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.

Stepsisters – Guerlain Mahora (2000) and Jardins de Bagatelle (1983)

Luca Turin’s most hated Guerlain until Champs Elyssees and Mahora came along was apparently Jardins de Bagatelle (1983). Whilst calling Mayotte (renamed 2nd version of Mahora) ‘dreadful’ and a ‘nasty floral’, by the time he came around to writing The Guide, he deemed Jardins de Bagatelle ‘the best of a lousy lot’.

It might look like it’s hard being Cinderella, but if we turn our attention to the stepsisters for a moment; they clearly have a terrible mother, the ultimate anti-role model, telling them that only materialistic things are worth pursuing, playing them out against each other to get the prince (not for love but for the mother’s ambition of social-climbing), even letting them self-harm, self-mutilate in fact, to reach that goal. How misunderstood these sisters are…

Take our two stepsisters, white florals Mahora and Jardins de Bagatelle. They have heard it all, been shamed and despised but they are still here* (one went to the numerologist, but if it helps?)

Mahora, the younger of the two, is a loudish, creamy white floral. And although you won’t find the famed guerlinade here, the vanilla/ ylang combo still feels so trés Guerlain. Created in 2000 by Jean-Paul Guerlain, Mahora was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The anorexic juices of the 90s still casting their goth-like shadows, Mahora was just not trendy. It’s a big bold sunny perfume with an easy digestible tuberose at its heart, a tropical ylang-ylang with a touch of coconut. The added sugarcane sweetness from a triumvirate of orange blossom, vanilla and sandalwood, makes Mahora a sweet hedonistic dream under a tropical sun.

Given as an option to wear for a night out, a friend (who would normally wear Hermessence, and who didn’t know Mahora in advance) chose this one, and called it sunny and sexy. Just saying…

Donatella Versace, as sported by J. Lo, gets loud and glamour on us, 2000 with a hint of 80s?

Jardins de Bagatelles EdT (Jean-Paul Guerlain) opens on a mixture of bright pearly aldehydes and neroli, giving it an edgy vintage vibe. After that there’s an ‘every white flower under the sky’ with a wink at the 80’s perfume feeling, which ingeniously is actually almost subtle, certainly if compared to its ‘death by silliage’- contemporaries. It never stings your nose, or delights in indoles or rubber, but stays a glamour filter photo as it folds out its fan of flowers; gardenia, rose, orange blossom, tuberose, magnolia, ylang-ylang, orchid, lily-of-the-valley and narcissus. The flowers are kept in check by bits of metallic sheen. Surprisingly the woody base shows signs of nectar and adds extra depth at the end. Although both Mahora and JdB share the parentage and the white florals, they are two completely different characters. I would call JdB sunny too, but there’s no tropical heat, JdB is a temperate day with little bursts of sunshine. JdB has a mixture of retro and wannabe 80s pop idol about it. It shouldn’t work, but it does.

1960s phenomenon goes 80s in the Screwball Comedy in Desperately Seeking Susan

If you are into retro or white florals in general don’t miss out on these too, in my opinion they are both more innovative and have more heart than many new ones in the genre even if they might at the time of their release not have lived up to the expectations of the Guerlain classics; L’Heure Bleue, Shalimar, Mitzy etc.

In the end, I believe that little by little perfumistas who have perhaps never read Mr Turin’s damning review, or who smell them by chance, open their hearts to their beauty, perhaps after all these years of misunderstanding, finally the sisters know themselves, and are happy with themselves, they are not trying to be their amazing stepsister Cinderella in the castle, they just want to be loved for what they are, and guess what? I for one am ready to embrace them.

Do you have a secret stepsister love? How do you rate the two Guerlains, if you know them?

Winners of my little birthday draw: I chose to do two drawings as you can see from my Random lists; and the winners are Esperanza who chose decants and Tara a print. Thank you very much all for taking part 🙂

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*At least they were when I started writing, according to M Guerlain blog, Mayotte is now DCed, if you, like me, happen to like it, grab a bottle while you can.

Bowie, Suffragettes and April Aromatics’ new release Purple Reign (2015)

I was just sitting down to write this post, when I heard the sad news that David Bowie had passed away.

Despite it being a chock, it might not have hindered my writing had it not been because ever since I first sniffed the final version of Purple Reign back in December, the song accompanying me upon wearing it, has been curiously not the classic Prince song but David Bowie’s Suffragette City. And so it became a different task altogether, more melancholic and slower than I could have anticipated. Suffragette City is from Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album.image

”Oh don’t lean on me man, ’cause you can’t afford the ticket
I’m back in Suffragette City
Oh don’t lean on me man
‘Cause you ain’t got time to check it
You know my Suffragette City”

The suffragettes, which are in the title of the song, even if what the song is actually about seems to be still up for discussion, would make the colours green, white and violet their own, the first letter of each colour making up the same letters as those of the slogan; Give Women Vote. To begin it was a secret language; women would wear jewellery in these colours, ranging from the more affordable enamel jewellery to the stones emerald, diamonds/ pearls and amethyst to signal their stand point to other like-minded.

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Purple Reign is about purple flowers, but to me it feels also very emerald-green and even has a pearl like lustre, reminding me of Suffragette jewellery. It also feels to me like the most ‘natural’ smelling perfume yet from the hand of perfumer Tanja Bochnig, which I feel like stating here as a guide for how to understand my description below. Obviously a natural powderiness is not like that of powder bomb Teint de Neige, and the faint lilac is nothing like the photo-realistic but also screechy flower created in a lab. The palette here seems to embrace the natural materials, removing itself from the ideals of non-natural perfumery entering into its own natural habitat.

 

The purple in the opening is like the scent of ‘ploppy’ unseeded sweet grapes. Later on it is purple like tiny glimpses of amethyst through the fragrance, a jasmine dressed up as a lilac sniffed in the distance. A tiny bit of powder, like dry ice lighted up purple at a concert, more than actually sweet.

The green of the violet leaf together with the natural osmanthus gives the perfume a sort of muted emerald haze experience, like walking on fluffy clouds in a green dream. Not green as in acidic, fresh or grass-like, it also doesn’t smell of moss, yet has some of the quality of touching moss on a spring day.

Pearls like dewdrops and a feel that the fragrance has lustre between the layers of natural ingredients, each adding their additional hue in the Reign of Purple.

Notes: Natural Lilac tincture, Violets, Lavender ,Osmanthus petals, Jasmine flowers, Orris Root, Opoponax.

Perhaps due to its focus on heart notes Purple Reign changes with its surroundings, on some it will turn sweeter, powdery, on some greener perhaps floral.

I’m thinking how someone wrote about David Bowie that he had been compared to a Chameleon, but he didn’t change with his surroundings rather the surroundings changed with him.

Purple Reign is unisex as when David Bowie takes on Ziggy, The Thin White Duke or any of his other androgynous disguises, not least the (much maligned) Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth, and it is as this reincarnation of Goethe’s Erlkönig, with heartfelt lyrics, that he croons:

“It’s only forever, not long at all…”

 

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Pictures are mine, collages made by me with various photos.

 

 

 

Last But Not Least- Jean Patou 1980s Que Sais-Je VS 2015 Que Sais-Je

I don’t want to risk boring everyone, including myself, but I felt that I should perhaps do this last little review and comparison because so far, from the ones I’ve tested, Héritage Collection Que Sais-Je actually comes the closest to the idea of the original.

Ma Collection Que Sais-Je by Jean Kerléo from the 1980s reissue of Henri Almeras’ original is sweet. SWEET. QSJ4mindreIt is peach, honey and hazelnut. It sounds like dessert, it smells like dessert. If you think gourmand perfumes were invented with Mugler’s Angel in 1992, think again.

QSJ is peach; golden and warm, marinated in a dark acacia honey with hazelnuts. It reminds me of some of those syrup and honey drenched Middle Eastern desserts you eat accompanied by sweet tea, served on a beautiful silver tray. It’s sweet but the honey is naughty too, even a bit animalic. And there’s more than that, underneath lurks a leather-moss base, probably with some musk too to accompany the honey, which makes for a beautiful dissonance to the sweetness, and makes sure you can call this buxom Mademoiselle ‘fruity-chypre’ s’il vous plait. It’s a quite stunning perfume, but in order to fully enjoy it, you need to be able to have your cake and eat it. All of it.

 

Now to Thomas Fontaine’s new Héritage Collection version of Que Sais-Je. As I hinted at, there are definite similarities here, but the size of the sweet desert from Ma Collection has been massively reduced.QSJ3 Let’s say QSJ went on a strict diet, and while she looked great and voluptuous before, the loss of calories doesn’t deter from her beauty, but accentuates other sides to it. While still adding the honey and peach blend, Fontaine has made more space in this composition, and with some of it he makes room for a few white flowers; bits of neroli sprinkled on top of the peach, and some jasmine and perhaps a touch of rose and orange flower in the heart. The hazelnut has been substituted by a dry, almost raspy patchouli which cunningly takes the fragrance from fruity-floral to the classic chypre (cheekbone-) structure. It has been done so elegantly, it feels timeless rather than vintage.

The two are by no means identical, but with HC Que Sais-Je, I both smell the idea from the old and recognise the reason for the change. I might still slightly prefer the honey drenched cake of the old version for its stangeness if nothing else, but even a perfumista can’t live on cake alone and some days you might just prefer the lighter touch as well as its stylish elegance.

 

Review based on my own flacon and a sample I bought by FiF. Pictures mine.

 

Jean Patou Colony -1980s reissue Ma Collection vs Héritage Collection (2015)

Henri Almeras’ Colony from 1938 is described as ‘a fruity chypre with a prominent note of pineapple, Colony was inspired by the warm climate of tropical islands.’ Once again, I do not own the 1938 version, but the 1980’s reissue by Jean Kerleo which went under the name Colony Ma Collection (MC).

What I get from my 1980s Colony matches the description above pretty perfectly. Colony opens on a mossy green note paired with an old-fashioned ‘pineapple’, which probably will not instantly translate as pineapple to anyone used to the very literal fruit notes in today’s perfumes, where even the difference between clementine and tangerine, nectarine and peach is discernible. I would think that this pineapple is pineapple in the way that people talk of ‘red berries’ in coffee or ‘chocolate’ in wine. For me sniffing Colony, I get an instant feel of pineapple, albeit perhaps more as in a still life painting than in a pineapple on a plate waiting to be consumed. It’s not a refreshing feel; rather humid warmth runs through its veins. There’s a touch of spice to the composition and tropical floralsy, but underneath it all, a well-worn, weather-beaten leather is the soul of Colony and keeps the perfume in tropical chypre land. Many hours later when everything fruity and leathery has left the skin, a warm blurry musk with a hint of powder makes for that sensual vintage dry-down.

I love how Colony is both tough leather and a tropical dreamscape from a time when ‘Colony’ was a name that could actually be used for a perfume.

Top notes: pineapple, ylang-ylang
Heart notes: carnation, iris, vetiver and opoponax
Base notes: leather, musk, oakmoss

And how does the new Heritage Collection Colony (HC) by perfumer Thomas Fontaine fare in comparison?

Top note: bergamot, pineapple, orange
Heart note: jasmine, rose, carnation, nutmeg
Base note: leather, patchouly, vetiver, ambergris

The PR now talks of a green fruity-floral fragrance. The top note pineapple is more ‘realistic’ fresh cut pineapple, and its sidekick bergamot makes the green notes a lot fresher, rather than the earthy moss in the MC version. Obviously the feel is very different, HC’s refreshingly fruity, as opposed to MC’s humidly tropical. What I really get after that is a rather indolic jasmine, and at times I could have sworn that I get something civet-like. Leather- not openly so, to me Colony HC stays indecently floral. In the late dry-down a faint but deeply resonant ambergris rounds off the composition.

The density of Ma Collection Colony is here substituted with a modern transparency; if we are indeed still in the territory of former colonies, surely someone turned the air-condition on.

The steamy but tough Colony Ma Collection in the zaftig shape of pineapple, moss and leather, is no more, and the substitute indoles of Colony HC make for only suggestive indecency. It is the lightness and space in the new fragrance which makes it both very contemporary and despite its many beautiful traits, makes it a little difficult to capture, perhaps less intimate. As with Vacance; if you’re looking for an identical version to the old Ma Collection, this is not it. It is however, in its own right both beautiful and a little different with a hint of vintage. So if you like your fruity-florals, grown-up, light but still a little naughty with a smooth ambergris finish you should give it a try.

 

Just because I had to =^..^=

Just because I had to =^..^=

 

Disclosure; I purchased a sample of Colony HC from a retailer. The amazing 1930’s postcard of a pineappleseller is from Etsy seller MinistryOfArtifacts, all other pics mine.

Jean Patou Vacances – 1980’s reissue Ma Collection VS The Heritage Collection Vacances 2015

Finally the new version of Vacances was released, and I got myself a sample as soon as it was possible.

Let me start with a little de-tour though. Some time ago I received a perfume bought at the big online auction site, an old (1944) version of a Jean Patou perfume. It’s one of the not well-known ones, and I got it because I managed to get it at a great price and because of the notes, particularly the one thing I was able to find out about it, was about a gorgeous sandalwood. Now when I hear sandalwood and we talk pre 1990, in most cases this will include the real deal not the newer, flatter ones pumped up with that sickening artificial stuff. When it arrived though, it was instantly clear to me that what I had read was a description of the 1980’s re-issue of the perfume, and since I had the real, early version, the emphasis in my perfume was not on the sandalwood.

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So, all this to say, that re-issues are re-issues and they will never be an exact replica of the original, as they will have to draw into account the taste of current buyers. I suppose for exact remakes there really is only the Osmotheque to go to.

Original Vacances by Jean Patou was created in 1936 by Henri Almeras, and re-issued in the 1980s together with others as ‘Ma Collection’ re-orchestrated by Jean Kerleo. Now the house of Jean Patou is once again re-issuing the perfumes, this time the perfumer is Thomas Fontaine and the name ‘Heritage Collection’.

What does it smell like the 2015 Vacances from the Heritage Collection? It’s a pretty straight up soliflore lilac. Heritage Collection Vacances has that fresh yet soft lilac scent, and it isn’t screechy but rounded and rather tender. As a soliflore it’s beautiful, however, it really isn’t much more. I don’t get a lot of development neither on mouillette nor on skin, but from the initial full on blooming lilac bush it does soften in a musky way. The strip dries down to a somewhat boring white musk, but on my skin it’s just a nice soft, downy fade out of the fragrance.

So what has it got in common with vintage re-issue Vacances from Ma Collection by perfumer Jean Kerleo? I did try to look for similarities but truly, the answer is: not much. If you were hoping for 2015 Vacances to be a copy of the iconic fragrance, this is not it.ny indstilling sony åbner ikke 460 Apart from taking into account maceration of the original materials etc, Vacances (80s) manages to be a lilac fragrance but with so many other aspects, giving it its deep emerald soul. Even if the sum of its parts leaves no doubt that you smell lilac, I keep getting whiffs of those parts; oh there was a jasmine in bloom, there a whiff of hyacinth, there a gentle mimosa… It has green galbanum emerging up from the depth of the fragrance, a non-pungent soft, dare I say feminine, galbanum, the mimosa adding a sweet innocent kiss and hawthorn with its more mature floral note, blending into the dark green, mossy hues to end in that true musky skin-scent.

To many, me included,  Kerleo’s Vacances is the lilac to end all lilacs. It’s a lilac fragrance, without hint of a doubt, but it’s also so much more, and doesn’t ever come anywhere near reminding us of a toilet cleaners or room sprays. It’s a perfume, yet it feels like outdoors and beautiful country gardens, it embodies that sense of wanting to halt time at its most beautiful and precious, and yet by wanting to capture the incapturable it seems just always on the edge to be sorrowful.

I realised smelling the two side by side for several days in a row that it has just made me even more curious to smell the real Vacances by Henri Almeras, and while I hope to try it someday, who knows I might actually prefer my 1980s Karleo re-issue the way I’m sure some will prefer the new Heritage Collection version of Vacances.

 

Pics are mine and I purchased samples as well as bottles.

There are a few reviews of the 80’s Vacances online, a comprehensive review and background for Vacances is at Perfumeshrine

Three in One – Guerlain Le Plus Beau Jour de ma Vie, Rubini Fundamental, Hermès Le Jardin de Monsieur Li (2015)

 

Today some quick thoughts from me on three new releases. How very up to date I feel when I can actually write 2015 behind all three.

Guerlain Le Plus Beau Jour De Ma Vie (Beau Jour for short).043c I think Beau Jour is a cute little number. It smells of orange blossom sugar-coated almonds and fluffy little clouds on a clear blue sky on a summer’s day. So yes, Beau Jour paints the image of a wedding day. It’s cosy yet summery, girly yet not so much that it can’t be worn by women, it’s sweet, but won’t make you feel like you’re a walking candy shop. It has an effortlessness that is not bestowed on too many perfumes in the candied genre. Beau Jour is not ground-breaking, but as a take on a wedding perfume or for anyone who likes sugared almonds and orange blossoms in the style of Hilde Soliani’s Conaffetto and Kilian’s Sweet Redemption, this is a fine perfume and as always with Guerlain, an exceptionally smooth composition.

 

Sandwiched between two historic houses is Italian newcomer brand Rubini with their first fragrance; Fundamental. Fundamental’s opening displays a honeyed Tokay wine over cognac. Add to that a pungent currant note and a distant leather note and I feel this is more masculine territory. The liquor becomes ever more grape, almost raisin,-like and there’s a herbal dryness which makes me associate a non-present smoke. 043dAs opposed to the two other perfumes I write about today which have decidedly outdoors-imagery, this feels like an indoor fragrance. Something conceived to give an almost stuffy, as in non-airy, feel (gentleman’s club/ elegant leather coated bar… that kind of thing) and being worn on indoor occasions. The fragrance has excellent longevity, and fairly linear sticking to that chewy, generous booziness.

 

Hermes Le Jardin de Monsieur Li (short M. Li) When I first tried this straight after it came out, it was simply too early in the year and too cold to even contemplate such a perfume, so it’s because of a great friend who send me a sample, that I had a second try of M. Li. This time I found it very pleasant and summer-suitable. M. Li is sheer and transparent, a scent almost more than a perfume. I’m thinking that it would wear nicely as a body mist underneath your real perfume in the warmer months, making you feel incredibly elegant, and a little secretive, for splashing on such an extravaganza. Notes are kumquat, jasmine and sap. M. Li is a little sweet, the jasmine non-indolic, the sap easy-going non-crunchy and there’s no (detectable, and to me dreaded) cedar note, that is so often present in M. Ellena’s perfumes. It’s silky and light and whispers ‘fruity-floral’ so softly, blink and you’ll miss it.

Disclaimer; pics by me, samples of La Plus Beau Jour de Ma Vie and M. Li, send to me by sweet Rosenrot, and Fundamental send by Andrea Rubini after winning a sample on FB.

Other reviews of Guerlain La Plus Beau Jour de ma Vie; Sorcery of Scent, Black Narcissus

Reviews of Hermès Le Jardin de Monsieur Li; Bois de Jasmin, CaFleureBon, Kafkaesque

Review of Rubini Fundamental parfum; CaFleureBon

It’s My Party – Guerlain Vega (1936)

I’ve always thought of floral aldehydes as not my cup of tea, really. I can’t wear no5 (it wears me), L’Interdit (twee like a pink hello kitty outfit) or White Linen, let’s just say that it doesn’t rate the highest on my list of perfume complaints that the genre seems to have long gone out of fashion. However, I find there are a few perfumes that I do like very much, and nothing says PARTY like those. In fact I’d go even further and say those are my happy-perfumes. It just isn’t possible to be a party pooper wearing them. What they have in common is firework sparkle and a gorgeous sandalwood dry-down. And one of my absolute favourites in this category is Vega from Guerlain.

Vega is named after the brightest star in the constellation of the Lyra.

 

The opening is bright, dry and bubbly like the best champagne enjoyed in the happiest company. The aldehydes here are going off in all directions like shooting stars, one moment I find them citric brilliant, the next creamy peachy and I’m reminded of sipping a good Bellini.

Although there’s clearly a lot of jasmine, on me at least it never goes very indolic, but becomes part of a huge floral centerpiece of roses, ylang-ylang and orange blossoms, decadent and lavishly arranged, nothing spared, no wishes left open.2468-image-350-470-fit

The sandalwood mixes the whole cocktail effortlessly into one of the happiest perfumes I know.

Whenever I wear it, it brings a smile to my face. Vega is both dramatic and fun and it’s my secret weapon for big parties and on special occasions.joan crawford

 

What are your favourite party or happy perfumes? Does anything make you feel like Joan C. in the picture above?

 

*Review based on the reissued EdT in the series Il Était Une Fois from 2006. Discontinued again in 2014.

* Read a comparison of vintage vs reissue in this review of Vega by Guerlain by Perfume Shrine.

Feat.pic is mine, the Moet vintage advert without source, Joan Crawford in the film *Our Dancing Daughters’ from 1928.

An Air of Temperate Linden – Annette Neuffer Duftmanufaktur, Sonnet 18

I’ve been eyeing the homepage of German jazz trumpeter and perfumer Annette Neuffer’s range of natural perfumes for a while. For the obvious musical link, which is always fun to discover, but also from the onset two perfumes especially caught my interest. One is a coffee themed fragrance and another a carnation[i], but since I’ve already been talking an awful lot about those two subjects, and since now that the days are getting longer and slowly the temperatures become more friendly, my fragrance choice seem to mirror that with longing for flowers in bloom. And so, from Annette’s beautiful range, today is going to be about her rendition of Shakespeare’s Sonnet XVIII, a soft-spoken linden garland.

Sonnet 18 starting with the iambic pentameter ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’, is perhaps one of the most famous sonnets, capturing the reader by letting him feel as well his own mortality as the poets (the poet’s lovers?) immortality through poetry. I can’t help but loving the fact that this poem is the inspiration for a perfume, something which (even if it can last long) would probably not be able to live 400 years, it would not be able to be used and shared again and again like this sonnet. It is in its nature as fleeting as the memory which Shakespeare himself wishes to hold on to, to immortalize.sonnet 006

So what is Sonnet 18 the fragrance; even if linden is normally found in full bloom at midsummer, this perfume is indeed ‘more lovely and more temperate’. It starts out with bergamot and leaves, which makes the green –citric opening zingy before it slowly melts into the linden blossom heart. The linden is supported by an array of other fine blossoms, rose, jasmine, orange blossom and mimosa. There is no doubt that the linden is the leading lady, but likewise this isn’t a soliflore linden, and it isn’t like standing under a huge honeyed linden tree in golden intoxicating bloom.

It’s a sombre and pensive fragrance, like with each added note and layer it looks back over the shoulder into the past, rueing it a little. The heart is elegant and courteous, and at times I feel the sensuality of a few dirty indoles. There is floral sweetness fitting of the linden blossom, but a discreet unsticky one and it stays close to the skin as it blends into the honey and tonka bean of the base notes. As the flowers fade to a whisper, the dry down morphs into a wrap of mysterious warmth.sonnet 003a

‘Sonnet 18’ is a beautiful floral for those who like their florals on the pensive side. I have no issue at all with longevity. As long as my skin stays warm the fragrance can last most of a day, albeit close to the skin. There is however something titillating in sniffing the perfume close-up, like being reminded of a secret or perhaps even with each sniff, taking in a word of the English master’s undying poetry.

And what better way to end?

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

 

 

[i] Even if those two are spectacularly good, if one likes a good warm black coffee and a dense, almost vintage carnation. I am sure I’ll get back to them another time, as they deserve that.

Notes; Top; Red Bitter Orange, Bergamot, Mandarin Leaves. Heart; Linden Blossom co2 extract, Rosa Alba, Sambac Jasmine, Orange Blossom, Genêt, Mimosa. Base; Honey Absolute, Bourbon Vetiver, Indian Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Vanilla Absolute, Styrax, Tonka Bean, Ambrette Musk

Disclaimer; The pictures are mine and I bought the samples from Annette Neuffer

 

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.