Iris Cendré by Naomi Goodsir


An iris rising from the ashes…


Notes: Bergamot, Tangerine, Orris Butter, Violet, Amber, Cistus, Tobacco


Earlier this year I ordered a sample of Iris Cendré from Surrender to Chance along with Vanilla Smoke by Aftelier Perfumes, which were  my two lemmings of the moment. Vanilla Smoke was a great success and is on my Full Bottle List but what about Iris Cendré? I’ve been mulling it over.

Seeing as I love the note so much, I feel there is definitely room for more than one iris in my collection and I like the atmospheric, striking style of Naomi Goodsir’s perfumes.  With so much positive feedback last year, Iris Cendré definitely got me intrigued. I was also interested to see what perfumer Julien Rasquinet’s take on iris would be as he does smoky scents so well (such as Bois d’Ascese by the same brand). I quite fancied an iris among the ashes.



Iris Cendré starts a little vegetal and a little powdery, with a brief burst of chilled orange juice. As the iris comes into full focus, I’m reminded of why I love this material as much as I do. I read on The Candy Perfume Boy that one perfumer described orris as “a perfume in itself” and that sums it up its complexity perfectly.

Here, it strikes a nice balance being not too carroty, cosmetic or floral. The mood is subdued and candlelit. As iris often does, it evokes a wistful feeling in the wearer.

Iris Cendré is powdered but in a very gentle, smooth way and I’m relieved that it’s not sweet.  It’s true to iris’s nature but adds something new in its sprinkling of cinders. It doesn’t smell of billowing smoke or incense to me, but more like powdery charcoal which turns to dust at the slightest touch.  The effect is subtle and sophisticated.

As time goes on, to my surprise the backdrop turns from grey to green. I enjoy this transformation into mossy suede a great deal. In this way, Iris Cendré turns the typical perfume progression on its head. The deep, resinous, bold accords are at the start, moving into soft greenery as it develops. This makes it an unique iris fragrance. Although it may disappoint those who aren’t fans of green accords and who want those indigo/grey tones all the way through. 

The base sounds like it should be heavy, being made up of amber, cistus and tobacco but it’s not. As with other creations by Rasquinet, it’s a sheer, clean, woody/ambery blur.

The projection is weak but maybe that’s the result of dabbing rather than spraying. The other aspect that gives me pause is what I can best describe as a kind of persistent musky fuzziness. My mate and fellow blogger Tina G noticed something similar so at least I know I’m not imagining it.

Personal niggles aside, Iris Cendré is an original and distinctive take on the note and worth trying if you’re an iris fan.




Please share your experience in the comments if you’ve tried Iris Cendré.



Filed under Perfume Reviews

Fragrant Fictions – Perfume Lovers London, 29th September 2016

I loved Odette Toilette’s Imbibliotheque event earlier in the year, so I was really looking forward to another evening of perfume and literature.

This time, Lizzie (Odette) told us we would be looking at perfume in movies and TV as well as books. She mentioned that two perfumes seem to come up more than others; Chanel No.5 and Guerlain’s Shalimar. No.5 seems to feature in tales of coming-of-age while Shalimar is worn by the seductress. Natalie Portman’s ballerina-on-the-rise in the film Black  Swan takes the fading prima ballerina’s bottle of No.5 from her dressing room. While in the British film The Education, a 1960s schoolgirl dates an older man who brings her back a bottle of No.5 from Paris.

We’d also be getting a preview (or presniff?) of the forthcoming fragrance by Papillon Perfumes and hearing from Sarah McCartney about the new Four Mysteries collection by 4160 Tuesdays.




Meticulous Murderers

Zagara, Santa Maria Novella

Notes: Bergamot, grapefruit, petit grain, lime, sweet orange, verbena, lavender, orange blossom, carnation, jasmine, geranium, oak moss.

Laurin read us an extract from Hannibal by Thomas Harris; the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal Lecter is at Santa Maria Novella in Italy where he buys an almond soap for Clarice. He is on the run and has undergone extensive cosmetic surgery to conceal his identity. However, he has not altered his nose to protect his much valued sense of smell. He really knows his perfumes and is quite the connoisseur.

The book doesn’t mention him wearing a particular scent but Laurin chose Zagara from Santa Maria Novella for him. It’s classy but not too flashy . As Laurin said “It’s probably a bad idea for a murderer to have a signature scent”. Lizzie commented that the manager of SMN told her “men in Armani suits like Zagara”.  She also quipped that “because of its laundry facet, the orange blossom is good for after you’ve done the murder”.




Menthe Fraiche, Heeley

Notes: Mint leaves, Sicilian bergamot, mate, green tea, lotus leaves, white cedar

The second murderer was someone with no identify: Patrick Bateman from the novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. Laurin read an extract which details his very extensive grooming routine. However, he never reaches for fragrance because this would denote an identity and he doesn’t have one.

Lizzie told us that in the film version you see L’Occitane products and the now discontinued YSL Pour Homme.

For Patrick Bateman, Laurin chose Menthe Fraiche by Heeley. She could see him sipping green tea at a sushi restaurant and the minty toothpaste note fits in with his meticulous grooming. Callum said he always thought he’d wear Creed’s Aventus in order to fit in with what the other investment bankers were wearing.



Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman

James Bond

Limes, Floris

Notes: Lemon, petitgrain, lily of the valley, lime blossom, neroli, musk

Lizzie told us Limes by Floris was a fragrance from the 1830s meant to cool the wearer down in the heat. However it’s unlikely to have stayed the same over the years. Bond is obsessed with British brands such as Floris and Limes is mentioned in the 1957 book, Doctor No. Bond is captured by Doctor No who has gone to great lengths to learn Bond’s tastes. Therefore when Bond is shown to a bathroom he finds Limes Bath Essence.


Vent Vert, Balmain

Notes: Lime, orange blossom, green notes, asafoetida, peach, basil, lemon, bergamot, neroli, violet, freesia, jasmine, hyacinth, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, rose, galbanum, marigold, spicy notes, iris, sandalwood, amber, musk, oakmoss, sage, vetiver, styrax, cedar

Lizzie: “Vent Vert is so tart it’s like being zapped. It used to be a lot more sappy with green stems but it’s still worth a buy at under £35 online”. It’s mentioned in Goldfinger and in Live and Let Die. In the 1973 film of the latter, Bond is investigating a Tarot reader, Solitaire. When he finds Vent Vert in her bathroom, he is reassured that she can be trusted. He seems to like fresh, green scents and finds them appropriate for women.




Identity Theft

We then turned to the theme of perfume as a marker of identity. You can use it to try on enhance your personality or take on the identity of someone else.

Poison, Dior

Notes: Coriander, tuberose, opoponax

In the 1992 film The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Rebecca de Mornay’s character takes the job of a nanny to get revenge on the mother of the family. She uses her perfume, Poison, to try and seduce her husband. Lizzie felt that Poison wasn’t a good choice to represent the nurturing housewife. She’d wear something more unthreatening. A suggestion from the audience was Estee Lauder’s White Linen. 




Bal a Versailles, Jean Duprez

Laurin informed us that apparently Bal a Versailles was worn by Michael Jackson. He’d send assistants out to buy up bottles of the stuff. However, we’d be focusing on its appearance in an American TV show form the 1980s, Dynasty.

Lizzie gave us a run-down of the perfume’s significance in terms of character and plot. Krystle Carrington, wife of Blake, receives a bottle of Bal a Versailles in the first series and exclaims “My favourite!”. Krystle is the good woman who is pitted against Blake’s ex-wife, Alexis (played by Joan Collins). In series two, Alexis sprays on Bal a Versailles and attempts to seduce Blake. She fails and can’t understand why because she doused herself in Krystle’s perfume. As far as she’s concerned, Krystle has no identity beyond her fragrance.

Lizzie felt it was a good choice for Krystle as it was very much a perfume of the time. Laurin described it as a sophisticated, complex perfume made of hundreds of ingredients although it’s hard to pick out anything other than the civet.



Alexis, Blake and Krystle

Shagging and Seduction

Lizzie hosted a perfume event for The Jilly Cooper Book Club and found that although the books are set in the 1980s, Jilly usually mentioned perfumes from the 1940s-1960s.  She was very fond of peppering her prose with brands so specific perfumes are mentioned quite regularly.

Caléche, Hermes

Notes: Citrus fruits, aldehyde notes, ylang ylang, rose, jasmine, to wood chypre silage underscored by noble irises.

Lizzie described Caléche as a mossy, musky scent and summed it up as “outdoor sex”. Jilly Cooper uses it in scenes of seduction, “Caléche rose from her cleavage like morning mist from a ravine.

In Riders, on her way to an assignation, Helen puts on so much perfume in the taxi “it fights with the diesel fumes“.


Fracas, Bobert Piguet

Notes: Tuberose, jasmine, violet, gardenia, orange blossom, sandalwood, vetiver, musk

According to Lizzie “Fracas is a monster of a perfume. It says I’m ready and open for business” . It’s the one she felt 75% of the members of The Jilly Cooper Book Club went out and bought after the event. Another perfume mentioned in the books a number of times was Jolie Madame, which one woman throws a bottle of at a cheating partner.


Desperate Housewives


Happy, Clinique

Notes: Fresh apple, plums, bergamot, fresh-air accord, freesia, lily, rose, morning orchid, musk, amber




1997’s Happy was worn by Elle Woods in the 2001 comedy Legally Blonde. She is an eternal optimist so it’s a good match with her happy-go-lucky attitude. It’s also in the film Juno. The wife of the couple hoping to adopt Juno’s baby wears Happy and again, she is eternally optimistic, even in the face of adversity.

Lizzie views it as “uplifting – positivity in a bottle”. For Laurin, Elizabeth Arden’s Sunflowers has the same effect because it was worn by an upbeat friend when they were growing up.

Diorissimo, Dior

Notes: Lily of the Valley, jasmine, white musk

Laurin introduced us to the second Desperate Housewife – Betty from the TV show Mad Men. Betty Draper is a bland trophy wife who is supposed to be seen and not heard. She’s very prim and proper so Laurin picked a lily fragrance for her, namely Diorissimo. She saw it as a good fit with Betty’s coldness and rigidity.

Lizzie felt Betty wouldn’t seek out something different, she’d probably just wear what her mother wore. Unlike Don Draper’s hip next wife, Megan, she wouldn’t wear a fragrance of the time or a power perfume like the va-va-voom redhead Joan, who wears Shalimar.



Mystery Fragrance from Papillon Perfumes

We were lucky enough to be treated to a preview of the upcoming fragrance by artisan perfumer Liz Moores. She has already had great success with her three inaugural releases, Anubis, Angelique and Tobacco Rose and recently won several Basenotes Reader Awards for her last release, Salome, which Lizzie described as “a filthy carnation leather”.

Laurin said that autumn is her favourite season and the fragrance echoes the feeling that something good is going to happen as the leaves begin to fall. Lizzie shared that it made her think of a woman who was ready to turn her back on the finer things in life and retreat into the wilderness.

When Lizzie asked people to attach a fictional character to the scent one person said “A sprite from A Midsummer’s Night Dream” which is exactly what I thought. At the moment there is no release date for the perfume and the name has not been announced.

The Four Mysteries, 4160 Tuesdays

We finished the structured part of the evening with a reading by perfumer Sarah McCartney from two of the four short stories she is releasing in conjunction with four perfumes. Sarah is a fan of what she calls “1920s and 30s cosy crime”, where the details of the murder are totally glossed over.

We got to try two of the two perfumes . Flora Psychadelia is about two botanists in search of a rare flower which only blooms every couple of decades. It’s a psyhcotropic flower whose scent has the power to knock you out. She included lots of materials that are supposed to intoxicate including absinthe, hemp, black pepper and mushrooms, against a fleshy background.

Captured by Candlelight tells the story of two stage performers who perform at a Stately Home at Christmas and the scent is the rich aroma of Christmas pudding. The other two perfumes are Up The Apple & Pears and The Buddhawood Box.




Thanks to the PLL team and everyone else involved for bringing us such a fabulous evening.








Filed under Perfume Events

Blasted Heath and Blasted Bloom by Penhaligon’s

There’s nothing like a returning trend which you remember vividly from the first time around to make you feel your age.  It doesn’t seem like five minutes since aquatics fragrances were at high tide before receding from the mainstream market. When they went out of vogue, many of us were relieved to see the back of them.

Really, it’s unfair to tar all watery-themed fragrances with the same brush. For me (and I suspect many others) it was more the ubiquity of the calone-fuelled 1990’s phenomenon L’Eau d’Issey that made me tire of the genre. There’s actually been a number of really great niche oceanic fragrances since then, including Heeley’s Sal Marin and Epice Marine Hermessence.

Last year aquatic fragrances staged a comeback. I was pleasantly surprised by Jo Malone’s Wood Sage and Sea Salt and in September Penhaligon’s launched a duo of scents which were also inspired by the windswept British coastline.

Blasted Heath and Blasted Bloom were both composed by perfumer Alberto Morillas who incidentally did – count them – five L’eau d’Issey flankers.

Blasted Heath

Aquatic accord, seaweed absolute, clary sage absolute, green leaves, Clearwood™, tobacco absolute, whiskey accord, patchouli essence, Alaskan cedarwood essence, gaiacwood essence, vetiver SFE and musks.

Blasted Heath embodies the scent of salty sea air and seaweed mingling with the aromatics of shrubbery and wild herbs.  There’s an aquatic accord woven through dense leaves and sage.

It has a decidedly masculine feel, with a slight metallic edge. If you can imagine such a thing as an aquatic fougere you’d be on the right track. Blasted Heath is as much about aromatic greenery as it is about seawater.


Blasted Bloom

Notes: Wild berries, aquatic accord, green leaves, eglantine rose, pink pepper CO2, hawthorn, Alaskan cedarwood essence, Clearwood™, moss and musks.

As you may have suspected from the name, here in Blasted Bloom we have wildflowers at the shore being blown about by the bracing sea breeze. The berry note isn’t bold or syrupy sweet but actually quite tart and subdued.

The flowers are delicate and spring-like while the aquatic aspect is less evident than in Blasted Heath. This is more about cool, reviving coastal air than brine and algae. You wouldn’t need to be a fan of aquatics to enjoy this, but you would need to like super fresh florals.


Both fragrances wear pretty light with soft sillage and moderate longevity. Neither is to my taste but Blasted Heath is novel and it successfully captures the wilderness by the cliff edge as the waves crash into the rocks below.


How do you feel about aquatic fragrances? Are there in the genre that you admire?


Filed under Perfume Reviews

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.


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.



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.



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?





Filed under Perfume Reviews

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.


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




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









Filed under Beauty Review

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

dirty rose

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.


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.



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. 



Filed under Perfume Reviews

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.


deco london



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.


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.


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.




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?




Filed under Perfume Reviews

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.



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.




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.’




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.




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


Filed under Perfume Reviews, Travels

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.


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.


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.





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.




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


Image credit: AlexandraVBach





Filed under Perfume Reviews

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



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.  

 eau sento


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.


tina g.jpg


Do you like these kind of quiet yet thoughtful fragrances? 




Filed under Perfume Reviews