I was somewhat more than a tempter.

If you take a good sniff right upon the very first spray, you smell the unmistakable spark of a pink grapefruit, a sprightly not tart smell, and it melds with a feeling of a basket full of fresh, ripe fruits. There is no particular fruit note sticking out, but the colour that I perceive is the warm yellow/orange of ripe peaches and apricots.

White flowers of frangipani, jasmine, ylang-ylang and tuberose enter light-footed as a dance of the muses, each of them bringing a special gift to the fragrance. You would think it could be truly narcotic, but it isn’t, as in a circular dance you simply can’t tell where one starts and another one begins, always intertwined. I smell waxiness from the petals, evoking bees and honey, and the whole composition makes me think of nectar, like dew drops in the early morning. In the dry down, there’s vanilla and tonka bean and sandalwood, but again they are not individualists, but united; there to add to that golden colour spectrum of the overall feel.

Although the perfume is sweet, it’s not sugary; but juicy and nectarish. And every note is tied to another in an intricate pattern, to give off a unique luxuriant simplicity.

A fruity floriental, or perhaps a flirt with twisting and stretching the genres. To me it doesn’t matter; Tempted Muse is sensual yet innocent like the muses of Rafaello’s Parnassus; soft and graceful, the skin of peaches and smiles of angels, and yet, daring enough to be tempted into to stealing that first ambrosial kiss.

Rafaello - The Parnassus

Raphael – The Parnassus

 

* Can you imagine having written something as beautiful, and then be anonymous? Fortunately Purcell has set it to music that it might not be lost but love to all. Here it is in a stunning version sung by Kathleen Battle live from 1990. (Just think! If that was Samsara, it would be called vintage :-/)

**A citrus and a spring fragrance if I remember correctly. One became Ray of Light

Tempted Muse can be bought from April Aromatics, and will also be released soon as part of the PLP-project with three differentfragrances 7.5 ml each.

For another review of Tempted Muse by April Aromatics; cafleurebon

Main and bottle picture by me. Rafaello Sanzio will need no further introduction.

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.

Italian Ganache – Café Chantant Nobile 1942

Normally I don’t care to copy the marketing blurb here, however the text for Nobile 1942’s Café Chantant, is really rather delightful; ‘A cheerful buzz, burns of laughter, ladies in stunning evening gowns whose chypre perfumes are blended with gentlemen’s tobacco, ready to enjoy the show from their table in the front row. No matter what is their social status. The enjoyment of the pleasure, a genuine joie de vivre towards the end of the nineteenth century, following a wave of optimism, regenerating the great European capitals.’ Indeed it was delightful enough to go in search of the perfume.cafe chantant #4

If, after reading this, you’re looking for a gourmand-chypre, this one isn’t as sophisticated as that, it also isn’t reminiscent of times gone by seen from a perfumed perspective, it is also a far cry from the ‘back-stage velvet robes, powder-puffs and fur boas’ of HdP’s Moulin Rouge- this is really a gourmand the Italian way, and it’s a rather fine one.

I like the Nobile 1942 line; I think they have done some nice fragrances, which manage to stay true to their Italian origin, being more flamboyant than the typical French style, while at the same time being quite classical in their compositions.

The name is taken from the ‘singing cafés’ of the belle époque, an environment as described above, so although you’d assume they do drink coffee in these cafés, this isn’t a perfume created around a coffee note. Rather Café Chantant starts out very almondy and with a whiff of a doll-head-note, that combination of vanillin and heliotrope. When I think of the belle époque, I also think stylized drawings and posters of women with big dolls eyes, so this imagery works for me.

cafe chantant #3A hint of cherry evokes the smoke of pipe tobacco hanging in the crowded room. Although I never get a coffee note per Se, I do smell a mix of anise, working its way into a dark liquorice molasses, and combined with an entirely patchophobe-friendly patchouli and laurels, this somehow manages together with the heliotrope to smell like a rather gorgeous coffee hazelnut blend or perhaps you should care for an Italian Gianduja with your espresso, per favore?

On my skin Café Chantant stays cuddly, a darkish gourmand rounded by a bit of buttery iris, however, on the scent strip I do get a bit of that chypre mentioned, it’s like that liquorice- patch combination goes a bit more dark emerald green, rather than the dark cherry red and ganache layered cake I get on skin.

A good old-fashioned Italian song, sung by a famous Italian tenor, would be the right sound track to end this post with; so for those who care for it here’s a link to the beautiful song ‘Non ti scordar di me’ as sung in the 1935 film (by the same name) by Beniamino Gigli.

 

*the pics are mine.

Le feu d’issey- catching fire…

Since I have already a couple of years sporadic blog writing behind me as a contributor at Ca Fleure Bon and as a guest writer for Ines at All I am – a Redhead where I was fortunate enough to tread my blogger-baby steps, I will, at least for now, skip further introduction or even the explanations and without further ado, get on with it; a warm welcome to my first post on The Sounds of Scent.

I have missed writing, but being between flats, living out of suitcases, moving out, in or around and redecorating have taken up a lot of time. There are fun things about moving too though; for instance how you rediscover things which you have managed to pack away for so long you truly had no idea of their existence. And so, in a box full of useless old things, stocked away in a Copenhagen basement, and before that in a loft somewhere in south London since its move from Germany, imagine my delight at finding a nearly full bottle of Issey Miyake’s Le Feu d’Issey*. I have no idea when or why I packed it away; I can even no longer remember when I got it, but the sight of the bottle and the quick spray brought back memories.

Of all the fragrances I ever owned, Le Feu d’Issey was perhaps the closest I ever came to having a signature scent. That was back when it was a new scent in the late ‘90s and early 2000, as it went with me through Music College. I wore it so often I get phantosmia just thinking of that red- orange crazy plastic ball. I am not sure anymore if I simply had enough of it one day, or if it was actually the unavailability that made me stop wearing ‘Issey’s Fire’, but little by little it drifted out of my sight and thoughts, and it wasn’t until much later, aware of its increasing rareness, that I tried to hunt down a bottle for nostalgic reasons.

Almost impossible to describe to the uninitiated, I’ll have a go at it none the less. The green juiciness of bergamot and coriander combined with anise/ wormwood are a punch of an opening.

I keep getting this absinthe-imagery; the green liquor which changes into a milky opalescence, by adding sugar and water which in turn will bring out the herbal aromas of the liquor. This could be Le Feu. As the coconut milk and a creamy- slightly sour- lily joins the greenness- the lactones underlined by the sandalwood from the base, it adds an extra subtle change to the herbs and spices.

The sweetness keeps vying with the sourness for attention, with a fickle pink rose thrown back and forth between the two, undecided where she stands. And the wormwood gives a last smirk, before it sinks into a supposedly comfortable woody-amber base.

le feu-soundsofscent

The perfume is instantly recognisably unique; it was different back then too, I had never smelled anything quite like it, and on the other hand it was clear that it tried to dig into that new genre; the Gourmand.  Perhaps it had even tried to do what Angel did before, be unashamedly different and become a success for it. Le Feu misfired, and was discontinued.

I moved on, and bought and wore different things, but it wasn’t until I sniffed Douce Amere by Serge Lutens, that I fell truly in love with perfume again; Douce Amere being of course another great (albeit entirely different) wormwood creation for lover of the woody-oriental genre. I wasn’t looking for a substitute, but I was looking for a new perfume to intrigue and beguile me and ultimately, unknown to me at the time, it was the one that send me down the fragrant rabbit hole. But that’s a different story, and that will have to wait for another time…

*Created by Jacques Cavallier in 1998

Notes vary, but here from Fragrantica: The top notes are bergamot, coconut, rosewood and anise. The heart is composed of jasmine, rose, milk and caramel. The base notes are cedar, sandalwood, Guaiac wood, vanilla and musk

For more perfume reviews of Le Feu d’Issey see Fragranticaolfactoria at perfume smelling things, PeredePierre, sorcery of scent

pics are mine