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?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pics by me.

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

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

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

fig

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Seashells at the Seashore- Profumum Roma Acqua di sale (1996)

‘The sun sets, behind your cheek

You are a little silly and will probably fall asleep soon

We have played like crazy all day, and had a ball

We were at the beach, and even talked of sleeping over,

But now it’s too windy, and it’s bloody cold,

And soon the sun will go to sleep’

by ‘Shit & Chanel’ 1978.

 

No matter where in Denmark you’re never far from a coast, and one of my favourite things to do is going for a walk on the beach on a sunny day long before or after the water temperatures become something you can bathe in.

A friend of mine alerted me to Acqua di Sale by Profumum Roma, which reminds me of just that; a walk on the beach when the weather gets warmer, and yet is far too cold once the sun sets.

shit og chanelThe song quoted above is a Danish pop song written by 1970s all female band ’Shit & Chanel’[1]. Quite a few of the band members are still active musicians and still very popular, which doesn’t make this old hit less famous. Apart from the catchy 1970s singer-song writer style and tune, I believe it’s the touching lyrics, sung by the lead singer to her daughter, which makes it so vastly popular. We that grew up with these songs as the soundtrack of our early childhood, and went to the beach similar to the description, remembering the cold air sneaking in upon a sunny day, the first day of bare feet in the sand, and sleeping soundly from the fresh sea air, to us the song is not just a musical flashback, but perhaps at that moment the composer/singer were singing our collective memory of a day on the beach.

Acqua di Sale with its official notes of salt, myrtle, cedar wood and seaweed, smells like a memory of a day on the beach, sea swept, salty hair and lips, sand in the shoes, warm cheeks. It has the unmistakable oceanic smell, yes also as in a ‘marine chord’ and what you might find in various ‘clean’ fragrances, but thanks to the saltiness, the herbs and a whiff of old salty algae, here it’s right, it belongs and becomes truly marine as in sand, shells and shore.49904

It was probably meant to be evoking Mediterranean shores, rather than Baltic ones, and the style for sure is Italian in its temper[2], but to me it might as well be a northern coast with its gushes of cold wind carrying the scent of sea air and minerals and the cries of sea gulls. Although Acqua di Sale is in many ways bottled memory, it still manages to be also a perfume, it never become just a ‘smell’. To me that’s important, it’s as with the song and text from before, something which awakens a memory and yet becomes its own thing; a sea song? A new memory perhaps?

 

 

[1] On a perfume related note, you will probably have noticed the proper female propagandistic band name ‘Shit & Chanel’ (one album even called Chanel no 5, even if this wasn’t their 5th album), while catchy and very 1970s red-stocking movement and all, in Paris Chez Coco, one did not find this amusing, Chanel threatened to sue, where after the band changed its name to ‘Shit & Chalou’

 

[2] Meaning; do not overspray, or the ocean might overwhelm you with ‘marine’, as it did me on first application.

Feat pic by me, Shit & Chanel from vinylpladen.dk, uncreditable picture from beach nær Greve in Denmark.