Memento Mori by Aftelier Perfumes

 

Love and loss…

 

Top Notes: Butter, Orris, Phenylacetic Acid

Middle Notes: Turkish Rose Absolute, Phenylethyl Alcohol

Base Notes: Beta Ionone, Ambreine, Ambergris, Antique Civet, Patchoulyl Acetate (a patchouli isolate)

 

Memento mori, “remember that you have to die”, is a Latin expression that dates back to Ancient Rome. We can get so wrapped up in the trivial trials and tribulations of our day to day lives we forget that life is short and most of what we worry about is not worth the torment.

A memento mori is something that reminds us of our mortality, inspiring us to make the most of life. The concept has been translated into many art forms including paintings, music, ceramics and literature.

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Since the Middle Ages people have worn memento mori mourning jewellery to remind them of lost loved ones. Rather than being morbid, these were tokens of love which allowed the wearer to hold on to the memory of their dearly departed.  In the perfume Memento Mori artisan perfumer Mandy Aftel portrays this idea in the form of fragrance.  It’s a thought-provoking concept which has been just as  thoughtfully executed.

Memento Mori captures the aroma of the lost lover. Mandy uses musk, butter, the doughy facet of orris and the earthy, mushroom-y facet of woody violets to create the idea of skin. The soft rose adds a pink blush.

She manages to give the scent an unusual lived-in, very human, quality with the warm, ripe smell of an unwashed body. It’s about body heat and someone’s unadorned natural smell rather than anything sexual.

As time ticks on and the pain of grief begins to fade, the fragrance reveals a tender layer of powdery pastel florals. The retro combination of iris/rose seems to reflect the sweet memories the separated lovers shared.  While I find the first stage challenging, this is a classic accord I really love.

In the base, warmth radiates through amber and patchouli while the musk gently lingers on and imparts a feeling of comfort. The bereaved is consoled by the realisation that though we must die, our love does not.

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The carrier for the fragrance is a blend of fractionated coconut oil and organic alcohol so that it is fittingly clinging.  I found it has more lift than many all-natural perfumes and that the lasting power is actually better than most synthetics.

Mandy says that Memento Mori was a deeply personal creation for her and I can understand why. It takes courage for any artist to share something so intimate with the world but I find that when they do it is all the more meaningful for it.

Memento Mori is a meditation on love and loss you need time and space to fully experience and appreciate it.  It’s an evolving art-piece as affecting and detailed as any of those other wearable tokens of remembrance and just as emotionally charged.

 

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Memento mori optical illusion painting “All Is Vanity” by Charles Allan Gilbert

 

Do you have a perfume that reminds you of someone important to you?

 

 

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The Power of Red Lipstick

A recent survey showed that 54% of British women feel too shy to wear red lipstick. I could relate to this as I have been wearing pinky nude lip shades for the last 20 years. This was mostly because I didn’t think my lips were full enough and partly because I just didn’t see myself in such a statement colour. My lip shape hasn’t changed but caring about it has. Life is too short. I’ve decided to give red lipstick a go.

“Red is powerful, strong, smart, bold, sexy, lethally feminine and iconic…Nothing has such a glamorous,timeless appeal. It breaks my heart that so many women are scared to wear it” – Sali Hughes, Pretty Honest

I like the fact you can’t hide in the background while wearing red lipstick: it forces you to stand out. I was spurred on by Val the Cookie Queen’s post on Ellis Faas Red lipstick. She sent me some samples in  “Milky Lips” and I immediately liked the way it made me look and feel.

About a year ago, I bought Ruby Woo by MAC Cosmetics but wasn’t ready for it until now. It’s a highly pigmented, incredibly striking red and perfect for nights out.  I have discovered that I like matte finishes because they feel clean, modern and long-lasting. I also seem to be drawn to shades with cool/blue undertones, though I have no idea if this suits my skin tone or not. I’m trying not to get hung up on the rules.

I recently bought a Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour by MAC in Dance with Me. This is a dark cranberry red and while I love the shade, I think it will take time before I feel confident about application. Unlike the lipsticks, I do notice how drying it is during the day so doubt I’ll re-purchase, especially considering the price.

For me, one of the most enjoyable things about a new passion is finding out all about it and the options available. YouTube has been invaluable for this. I have found the videos by French Canadian beauty vlogger Emily Fox, particularly helpful because they are so clear and she has great taste (as well as being very likeable and has a lovely accent).

After watching Emily’s MAC videos, I ordered Russian Red, a darker matte red which makes me feel very pulled together. I also got Flat Out Fabulous which is a gorgeous bright, yet somehow muted, magenta/plum. At the last minute I added Relentlessly Red to my basket which turned out to be a lighter pinky/coral red than suits my skin tone, but works well with a red lip pencil underneath.

I saw a Cruella Velvet Matte Lip Pencil by NARS on another vlogger and was wowed by its scarlet beauty. It does feel like a fairy-tale, wicked queen red. I particularly like that it’s a combination of a lip pencil and lipstick, so you don’t have to double up. The texture is beautifully velvety so it’s a dream to apply. I love it.

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Wearing Cruella by NARS on a work morning.

The only budget red lippie I’ve bought so far is Rimmel’s Lasting Finish Matte by Kate Moss in 107, which is the colour of red wine. I also have my eye on several Matte Lipsticks by NYX, namely Merlot, Bloody Mary and Eden.

I’ve bought a couple of coloured lip pencils to wear with the lipsticks and a clear one by Lord & Berry because I thought that would be easier on mornings when I’m rushed. You wear it just outside the lip line and it stops the colour bleeding around the edges. I am rather paranoid about not applying these bold and bright lipsticks flawlessly but my best is going to have to be good enough.

As Val says, wearing red is liberating, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun. Now I want to spend the rest of my life in the Red Lips Club.

“When do you know you’ve happened upon the right red? Magic happens. Everything seems to brighten. The face lights up. The overall look -clothes, face, hair – comes together. The mood lifts. That is what I love about red lipstick!” – Dita Von Teese, My Beauty Mark

 

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Please share your favourite red lipsticks in the comments. I’m eager for more suggestions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dirty Rose and Violet Chocolatier by PK Perfumes

The PK in PK Perfumes is Paul Kiler, an artisanal perfumer based in California. He places himself at the forefront of a new movement called Real Perfumery which purports to use the best materials available to create fragrances which comply to a “Standard of Excellence”.

Although Kiler uses both naturals and synthetics, his fragrance contain 20 to 50% essential oils, absolutes and resins.  The line currently contains 14 scents, the earliest of which were launched in 2012.

The first works I tried by Paul Kiler were the two perfumes he composed for Zoologist. It was fortuitous therefore that shortly afterwards, my pal Portia of Australian Perfume Junkies, kindly put the following two samples in her last package.

 

Dirty Rose

Notes: Bergamot, black spruce, laurel, cherrywood smoke, rose, nagarmotha, teak wood, tobacco, cedar, mahogany, earth, amber, costus, leather, vetiver bourbon,  Labdanum

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I love a messed-up, dark rose and Dirty Rose is firmly in that stable. It’s rooted in dark, moist earth and musky in the best way. It’s not the high-pitched musk that stabs you in the head but that deep throated unguent which intoxicates. The rose also smells like it was briefly set on fire; the flames having been beaten out but leaving a lingering charred scent.

The deep red flower that is at the heart of all this darkness is mostly hidden in the shadows. It has a definite kinship with my much-loved Rose de Nuit but the rose is much less prominent in Dirty Rose.  Here, the rose is coated in leather and musk and battened down by earthy patchouli and a canopy of spice. It has the feel of an oud fragrance without containing any agarwood.

I like my roses to be more rosy, but Dirty Rose may suit those fans of arid orientals who don’t like their rose front and centre. It is as far from the prim, feminine tea roses of yesteryear as you can get.

 

 

Violet Chocolatier

Notes: Violets, apricots, cocoa, nutmeg, hazelnut, magnolia, jasmine, rose, honey, gardenia, amber and benzoin.

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Ha! Violet Chocolatier – perhaps unsurprisingly – smells just like a violet cream; those chocolates with a violet fondant centre. It’s fun to experience and the chocolate is bittersweet so I don’t find it saccharine. As much as I have an aversion to sugary perfumes, I actually prefer these powdery, gourmand violets to those that highlight the flower’s green, metallic facets.

Somehow Violet Chocolatier segues effortlessly into a floral heart – most notably creamy white flowers – proving it’s not just a one-trick pony. This seamless transition exhibits Paul’s Kiler’s considerable perfumery skills.  The pale petals have a honeyed coating which feels dreamy and fits the decadent mood of the fragrance.  In the base it takes a final turn into cosy amber territory.

Violet Chocolatier is a clever composition and not you usual gourmand.

 

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The painting by Daria Jabenko which inspired Violet Chocolatier

 

Can you recommend any more fragrances from PK Perfumes?  I’d be particularly intrigued to hear from you if you’ve tried Zafran, Ere or Starry Starry Night. 

 

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Constance, Millicent and Loretta by Deco London

 

Deco London is a British fragrance brand which launched last year and is inspired by Art Deco and the glamorous Bright Young Things of the 1920s.  Founder and Creative Director Sophia Fannon-Howell may well have drawn on her own ancestry for inspiration, being descended from a number of colourful characters, including English poet, satirist and Restoration wit John Wilmot 2nd Earl of Rochester and Grace O’Malley, the Eilzabethan Irish ‘Pirate’ Queen.

Sophia apparently has a passion for vintage perfume and set out to establish a luxury fragrance brand that reflects British elegance, history and quality. There are six fragrances in the line at present; three feminines and three masculines. They each have names that would have been popular among the upper classes at the time, with their own personality and sense of style.

Below are brief reviews of the three feminine EDPs.

 

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Constance

Notes: Bergamot, Mandarin Blossom, Mimosa, Raspberry Blossom, Rose, Pink Pepper, Jasmine, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Labdanum, Vanilla, Beeswax, Musk

Constance is demure by day, transforming into a flapper by night. Starting off fruity with a woody undercurrent, it soon becomes gently spicy while remaining lady-like.  The spices are gourmand-tinged and extremely soft. It’s as if they’ve been lightly pressed into the equally soft woods.

I get a strong sense of texture here; velvety, cushioned and warm to the touch. The whole feeling is rather languid. I see Constance lounging in an Egyptian themed nightclub, flourishing a long cigarette holder and sporting a razor-sharp bob. For Downton Abbey fans, she’s very much the Lady Mary of the bunch.

Millicent

NotesBergamot, Mandarin, Honeysuckle, Orange Blossom, Jasmine, Lily, Ylang, Patchouli, Cashmere Woods, Musk

Millicent is more conservative and subdued than Constance; she is very feminine and understated. Her dark blonde hair is perfectly waved and her clothing is always proper and appropriate to the occasion. After an orange citrus start, the scent is full of well-blended, fresh white florals on a light and clean musky/woody base. It’s uncomplicated and not my favourite type of fragrance but Millicent is wearable, smooth and nicely done.

Loretta

Notes: Orange Blossom, Osmanthus, Rose, Jasmine, Patchouli, Moss, Amber, Musk, Vanilla, Vetiver

I instantly took a shine to Loretta when I read she is described as a “romantic bohemian, graceful with ethereal beauty”. The scent is an elegant yet relaxed white floral chypre and the kind that would drift along nicely on a summer’s day. It has the peachy tones of osmanthus and the cleanest of jasmines, creating a cool haze over a gently mossy base. Loretta is sophisticated and more thoughtful than her two sisters: a delicate modern chypre in the style of Perle de Mousse by Ann Gerard.

 

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All three in the collection are good quality, tasteful and accessible. With the Art Deco packaging, they’re likely to appeal to those who have a thing for London during the Roaring Twenties era as much, if not more so, than perfume lovers.

 

Are you drawn to a particular period in history? Do you have any perfumes that reflect that era?

 

 

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Damn Rebel Bitches by Urban Reivers

Notes: Pink Peppercorn, Blood Orange, Malt, Clary Sage nad Hazelnut

 

The week before last, I went up Edinburgh to stay with my fab friend Davina during the Fringe Festival. I’d never visited the city before and was totally won over by it. The centre is compact enough to get around comfortably on foot and as my eloquent and observant pal Vanessa put it, Edinburgh is “uniquely characterful”. The architecture had me captivated and I felt right at home. I rarely visit a city and imagine myself living there, but I did with Edinburgh.

As for the Festival, thanks to Davina, I was lucky enough to see a great range of fascinating acts from a solo performance artist in a pub basement to a drag/circus/burlesque extravaganza in front of several thousand. I loved every minute and can see why people go back year after year.

 

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Edinburgh Castle and Prince’s Street Gardens

During our time wandering the city, we dropped into the Urban Reivers (“Urban Raiders”) pop-up shop on George Street which was there for the duration of the Festival. Urban Reivers is a brand-new online venture which portrays Scottish heritage in a cool and creative way. Their products include scarves, candles, cocktail boxes and perfume, which are all intended to be ideal for gifting.

 

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Damn Rebel Bitches was created in partnership with Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. The name comes from a book of the same name by Maggie Craig about the rebellious Jacobite women. These “daredevils in tweed” helped the rebels to flee during the 18th century Scottish uprisings, with one hiding a soldier under her large hooped skirt as the English army searched her house (women didn’t wear knickers back then, you know). Lady Nithsdale even broke her husband out of the Tower of London and conveyed him to France dressed in drag. They were hated by the English press which branded them ‘rebel bitches and damned Jacobites.’

 

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You may expect that with a name like Damn Rebel Bitches, the EdP would be challenging but it’s actually very easy to like It incorporates ingredients that would have been available to the women at the time. Clary sage was used as a medicinal herb while hazelnuts were a significant part of their diet.

In Damn Rebel Bitches the blood orange is the star of the show. It starts off tart and green but quickly becomes rich and syrupy. I love this material so really enjoy how it forms the substance of this fragrance and how long it lasts.The malty aspect is there, combining really nicely with the orange. The hazelnut makes for a soft, nutty/orange gourmand base. For the record, I don’t pick up on the clary sage.

All in all, Damn Rebel Bitches has a surprisingly sunny disposition which makes it very wearable, although I should mention it is on the quiet side.

 

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Is there a perfume that is inspired by your part of the world?

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April Aromatics Mini Reviews

Berlin-based April Aromatics offers a luxurious collection of roll-on oils and EdPs as well as  room and body mists. Tanja Bouchnig exemplifies the strong connection you usually find between artisan perfumers and their perfumes. She takes a holistic approach; the all-natural botanical essences are based in organic jojoba oil or organic alcohol and the scents are infused with the essences of semi-precious stones.

 

“I strongly believe that people can feel the love and energy I give into my perfumes, may it be conscious or unconscious.”- Tanja Bouchnig

 

I’m extremely grateful to The Perfume Magpie for generously sending me samples of 8 of the 13 Eau de Parfums. All quotes from the April Aromatics website.

 

Purple Reign

Notes: Natural Lilac tincture, Violets, Lavender, Osmanthus petals, Jasmine flowers, Orris Root, Oppoponax, Purple Light

“Purple Reign is more than a perfume, it is a scent designed to improve self-awareness and to raise our energetic vibrations.”

Purple Reign is a floral bouquet largely consisting of deeply fragrant lilacs and violets, supported by lavender and osmanthus. It contains the various facets of all these flowers; green, metallic, powdery and cool.  It covers the purple olfactory spectrum from pale lilac to darkest indigo.

Jasmina

Notes: 100% natural extracts of Jasmin Grandiflorum, India and France, Ylang-Ylang/ Thailand. Pink Grapefruit USA.

“An aphrodisiac par excellence.”

Wow this is like inhaling a jasmine bush at nightfall.  Jasmina is incredibly lush, radiant and full. While deeply sensual, I don’t find it uncomfortably indolic or heady. The pink grapefruit gives it freshness in the early stages while the ylang lends it a creamy feel later on. A must-try for jasmine fanatics.

Calling All Angels

Notes: Incense, Labdanum, Tonka Bean, Vanilla Accord, Benzoin, Elemi Resin, Frankincense, Amber Accord, (from natural essential oils), Honey Accord, Precious Woods Accord, Opoponax, Rose Otto, Love and Angel Guidance

“…implementing the elements of Earth, Ether and Air. Made with love, inspired and guided by Angels.”

Incense has long been used to appease the gods and so it’s fitting that Calling All Angels isn’t sweet and fluffy but an enticing concoction of honeyed resins. If you could see the scent it would be emitting a warm, golden glow. The frankincense is very nicely balanced with the balsams so that it never feels too harsh or too sweet.  It’s pretty impressive.

Rosenlust

Notes: Rose Otto/Turkey, Rose/Bulgaria, Rosewater, Rosewood/Brasilien, Pink Grapefruit/USA, Ambrette Seed, Tonkabean, Orris Root, Organic Alcohol

“The rose is a symbol of love, peace and beauty and is seen as the “queen” of all flowers.”

This is an armful of red roses which showcases the multi-faceted nature of the natural essence. Rosenlust is spiked with pink grapefruit in the opening and to start with it’s a little spicy, a bit metallic and a tad green. As it develops the roses warm up and bloom on the skin, becoming more softly honeyed. This is a rose true story.

 

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Erdenstern

Notes: Botanical musk, botanical ambergris accord, tonka bean, cacao, opoponax, vetiver, tobacco.

“The mystery of Avalon, the holy place between the worlds of gods and mortals, is the inspiration for Earth Star/Erdenstern.”

Erdenstern is deep and dark with tobacco leaves, earth, vegetation and woods. The botanical musk gives it lift while cacao gives it a twist.  There’s also something ashy about it, as if the tobacco leaves have already been smoked. It’s an extremely well balanced, complex and unusual composition. The dry and cool notes of vetiver and tobacco are tempered by the sweet and warm notes of tonka bean and cacao. If Calling All Angels is golden then Erdenstern is dark grey. I can imagine it wearing beautifully on a misty autumnal day.

Ray of Light

Notes: Accord of lime, lemon, pink grapefruit, orange and bergamot, galbanum, green mint, vetiver, tobacco

“Picture a classical still life: citrus fruits surrounded by mint leaves, a pipe on the side…””

True to its name, Ray of Light is a shining star-burst of citrus. It zings and fizzes with a classic lemon cologne opening, only more substantial.  It feels as if someone has struck a bell and the high pitched tone rings out, clearing all fuzziness and making you intensely aware. The tobacco gives a sense of something deeper and darker behind the brightness.

Liquid Dreams

Notes: Lemon Peel/Sicily, Lindenblossom/Bulgaria, Narzissus/France, Osmanthus Blossom/China, Organic-Alcohol

“This youthful, light scent is reminiscent of an open field of greens and flowers.”

I love the name of this fragrance. Liquid Dreams starts with a lucid mix of lemon and Linden/lime blossom, becoming a little greener and grassier.  It’s more subdued and more floral than Ray of Light, with a romantic quality that makes me think of a  willowy girl in a wildflower meadow.

Precious Woods

Notes: 100% natural extracts of Sandelwood/India, Sandelwood/Neukaledonia, CederwoosVirginia/USA, Cederwood/Himalaya, Cistus Vetiver Bourbon, Patchouli/Indonesia, Buddha Wood, white Sage, organic alcohol.

“It mirrors the image of an Indian Forest after a rain storm with its grounding earthy sweet bosky scent.”

Hmm, I wonder if it’s only synthetic woody fragrances that I have a problem with because I really enjoyed Precious Woods. The word that struck me before reading the overview on the website was “grounding” and then saw that it’s used twice to describe this scent. It has a light yet clinging quality, like the scent of incense which has permeated your clothing. It feels more like wearing a woody essential oil blend than a perfume and that always gives me a soothing feeling of wellbeing.

 

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Have you tried any of these or the ones I haven’t mentioned by April Aromatics? 

 

Image credit: AlexandraVBach

 

 

 

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Étui Noir by Miller Harris and No.02 Eau Sento by IUNX

Two unassuming beauties…

 

 

My mate Tina G from Australian Perfume Junkies  purchased a few fragrances during her recent trip to Europe (naturally). When we met up in London, she was kind enough to share decants of two of them with me. You can read all about the fragrant fun we got up to that day here. We managed to fit in a shed-load of sniffing and it was a total blast.

 

Étui Noir by Miller Harris

 Top: Bergamot Italy EO, Tangerine, Elemi Gum
Heart: Iris Butter Morocco, Incense, Cashmere Wood, Styrax EO
Base: Patchouli Indonesia EO, Vetiver Haiti EO, Leather, Amber, Birch EO, Labdanum Abs

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I know Tina is drawn to both iris and leather – as am I – so although I generally don’t gravitate towards Miller Harris, I was keen to try her decant of Étui Noir (‘Black Case’). It was released this year and is Eau de Parfum strength.

From the little I’d read, I expected Étui Noir to be a rather dry and austere leather but on spraying I find out that couldn’t be further from the truth. The crisp citrus opening is there and then it’s gone, revealing a cosmetic, powdery iris embedded in sweet suede (as opposed to tough leather).

I’d describe Etui Noir as a cosmetic fragrance crossed with a suede scent, in a similar vein to the far drydown of scents like Naomi Goodsir’s Cuir Velours, Ramon Monegal’s Cuirelle and even Chanel’s Misia.  Like Misia, it’s a bit too sweet for me but then I have an extremely low tolerance for sweetness in perfume these days.

The base is predominantly amber and patchouli and lasting power is excellent. Unlike most perfumes in the leather category, I don’t find it smoky or tarry. This along with the sweet iris powder makes it very accessible; easy to wear while still being chic. It stays close to the body, but this suits its ‘second skin’ character. Étui Noir is one of those fragrances that will quietly surround you with the aura of silky soft suede.

 

No.02 Eau Sento by IUNX

 

 Notes: Cedar leaf, cypress, driftwood and red seaweed.  

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I’m a fan of perfumer Olivia Giacobetti because she has such a light touch, even with traditional heavy materials. Here she takes wood and makes it as airy as wisps of Japanese incense. Eau Sento is the kind of transcendent, contemplative, woody scent that I can enjoy wearing. Vanessa of Bonkers about Perfume quite rightly likens some perfumes in this fragrance family to being “trapped in a tea chest”, but this is the exact opposite. It’s all about space and fresh air.

Don’t be unduly put off by the aquatic aspect. That ozone hit of seaweed is in the mix, but it just makes the scent more interesting – it places the wood at the water’s edge. Eau Sento has the soothing quality of incense, like staring out at the sea and finding all your problems suddenly put into perspective.  As with a lot of Giacobetti’s compositions, it’s simple yet quietly compelling: a thoughtful seashore scent.

 

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Do you like these kind of quiet yet thoughtful fragrances? 

 

 

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Gin and Tonic Cologne, Sea Foam, Sensual Oud, Excentrique Moi and Signature Wild by Art de Parfum

Art de Parfum launched this year with five fragrances which aim to be soulful, bold and luxurious. Although their style intends to reflect French sophistication, they are actually a UK based niche brand.  Here are my impressions of all five.

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Gin & Tonic Cologne 

Notes: Juniper berries, grapefruit, lemon zest, cucumber, gin, ambergris, cedar, vetiver, white musk and incense.

I have noticed a certain fondness for gin among my perfume pals and whilst I don’t drink it, I do enjoy perfumes inspired by it. in short, Gin & Tonic Cologne is a very good one. It is the closest I’ve come across to a spray-able version of the real thing. In the opening the grapefruit and lemon really fizz and accentuates the fruitiness of juniper berries. It’s pretty linear after that and all the things a good G&T should be; refreshing, tart and aromatic. It makes a great alternative to the standard summer cologne, especially as – despite the name – it’s actually pure parfum strength like the rest of the collection.

 

Sea Foam 

Notes: Bergamot, sea notes, laurels, lemon, incense, eucalyptus, guaiac wood, seaweed, fig leaf, driftwood, patchouli, Haitian vetiver, sea salt and sandalwood.

I really like Art de Parfum’s take on an aquatic fragrance. It doesn’t go down the watery melon or cucumber route but goes for more of an aromatic angle. There’s the zing of citrus to represent the bright sunshine and the saltiness of seaweed to let you know you’re by the ocean. Eucalyptus would normally worry me but here it works really well with the light resinous incense to build the olfactory coastal forest. The fig adds a pleasant green-tinged creaminess and reminds me of Bois Naufrage by Parfumerie Generale.

Sea Foam is much more unusual than your average sun lotion or seaside fragrance. It’s a great combination of marine, lactonic and aromatic.

 

Sensual Oud 

Notes: Cloves, geranium, dates, saffron, rose, suede, patchouli, agarwood (oud) and cypriol oil or nagarmotha.

It’s hard not to be jaded when it comes to trying another oud but this is enjoyable if you’re a rose fan. Rose and oud are a common combination because they work so beautifully together and here the sweet, almost fruity rose is nicely accentuated by fresh geranium.  The opening is all about the rose with the oud only filtering through gradually and even then it remains gentle. It has the texture and scent of supple, rosy suede. Sensual Oud is a refined French take on agarwood.

 

Excentrique Moi 

Notes: pepper, cloves, red fruits, lemon, wormwood, guaiac wood, hibiscus, black tea, patchouli, white musk and cedar.

Excentrique Moi lives up to its name. It’s an strange mix of spice, plummy richness and the sour herbal twang of wormwood, which is used to flavour absinthe and vermouth.  All of this rests on top of a bed of black tea and patchouli, with the overall effect being quite powdery and opaque. Not for everyone but I guess that’s the idea. If you’re looking for something off-beat and enjoy the bitter scent of absinthe, Excentrique Moi could work for you. The prominent powdered clove note and sourness is too much for me unfortunately.

 

Signature Wild 

Notes: cinnamon, davana, cardamom, orange blossom, dried fruits, radiant woods, labdanum, leather, sandalwood, amber, peru balsam and Haitian vetiver.

Signature Wild will please fans of davana; that boozy, fruity note you either love or, as in my case, don’t. It lends perfumes a feeling of dark, heady opulence. The diva davana is supported by sweet gourmand spices and orange blossom with a soft suede backdrop. This works well because they are all singing form the same exotic, er, hymn sheet. The far drydown is a sweet balsamic amber and the general feel is smooth and a touch powdered. Although it may sound heavy, Signature Wild actually wears incredibly lightly for a sweet, boozy/fruity suede fragrance.

 

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Do you fancy the sound of any of the Art de Parfum fragrances?

 

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Amouroud Mini Reviews

Perhaps now is the time to accept that oud isn’t just a passing trend in western perfumery but here to stay. New brand Amouroud has recently launched at Harrods with an initial collection of 6 fragrances. The people behind it are Perfumer’s Workshop, whose most well known scent is the 70s classic, Tea Rose.

Oud features in the note lists for all of the fragrances but only Oud du Jour is overtly oud-y . Agarwood seems to add a degree of oriental smoothness to the other five. At £145 for 100ml of Eau de Parfum they’re pretty fairly priced for luxury niche fragrances containing oud, whether natural or synthetic.

 

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Midnight Rose

Top notes are litchi, pomelo and mate; middle notes are lily, red rose and iris; base notes are amber, labdanum and agarwood (oud).

Midnight Rose isn’t anywhere near as dark as the name suggests. It’s actually a sweet and bright fruity rose with a lot of depth. The effervescent lychee opening passes but the fruitiness lingers through the lavish amber drydown. I prefer rose perfumes that have gone over to the dark side like Rose de Nuit or that are retro like Fille de Berlin, but Midnight Rose is very full-bodied which makes it a satisfying wear.

 

Safran Rare

Top notes are freesia, bergamot, incense and geranium; middle notes are cedar, saffron, rose de mai and jasmine; base notes are benzoin, agarwood (oud), vetiver, sandalwood and vanilla.

Safran Rare folds saffron up in almost plasticky leather and it’s an arresting combination. It smells wonderfully sleek and expensive; the height of modern luxury. I appreciate the fact that it’s savoury rather than sweet, although the saffron goes a little sour on me after a while. I find it sexy in a rather strict, leather-clad kind of way.  It’s quite compelling and the one I’ve enjoyed wearing the most.

 

Santal des Indes

Top notes are absinthe and incense; middle notes are curry tree, narcissus, Turkish rose and Chinese cedar; base notes are sandalwood, leather, musk and vetiver.

Aaah, this smells like sandalwood perfumes should smell; creamy to an almost coconutty extent.   The pale, lactonic sandalwood effect lasts for hours and it has great projection without feeling overwhelming. I’m not generally a fan of orientals but I think Santal des Indes will be the stand-out from the collection for many.

 

Dark Orchid

Top notes are mandarin orange, citruses, black gardenia and Sicilian bergamot; middle notes are jasmine, ylang-ylang, lotus and black orchid; base notes are sandalwood, Indonesian patchouli leaf, incense and vanilla.

Dark Orchid has a super strange opening which smells to me like a mixture of caramel and cough drops, undercut by citrus.  It mellows out somewhat as the gardenia  comes through and starts to remind me more of Black Orchid Voile de Fleur than the Tom Ford original. It’s a very distinctive, syrupy gourmand floral so a little goes a long way. Dark Orchid is quite the dramatic attention-seeker. A fragrance for nights out when you want to leave a lasting impression.

 

Oud du Jour

Top notes are pink pepper, raspberry and saffron; middle notes are incense, rose, lily-of-the-valley and dried plum; base notes are agarwood (oud), black amber, patchouli and guaiac wood.

The amusingly titled Oud du Jour showcases oud front and centre, although it’s liberally accented with berry fruitiness. This surprising combination of playful fruit with deeply resinous oud actually works. It is very plush and has that “One Thousand And One Nights” vibe, as ouds tend to, but it’s not overly-spiced. The addition of sweet red fruit means Oud du Jour melds Middle East with West and for this reason it would make a good beginner’s oud. It has amazing longevity and sillage.

 

Miel Sauvage

Top notes are bergamot, honey and red pepper; middle notes are agarwood (oud), jasmine and sandalwood; base notes are patchouli, tonka bean and incense.

The name “Wild Honey” made me rather nervous, but I needn’t have been worried. This doesn’t have the urinous skank of some honey perfumes. To start with, we get a floral honey scent made up of a slightly soapy jasmine paired with clean honey.  It’s rather on the sweet side for my tastes but completely wearable. The jasmine recedes as Miel Sauvage develops, leaving a  base of very gentle honey on a velvety oriental base.

 

 

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Do you think oud is now a fragrance category in its own right?

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A Rose By Any Other Name – Perfume Lovers London, 21st July 2016

This was the first “business as usual” PLL event hosted by Lizzie (Odette Toilette), Laurin and Callum at the October Gallery in London since taking over the group.

 

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The wonderful Nick Gilbert

 

Leading us through this rose themed evening was fragrance expert, Nick Gilbert. If you haven’t already checked out his YouTube channel Love to Smell with Pia of Volatile Fiction, you really should. Nick runs his own consultancy business and couldn’t be better placed to present us with the aromachemicals used to create rose scents along with examples of how each has been used in a particular perfume.

 

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Below is a rough reconstruction of some of the perfumed proceedings after an introduction by Lizzie.

 

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Lizzie, radiant in orange.

 

Nick: The reason I chose rose for this evening is because although there are are 300 molecules in rose absolute, there’s only 4 that humans can smell. That makes it an easy introduction to aromachemicals. The way a rose smells, whether fruity, earthy or citrusy, is all down to these molecules.

 

Phenyl Ethyl Alcohol

Nick: Phenyl ethyl alcohol is the main constituent of most rose extracts (oils and absolutes) but it’s not the most powerful. Perfumers use it to add a fresh, petal-y effect to floral perfumes. It can also add a sense of space. It’s very gentle and not very impactful. It’s not particularly rosy, it’s more vaguely floral. It gives a naturalist impression. Paul Smith Rose exemplifies this.

Paul Smith Rose

Laurin: This is what I’d expect a rose to smell like. Nick told me they used headspace technology to recreate the scent of a rose from Paul Smith’s garden.

Nick: It’s one of the best representations of rose in perfumery.

Audience member: It has a lot of petal-y freshness and there’s some green too. It reminds me a bit of bubble bath.

 

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Citronellol

Nick: This particular citronellol has a pronounced geranium aspect. It’s a little like bug spray.

Rosewater, Marks and Spencer

Nick: Citronellol is used by perfumers to add an uplifting, zingy effect.

Laurin: I picked up this rosewater from the food section of M&S. I thought it would be good added to fizzy water but it was disgusting.

Nick: Rosewater is a by-product of the distillation process and is used in cookery, especially sweets. I thought it would be interesting to see if we can spot the citronellol in it.

 

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Nick and Laurin

 

Damascone (Beta)

Nick: It’s not massively present in rose but it’s very impactful. It adds a berry, sweet facet to rose perfumes. Some roses can smell like raspberries.

Audience member: It smells a bit minty.

Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.20

Nick: This has that gently fruity aspect. I’ve been spraying this one a lot ,especially in the hot weather. It’s quite smooth.

Audience member: It reminds me of those sherbet sweets, flying saucers.

Laurin: There’s a lot of pink pepper in it.

 

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Rose Oxide

Nick: A lot of people find this very unpleasant. It gets to the back of your throat.

Laurin: This is disgusting. It’s like the bottom of a rusty skip with some sludge in it.

Audience member: It’s a rose shot out of a cannon.

Nick: It has a metallic tang, it’s a post-apocalyptic rose.

Audience member: “Terminator Rose”

Audience member: Perfumer Mark Buxton used it in quite a few of his perfumes for Comme des Garcons.

 

Mad Madame, Juliette Has A Gun

Nick: You get the metallic tang of rose oxide in Mad Madame. It’s kind of a bitchy rose.

 

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Geraniol

Nick: Without geraniol you wouldn’t have a rose with scent. It’s used by perfumers to create the leafy impression in rose, but not too much or you end up with geranium. It has a nice mint effect.

Audience member: It’s so green.

Nick: It’s very crisp.

Geranium pour Monsieur, Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums

Nick: Here you get the minty effect played up with peppermint. It’s like geranium toothpaste, in a great way.

Lizzie: It’s very good when it’s frosty. I love it.

geranium pour monsieur

 

Ionone (Alpha)

Nick: This is more violet-y with a green effect. It’s used at high dose in YSL’s Paris. It’s quite powerful – you only need to use a little to get a violet-y rose. Ionones were discovered in the late 19th century and so violet fragrances became wildly popular at that time.

Lizzie: There were so many violet scents, perfumers usually had more than one in their line.

Nick: Penhaligon’s had four.

Lizzie: Violet was the oud of its day. [Much laughter]

Lipstick Rose

Nick: Lipstick Rose is the example I’ve chosen for a violet rose. It’s very traditionally French.

Audience member: It reminds me of my grandmother’s lipstick.

Audience member: It reminds me of Shalimar.

Nick: It does have a vanillic undertone.

lipstick rose

 

This concluded the guided sniff-along portion of the evening. As usual we were then free to try a wide variety of rose fragrances and request a sample of our favourite. We were very helpfully given a list of those available.

 

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I was so pleased Nick decided to talk us through some aromachemicals because it’s topic I know very little about and I found it extremely interesting. I hope there will future talks on this subject.

Huge thanks to Lizzie, Laurin and Callum for keeping the group going and continuing the fragrant fun. I’m really looking forward to seeing where we go from here.

 

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Are you a fan of any of these rose fragrances? Are you interested in aromachemicals?

 

 

 

 

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