OOOOHHHHH! Mood Scent 4 week! YAY! This month we sniff some Al Fresco Party Perfumes. Most of our readers being Northern Hemisphere have had a seriously warm summer so I am really excited to read what you have all been wearing for outdoor adventures, beaching, meals, BarBQs, rooftop parties and secret rendezvous. Here in Australia the cold is has been abating over the last month and we’ll be heading into the jaws of spring/summer again from now. YAY! Already we are seeing some days at 25C (77F) and over in the warmest parts of the day. As soon as Lock Down is over here in Sydney I’ll be getting my Al Fresco Party spritzing on like crazy!
Can’t wait to read about your fave Al Fresco Party Perfumes in the comments too.
Notes: Basil, Sicilian Orange, Lime, Bergamot, Petitgrain, Lemon, Green Notes, Hedione, Jasmine, Rose and Patchouli
Paris-Deauville was the only one of Les Eaux de Chanel released in 2018 (composed by Olivier Polge), that caught my fancy. I have a fondness for green fragrances and this seemed like a good one to wear in warmer weather as opposed to the chypres I associate with spring.
The bottle with its rounded edges is just gorgeous and the sprayer is exceptionally good at misting the skin.
Tart, zesty, citrus fizzes and sparkles in the opening. It’s uplifting but a brief introduction. This is rapidly followed by a herbaceous wash of green that is chiefly made up of basil interspersed with sprigs of fresh mint.
I wish leafy herbs were used more in modern perfumery so I’m pleased to experience them here. They make a welcome change from the usual suspects and have a depth of aroma I really appreciate.
The chic French resort of Deauville is on the coast of Normandy and there is a waft of salt air here that I can imagine may not be to everyone’s taste. It mingles with the herbs to recreate the scent of foreshore foliage crusted with sea salt. Some people’s skin seems to play up the florals but it’s green all the way on me without any noticeable jasmine or rose except for a subtle sweetness.
It’s a classy cologne-style fragrance with complexity and recognisable Chanel D.N.A. I really appreciate its aromatic, citrusy radiance and find it to be a real mood-lifter.
It’s been a pleasure to feel it cutting through the heat of summer as well as on those dull, muggy days we’ve had too much of this August. I am determined not to be precious with it and instead spray it lavishly – it’s what it needs.
Paris-Deauville doesn’t last terribly long in its true form before scattering, to be replaced by a wispy, celadon-tinted musk. However this is when I have to remind myself it is an EdT and needs to be enjoyed for what it is.
Do you have any Chanel Les Eaux in your collection? I’m looking forward to trying the latest, Paris-Edimbourg.
I read about half the amount I normally do over the last couple of months with one thing and another my mind just felt too restless. Far easier to zone out in front of YouTube. However, I did read three non-fiction books which surprised no one more than me.
Breath by James Nestor
“The fix is easy: breathe less. But that’s harder than it sounds. We’ve become conditioned to breathe too much, just as we’ve been conditioned to eat too much. With some effort and training, however, breathing less can become an unconscious habit.”
I had an Audible credit to use up and had heard this book mentioned so much, I took a chance. Journalist Nestor spends ten years investigating the power of the breath after having a transformative experience at a community breathwork class recommended by his doctor. He discovers how the breath affects a multitude of physical and mental issues from asthma and anxiety to dental deformities and erectile dysfunction. He undergoes an arduous experiment to demonstrate the benefits of nasal breathing and meets people from around the world who work with the breath. He discovers that the optimal length of inward and outward breaths is a substantial 5.5 seconds each and that most of us are over-breathing. The great thing about the audiobook version is the breathing methods section at the end. It’s much easier to have someone talk you through the techniques as you do them rather than read them. I will be particularly focusing on the yogic alternate nostril breathing to reduce anxiety. 4/5
Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers 3) by Becky Chambers
In the first two books, the Exodan Fleet (32 spaceships that left a collapsing Earth for good) is mentioned regularly but we never got any real details. Therefore I was happy to find book 3 is set aboard the Fleet and we get the background to how and why it functions as it does. We learn how the ‘homesteader’ ships were designed to be places where generations of Humans would live and die in the hope of making alien contact. This happened eventually and now although many humans have left the Fleet to live ‘planetside’, many still remain.
It’s easy to think of Sci-fi books as being rather cold and inhuman but the amount of warmth and humanity Becky Chambers has infused into this series is quite extraordinary. In book 3 we follow a range of characters aboard the Fleet: Isabel, an elderly Archivist, Kip, a boy desperate for an exciting life away from the Fleet, Sawyer, a ‘grounder’ who wonders if the Fleet will provide the home he’s been missing, Eyas, a ‘caretaker’ who recycles bodies into compost and Tessa, sister of Ashby from the first book.
Like the first two books, there isn’t not much of an over-arching plot-line. We get to know these characters and their, hopes and dreams. We follow as most try and decide whether their futures lie with the Fleet. I wish I could convey how in Chambers’ hands, that is more than enough. She grew up in a scientific household so the background is there but these stories are all about people. I was certain I wouldn’t tear up as with the previous books but guess what? I was wrong. 4.5/5
The Barbizon by Paulina Bren
“The Barbizon, through much of the twentieth century, had been a place where women felt safe, where they had a room of their own to plot and plan the rest of their lives. The hotel set them free. It freed up their ambition, tapping into their desires deemed off limits elsewhere, but imaginable, realizable, doable, in the City of Dreams.“
I don’t often read non-fiction unless it’s personal development, but my friend bought me this e-book which is a slice of social history. It follows the inhabitants of the The Barbizon Residential Hotel for Women from its construction in the 1920s through to its closure in 2001. It was seen as a safe place to stay for middle/upper class young women moving to New York to pursue careers in the Arts. First came the New Women striking out in the workplace after being allowed to do as result of the First World War. We often think that women’s rights follow a linear progression but there was a definite step backwards in the 1950s as woman’s main goal seems to be marriage and children and at a young age at that.
The winners of the Guest Editors competition run by Madomoiselle magazine stayed at The Barbizon and these bright young things included Sylvia Plath, Joan Didion and Ali McGraw. Plath based her book The Bell Jar on her time at The Barbizon which she renamed The Amazon. Many models stayed there as well as actresses – Grace Kelly lived there for three years. While it did allow women to live independently in New York it was not without its restrictions. Men were not allowed past the lobby and there was not an African American resident until Barbara Chase in 1956. Of just as much interest to me were the ‘Lone Women’ who were the ones without dates on Saturday nights and who never made it in their chosen career. Some of these morphed into ‘The Women’ , elderly ladies who had lived there since the 30s and 40s and who could not be evicted thanks for rent control laws. They were still tucked away behind secret doorways in the corridors as it was turned into luxury condos and the likes of Ricky Gervais and P Diddy moved in during the 2000s. 4/5
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
“There’s more at stake here than just slavery, my brother. It’s a question of who will own the land, the people, the power. You cannot stick a knife in a goat and then say, Now I will remove my knife slowly, so let things be easy and clean, let there be no mess. There will always be blood.”
This book has a huge scope but manages to cover around three hundred years of history in around 300 pages. It starts with two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, in Ghana, Africa in the 1700s. Effia is married off to a British slave trader while Esi is sold by him to an American plantation owner. We then follow their descendants down the generations in Africa and America up to the early 21st century. It personalises the history of the slave trade and shows how the effects reverberate through the centuries. It shows the sickening treatment of slaves but lets the facts speak for themselves. With so much time to cover, it moves on at a swift rate with a time jump accompanying the introduction of each new descendent. However I really engaged with each of the characters and was entirely caught up in their lives. It didn’t read like a history lesson although I learnt a lot. Above all, it’s a well written, absorbing story. 4.25/5
Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday
“We are restless because deep in our hearts we know now that our happiness is found elsewhere, and our work, no matter how valuable it is to us or to others, cannot take its place. But we hurry on anyway, and attend to our business because we need to matter, and we don’t always realize we already do.”
This non-fiction book is a series of short essays focusing on the benefits of stillness. I recently learnt Transcendental Meditation and thought it would help cement the practice but it’s broader than that, covering the varied ways we can find a sense of stillness. That might be through exercise, getting enough sleep or putting boundaries around work. Holiday uses a wide range of stories about various people throughout history, some as examples of what to do and some of what not to do. He has a strong interest in Stoic philosophy so Seneca and his ilk are here but so are Bill Gates, Leonardo di Vinci, Tiger Woods and artist Marina Abramovic who for her performance piece ‘The Artist is Present’, sat in a chair and locked eyes with visitors to MoMA for nearly three months. The benefits of stillness range from making better decisions to simply not missing out on your own life. 4/5
How has your reading been over the summer months? Any book you’d like to share?
If I happened to havebeen wearing Frédéric Malle´s Synthetic Jungle, these might have been my impressions.
JUNGLE: 1. an area of land overgrown with dense forest and tangled vegetation, typically in the tropics. 2. a style of dance music incorporating elements of raga, hip-hop, and hard core; consisting of very fast electronic drums, and slower synthesized bass lines.
SYNTHETIC JUNGLE: 1. a piece of acid-house (techno, rave) music by Limbo. 2. a perfume by Anne Flipo for Frédéric Malle.
I have been watching the internet like a hawk, since the beginning of 2020, for information on the what is now the soon-to-be-released, beginning of September as far as I know, Synthetic Jungle from Malle. All you could ever find was the trademark registration information for the name. Then in April of this year information started to trickle in. Note list includes basil, galbanaum, lily-of-the-valley, jasmine, patchouli, oakmoss.
Green up the yin-yang. A bright galbanum opening, and a darker, more vintage galbanum in the oakmossed base. Very indolic from both the jasmine and the muguet. Walking into a hothouse of transparent lushness. Quite a prominent jasmine, and possibly a hyacinth. Acutely modern, without taking away from the more traditional aspect of the green genre. Just beautiful. An impressive addition to the collection.
Does Frédéric Malle go to the South Goa Indian Jungle Parties? And will we ever know?
OOOOHHHHH! Mood scent 4 week! YAY! This month we sniff some Well Named Fragrances! We are working in reaction to all those sweet nothings labelled noir and mundane scents saddled with pompous and overwrought titles. You know them, we don’t need to go back and catalogue them (though that could be fun another day).
There were a few ways I could take this. Maybe choosing fragrances that were named for their notes, juice or bottle colour, even the place of origin. Instead I wanted to go with fragrances that evoke the name they’re given. You spritz and suddenly understanding blooms.
Can’t wait to read about your fave Well Named Fragrances in the comments too.
Notes: Citrus, Ginger, Vetiver, Cedarwood and Ambrette Seed
I tend to approach vetiver fragrances with some trepidation. While I admire a few, a little vetiver goes a long way for me. I have always appreciated the depth and earthiness it can bring to a perfume but when that swampy facet is amplified, it’s a hard no from me. However, I do have confidence in Hiram Green as a perfumer. He approaches natural materials in a unique way, always bringing something new to the fore – and so it proved with his latest release, Vetiver.
I spray Vetiver for the first time and smile instantly. Instead of being swampy, it is the exact opposite: a buoyant blend that makes me feel alert and uplifted. The ginger is pitched just right, adding an aromatic, zesty brightness as opposed to a curried spiciness. The overall effect is joyously luminous.
Vetiver is known for its smokiness and here it is toned down and acts more as a kind of musty grey backwash with its presence being a constant throughout. It is used in such a way that it acts to complement and highlight the other notes in the composition. The citrus seems fresher, the ginger extra zingy and the base notes more sophisticated.
When I read that Vetiver was inspired by the heartthrobs of Hollywood’s Golden Age I thought it might lean heavily masculine with a kind of rugged, square-jawed feel. However, I see it as less Clark Gable/Burt Lancaster and more Gene Kelly/Marlene Dietrich. It possesses confidence and charm but also nuance and ambiguity.
When it comes to the base, the vetiver is prominent along with softly sweet resins and bone-dry woods. The ambrette lends a subtle vegetal, musky quality. Up close, it has a very pleasant balsamic stickiness. Vetiver perfumes tend to go towards clean or murky and while Vetiver leans more towards the former, it strikes a good balance being more sparkling than clean and having a base with darker, warmer depths that retains its smoothness.
I experienced very good longevity and moderate throw.
I admire Hiram Green’s deft touch with the eponymous material. He has managed to illuminate a perfume ingredient that in some hands, can make my stomach churn.
Vetiver has shedloads of light and shade. It has the feel of morning sunlight filtering through the curtains into a gloomy room, waking you up to the possibilities for the day ahead.
How do you feel about vetiver fragrances? Do you think you might get on with this version by Hiram Green?
OOOOHHHHH! Mood scent 4 week! YAY! This month Orange Blossom, Fruit and Branch frags are our choice of genre. Thanks Esperanza, super choice. Oranges play a huge role in perfumery and the whole tree has been used over the centuries. Orange blossom, fruit, neroli, leaves and pettigrain all have their place in the perfumers organ.
Can’t wait to read about your fave Orange Blossom, Fruit and Branch frags in the comments too.
Notes: Siberian Pine, Black Hemlock, Ylang-Ylang, Green Sacra and White Ambergris.
In line with its superstitious inspiration, this seventh anniversary Papillon perfume will be launched on the 7th day of the 7th month of this year. So just one week to wait.
Liz Moores has created a carefully curated collection of fragrances. Each earns its place by being her own take on a classic theme from a green chypre to a furry vanilla.
Spell 125 particularly intrigued me because it circles back to Liz’s first work, Anubis, albeit spinning off in a different direction.
Truth be told, while I admired Anubis, its sticky, tarry leather was not really my style. Therefore I was intensely interested to see how Spell 125 would work for me.
In the Book of the Dead, Spell 125 details ‘the weighing of the human heart’ ceremony overseen by the god Anubis. The perfume incarnation of Spell 125 represents this by creating tension between its contrasting facets; mirroring the weighing of the heart’s sins against its purity. Ethereal Green Sacra frankincense and Siberian pine are pulled downwards by the earthbound black hemlock and white ambergris.
The opening is a whoosh of pine needles and citrus peel. I love pine but the accents of lime and mandarin should assuage anyone who is less of a fan. In any case, it recedes quickly after that first jolt to the system. What’s revealed is a stark olfactory vista of smoldering ash with an undercurrent of something distinctly feral – the pine trees still visible, but at a distance.
The billowy smoke is like that released by a booklet of incense papers slowly being devoured by a stealthy flame, one page at a time, releasing its vapor into the air. It has a mineral quality that is much quieter and more reverent than many incense fragrances but because of its weighty base, it also has more depth.
I find Spell 125’s palette of grey ash, green pine and white ambergris to be striking in its sparseness. The coniferous, smoky and musky tones meld together effortlessly bringing together vegetable, mineral and animal.
The base however, is all about the animal with the musky aroma of ambergris taking over now the spirit has broken free. This is a perfume without extraneous ornamentation so there is no sweet amber or soft woods to make it more obliging.
It’s hard to convey just how atmospheric this perfume is. There is a hushed tone to it that adds to the transporting, ceremonial mood. Where Anubis is thick and oily, Spell 125 is airy and resinous.
It veers away from the traditional perfumery territory inhabited by previous Papillon releases and leads the wearer to a place seemingly outside of time and space, as if forged in a primordial soup of earth, water, wind and fire, it is arrestingly elemental.
It also feels deeply personal, the kind of fragrance you wear for yourself, entering its sacred space. It adheres to the skin and doesn’t budge, remaining close.
Spell 125 is an experience more than any of your typical spritz-and-go perfumes. One that can only be fully appreciated by trying it for yourself.
Are you tempted to order a sample when Spell 125 becomes available?
N.B. Sample gifted to me by Liz Moores with no expectation of review.
OOOOHHHHH! Mood scent 4 week! YAY! This month we sniff some spices. Spicy frags are up to bat. Now spice is a HUGE genre, so much choice. Some very fine houses got completely ignored today, sorry. I do think we have a nice cross section of price, availability and designer or niche. Some are pretty new and others are world builders. I’m hoping a couple will be new to you and at least one a total surprise.
Can’t wait to read about your fave spicy frags in the comments too.
“While she looks at you so cooly, and her eyes shine like the moon in the sea, she comes in incense and patchouli, so you take her, to find what’s waiting inside, the year of the cat. AL STEWART.
It was not until last week when I went to Vienna with a girlfriend that I bothered to really try the Coromandel EdP. It fell into the “it cannot possibly be better than the EdT, oh my gosh what did Chanel do?” category.
The service and knowledge in the stand-alone Chanel beauty store in Vienna is excellent. Totally welcoming, you can spray everything, and all of the parfum extraits are out to try. (That has not been my experience in the Chanel Boutiques, you know, the ones that have security on the door, and take your backpack when you walk in.) We were sprayed top to bottom with Le Lion and Coromandel, each given both perfumes in the cute mini form, and sent off to breakfast and truck around town whilst the fragrances settled. Who knew if we would even go back? I also grabbed a few drops of the Coromandel Extrait and off we went.
My girlfriend knew before exiting the store that she would be back for Le Lion. We returned in due course, and she made the purchase. We both received more cute minis, and as the fabulous SA said, one can never have too many. I was enjoying the Coromandel EdP, but not enough to justify buying it, I still have the EdT after all.
I came home and spent the next four days wearing the EdP. Well well. It is much smoother than the screechy EdT. Screechy does not mean I don’t like it, I love it. But it can be wearing on the nose. Several years ago Tara and I tried a number of the EdPs in the store in Covent Garden. My Coromandel impressions at the time were that they had taken the incense out, an integral part. Uhm, nope. So I never bothered again.
Fast forward five years. The incense is there, but in the base notes, and to my nose it was in the heart notes of the EdT. Therein lies a really big difference. The EdP is not as tenacious and what is not to love about a rich patchouli, benzoin, and incense base? Infinitely more wearable, not as tenacious, divine dry down. Chanel Patch don’tcha know?
I WhatsApped Chanel Vienna and ordered a bottle. Two days later I had it. WhatsApp? Of course, Why? How do you order your Chanel?
*Yep, Chanel here have a WhatsApp number. I’m screwed. Thank you Peter.