Spicy Ground – Les Indes Galante Parfums MDCI (2015)

Whereas I do own and love perfumes from all spectres of the perfume wheel, it’s no secret that I feel most at home in the oriental category. What I feel that this ‘belonging’ to a genre means, is that in the oriental category not all perfumes I own need to be masterfully different or outstanding, in fact this is a genre where I am happy to have perfumes in all shapes and sometimes with just the slightest of varieties because they please me, and I am certain that all of them will be worn with the greatest pleasure.

Little twists and turns – which in a chypre or a big white floral would make me pronounce that it’s nearly identical to another perfume in the same category – can mean the world of difference to me in an oriental.

With that in mind and the fact that I am coming to think that MDCI with its artistic director M Claude Marchal can do no wrong with his superb line of perfumes, I will talk about his newest release today; Les Indes Galante by perfumer Cécile Zarokian.

Les Indes Galante is inspired by the Opera Ballet by Jean-Phillip Rameau from 1735 telling four love stories in four different corners of the world. Les Indes, meaning Indies, was a common term for exotic faraway places, and so the ballet travels to; Turkey, Peru, Persia and North America. The perfume though is not inspired by the stories but by the spices which stem from these places.

les indes galante 2

Like the music, the perfume is elegant and vibrant and it’s unmistakably French.

Les Indes Galante opens on a warm and dark vanilla with bursts of pepper and just enough bergamot to be more oriental than an actual gourmand. The vanilla in its various incarnations is the heartbeat of Les Indes Galante, taking us from the sneezy pepper through cinnamon bark to cloves. The spices here make me keep smelling even more spices; cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, whether there or not. There’s a deceptive feeling of linearity, but truly it’s the way the spices interact which makes transitions go almost unnoticeable. The background with its different aspects of vanilla as well as the dry down of labdanum and bezoin scintillate between spices and the discrete ascending incense in which Les Indes Galante becomes an elegantly shimmering spice-fest.

Not for the first time does MDCI find the inspiration to his perfumes from the landscapes in the world of music/ opera. There is the discontinued Enlevement au Serail (refined like the rococo backdrop of Mozart’s ‘Western white floral meets Eastern spice and sandalwood’ of ‘Die Entführung aus dem Serail’), the smooth ‘Italiana’ floral; Vepres Siciliennes (Verdi) and the recent release Cio-Cio San inspired by Madama Butterfly by Puccini ( and which I haven’t tried) with its yuzu and sakura. To me Les Indes Galante with its charm of exotic spices-French style is an oriental perfume with the vision of threading the fine line and linking to an elegant and adult gourmand. It is one of the true winter perfumes in the MDCI line-up, and while it may not be ‘ground’ breaking (pun unintended), for any spice lover, whether looking for another oriental fragrance to add to the collection or not, this surely is a must-sniff.

Last but not least, I had many posts in my head but not enough time to get them out in Cyber space so even if this was not supposed to be a Christmas post, well here it is, wishing you all a wonderful, peaceful, joyful Christmas time. May Santa bring you many fragrant gifts.

Lighting up Transparent – Prada Infusion d’Oeillet (2015)

I recently read about someone who was automatically drawn towards light-liquid perfumes. Obviously it makes sense that we are drawn to different juice colours as well as genres, and yet it was one of those things that had never occurred to me before. Indeed I thought it really strange that anyone should be drawn towards transparent and very light coloured perfume, as I would normally be drawn to golden coloured fragrance. I realised that where others see serenity and floral freshness I translated transparency mostly into stingy and anorexic, whilst the golden tone feels rich and opulent and talks to my eyes and heart. But of course, it’s not really about rich or stingy, it’s about which fragrance genres you generally prefer.

Being a lover of oriental, woody and spicy fragrances, Prada’s new Infusion d’Oeillet, by perfumer Daniela Andrier, was absolute top of my to-test list, and I was happy to receive a sample from a fellow perfumista. I hadn’t looked too much into it before, but liked the concept of a new carnation fragrance given the infusion-overhaul. I was very surprised at the pale pink juice and the girly pink carnation used for the advert; in fact, I found the whole picture of little promise for the perfume.

Prada Infusion d'Oeillet Advert

Prada Infusion d’Oeillet Advert

Carnation is a flower which goes extremely well in an oriental/ floriental composition because its spiciness leans towards cloves and pepper and can be given both a cold metallic and a warm spicy side depending on the composition. Also, carnation has been out of flavour for so long, there are not many modern takes on the flower.

Prada Infusion d’Oeillet starts out similar to the original Infusion d’Iris, with a cologne-like peppery freshness. The pepper makes the opening completely unisex, even if the hesperidic notes are little soft and a little sweet due to mandarin essence. The pepper connects to the emergence of the carnation, making the transition into the floral heart seamless like a Tai Chi sequence. It’s beautifully done; all of a sudden you are in the heart of the fragrance and the pepper is no longer pepper but the metallic scent of a carnation flower.

I have always felt that Infusion d’Iris had an austerity in it from the iris and wood. It isn’t overwhelming or sad but rather elegant. Carnation, which can so easily be warm and fierce, is none of that here, yet distinctively a carnation, it’s floral and cool metal, with just enough sweetness. After a swirl through the douce carnation heart, a mellow and sweet sandalwood provides yet another smooth passage into the dry down. Thanks to woody notes (and styrax is mentioned) the sandalwood is uncloyingly serene and the end is as slick as the rest of the composition.oeillet book old

I was impressed by Infusion d’Oeillet’s likeness to Infusion d’Iris, it truly is like iris was simply exchanged for carnation, the atmosphere being so similar. Much like its predecessor, Infusion d’Oeillet is clear and transparent; it speaks of cool minimalism and is almost meditative in its expression. I do see it as a transparent fragrance to justify the light juice, the pink coming from the red carnation in a diluted colour. After all it’s not Infusion d’Oeillet’s fault what I associate most pale or even pink juices with, and even if Infusion d’Oeillet might not make it to my personal  absolute top carnation-heavy fragrances (at least not for winter), I do believe it has made me see transparency in a new light.

 

Sighs of Autumn Rain by Du Fu

In autumn rain, the grasses rot and die,
Below the steps, the jueming‘s colour is fresh.
Full green leaves cover the stems like feathers,
And countless flowers bloom like golden coins.
The cold wind, moaning, blows against you fiercely,
I fear that soon you’ll find it hard to stand.
Upstairs the scholar lets down his white hair,
He faces the wind, breathes the fragrance, and weeps.

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.

image

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.

Chocolate Days – EnVoyage Perfumes Café Cacao and Duftmanufaktur Chocolat Irisé

At the end of summer you notice the days becoming shorter, one morning there’s a chill in the air that wasn’t there before, the sky is clearer and is a deeper shade of blue which seems further away. But somehow the changing of seasons doesn’t announce the autumn itself. One day you just notice that you’ve put on the central heating, you wonder where you put your favourite jumper, or the yellow hat that you wore all of last year and you start craving chocolate again.

We perfume lovers have perhaps already retired the summer scents to the back of the cupboard and taken the autumnal orientals into rotation. But there are also the ones you didn’t have before and can now test for the first time in their perfect environment. It just so happens that I have two indie chocolate perfumes in this category, and today I’ll write about these two calorie-free delicacies.

EnVoyage perfumes’ Café Cacao starts of powdery dry and dark like being in an old spices shop full of spice jars and with cacao and coffee being weighed on old-fashioned scales. apotecary spice shopSome would say it’s salty, but what I get is just anti-saccharine, as in cacao powder drizzled with sugar rose petals on top. Now and again I get a faint whiff of something mocha-like, but as a coffee addict, I must say I don’t get an actual coffee note, more like a faint flavour to add gravitas to the chocolate. I can almost visualise the process of drying pods and beans, grounding them, turning them to powder. There is sweetness; like the sugared rose in the beginning, a tiny bit of cream in a hot chocolate or a sweet musky amber towards the end, but what I like is how all the gourmand facets, somehow manage to stay sober, there’s no Starbucks or Snickers association, this is all very tasteful (excuse the pun) perhaps with no little thanks to the real ambergris used.

Chocolat irisé by Annette Neuffer Duftmanufaktur on the other hand, starts possibly juicy by comparison. It opens on a dark chocolate orange flavour note, and if Café Cacao felt more powdery dry, the opening of Chocolat Irisé is like a baroque still life of melting orange chocolate dripping from a cacao jar. The citrus notes are quite decadent, neither tart nor candy-coated, but like rubbing tangerine peel between your fingers. However, it isn’t an actual ‘gourmand’; iris butter and a floral heart of orange flower and a tiny hint of rose keep Chocolat Irisé a very grown up guilty pleasure. still_life_with_a_bowl_of_chocolate-400Orange flower and vanilla add a touch of sweetness in the heart while the chocolate and iris keep going back and forth vying for attention. The dry-down sees a gorgeous sandalwood take over the role of the orange flower, adding that delicate touch of liquid sweetness to the dark cacao and iris.

Here are two wildly different chocolate centred perfumes created without regard for any research groups or fashionable notes. However, they have some common ground too; each has excellent longevity, I get 12+hours from them, and with that they also have a rather wonderful slow development. At several points I wondered if they were in fact linear, only to find that hours later a new facet had arrived. I admire how both manage to be adult chocolate sins rather than gourmie-teenage-sugar-bomb with glitter on top, and last but not least they both ‘bloom’ in the autumn.

 

Feature pic is mine,  ‘Rosalie’s spice shop’ from Grimms, Zurbaran still life. EnVoyage sample send to me by the perfumer and Duftmanufaktur sample purchased by me.

Today on Cafleurebon –

After a three year hiatus, I’m back as a contributor at CaFleureBon with a post of Patricia de Nicolaï’s new fragrance Ambre Cashmere Intense. There’s a draw for a 30ml bottle there too, so go and enter for the chance of winning the scent equivalent of an elegant autumnal chill shield. I hope soon to have a new post here too, it seems my scented ideas have difficulties manifestifing into written reality at the moment.

ambre cashmere intense

 

 

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.

No Smoke Without a Fire – Habanita* (vintage, 1988 EdT and 2012 EdP)

When I started reading blogs and investigate fragrances beyond the mainstream selection, the first thing I was drawn to explore was the beginnings of the oriental genre.

I ordered a decant of Habanita from The Perfumed Court of the 1988 EdT version. The 1988 version truly is a 1980s perfume, it has atomic power sillage and a cloud of patchouli and clovey cigarette smoke seems to grow by the minute. At least that was my first impression, and the few millilitres used of this rather aged decant, can verify that this beast only comes out of its hiding once a year to check whether my first impression was all down to ‘beginner’s nose’. I can tolerate it much better now, but I can’t say that it’s something I wear. So you will understand: my beginning with Habanita was not a love-affair, but a case of due respect and polite distance keeping, lots of smoke, but little fire.**

image1I am not sure quite how, perhaps as a double lot, but at some point I got quite a vintage bottle of Habanita pure parfum, which because of my previous history with the Lady in question, was approached with great tentativeness. Vintage Habanita is a different thing completely to the 1988 version. Probably due to age, ingredients and/ or the parfum strength, vintage Habanita wears rather close to the skin. You’re not enveloped in a mushroom cloud, and rolled in a mountain of stale ash-tray; this is quite a ‘personal-space’-perfume.

Vintage Habanita smells like sweet honeyed tobacco, warm and rich. There is smoke too, but it is more campfire than French bar before the smoking ban. Perhaps it’s a bit of incense, and galbanum which gives that feel of nice smoke full of memories, rather than ash-tray. There’s an ambery dusty feel, surely helped by a measured dose of heliotrope, and it’s followed by a dry down of incredible warmth and embrace. Aged patchouli, perhaps a little leather and some musky animals make me fantasize that it would be the scent of leaning in on this handsome fellow.gregory peck smoking In deed it would be gorgeous on men as well as women. My feel for vintage Habanita is that this is a perfume which hasn’t yet become an icon. She’s not glamming it up, like an aging celebrity, trying to remind everybody how amazingly sexy she was is, she just ‘is’, without even trying.

I sniffed the new 2012 Habanita shortly after its release, but I sort of forgot about it again. I still had my 1988 picture of Habanita, and a quick sniff of the new thing was not enough to banish it. However, I recently received a sample of the EdP and decided to give it a go.

It has the honeyed tobacco, which is just great as a sweetener as it never feels gourmand in any way but grounded and a bit tough. The smoke comes in the shape of leather and tar, which later mingles with a bit of powdery amber, so here too we are spared the smoke cabin feel; no one will mistake you for a smoker wearing this. There’s a bit of rubber to Habanita too. She’s a tough cookie, a Marlene Dietrich, compared to the Gregory Peck of the vintage version, but not a caricature. Even if scent wise it differs from the vintage version, I feel the soul of this 2012 version is much truer to its earliest predecessor than to its immediate one (1988) in that it doesn’t try too hard but is comfortable and at ease with what it is. Habanita 2012 still wears her name and notoriety with pride, her fire still burns but she’s in no need for a smokescreen.

 

Have you tried Habanita in any versions?

 

*I didn’t start out thinking I would compare the versions I have but just write about the vintage, well, I guess I couldn’t help it.

**please note that I probably feel about cigarettes and tobacco the way tea drinkers do about coffee; they tend to love the smell of the freshly grounded beans but hate the drink, and while I love the tobacco scent, I’ll rather cross the road than have to walk behind a smoker.

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.