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?

 

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

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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.”

The Greatest Perfumes Never Made – Bulgakov The Master and Margarita

Recently I started re-reading Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. This masterpiece novel had left so many visual impressions on me, that I wanted to visit them to put them back in the right order so to speak. The book seems to be made out of images, one stronger than the next; Behemot the speaking, gun carrying and chandelier swinging cat, Satan himself in the disguise as ‘professor’ Woland, a ‘magician’, the naked broom-riding Margarita as the Master’s mistress, Pontius Pilate and Yeshua a Notsri (as themselves). There’s even a short cameo for the atheist head of the literary circle called Berlioz, which makes me think of the ‘programme’ symphony, Symphonie Fantastique by that composer, which ends with a 5th movement called “Songe d’un Nuit du Sabbath” (Dream of a night at the Sabbath).

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I shall not attempt at a summary, (I was personally sold to this book by the thought of a speaking cat), but the main story lines are that of Woland and his gang creating a mayhem in 1930s Moscow, that of Pontius Pilate and the trial of Yeshua a Nostri, and that of Margarita flying off to Walpurgis night and ultimately succeeding in being rejoined with ‘the Master’.

There are a few passages of scent, but to me by far the strongest is the start of the second chapter, when Pontius Pilate is suffering a terrible migraine, and describes the smells around him.

“In a white cloak with a blood-red lining, with the shuffling gait of a cavalryman, early in the morning of the fourteenth day of the spring month of Nisan, there emerged into the covered colonnade between the two wings of the palace of Herod the Great the Procurator of Judaea, Pontius Pilate. More than anything else on earth the Procurator hated the smell of attar of roses, and the omens for the day ahead were bad, for that smell had been haunting the Procurator since dawn. It seemed to the Procurator that the smell of roses was being emitted by the cypresses and palms in the garden, and that mingling with the smell of his escort’s leather accoutrements and sweat was an accursed waft of roses.image
From the wings at the rear of the palace that quartered the Twelfth Lightning Legion’s First Cohort, which had come to Yershalaim with the Procurator, a puff of smoke carried across the upper court of the garden into the colonnade, and with this rather acrid smoke, which testified to the fact that the cooks in the centuries had started preparing dinner, was mingling still that same heavy odour of roses.
“O gods, gods, why do you punish me?… No, there’s no doubt, this is it, it again, the invincible, terrible sickness… hemicrania, when half my head is aching… there are no remedies for it, no salvation whatsoever… I’ll try keeping my head still…”
Cypresses, palm leaves, leather, metal, sweat, smoke and above all; roses.
After my many attempt at finding the right rose, I feel that with perhaps exchanging sweat for warm animalics, this could be the foundation for rather a great dark rose.
A link here for the 5th movement of Symfonie Fantastique
pics mine, The Master and Margarita excerpt in the translation of Hugh Aplin.

A Rose (by any other name) – Or et Noir Caron (1949) modern extrait version

After searching high and low for my rose fragrance, I finally found it in Or et Noir*.

Caron has done several rose-centric perfumes, and I must confess that the lack of availability has made me unable to smell the ones which actually carry ‘rose’ in their name. Parfum Sacre and even Nuit de Noël are also amongst the ones mentioned when the talk is of ‘dark’ rose perfumes, however for me, as much as I love them both, they are neither that dark (more cosy in my book) nor strictly rose focused enough to be called rose-perfumes. Or et Noir is what the others aren’t, it’s both a rose perfume and deserving of the black name. (How often can you say that about a perfume called something with Noir? – Coco, Sensuous, Crystal et al) Knowing of its own worth, it was even deemed unnecessary to name it after its prime ingredient, the queen of flowers.

Starting off with fiercely high-strung metal, and thorns to draw blood, Or et Noir makes sure you do not mistake its rose for ‘pretty’. imageIn fact, to me it’s exactly its bright sharpness which makes it dark. The best way to describe it would be to compare it to another Caron classic, Narcisse Noir, where the ‘noir’ is more about the poisonous pull than about any typically ‘dark- notes’. In the same way the gold metal is also the black, as if it was a tattoo of a dagger through a dark rose.

It’s as if there’s some magnetic rejection between the lemony metallic scent of the geranium and the green slightly sour deep red rose. Different twists on similar scentsations vie for attention, and only as the rose wins the battle over the geranium, does it allow itself to soften up, open its petals and become a huge single rose attracting rays of golden sun and honeybees alike.

As the sun loses its power, a carnation starts casting its peppery shadow over the Caron rose, until completely covered, and the rose takes on the same dark hue as the carnation itself. Together they darken, sweeten and wither until mossy earth peeks through. I’ve seen people mention amber, but this is no amber rose dry down, this is a rose with all imaginable hues of darkness and light, gold and black. Or et Noir.

 

“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.” Nietzsche.

 

*A huge thank you to dear STC <3

 

Or et Noir was made in 1949 by perfumer Michel Morsetti. I own a large decant from TPC. Pictures are mine.

 

 

Pink Elephants on Parade – Maria Candida Gentile Elephant & Roses (2015)

The release of Elephant & Roses by indie perfumer Maria Candida Gentile conjured up such a beautiful image, I knew I would have to explore it. As MCG’s perfumes are not that easy to come by it took me some time and in the meantime I read other reviews. As far as I remember most talked of an animalic rose, so I was wasn’t prepared for the make-up’y powder puff in an old-fashioned green-room that first hit me.circus girls2

I’ve seen people talk of all the things that perfume and elephants makes them associate, for me it’s my first ever visit to the cinema. I can still remember how it felt when Dumbo’s mother was locked away for protecting her little baby elephant with the big ears. Another thing that stayed with me, was the surrealistic sequence of pink elephants singing; “Look out! Look out! Pink elephants on parade. Here they come!” And it is the visual for me when I think of the name Elephant & Roses.

dumbo-disneyscreencaps.com-5486

Wearing it, and testing it over the last weeks, the perfume slowly opened up to show many more facets than my initial impression. So for instance the opening thyme makes for a welcome change in the top note repertoire, and is a lovely companion for the pedal point of the vegetal muskiness. The rose is very mild, the greenness hidden in the opening thyme and its softness disguised within the make-up powder. The heart of the perfume feels part rose, iris (not mentioned), hair and a swan down puff. And underlying always the musk. I believe it’s mainly the costus I smell with the hint of ambergris, the costus with its weird and wonderful herbal furry feel. The base sees a little saw-dust woodiness added, but all in all there’s nothing growlingly animalic or wild boar sweaty about it, even the elephant is not in the room, so to speak. The powdery musk feels a little sweet and intimate, politely naughty rather than dirty.

If the ‘animal’ part of Elephant & Roses has scared you off, I’d say it shouldn’t, it’s less zoo, and more the vintage dressing room of a circus princess, and perhaps even not so very far off my first association of the Dumbo circus.

Although I have a few powdery perfumes, nothing comes close to this little number, and its distinctive perfumer’s stamp has made me very curious to try and retry Maria Candida Gentile’s other fragrances.

Do you know her fragrances, and do you have favourites or some you are curious to try?

Feat picture is mine, Dumbo still from film from Walt Disney Productions, circus girls 1930s didn’t have a credit. Sample of Elephant & Roses bought by me.

 

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.

 

An Oudriental Trio – Néa, Garuda and Nin-Shar by Jul et Mad

A little while ago I got a very nice parcel from Tara (formerly of Olfactoria’s Travels) including amongst other things three Jul et Mad fragrances, called ‘the white collection’ and comprising: Néa, Geruda and Nin-Shar.

The PR mentions the golden age of Byzance, Babylon and Angkor, so it’s clear at least that the intention was to do an oriental themed range with the Middle Eastern (oud, anyone?) customer in mind. For me it’s a welcome new direction away from the ‘bottling our love story’-theme.

Néa is a full-on gourmand with a nod to the oriental. The notes might say pomegranate and plum, but I instantly thought of peaches and berries. There is a huge candy rose blooming right after the fruity start, and the heart really is rather floral though still with enough sugar to scare your dentist. The sweetness increases and metamorphoses into a buff-coloured cream toffee (fictitiously) melting on the tongue. The caramel subsides slightly towards the dry down to leave room for a lower insulin producing mix of vanilla, wood- and musk-like notes (read cashmeran and ambroxan). It’s a happy and lavish gourmand.

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Next up is Garuda: this is ‘the oud’-one. Fair enough, I do understand that when doing oriental themed perfumes, one needs to do an oud. Garuda starts quite full-on oudy, and with a dry woodiness which makes it feel like more of a masculine perfume. There are also hints of pepper and hesperidic notes in the opening, but it’s really all about the oud here. A rum note enters, once again putting the emphasis on a masculine character. In my first wearing of Garuda, I was very surprised to find that the last phase of the perfume loses the dry, bitter oud/wood character, and becomes an amber woody skin scent with more of a cosy feel to it.

I was surprised when I sprayed the third perfume of the range ‘Nin-Shar’, and smelled oud. I had just had the ‘oud-perfume’; surely they wouldn’t do two oud perfumes in a three perfume collection? Well, they did, but this one starts off more feminine, and treacherous. If Garuda was a masculine with a soft well-hidden cosy side, then Nin-Shar is the feminine fragrance with a backbone. A well matched pair the two. It’s the by now well-trodden road of rose-oud. This one however starts with a big red rose together with a bitter, almost sour aspect of artemisia, in conjunction with a tiny bit of incense, adding to a strangely sour feel. The oud here simply is a part of a grander tapestry. The deep red rose is what gives Nin-Shar it’s mostly feminine character, and perhaps the added jasmine flowers enforces that feel. It comes once again as a real surprise, when the base therefore is where the oud really shines through and together with the embers of the incense creates a much tougher feel than what I would have expected.

To me Nin-Shar is the star of the collection. Although I do appreciate Néa and admire Garuda, in both perfumes I was a little disappointed with the perfumes relying on things like cashmeran, ambroxan and timbersilk aka iso gama super to carry the dry down of otherwise fine compositions. To me Nin-Shar is the one that has quality all the way through the composition right till the very end.

 

If you wonder about the feat picture; yes, it has nothing whatsoever to do with today’s fragrances, apart from the fact that it’s just a little view into what the non-messy part of my writing desk looks like.

Both pics by me.

Rose Kaleidoscope- Nahema Guerlain (1979)

In my search for that perfect rose, the dark, decadent, luminous rosy rose, I have been through a mountain of samples through the entire rose spectrum from sweet innocent over photorealistic, decadent, oriental, avant-garde to Nahema!

Nahema gets a lot of mention when the talk is of dark, velvety roses. To me this doesn’t come across as dark but it is certainly a one of a kind. It spreads out a fan of greens, perhaps the bergamot and lily-of-the-valley together with some green aldehydes, it’s a smoke-screen for the up-coming rose tour. It’s like a walk through a rose garden presented with different varieties. There’s a fruity, tart rose, a wet mossy rose, a spicy one, a black tea flavoured one… There’s no denying the huge rose presence, but it’s kept almost bouncy by the feel as if on an emerald moss ‘carpet’ underneath your feet.image

Both photorealistic and abstract at the same time, it’s like watching a rose through a kaleidoscope, disintegrating before turning into another rose which turns into another rose again. Monsieur Guerlain-blog, writes that Jean-Paul Guerlain was inspired by Ravel’s Bolero, and its ongoing theme presentation in the various instruments. This is a somewhat tiresome piece of music in my opinion, and personally I find it easier to compare to Britten’s ‘A Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra’ which is based on a theme by Purcell, turned into theme and variations for each group of instruments in the orchestra, as a way of showing off the colours and capacities of the various sections of the orchestra, before ending on a huge fugue for the full orchestra. Yes, I find that Nahema can do that to the lucky ones for whom this perfume plays in perfect harmonies*, each rose is presented it its own perfect environment, showing off to highlight its qualities.

The base, or the end fugue if you will, lays all roses to rest on a bed of oriental notes; sandalwood, patchouli and tonka bean. This is a surprising twist for the first time wearer who might almost expect a mossy dry-down, which would have placed it firmly in the 70s. Even though everything up until now might sound like it could have been contemporary, a somewhat muffled green retro vibe maintained throughout the perfume’s wearing time, states loud and clear that it’s decidedly not. Nahema is a child of its time, but I’m thinking how oddly it sits as a perfume from 1979, with half its petals in the 70s greenery and the other half looking into the 80s of huge florientals. Is it nostalgically looking to its past or welcoming a new era? It’s hard to tell.

 

Here’s an interview by Persolaise with Thierry Wasser, the whole interview is wonderfully interesting, but about Nahema he says: “Nahema! There is so much rose in it. I think, with Après l’Ondée , it’s my second most-expensive concentrate. So much rose! Absolute, oil and everything. And that’s why IFRA is after it, because of the rose and the methyl eugenol. Rose from Bulgaria is between 1.5% to 2% methyl eugenol, and the absolute is 2.5% to 3%. And that’s the chemical which, allegedly, potentially, will kill us all. I really and truly suspect that Nahema is a weapon of mass destruction.”

 

*Unfortunately not me, but on others and the mouillette too. My Nahema is a bottle of the Parfum de Toilette from 1989, I think I like it better, just for knowing that it’s actually a WoMD.

Pictures are mine.

 

September Blues- Miu Miu fragrance 2015 and Bvlgari Eau Parfumée au thé bleu 2015

I was looking around the local mall when I saw the cute new release from Miu Miu, the first fragrance for the Prada off-spring brand, and with a bottle like that I just had to get a sample. They also had the new Bvlgari au thé bleu, and then on top it turns out they are both by perfumer Daniela Andrier, honestly, it was crying out to be blogged about.

I’ll start with what is surely going to be a new crowd pleaser; Miu Miu. They just nailed it with that bottle and the cutissimo perfume advert me thinks.60081 Somebody called the bottle the ‘LouLou of 2015’, and I agree it has a brilliant blue and red colour scheme, the geometric shape and the retro spirit. I can imagine many buying it purely because of the bottle, but on top I would say that its contents match bottle-style. Miu Miu the perfume is basically two things on top of each other, it’s the hip rose/patch/oud combo, which lends the perfume a shine of the cool and well-known, but on top of it is a juicy green accord opener, that at first I couldn’t pin down, until I remembered that it smells a lot like original Gucci Envy, the Roucel lily of the valley. This opening makes it delightfully retro compared to most of the fruity-floral-candy on the perfume shelves. The ‘oud’, which isn’t oud but a Giveaudan ingredient called akigalawood, smells soft and inoffensive, and gives the greenness something to bounce off, as well as forming the natural bond with rose making it accessible to the contemporary nose.

Miu Miu would possibly be a great perfume to gift a young woman, it’s well done and a little quirky in a hip way, and did I mention the flacon? I sprayed it in the morning and when it was still with me by the evening I was getting a little bit tired of it. But obviously I’m not the target audience, and the fact that I didn’t tire of it before is a feat these days – for most new perfumes.

Bvlgari Eau Parfumée au thé bleu is another new perfume* by Daniela Andrier. This is the place where I confess, that the icon that is Thé Vert (by JC Ellena), isn’t really ‘me’. I do like green tea, but the astringent (‘fresh’)/ seaweedy smell is not something I want in my perfume.

However oolong tea, being a semi-oxidised tea, has more of the black tea’s full bodied aroma. Au thé bleu’s main notes are lavender, (blue) oolong tea and iris. When I first read that, I had to let it sink in for a moment, yes three bluish notes, I got the colour palette, but the perfume palette wouldn’t quite come together as a hallucinatory smell in my nostrils. Good thing it did for M Andrier. The opening is a herbal sweet balanced lavender, a cooling fragrance to which she adds the pleasant faint smoked aroma of the oolong tea. Some discreetly candied violets ease it on your nose, and take the lavender away from any room-spray or cheap cologne associations one could have.

My first impression of the iris, was that it reminded me a lot of a stronger version of Bottega Veneta. The iris goes in waves from nude, pale suede to floral, and all the time balancing the herbal of the perfume aspect to stay refreshingly leafy. The iris stays in the dry down, adding a little almondy sweetness and some fluffy white musk. Au thé bleu is a calming perfume which keeps its cool, like a breeze on a hot day, but it isn’t a chiffon-like perfume or a skin scent, it’s got great presence and sillage.

I loved this and could have seen myself with a bottle all the way down to the white musk. There really isn’t much of it and it’s in no way overpowering, it’s just a bit disappointing in an otherwise brave and beautiful creation. I do hope I might still get over it.

 

If you like perfumes like Hiris, Bottega Veneta, Gris Clair, Clair de Musc, Prada any iris infusion or perhaps even Dior Homme, I would say you should give it a try.

*She’s busy these days; next (among other things) Prada brings out a new Infusion called Oeillet (carnation) also by DA, and I can’t wait to see what she makes of another of my favourite notes.

Feat pic by me and advert is Miu Miu.

Crimson Petals – Evody D’Âme de Pique (2014)

Apart from this year’s white floral summer stables; Mahora, Vamp in NY and Terracotta le Parfum, a perfume I’ve been wearing a lot is Evody’s summeroriental D’Âme de Pique* gifted to me by a wonderful friend.

I first encountered the house Evody at Boutique Jovoy in Paris, on my first visit there, when it was still a shop ‘Parfums rares’ in Rue de Danielle Casanova. I was taken with a few of their perfumes and the very reasonable price tag. Of the ones I remember, were a fine amber perfume, Ambre Intense, and a plush peach-iris floriental, Note de Luxe. In 2014 they added the collection d’ailleurs to the line-up, in which D’âme de Pique featured.

Through the opening I think one would be forgiven for thinking that D’Âme de Pique with its pear, raspberry and rose was a fruity floral, at least until the woody ambery base starts to shimmer through the layers from below.

A. F. Graves Still life with roses and raspberries

It’s all about getting the delicate balance between tangy and sweet right, and that’s exactly what it does: the tart, green black currant leafs versus juicy pear to start, in the heart the contrast is between that of luscious rose and piquant raspberries. The base, as already mentioned, is a creamy thing of vanilla, patchouli, woods and sandalwood, none of which stick out unpleasantly. The woods and patchouli are never hard or raspy, the sandalwood isn’t cloying and the vanilla isn’t cupcake worthy, all in all this is again a perfectly balanced third act. A very discreet saffron note gives both the rose heart as well as the base a slight twist of something a little sharp and for a moment takes my thoughts towards the oriental. No eastern bazar, perhaps a crimson sunset.

This is an easy-going perfume, I’m a little surprised myself at how happily I’ve worn this fragrance. What could easily have been too sweet or too fruity, is neither, I find it smooth, luminous and yielding. Rosy, yes, but not cute, and it feels French, in that way where it could be dressed up or down, for evening or day wear after a fashion. From flats to heels, add a touch-up of lipstick and a few extra sprays ‘et voila’, the living is easy.

 

I’d like to end with some verses, just because the talk of crimson reminds me of this gorgeous poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font
The firefly wakens, waken thou with me

Now droops the milkwhite peacock like a ghost
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me
Now lies the Earth all Danae to the stars
And all thy heart lies open unto me

Now slides the silent meteor on
And leaves a shining furrow
As thy thoughts in me

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up
And slips into the bosom of the lake
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.

 

 

* is it supposed to be a word play on Pique Dame/ Queen of Spades and soul? The Tchaikovsky Opera/ Pushkin short story? I can’t find anything to that effect anywhere, and since nothing in the perfume reminds me of anything to do with either, I’ll presume it just felt like a good name.

And a little aside on rose fragrances; it’s one in a thousand roses that doesn’t turn sour on me. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy rose centered fragrances on a mouillette or on other people, or that indeed the occasional rose actually smells ‘normal’ on me, just that they unfortunately are few and far between.

Feat. pic by me, and the still life of roses and raspberries is by Abbott Fuller Graves.