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 🙂







*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.

Celebrate Good Times – Chanel Sycomore (2008) and Nez à Nez Marron Chic (2010)

I was going to publish a post on some Guerlains today, but given the ’Monsieur-Guerlain Bloggate*’ I decided to wait with that one for next time.

Today is my birthday, the day where it’s even better than usual to have a lot of lovely friends older than yourself, being able to tell you that 40 is indeed the best time of your life, the new 30, the new black, the cat’s pyjamas etc. and who am I to argue with wise words of people who have lived longer than I.

I decided that it’s also a time in your life, where you happen to have accumulated a lot of the things already, so my wish list was for 2nd hand and homemade items, which worked out a treat, people coming up with all sorts of lovely things. Recently, I have even realised that I’ll probably not need back up perfumes of anything, save perhaps one or two favourites, and this together with my special occasion made me decide to do a little draw today, see the bottom of the post for this.

I had hoped to wear a special second-hand item on the eve of the party, but alas, it arrived late. I have had a complete crush on Sycomore of late, and this was the item I purchased from a ’wunderbar’ German perfume enthusiast.

Chanel’s Sycomore (perfumers Jacques Polge and Christopher Sheldrake) is that rare thing for me; a tough rather than masculine vetiver. I do love vetiver, but all too often it ends up smelling too much like after shave on me. This is a general issue with very dry and woody fragrances, they won’t really warm up and bloom on my skin, so finding one that does, a fragrance to embrace (what the h… – channel even) your inner Dietrich/ K. Hepburn/ S. Weaver et al. is rare for me. Perhaps it’s not least due to Sycomore’s floating quality, that it never becomes harsh. Its mixture of green woodiness, autumnal forests and camp fires just swirls around and becomes your fragrant aura, more than an actual perfume. What a turn-heads perfume for both males and females. The published notes are; vetiver, sandalwood, aldehydes, tobacco and violet. And let’s ad a signature song, for fun and straight out of my b-day playlist; Talking heads- Take me to the river, ultra cool and timeless.

sycomore marron


What I actually wore is a trusted go-to special occasion perfume of mine, and it never fails to deliver a certain ‘ooh-la-la’ –effect, or a feeling of a constant inner purr if you will. It’s the now DC’ed Nez à Nez perfume Marron Chic (Karine Chevallier). The regular reader of The Sounds of Scent will have one guess as to its main note. However, it isn’t as easy as that. Kumquat crosses wires with iris and chocolate and it’s not entirely pleasant, in fact had it not been for the look on the SA’s eyes when he sniffed it on me, it would probably not have gone home with me at that point. Like most of my best-loved perfumes, Marron Chic needed to ‘click’. The gourmand flair is something I am not always easy with, but here it’s not something you gluttonously eat, it’s something you crave and desire. The resins and labdanum ease the transition from the iris heart, and a subtle vetiver in the base creates a bit of an antipole to the ‘thickness’ of the other notes. Notes; kumquat, orange blossom, hesperidic notes, iris, cacao, karo-karounde, violet, benzoe, labdanum, vetiver. The purring soundtrack: Postmodern jukebox; All about that Bass.

And the little B-day draw: Draw closed there will be one winner, but since in so many countries you can no longer send or receive perfume you can choose between either a decant of my two birthday fragrances OR a personal drawing of your favourite perfume (or favourite 2 perfumes, depending on which you choose) – yes, done by me in the style seen here:boadicca, micallef sergeserge bas de soie

All you need to do is answer the following question in the comments and tell me which price you’d prefer to win. Make sure you comment from an e-mail address that I can contact.

What are your favourite special occasion fragrances?

*Read more here

Read Suzanne’s beautiful review of Marron Chic here

Pictures are mine.

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.



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…”



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




Perfume, Perfume and Money to Buy More Perfume- No 1 Frankincense Neal’s Yard Remedies

Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.


I’ve had all the best of intentions and even loads of ideas, but it seems my head has been too crowded to get any of those down on virtual paper.

To get a sense of calm and focus there is nothing quite like the scent of incense. After I worked out that I am actually allergic to the smoked version of frankincense, I’ve kept a little distance from incense perfumes, but of course incense perfume need not smell smoky at all. In fact incense has that wonderful cool, clean property and can be anything but smoky and indeed very soothing.

As today is Three Kings Day (Epiphany) it gives me another good reason to get out my incense perfumes; Frankincense, gold and myrrh, and gives me the chance to share one of my favourite perfume picture captions.

three kings caption

Before Christmas I did some rehearsals out in a somewhat alternative space, meant for independent theatres as rehearsal space. Now, of all places where I might encounter perfumes I did not think to do so there, least of all perfumes of quality which I hadn’t even heard about; Pure Essence Eau de Parfum No.1 Frankincense by a company which I only knew for its skin care, Neal’s Yard Remedies.

Obviously, I had to test it.

The perfume is natural and 97% organic, and it struck me that a lot of the (soli-) incense perfumes that agree with me are natural. I already wrote about the cosy Winter Kitty and the enlightened Calling all Angels, and I’m sure there are many more which I have forgotten at the moment. In the mixed category I especially admire the ascetic Armani Privé Bois d’Encense and the swirly smoke of IUNX’s L’Ether, however I feel that in natural perfumery incense tends to smell less smoky and have a more zen-like quality.neals yard

On to Pure Essence Eau de Parfum No.1 Frankincense* which opens on notes of neroli, bergamot and pepper. It’s a pleasant, albeit familiar, start which quickly gives way to the crisp incense. Incense with its dry tartness should perhaps come across as distant or overly sharp, but something about it here is mild and forgiving. Perhaps it’s the lavender which makes it so, even if I wasn’t overly aware of the lavender in the fragrance itself. Reading the notes I was surprise to find a simple recipe yielding a graceful composition. The base notes are patchouli, vetiver, myrrh and balsam copaiba, but neither patch nor vetiver are very pronounced. Rather, the base is a mild soapy myrrh reminding me a little of the soapiness of Serge Lutens’ La Myrrhe. The resins are balmy enough to give the base depth, warmth and perhaps even a golden hue to the lightness of the myrrh. Overall there is a perfumeness and light which incense perfumes often lack. I was not only surprised at finding this little gem, but even more so at how it found its way into my perfume heart; Frankincense, Myrrh and Gold all in one modest little perfume.

As it is the last day of Christmas you can listen to the recitative about the presents from the Three Magi and the following Choral from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio here.

Happy New Year!


*My review is based on the bottle in the picture found in the bath room at the studio. I don’t know if it has changed over time, or of course when the bottle was bought and donated to the light and humidity exposed bath room ;-). I do think I will get myself a bottle sometime in the future, and will update if the new bottle is in any way different.

As always feature picture and photo by me.

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.


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