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.

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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.

Semi-Nostalgia or “The Deluded World” – Inedité Lubin (2009) and La Dandy Parfums D’Orsay (2010)

It’s not that I’m lacking in the perfume sample department, but it seems that at the moment I’m in an odd kind of semi-nostalgic perfumista state. I have started craving samples that I got some time ago, and which have now either been passed on or were hidden in some far away corner.

Out of the blue I got a craving for D’Orsay’s La Dandy and Lubin’s Inedité. I think I tried them at roughly the same time in about 2010, and I’m pretty sure that although well used at the time, I didn’t touch them again until now.

Inedité was created by Thomas Fontaine in 2009. It starts out nectarish fruity and with a warm spicy feeling created I believe by cloves and a faint cinnamon. In the beginning there’s also a slightly metallic note, perhaps lilac, which sits well with the emergence of a somewhat raspy patchouli. Through the spices the patchouli corset seems to reveal a retro chypre bone structure, however, Inedité quickly gets dressed up in fluffy lace of powdery iris and heliotrope, and adds a bit of lipstick rose. Although very feminine, this part isn’t girly, as the spices and patch keeps the powder puff oh-la-la so elegant. A boudoir of the finest sort.

La Dandy by Parfums D’Orsay is from 2010 starts off as one would expect from such a name; treading ground between masculine and feminine. Bergamot as well as a spice blend of green cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves mix with a creamy ylang ylang and soft, silky jasmine. It’s like wearing a man’s shirt, his perfume still lingering, on top of your white floral perfume. A wonderful peach, first skin like, then sweeter and sweeter, takes over and a peach vanilla desert is the result. We are very far away from La Dandy of the beginnings, as this really is gourmand territory. Sandalwood takes over from vanilla, honey and co, as the perfume dries down. Foody sweetness in combination with perfume will probably never be my thing, even if I do love a good peach note.

I enjoyed my little nostalgic trip back in the time before oudmania, flimsy skin scents, insane price increase etc. And whereas I will probably not be adding these to my collection, they are absolutely worth looking at if either genre is your thing.

I was a little perplexed at this sudden onset of craving for samples I didn’t even know I remembered! But an e-mail from a friend made me aware of what might lie beneath it; the number of new releases which now no longer hide the fact that what they use has nothing to do with the real deal; petalia, timberwood, silkwood I could go on. Are people now so familiar with ambroxan and friends, that it sells putting it on the box? I should like to think that I like the perfumes I do, regardless of what it says on the packet. But perhaps, even if just for a moment, I longed for the more dreamy, less realistic approach.

This all made me think of this wonderful little Mozart song called ‘Die Betrogene Welt’/ The Deluded World, yes, sometimes we all want to be deceived.

The rich fool bedecked with gold,
Catches Selina’s eye:
The worthy man is send packing,
She chooses the Dandy for husband.
Repentance soon limps along
In the wake of the splendid wedding feast
For the world wants to be deceived:
Therefore let it be deceived.

Beate, who not many days before,
Was the queen of all wantons,
Begins to wear penitential purple,
And decorates pulpit and altar.
Swayed by outward appearances,
Many think her pure as an angel.
For the world wants to be deceived:
Therefore let it be deceived.

When I kiss my little Caroline,
I tenderly vow to be true forever;
She pretends not to know
Any other young man but me.
Once, when Chloe had lured me away,
Damis took my place.
If all the world can be deceived:
I too can be deceived!

Chr. F. Weiße

The brilliant translation is by Richard Stokes from his ‘The Book of Lieder’ (faber and faber)

The song is sung by Anne Sofie von Otter accompanied by Melvyn Tan

Pic 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.

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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.

Hug in a Mug – Intoxicated By Kilian, 04°N 74°W Richard Lüscher Britos, Asmar SoOud

I do love my coffee, and actually can’t properly function without it in the morning. I take my coffee black, strong but not bitter and steaming hot, and one of my favourite smells is that of freshly roasted coffee beans, freshly ground.

With intervals I keep looking for something which has this particular note, and after another decaf of a perfume that I had high hopes for, I thought I would sum up three of my most recent coffee-note efforts.DSC03046kopi

Intoxicated by Kilian (perfumer Calice Becker) had me hoping big time; the notes looked promising; cardamom, mocha coffee, cinnamon, tobacco, vanilla, patchouli. Everywhere I looked the reviews talked of warmth and comfort, Patty of the Posse even of ‘comfort-heaven’. All descriptions had me hoping for a warm, dark brew minus the caramel praline latte but plus an enveloping, fireplace- perfumy feel. What I smell is a very fresh green cardamom, almost herbal, making me instantly think of male colognes. I get that it’s the Turkish Coffee that the perfumer tries to similate, and does it well, and yet, for me, the coffee-note here is more like the not yet roasted beans; I never get that dark brown glowy smell. Intoxicated dries down a little smoother and a smidgen sweeter, but all the lovely spices and particularly the cardamom, leaves me rather cold. I suppose I just don’t ‘get’ when typically warm spices should give off an astringent aroma. This one is not for me, but I can see how it might wear well on a man, if he likes his spices cool and non-committal.

04°N 74°W– is a natural perfume by Richard Lüscher Britos (perfumer Jean-Claude Richard). My sample of this has been lying around for a while, as the first ones I tried from the line were natural in that ‘whole food eco store henna, patchouli and batik dye a la 1975’-style, so not exactly my cup of (herbal-) tea, and with those names it really wasn’t easy to remember which I had tried and which not.

Nicolas Lancret: A Lady and Gentleman Taking Coffee with Children in a Garden

Nicolas Lancret: A Lady and Gentleman Taking Coffee with Children in a Garden

However, 04°N 74°W is a very pleasant surprise; it’s a soft white floral with a good, true black coffee note, a really unexpected mix which works surprisingly well. A velvety gardenia* opens 04°N 74°W and its –in this case soft-mushroom note ties in nicely with a note of elusive arabia coffee. At first application, I noticed the beautiful coffee aroma instantly, at other times it has been playing hide and seek, perhaps just adding at bit of flavour to the overall composition. Little by little the creaminess of the ylang ylang and the sweetness of what feels like hyacinth sets in. This floral sweetness merges into a mellow and discreet vanilla and what smell like a little sandalwood, though this is not mentioned in the notes. I imagine taking a coffee on the balcony a sunny spring morning, with the flowers blooming all around from pots and nearby gardens. It manages to be both a ‘real’ perfumy perfume AND have a coffee note, even if it’s not a coffee fragrance as such. The more I wear this perfume, the more I enjoy it.

Asmar from SoOud (perfumer Stéphane Humbert Lucas); I wanted to smell Asmar for a while, as I do love Ouris from the same brand and I find a few others really interesting, Fam being a Rose-Oud that I actually enjoy wearing. Taking their inspiration from the Middle Eastern perfumery, the French brand bears the subtitle ‘le pont entre l’orient et l’occident’ (the bridge between East and West), and Asmar really is a tasty trip to the bazaar.

In essence Asmar is more of a honey than a coffee fragrance, and it sets camp somewhere between Oriental and Gourmand territory. The opening is a dusty cacao followed by a very intense honey note. It’s made in a refined way, light and heavy at the same time, like the crispy light phillo pastry to the hefty sweet nutty filling of a honey Baklava. And as if you had just picked this delicacy up in a souk, a fan of smells open up as hints of coffee are sensed from a weave of amber and tobacco. It dries down to a gorgeous warm musk, and here it might be in order to re-use the phrase ‘comfort heaven’, something for long, cold winter nights.

As the saying goes; Everybody should believe in something. I believe I’ll have another coffee.

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*Yes, I’m aware that neither gardenia nor hyacinth can be distilled naturally, but those are the notes mentioned, the ones that the perfumes has tried to recreate.

**My explorations so far have taken me through; Jo Malone Black Vetyver Coffee, Nez a Nez Atelier Artiste (of which I own a bottle), Bond no9 New Haarlem, Histoires de Parfums Veni, Paul Kiler Café Diem, and I feel probably others too that I might have forgotten just now. I would be happy for any suggestions you might have.

Samples of Asmar eau fine and Intoxicated bought from Luckyscent and 04N 74W send to me from a kind perfumista.

Pics mine, apart from Lancret of course 🙂

Snow and Spices – Winter Kitty and Bollywood by For Strange Women

I’ll admit it, it’s entirely the name which is to blame, so perfectly evocatively cute, and the perfumer has come up with this description; ‘This blend is an artisan rendition of the sweet slightly musky smell of a kitty who went out for a winter walk and came back with chimney smoke and brisk air lingering in his fur’ Aaaaaaaww, you see, I had to try ‘Winter Kitty’ by ‘For Strange Women’!

winter snow cats animals wildlife leopards 1920x1200 wallpaper_wallpaperswa.com_39

 

Evergreen, fresh and zesty, while also silver cool, with a small bit of frostbite, and a little smoke starts the perfume oil off. My impatience got the better of me; where was the kitty in this winterscape? As it turned out, he just hadn’t quite arrived yet, rather the brisk winter outdoors entered before him. It’s snow and fir trees and so cosy it reminds me of postcard winters, rather than the cold that stretches without end, making anything but staying at home all curled up unpleasant. And the opening is a gorgeous blend, the fir, mint, vetiver and incense making up the perfect quartet. I love the way the vetiver makes the fir greener and the mint tones down the vetivery aspect while playing the cool metallic sides of both the incense and the fir for that‘ Jack Frost nipping at your nose’ kind of feel.

 

???????????????????????????????I’m not sure that, without the gorgeous little description, I would have come up with the story of the winter kitty myself from testing the fragrance. However, I can imagine that at this stage the cat would have had enough and would want to slip back indoors to a comfy sofa and a fireplace. As the fragrance warms up through the layers, it does gradually go a little sweeter, cosier, the way kittens paws still smell sweet like spicy cookie dough, not like a grown up musky feline. However, it really isn’t sugary in any way, just a little sweetness, from the rose and vanilla with a little of the incense and fir still lingering around in the little creatures coat.

Bollywood was quite the opposite of Winter Kitty. I did not order it because the name was sweet music to my ears and I do not have a soft spot for Bollywood movies. But the notes; Saffron, Cardamom, Black Tea, Sandalwood, Lotus and Rose… I love saffron and cardamom, and paired with black tea and sandalwood I simply had to try this.

bollywood‘Bollywood’ opens exactly as I had hoped for; sweet chai, cardamom buns straight from the oven with a glorious saffron note floating above it all- think a deeper and more golden Safran Troublant. As the sandalwood enters, so does quite a strong incense note. Gorgeous as this part is too, I’m so in love with the beginning of this fragrance that I should be happy if it had lasted forever longer, but that’s really being fussy. Bollywood is a great fragrance, which I can truly recommend to lovers of both DSH’s Cimabue and Safran Troublant, all three although of a similar nature, are different enough for me to excuse owning them all.

The perfumes are available as solids and oil. The oils last about 5-6 (WK) and 6-7 (B) hours at least on my very dry ‘Winter Woman’ skin. My skin also tends to ‘eat’ sweet notes, and these being natural perfumes others might get different wearing time as well as more sweetness/ other notes acting a little differently, which I find so utterly charming with natural perfumery. Although I generally much prefer alcohol based sprayable perfumes (edp/ edt), it doesn’t bother me here, and it would be the cat’s meow adding winter kitty as an oil in the morning to top up during the day from your solid pendant.

 

*As with a lot of indie and all natural brands, owner and creator of ‘FSW’ is located in the US. Her other perfumes have a.o. such graphic names as; London Fog anyone? Or perhaps Violin in the attic or Satin Corset, or perhaps Evergreen Mountain?

**Disclaimer; I bought the samples from FSW’s Etsy shop

Feature cat picture is mine, leopard in winter from gde-fon.com, kitty sample pic mine and chai pic from boxofspices