Wings of the Night- Vol de Nuit Guerlain

Who doesn’t enjoy a nice calming yet scrumptious perfume to wear to sleep; a fragrant lullaby which will make your dreams sweet and your sleep restoring?

I know that it might be more obvious to think of French impressionists composers like Fauré, Debussy or Chausson with regards to the classic Guerlains, but for me quite a few vintage Guerlains I associate with the music of Richard Strauss. Composed around the same time as some of the most famous fragrances produced from this house, his music is lush and has a certain ‘die Welt von Gestern’ sigh to it. The poems he chose would often depict nature antropomorphed, and proving himself no stranger nor indifferent to the power of fragrance, in one of his most famous opera ‘Der Rosenkavalier’, at the presentation of the rose, a silver rose filled with drops of Persian rose oil we are told, smells like from the heavens, like nothing on earth, almost unbearable with beauty. As is the music at this exact point.

A good night-perfume makes me sleep like an angel. However, not the wings of angels but the wings of airplanes inspired the Guerlain classic Vol de Nuit.

One of Strauss’ most beautiful songs is ‘Beim Schlafengehen’ ( poem by Hermann Hesse) from his ‘4 last songs’ , it’s climax is the soul rising, anticipated by a violin solo, then for real by the melisms of the voice on the three words ‘free’, ‘wings’ and ‘waft/ soar’. To me, the soundtrack of Vol de Nuit is this song.vol de nuit2

My favourite night flight is ‘Vol de Nuit’. I embark some time before getting ready to sleep, this way I can enjoy the jasmine and daffodil indoles, which smell soft like dew drops, resting on a soft bed of moss and they can slowly descend into a the heart and base, like the mind that equally slowly turns away from the world.

Vol de Nuit’s night chilliness is oddly warm and embracing, like the cool side of a pillow, it calms the soul with orris and spices. You sense the sweetness from vanilla and the restoring powers of the lucid green galbanum to shine through the darkness, which lingers on your skin, but wants to rise, ready to take off from it and rise with the woody notes and the whole distant symphony that makes this fragrance, at the same time as the body finds sleep, as your mind descends to quiet, your Vol de Nuit ascends on “wings into nights magic circle to live a thousandfold”

Sweet dreams


Nun der Tag mich müd gemacht

Soll mein sehnliches Verlangen,

Freundlich die gestirnte Nacht

Wie ein Müdes Kind empfangen.

Hände lass von allem Tun

Stirn vergiss du alles Denken,

Alle meine Sinne nun

Wollen sich in Schlummer senken.

Und die Seele unbewacht

Will in freien Flügeln schweben

Um im Zauberkreis der Nacht

Tief und Tausendfach zu leben

(Herman Hesse)


Now that day has wearied me,

May my ardent desire,

Friendly embrace the starlit night,

Like a tired child.

Hands, refrain from all work

Brow, forget all thinking

All of my senses now

Long to sink into slumber.

And the soul, ungarded,

Will soar on open wings,

To live, profoundly and thousandfold

In the magic circle of night.

Tickly Circles in Allegro – Isotta – Cerchi nell’Acqua

Writing about Iris Gris, has had me wear a lot of peach and/ or iris fragrances of late. I even wore ‘Isotta’ three days in a row, which made me want to give it a proper post.

Despite me having just admitted at Olfactoria’s Travels in her ‘People in Perfumeland’ series, that I do prefer classic fragrance pyramids over linear, star-shaped, circular or other non-pyramid compositions, this is of course a truth with modifications. There are several exceptions, Isotta being one of them.

The perfumer is Enrico Buccella and Isotta is a release under his brand Cerchi nell’acqua. S. Buccello is also the founder of Sigilli and Les Voiles Dépliées and is the nose behind Olfattivo Laboratorio’s Alambar. Cerchi nell’Acqua means circles in the water and the name stands for the fragrance composition for this particular line, described as “a fragrant energy that is gently dispersed in the regular circular manner of circles in water” isotta pic is mine

The opening is citrus dancing like sunbeams on the sea. After that, it’s true; Isotta spreads out her layers in circular movements. Imagine layers of notes violets, peach both green and ripe ones, sandalwood, warm woody iris and discreet musky vanilla and through these layers, the olfactory equivalent of (candy) pop-rocks explosions, send out through the circles, and forming into separate bubbles.tegning isotta It makes the perfume tickle your nose throughout the wearing time. Despite its decidedly modern feel, the thing that kept coming back to me while writing this was Vivaldi’s concerto for flautino in C RV 443. It’s build around a main theme, which returns (ritornello) played by the orchestra and soloist, intercepted by different solo variations for the recorder. Listen: the dry woodiness, sprightly and virtuoso flute notes and the balancing work of the string orchestra led by the crisp cembalo and the mellow lute. The way this allegro movement is lively and bouncing, yet somehow still sober, to my senses matches what Isotta is. And tickle, snap, pop all the way through…

Notes: hesperidic notes, violet, peach, iris, sandalwood, musk, vanilla, amber.

Isotta was one of my purchases while in Rome with Suzanne, Mark and Ines last summer. I like to buy fragrances while away as a memory, so in this instance it was important to me that it was an Italian brand. Isotta with its iris/ peach combo had instant appeal, but many other from this line were very interesting too. Italian in style, yet very refined and thoroughly modern.

At the end of the rainbow- Iris Gris vintage perfume

Everyone a bit interested in the world of fragrance, and having followed a couple of blogs or forums regularly, or read a perfume book will have heard of the elusive Iris Gris. Say these magic words and they will send sheer icicles of shiver down every parfumista’s spine. In the world of fragrance lost, Iris Gris is Queen, and she rules supreme from her Ivory Tower without the intention of handing over her reign any time imaginable to mere mortals. Part of the story of this pivotal status is of course in unattainability, in the irretrievability of the (magic ) potion as well as in its ingredients, of a different age and quality.

To obtain the Unicorn’s tear, one can go hunting and with the help of goblins and talking bears find the elusive elixir at the end of the rainbow, or one can be more the lucky duck who stumbles upon it where people apparently forgot to look that particular day.

DSC01395Guess what? That would be me. I haven’t got a permanent search for IG on prominent auction sites, because I was certain if it came up I’d never be able to afford bidding. I have not been hunting high and low or selling off kidneys. Unspectacular, I browsed, found and won, cheap. Oh and BTW the auction also included a vintage bottle of Fath de Fath.

Iris Gris in pristine condition, what does she smell like? Incredible is the answer; at the same time otherworldly and intimately present. I imagine the skin of a peach just picked from the tree, one side still warm from the sun, and condensed with milky-sweet ripeness, the other cool from the shade of the tree, and you hold that cool side up to your cheek, feeling its smooth velvet skin. And then there’s that divine buttery nectarous orris root that compliments the peach. The excellence of this perfume is how warm lushness balances with an earthy cold feel, which seeps up through the fragrance, in the shape of the more rooty aspects of the iris and a beautifully crisp vetiver. Iris Gris owns a husky beauty and just enough melancholy to make her intelligent rather than mere foxy. Her name might be grey but she, like her golden juice, is the colour of late afternoon sun rays in high summer.



What a terrible shame this can’t be reproduced. Iris Gris is a perfume that doesn’t belong in Ivory Towers or faraway never-never lands, it wouldn’t suit snow white or mermaids, I completely agree with other bloggers, it wouldn’t be out of place as a modern niche launch, and it would suit us- you and me.


*I wrote this post, or most of it, quite a while back, but reading the news that Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is creating and going to release her version of IG, called Scent of Hope, made me finish this one. It is of course excellent news and I can’t wait to smell (and compare) it. Also, I found it quite funny that Dawn in her description used the Ivory Tower too, to explain what IG is NOT.

**Even if nothing at the moment comes close to experiencing Iris Gris, when I want my modern peach-iris cravings satisfied, I wear the magnificent Ouris from SoOud, or even the very Italian Isotta from Cerchi Nell’Aqua, which, apart from the iris/peach combo, feels like the fragrant equivalent of pop rocks.

For more on vintage Iris Gris read the Non Blonde, Perfume shrine, Yesterdays perfume.

All pics are mine.

Thoughts about Niche, the New Black and the Big Bad Wolf

May 23 (Reuters) – “The $31 billion-a-year perfume industry is bracing itself for tighter EU regulations to be adopted by the end of the year that will include ingredient bans and labelling requirements aimed at protecting consumers from allergies.”

Yes, nothing new under the sun there. But contrary to what you might think now, this post is actually not going to be about how the Big Bad IFRA Wolf will huff and puff until the last fragrance pyramid falls. These are a few simple observations that I have tried to put into words.

When I first started to truly appreciate fragrance, visiting perfumeries often, and then started having several perfumes rather than one signature, it was in the nineties, and even if niche existed, it hadn’t reached me yet, but also, it wasn’t really all that important yet, because the mainstream houses produced exciting stuff, and there were forerunners. I’m thinking of Yohji Homme, Le Feu d’Issey, Angel, Féminité du Bois, etc. Féminité du Bois changed what a fragrance marketed at women can be, and Angel arguably created a whole new perfume-genre.

Things changed, I don’t know why, but perhaps perfumes were such an easy win for many companies, mainstream became mainstream, formulas were repeated ad nauseam after the devise ‘if it ain’t broke- don’t fix it’- a fertile ground for niche to develop and take hold. And so it did. Many fantastic new houses and brands created great stuff and explored new ways.

Now within niche so many new brands and launches take place, that creating truly new, exciting and well-crafted stuff is tough. Being first with something completely new, might mean that you won’t survive as a new brand, as might using too many precious materials prove too expensive or simply too risky, as the first casualties have already happened within niche brands I thought well established.

Thinking of the trend of minimalist fragrances, I thought how niche almost seems to have mainstreamified; a lot of similar things are coming out- minimalist seem to still be en vogue, but…

In the middle of the huffing and puffing and the extinction of old formulas, that are only possible to experience as either museums piece,s like at Maison Guerlain, or if you’re willing to pay big sums as the prices of famous vintage bottles on auction sites are soaring, retro perfumery is trending. If you can’t invent new, invent old. Everywhere I look, the most exciting new release is actually an old one, lots of old companies are being revived (Volnay, Oriza L. LeGrand, Jovoy), and/or reissuing (Houbigant, Lubin, Rochas, Jean Patou), or recreating in retro spirit or in a story (Roja Dove perfumes, Andy Tauer’s Tableaus, Envoyage’s Zelda, DSH Pandora a.o, or Penhaligon’s Tralala aldehydes). And I am quite sure I’m forgetting half.

But isn’t it funny, that in the middle of the extinction of whole genres of perfume, and the ghostly shadow of reformulation, or the ‘IFRA Brazilian wax job’ as Denyse termed it the other day, a definite change in the world of niche perfume is taking place with reviving perfumes long gone, and reformulating classic perfumes to higher standards and at a cost. Is the classic perfumery to become the new way of niche? Is it because of the IFRA threat, or is it something else? Or is it not an important trend, but just a branch on the niche-tree?

What do you think?


Picture from Oriza L. LeGrand homepage

A Bite of the Pineapple… 1804 Histoires de Parfums

There’s something gloriously silly about pineapples. They make you think of fun, of sunshine, cocktails on the beach, they seem a fantasy-picture of the easy life. And without actually loving heavy use of fruity notes in perfume, there are a few pineapple perfumes that I really enjoy.

With Histoires de Parfums’ 1804, perfumer M. Ghislaine writes that he aimed at a perfume which reflected the generosity and sensuality of George Sands. I don’t think many would have thought of linking pineapple and George Sands, but as an inspiration- why not?

The author, born 1804, who wrote under the pen-name George Sand, is perhaps then as today equally famous for her writing as for sporting male clothes and having numerous famous lovers; amongst them Musset who called her “The most womanly woman” and Chopin- the latter recorded in her book ‘a winter in Mallorca’.

1804 George Sand is almost as solifrutti as they get. It seems like everything else in there is only there to support the sense of a tropical pineapple on the height of its dripping ripeness. To begin with it’s taken with a pinch of a beautiful peach. Then a soft downy heart of white flowers, which seem to turn tropical, probably because of the delicate spices added, and then a musky warm-skin-toned dry down. And over all this there’s always the juicy pineapple. Light-hearted, loveable and golden is what comes to mind describing it. I very much enjoy the sensual adultness of this perfume, at no point am I confusing this with any product aimed at teenagers. In best HdP fashion this is such a well composed, and with all its exoticness still an ultimately French perfume, I very much envisage a leisurely summers day sipping a Flirtini* in the south of France. On me the perfume wears quite light, perfect for summer.

Kitty pineapple

If you think I personally got my inspiration from the kitty photo, that I wanted to share for quite some time, well, you might not be completely wrong. The kitten belongs to my friend whom I happened to stay with (between flats) when this photo was taken. I think it just proves the point; everyone wants a bite of the pineapple.

Notes according to Histoires de Parfums’ page:

Top Note: Tahitian Gardenia, Corsica Peach, Hawaiian Pineapple
Heart Note: Clove, Nutmeg, Indian Jasmine, Lily of the Valley, Rose of Morocco
Base Note: Sandalwood, Patchouli, Benzoin, Vanilla, White Musk

A few links to perfume reviews of Histoires de Parfums 1804: The Non Blonde, Katie Puckrik and  unseen censer

Top Note: Tahitian Gardenia, Corsica Peach, Hawaiian Pineapple
Heart Note: Clove, Nutmeg, Indian Jasmine, Lily of the Valley, Rose of Morocco
Base Note: Sandalwood, Patchouli, Benzoin, Vanilla, White Musk
– See more at:
Top Note: Tahitian Gardenia, Corsica Peach, Hawaiian Pineapple
Heart Note: Clove, Nutmeg, Indian Jasmine, Lily of the Valley, Rose of Morocco
Base Note: Sandalwood, Patchouli, Benzoin, Vanilla, White Musk
– See more at:

*And the recipe for those ‘official sex and the city’ Flirtinis are one part vodka to two parts pineapple juice and two parts Champagne.


The Greatest Perfumes Never Made -1 Blixen’s Ehrengard

Writing about perfumes makes you particularly aware of any perfume references outside the actual fragrance platforms. Some authors have a knack not just for the occasional scent inspired description, or reference to a certain perfume, but for actually creating things of fragrant beauty in their own right. A description which reads like notes to an elusive perfume you instantly get a craving to smell.

The great story-teller Tania (Karen) Blixen, of ‘Out of Africa’- fame, wrote ‘Ehrengard’ late in her life, and it was only published posthumous in 1963. It is a typical case of Blixen’s box stories (think Russian Dolls), and we are about half way through the story before the title heroine makes her entrée.

Diana-Leaving-her-Bath Francois Boucher

Opposite the unaffected and virtuous Ehrengard is the self-satisfied artist and connoisseur of all things romantic Johann Wolfgang von Cazotte as the leading man. Blixen’s balance act of ridicule and love for her male protagonist makes this one of the definitely lighter and funnier of her stories. A highlight is where the painter Cazotte discovers Ehrengard bathing, and is in a reverie about this most magnificent composition that he is going to paint; ‘Diana leaving her bath’. Without revealing too much I can say that Diana being the Roman Goddess of hunt as well as the virgin goddess of childbirth and women, it all ties in perfectly with the Blixenesqe universe. The plot is magnificent in all its twists and turns, and the final point is nothing short of triumphant.


A scent worthy of the Amazonian Ehrengard would be a great thing in its own right, but Blixen does one better; she offers it to us, a magic elixir that I for one would dearly like to smell.

“The evening air was getting cooler, she rode through many spheres of fragrance; clover, flowering lime trees and drying strawberry fields, through them all the ammoniac smell from the lathering horse was the strongest. She drew in her breath deeply, and hastened on, with raised head and distended nostrils, a young female centaur playing along the grass fields.”

Would the notes read something like this?

top; green notes, neroli, clover, cassis

heartnotes; lime/linden, strawberry, hay, grass, rose

base; ammoniac, musk, leather, oakmoss (oak groves were sacred to the Goddess Diana), resin and labdanum.

ehrengard copyright me


What do you think, if we go lightly on the ammoniac, would you like to smell Blixen’s elixir? What notes would you have added?

Let us garlands bring- Puredistance Antonia & I

I normally need a bit of time to get used to a floral perfume, for it to settle and to appreciate it for what it is, not wishing it to be different. Or else I need to feel the urge to explore and want a certain type of florals- like a lily-of-the-valley or lilac perfume. Rarely, very rarely does a floral fragrance land on my wrist and without further ado, just belong there.

Puredistance’s Antonia is one of those special floral perfumes; it feels soft and inviting, begging to be sniffed because you simply can’t help yourself. It seems like such a summer floral. Opening with the most delicate soap bubbles as to highlight the flowers underneath, I smell the ylang ylang, the jasmine and the rose, but am unable to say where one stops and another begins, they are so softly intertwined, weaved like a garland rather than a bouquet. The ylang ylang brings a radiant silkiness to the elegant rose, just as the jasmine has all the dewiness but is void of any sharp indoles. A semi-sweet vanilla and buttery and slightly earthy greenery closes the garland. As sunny and flowing as the perfume is, in my mind it plays on two different strings, it has a strong personality yet is soft like velvet, in that sense it’s a feeling of divaesque naturalness or laid-back beauty.

“Then to Silvia let us sing,

That Silvia is excelling;

She excels each mortal thing

Upon the dull earth dwelling;

To her let us garlands bring”  From ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’

edouard villard mimosa

If Antonia is a garland, Puredistance ‘I’ feels like a honeyed meadow of wild flowers on an early summers day.

The mimosa, also acacia, is renowned for its sweet nectar, and the beautiful and somewhat sharp honey this blossom produces with a little help from their bee friends. This honey perhaps adds a bit of easy boldness to ‘I’ compared to the garlands of Antonia. A light hand strews sweet citrus notes over the honeyed flowers, just enough to make the sweetness pleasant and warm. And sunny grass and a wealth of flowers add depth and beauty. The fragrance comes to rest on a pillow of downy musk. It has a warm heart and a straight forward happiness that is intoxicating.

And because no one can say it better; “Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;” From sonnet XXXIII


And because it always is nice to read old reviews again, for more perfume reviews (just a few there are a lot out there) try Vanessa, Ines, Undina, Suzanne, Olfactoria, the non blonde and many more I’m sure. If you wrote about any of these two, feel free to ad your blog-link

What Scent but that of Lilacs? Lilac fragrances part 1

When looking for a lilac perfume, what exactly are we searching for; memories, the foreboding of spring, the lilac bush as it goes from a green on-burst over alluring sweetness to decaying sensuality?

For this first post on lilac perfumes, it is going to be about three contemporary and still available lilac fragrances. The title refers to Hans Sachs‘ aria from Wagners opera Die Meistersänger aus Nürnberg ‘Was duftet doch der Flieder’. Die Meistersänger (the mastersingers) hold a competition for men to enter their Guild, whereby a singer composes a song to very difficult intricate set rules. Walther, who wants to enter, sings in a new style, and only Hans Sachs recognises that although new and different this song is of particular beauty. I thought it was a fitting title since lilac suffers from a somewhat old fashioned reputation, and yet it inspires contemporary perfumers to reinvent it. As Sachs sings; ‘It sounded so old – and yet was so new, a birdsong as sweet as May!’

I Profumi di Firenze ‘Lilla Serenella’

It’s lilac the Italian way, to state the obvious. Whatever lilac might be elsewhere, in Firenze it’s naughty. It’s dirty, fleshy, intoxicating and somehow still a lady. Like the difference between French Chic and Italian Passione, this one doesn’t wear Chanel, it wears Versace. Its purple waxy petals shine with delight, they’re moist not with dew but with thick nectar, shivering in anticipation, before dying in the serene sunset over the hills of Tuscany.

This Lilla Serenella might be a soliflore, but it makes me forget all about it. And did I mention that if you visit Firenze, these perfumes are a steal.

images versace, carey, beyonce by testino







Ineke ‘After my own heart’

To begin with it’s all apple and tard berries. And I get quite a bit of white musk coming through. Basically it’s quite a fruity-floral opening. I then do get a nice soft whisper of lilac, not in any way overpowering, but kind of just a sudden immergence. So despite the focus on the sharp and green in the opening of the fragrance, towards the lilac-heart the fragrance mellows, I suppose with the help of the heliotrope and sandalwood notes, although these are very faint. Basically being a nice and happy floral with a fresh and fruity top, it is for you if you like such fragrances. For me, well you might have guessed it, I lack a bit of something else. The intoxicating alluring note, some spike, some romance, a song, a dance…

La Parfumerie Moderne ‘Désarmant’

A new release from a new niche brand, Désarmant is all about lilac. Apparently it is based on a memory of a mystery perfume found at a hotel. As lilac soliflores go, this one is really very pretty and authentic. Désarmant manages to find a fine line between not being about to eat you whole (indole overload) nor about to be eaten (macaron-style). For the shortest moment the opening has a bit of grubbiness, like fresh moist soil, and freshness like a spring breeze before these come together to form the actual scent of lilac.  A lot of modern lilacs, like to add a watery fresh or even yeasty note, not so here, and yet, Désarmant also does most certainly not smell vintage. It sits on a bench in the shadow of the lilac and stays there in its soliflore mode for a long time, with not much else happening, until suddenly it changes character and becomes quite animalic in a furry sort of way, before it softens into a faint growl. We can only guess as to what happened underneath those lilac bushes? Or in that hotel room?

I’ll let Hans Sachs have the last word; ‘What scent but that of lilacs, is so gentle, so strong and full!’


For more lilac perfume reviews and round-ups; Undina goes looking for the perfect lilac here and here and here’s  Bois de Jasmin ‘s take.

Not a care in the world- ’Tralala’ New Penhaligon’s fragrance


Normally a new Penhaligon wouldn’t excite me massively, but this beautiful description and the notes had me intrigued, especially the magic word: Saffron!

I do love this spice in perfume, and am especially interested whenever saffron is not paired with rose. Don’t get me wrong, rose and saffron is a wonderful combo, but not exactly unexplored (A quick search gave 398 perfumes which contain these two notes together). Some of the finest, where saffron is not just a substitute for oud, being: Noir de Noir, Safran Troublant, Agent Provocateur and Rose d’Arabie.

Apparently this perfume is a collaboration between Duchaufour for Penhaligon’s and Designers Meadham Kirschoff, whom I must admit to have not heard of before this perfume.*


‘Tralala’ opens on the aldehydes that I think of as the happy ones, those sparkly, rosy, soapy ones that put a smile on your lips. Without a doubt the soapiness is enhanced by the violets, which also adds a sweet cushiony feel. It also instantly makes me think of several vintage perfumes – but here it’s paired with a burst of warm yet sharp saffron and a tiny whiff of whisky, which makes it 2014 retro chic rather than something from mid last century. I am totally in love with this opening. It plays with the ambiguity; heliotrope á la Après l’Ondée, , oh no leather like in Traversée du Bosphore… and on it goes without ever becoming a patchwork, but being intricately weaved and playfully tailored like the couture items that inspired the perfume.

I smell golden ylang-ylang and spicy, velvety clove/ carnation all sunny and fun. The rubbery white flowers are only there to enhance the smooth and womanly feel of this perfume as a velvet backdrop.

Peggy Lee Benny Goodmann ‘Not a care in the World’

Up until this point the perfume is its own, like it doesn’t have a care in the world, but it’s as if the dry down didn’t quite dare to be different; ok, so let’s give them the musky-sweet cosy vanilla version that everyone loves. So let me quote the above song:

‘I view the scene
Like that queen of old Russia
As Kate the Great
Used to state long ago

Tralala! There are worse things in the world than nice vanilla dry downs touched up with a bit of almond macaron. And Tralala is a perfume that feels like spring sunshine on fluffy clouds, and the enjoyment of it rubbing off on everything in your wake… You do touch me, Tralala.

‘So if I move in a groove
With a giddy trot
I’m a trottin’ because I’ve got
Not a bean in my pot
Not a care in the world’



Notes from Fragrantica are aldehydes, saffron, whiskey and violet, leather, tuberose, incense and carnation, patchouli, vetiver, musk and vanilla

* Judging by the bottle design, it’s clear to me why. What say you, how do you find the bottle?

**can mean ‘quite ok’, ‘quite nice’ or ‘not bad’- along with many other things

Disclaimer: I was lucky to win a sample over at Magnifiscents ‘ La Gardenia nell’Occhiello-blog, already linked to in the first sentence.

For more perfume reviews of Tralala go to; Black Narcissus, Persolaise , CaFleureBon. Feel free to add more links in the comments if you reviewed this.

Le feu d’issey- catching fire…

Since I have already a couple of years sporadic blog writing behind me as a contributor at Ca Fleure Bon and as a guest writer for Ines at All I am – a Redhead where I was fortunate enough to tread my blogger-baby steps, I will, at least for now, skip further introduction or even the explanations and without further ado, get on with it; a warm welcome to my first post on The Sounds of Scent.

I have missed writing, but being between flats, living out of suitcases, moving out, in or around and redecorating have taken up a lot of time. There are fun things about moving too though; for instance how you rediscover things which you have managed to pack away for so long you truly had no idea of their existence. And so, in a box full of useless old things, stocked away in a Copenhagen basement, and before that in a loft somewhere in south London since its move from Germany, imagine my delight at finding a nearly full bottle of Issey Miyake’s Le Feu d’Issey*. I have no idea when or why I packed it away; I can even no longer remember when I got it, but the sight of the bottle and the quick spray brought back memories.

Of all the fragrances I ever owned, Le Feu d’Issey was perhaps the closest I ever came to having a signature scent. That was back when it was a new scent in the late ‘90s and early 2000, as it went with me through Music College. I wore it so often I get phantosmia just thinking of that red- orange crazy plastic ball. I am not sure anymore if I simply had enough of it one day, or if it was actually the unavailability that made me stop wearing ‘Issey’s Fire’, but little by little it drifted out of my sight and thoughts, and it wasn’t until much later, aware of its increasing rareness, that I tried to hunt down a bottle for nostalgic reasons.

Almost impossible to describe to the uninitiated, I’ll have a go at it none the less. The green juiciness of bergamot and coriander combined with anise/ wormwood are a punch of an opening.

I keep getting this absinthe-imagery; the green liquor which changes into a milky opalescence, by adding sugar and water which in turn will bring out the herbal aromas of the liquor. This could be Le Feu. As the coconut milk and a creamy- slightly sour- lily joins the greenness- the lactones underlined by the sandalwood from the base, it adds an extra subtle change to the herbs and spices.

The sweetness keeps vying with the sourness for attention, with a fickle pink rose thrown back and forth between the two, undecided where she stands. And the wormwood gives a last smirk, before it sinks into a supposedly comfortable woody-amber base.

le feu-soundsofscent

The perfume is instantly recognisably unique; it was different back then too, I had never smelled anything quite like it, and on the other hand it was clear that it tried to dig into that new genre; the Gourmand.  Perhaps it had even tried to do what Angel did before, be unashamedly different and become a success for it. Le Feu misfired, and was discontinued.

I moved on, and bought and wore different things, but it wasn’t until I sniffed Douce Amere by Serge Lutens, that I fell truly in love with perfume again; Douce Amere being of course another great (albeit entirely different) wormwood creation for lover of the woody-oriental genre. I wasn’t looking for a substitute, but I was looking for a new perfume to intrigue and beguile me and ultimately, unknown to me at the time, it was the one that send me down the fragrant rabbit hole. But that’s a different story, and that will have to wait for another time…

*Created by Jacques Cavallier in 1998

Notes vary, but here from Fragrantica: The top notes are bergamot, coconut, rosewood and anise. The heart is composed of jasmine, rose, milk and caramel. The base notes are cedar, sandalwood, Guaiac wood, vanilla and musk

For more perfume reviews of Le Feu d’Issey see Fragranticaolfactoria at perfume smelling things, PeredePierre, sorcery of scent

pics are mine