Amber Tapestry by Aftelier Perfumes

What the world needs now…

Top Notes: Heliotropin, Yellow Mandarin
Middle Notes: Jasmine Grandiforum, Jasmine Sambac, Pear, Cinnamon
Base Notes: Ambreine, Labdanum, Maltol, Benzoin, Castoreum, Ambergris, Coumarin

 

At the fabulous Scented Supper in October, I learnt that before becoming an accomplished artisan perfumer, Mandy Aftel trained as a weaver. She continues to intuitively apply this skill when working with natural aromatics; intertwining them to create balance in terms of aroma, texture, weight and vibrancy. She has certainly done a masterful job of weaving together the various fragrant strands in her new release, Amber Tapestry.

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There are so many leaden ambers in this classic oriental category however Mandy breathes new life and light into the form.  Ambers don’t normally sing on my skin but this one does. I find lift and luminosity where I normally find flatness and opacity.

The smooth yellow mandarin in the opening of the EdP is simply gorgeous and just as Mandy tells us, it is the most floral of all the citruses. The amber accord is an enticing combination of fuzzy labdanum,  ambreine (a derivative of labdanum resinoid) and the salty tang of ambergris.

The amber accord is liberally embroidered with jasmine from start to finish and it’s the silkiest jasmine I’ve come across. It’s never screechy or uncomfortably indolic. The two varieties used here interlace wonderfully with the amber, adding floral interest, contrast and radiance.

The cinnamon is super soft and I only pick up slivers of the pear if I lean in close. Amber Tapestry also contains maltol and benzoin but I don’t find it too sweet or gourmand.

Coumarin and heliotropin give it a plush, powdery finish. The texture feels like the fur of a rust coloured cat or even dusty golden suede, thanks to the inclusion of castoreum. It stays fairly close to the body, wrapping itself around my skin. However, when you’re within its sphere, it’s enveloping. I’m struck time and again by how meticulously well blended Amber Tapestry is. It feels seamless.

There are no pointy edges; all is softness and comfort. However the ambergris and castoreum prevent it from being too safe. Amber lovers will need a pillow to cushion their fall as they swoon but non-amber fans, such as me, are likely to be taken with it as well because it is so lustrous and floral.

We all need some warmth, beauty and light to console us in these dark days of winter (not to mention these troubled times) and it’s just the thing to lift our spirits as we go into the festive season.

Memento Mori came to jangle our senses but Amber Tapestry has come to soothe them. It’s just what the doctor ordered. Using perfume to self-medicate is a regular practice of mine and this is the perfect remedy for what ails many of us right now.

 

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Does the idea of a floral amber appeal to you?

 

 

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Spice World: The Meetup – Perfume Lovers London, 24th November

We were greeted by a spice themed soundtrack at the October Gallery last Thursday with tracks from Salt-N-Pepa and of course, The Spice Girls. Our fragrant leader Odette Toilette/Lizzie is nearing her due date so we were in the capable hands of Laurin and Callum. As you will see from the abbreviated sequence of events below, they also have a great way with words.

 

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Cardamom

Intoxicated, By Kilian

Laurin: Intoxicated is part of the Addictive State of Mind collection from By Kilian which features three fragrances based around a substance that can be addictive: coffee, tobacco and weed.

Callum: Intoxicated is supposed to evoke Turkish coffee and although that is usually teeth rottingly sweet, this has dark bitter spices. The green, bracing note of cardamom is particularly noticeable.

Laurin: I find it dry.

Audience Member: I get some lavender, similar to A*Men.

Callum: It’s a good example of a very strong cardamom note.

Audience Member: It’s getting sweeter with time.

 

Lumiére Blanche, Olfactive Studio

Callum: Each fragrance by Olfactive Studio is inspired by a photograph. Lumiére Blanche is the opposite of Intoxicated. Here the cardamom is in a setting which is really creamy and it’s much easier to wear.

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Audience Member: I’m picking up anise and mint.

Laurin: I think it’s like a milky drink at bedtime; like spicy Horlicks.

Callum: Does anyone think it’s like the photo? It has the bright white feel.

Audience Member: It reminds me of the sea.

Audience Member: It reminds me of Lovehearts. There’s something sherbet-y.

 

Ginger

Classique EdT, Jean Paul Gaultier

Laurin: I get lots of orange blossom and ylang ylang from Classique but once I found out there was was ginger in it, it became a lot more noticeable. When I smell it, I picture ginger root complete with its hairy bark.

Callum: I used to wear it a lot in my teens. Over time the shape of the bottle has changed. It now has a bigger derrière and smaller breasts – The Kim Kardashian Effect.

Laurin: I’d put it in the bombshell category along with Fracas.

Callum: It’s huge. Do we like it?

General murmurs of “No”.

Audience Member: It’s very dated.

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The Smell of Freedom, Gorilla Perfumes

Callum: This is a sunny ginger fragrance.

Laurin: I always think it’s like when you’re grating ginger and some of the juice runs down your hand.

Holly from LUSH: This is a triptych of a perfume. It’s a combination of three other perfumes about inspirational people, so it has a lot of notes.

Laurin: I get more lemongrass as it goes along.

Callum: It’s the opposite of Classique. It feels more stripped back.

Audience Member: It’s quite earthy.

Vanilla

Love, By Kilian

Callum: One of my favourite vanillas is the one by Mona di Orio but most are very sweet so I thought I should pick one which is representative of that. Love is pink, frilly knickers. It’s bright and sickly but amazing. It’s softened by orange blossom. It’s crazy sweet.

Laurin: I always think vanilla is too needy. You’d break up with it and it would still come round to your house and knock on the door. I like this one though because there’s something a bit scratchy about it.

Audience Member: It’s like raw cookie dough.

 

Black, Bvlgari

Laurin: This is one of my favourite fragrances of all time. It’s leather, petrol station forecourts and gimp masks. It’s a good example of an edgy fragrance that uses vanilla to make it more wearable. The perfumer is Annick Menardo and she’s very good at using vanilla in compositions such as this, Hypnotic Poison by Dior and Morn to Dusk by Eau d’Italie.

Black wouldn’t get past a focus group these days. It’s Resting Bitch Face in a bottle. It’d slit your throat if you rubbed it up the wrong way. I admire anyone who bought it when it first came out. People say it’s discontinued but you can still get it on Amazon. It also comes in this great bottle shaped like a tyre.

 

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Clove

Esprit du Tigre, Heeley

Callum: All Heeley’s fragrances are very bold in that they have a very clear idea. This is centred around the idea of Tiger Balm. It features a very pure use of clove; tarry, methylated and smoky.

Would you wear it?

Generally well liked and quite a few people would wear it except for those with memories of Tiger Balm.

 

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Jungle L’Elephant, Kenzo

Laurin: I tried this at Lizzie’s house recently and took the bottle home with me.  It’s a more rounded use of clove. It’s a Christmas pudding in a marshmallow. It has a lot of warmth. I picture a helix of clove and cardamom.  There’s a huge amount of plum and cedarwood in there too.

It was done by Dominique Ropion who is very good at doing huge perfumes which are very fine-tuned (Portrait of a Lady, Carnal Flower). Lizzie isn’t getting her bottle back.

 

Cumin

Hellstone, Gorilla Perfumes

Laurin: I read that cumin is associated with faithfulness. It can stop chickens and lovers from straying, apparently. Hellstone is rounded and has a little of that body sweat cumin but it’s also peaty and has a bit of whisky. I was thinking earlier it would be perfect for the Central Line at rush hour.

Holly from LUSH: A lot of men like to wear it in their beards.

Callum: I like it the more I wear it – the more the terror fades away.

Audience Member: It smells a bit like old books.

 

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Fareb, Huitième Art Collection

Callum: Fareb makes me think of the desert and cola. It’s dry but has a fizziness to it.

Laurin: It’s more foody. Customers at Les Senteurs used to stay they couldn’t wear it because it reminded them of their mother’s cooking.

Callum: It’s sweeter than Hellstone.

Audience Member: It’s brighter.

Callum: It’s doesn’t have the dark, peaty aspect of Hellstone.

This one was generally approved of by the room and preferred to Hellstone. Overall Fareb and Black seemed to be the hits of the evening.

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Do you like spicy fragrances? Which are your favourites?

 

 

 

 

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In Rotation

After enduring bad news across the world for the best part of a year, I’ve been feeling the need to retreat. I’ve always been a homebody but I’m craving time indoors even more than usual. After reading a lot of “improving” books this year, I’ve now escaped into the His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy by Philip Pullman. On these cold, dark evenings, it’s wonderful to get lost in this multi-universe adventure populated by witches, armoured bears and fearless 12 year-olds .

 

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A small thing that I’ve found to be very soothing on trying days, is painting my nails. The colours I’m alternating at the moment are the sophisticated berry of Butter London’s Queen Vic and the glossy dark navy of Chanel’s Marinière.

Happily, I’m still getting a kick out of my new found love of bold lipstick. I’ve even graduated from red to purple. MAC’s Rebel feels perfect for autumn and easy to wear because it isn’t as intense or blue toned as most in that shade range. The satin formula is also kinder to the lips in this chilly weather than my usual matt lipsticks.

 

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Chanel Mariniere, MAC Rebel and Butter London Queen Vic

 

One comfort food that is also healthy is homemade soup. Last weekend I made spicy cauliflower soup based on the recipe by Alice Waters (who incidentally is a friend and neighbour of Mandy Aftel). I found out about it from former perfume blogger Lavanya, who now runs the brilliant subscription box service Boxwalla.

Again, taking pleasure in the little things, I’ve been enjoying the aromas of autumn; bonfires, dry leaves, damp earth, misty mornings. It might also be my favourite time of year for perfume. Here’s what I’ve been wearing a lot lately:

Passage d’Enfer, L’Artisan Parfumeur

I recently got a back-up bottle of this one because it’s my favourite incense. Passage d’Enfer is woody, lightly resinous and has a hint of waxy white lilies which it gives it luminosity. It smells fantastic on a scarf and mingles well with the autumnal wisps of smoke in the air. Passage d’Enfer helps me feel calm and centred in this crazy world but it also has that touch of wanton florals. I adore this stuff.

Coromandel EdT, Chanel

This is one classy patchouli with lots of warmth and depth. It’s not super earthy but it’s not a dull, super clean patch either. It’s beautifully sophisticated and I enjoy it most at a bit of distance, so I tend to spray it on my wrists rather than around my neck. I particularly enjoy the touch of incense that comes out most in the base.

Tobacco Rose, Papillon Perfumes

Of course I love roses and this one is perfect for autumn thanks to its earthiness. Tobacco Rose is a rose bush firmly planted in the soil, not a sterile, disembodied bloom. There’s a reason patchouli is paired so often with rose and it’s exemplified here in the way it grounds the beautiful, rich red flower. I can’t wait for the next release from Papillon Perfumes which is coming in the New Year.

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What’s bringing you comfort this season?

 

 

 

 

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Miller Harris Mini Reviews

One of the stops on last month’s London perfume tour organised by Pia and Nick (of Love to Smell) was the Miller Harris store on Monmouth Street, Covent Garden.  Unfortunately I missed the talk but got a lovely bag of boxed samples. If you’d like to catch up on what went on that day, you can read all about it on Bonkers About PerfumeVolatile Fiction and I Scent You A Day. It was a great get-together of 20 or so perfume lovers/bloggers. Too bad I was feeling so poorly.

 

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Below are my mini-reviews of the five EdP samples we received –

Cassis en Feuille

Bergamot, galbanum, blackcurrant, geranium, tomato leaf, cedarwood

I always keep an eye out for perfumes showcasing blackcurrant because it’s a note I’m drawn to. However, they usually turn out to be sour and/or too green. Cassis en Feuille starts out very grassy, becoming a tangle of green stems accented with blackcurrant and then finally, a prominent blackcurrant scent with a green backdrop. Like a lot of the fragrances I’ve tried from this line, it doesn’t project very far. I still haven’t found my blackcurrant perfume.

Poirier d’un Soir

Bergamot, rum extract, rose, papyrus, birch tar oil, patchouli oil, white cedarwood

Why aren’t there more pear fragrances around, I wonder? “Pear Tree in the Evening” is a likeable honeyed pear scent. I’m not good with this level of sweetness but somehow I can deal with it better in the colder months. It manages to brighten up a dull autumnal day and fits the concept of sitting under a pear tree full of ripe fruit as the sun hangs low in the sky. It’s not a dupe by any means, but could be worth a try if you fell for the pear tart of La Belle Helene but couldn’t stomach MDCI prices.

La Pluie

Bergamot, tangerine, lavender, ylang ylang, cassis, jasmine, orange flower, vetiver , vanilla

The most surprising of  the five is La Pluie. Rather than being a straight-up aquatic, it’s a   tropical garden after a rain shower. It starts a little musty/powdery, slightly green and herbal. In the heart, it reveals a carpet of buttery ylang-ylang flowers interspersed with dewy jasmine.  The final twist is the soft ylang scented vanilla which comes through in the base. La Pluie stays subdued throughout its development and could be an easy, breezy choice for summer.

Tangerine Vert

Tangerine green, grapefruit, lemon, marjoram, geranium, orange flower, cedarwood, moss, sweet musk

No  surprises here. As advertised, we get a lovely tart, tangerine with green leaves in tact. For most of its development it’s a really great zingy citrus which isn’t too sour even though the notes include grapefruit and lemon. Tangerine Vert has the uplifting feeling of a bright spring day and tangerine/mandarin scents always seem to make me happy.  Sadly, the feel-good factor ends for me with the arrival of the base. The sweet muskiness is not to my taste however, if you like Kiehl’s Original Musk then you’ll probably be fine with it.

Fleur Oriental 

Bergamot, orange flower, spicy carnation, rose, heliotrope, vanilla bourbon, benzoin, amber, labdanum, musk

I have a soft spot for Fleur Oriental. It’s one of the first samples I got after falling down the rabbit hole. This was partly because I was interested in carnation perfumes at the time and partly because Katie Puckrik was a fan of it. Trying it again a number of years later, I still really admire it, despite the noticeable heliotrope. It has a silken powdery feel, the way an old-school carnation fragrance like Bellodgia might have had back in the day. This cloud of scented talcum powder is nicely spiked with citrus and orange flower, giving it a lift. The base even has a touch of the Shalimars about it. All in all, it makes for an easy to wear, floral oriental with somewhat of a retro feel and a pleasing mist of sillage.

 

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Do you like any of these or other fragrances by Miller Harris?

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Fume Chat: A Perfumed Podcast

I’ve only recently gotten into podcasts (late, I know) and they really help with the daily commute. A few weeks ago Thomas Dunckley (The Candy Perfume Boy) and Nick Gilbert (Fragrance Expertise) launched their very own podcast “Fume Chat“. Episodes are released every fortnight on a Sunday and there have been two so far.

The launch show “Hello World” included some of their favourites new releases and helped feed my mammoth lemming, Galop d’Hermes.  Last Sunday’s instalment was a “Battle of the Bottles” between Thomas and Nick’s picks from Comme des Garçons (I won’t spoil it by telling you who won). I did own Kyoto but this brand has been largely a mystery to me because many of the scents have similar names with numbers, which unfortunately is enough to put me off. I am now considerably less ignorant.

First and foremost, the podcasts are brilliantly entertaining but they are also guaranteed to widen your perfumery knowledge and add fragrances to your To Try list. Both Thomas and Nick are great company and this transmits perfectly across the digital airwaves. They also have an off-beat taste in fragrance which means you hear about scents you might not have heard about or explored further otherwise.

You can subscribe on iTunes via your iPhone or Soundcloud if you’re an Android user like me. Well worth a listen!

 

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Have you tuned in to Fume Chat? Can you recommend any other podcasts?

 

 

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Ma Bête, Night Flower and Belle de Jour By Eris Parfums

Bringing sexy back…

 

If you’re seriously into perfume, chances are you’ve visited Barbara Herman’s treasure trove of a blog, Yesterday’s Perfumes. It contains a wealth of information about vintage fragrances and was a great help to me when I was researching an eventual purchase of vintage Vol de Nuit extrait.

In 2013 Barbara released a book “Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume“. Earlier this year she launched Eris Parfums.  Working with perfumer Antonie Lie, the intention was to create luxury fragrances that would “celebrate unconventional beauty and subversive glamour” The first collection of three EdPs, La Belle Et La Bête (Beauty and the Beast) is a contemporary re-imagining of the striking and seductive floral animalic perfumes of the past.

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Ma te

Neroli, Aldehydes, Nutmeg, Cypriol, Stypras, Jasmin Sambac, Cedarwood, Patchouli and Animalic Accord

As you would expect from a perfume entitled “My Beast”, Ma Bête is an animalic. Although to start with, it’s not that variety of uncomfortably intimate skank. In the opening stage, it consists of a very sexy yet supple musk accented with neroli and a touch of spice. It has the soft texture of a vintage fur stole, wearing close to the body and giving it that second skin feel. There’s nothing invasive or TMI about it for now.  It’s sexual in the way an old Hollywood movie star could be sexual, with a certain look accompanied by the arch of an eyebrow.

Ma te has one aim and one aim only – to seduce. In the base the beast’s growl turns to a roar and you appreciate the fact that Lie used a 50% overdose of his own animalic cocktail. You could argue that it’s not very complex but I guess when you are in the mood for musk, you want it front and centre (as it were).

 

Night Flower

Bergamot, Cardamom, Leather, Suede, Indian Tuberose, Birch Tar, Patchouli, Cinnamon, Musk and Tonka

I approached Night Flower with some trepidation because I am not generally a tuberose perfume fan, to put it mildly. However, it actually turned out to be the one I enjoyed the most. The opening is a combination of bergamot, suede, cardamom and incredibly smooth tuberose. Instead of being the man-eater it usually is, here the de-fanged flower adds a layer of pink bubblegum sweetness. There’s nothing overblown or headache inducing about it.

Over time the suede turns to birch tar and Night Flower now resembles a pair of long leather gloves that hold just a trace of Fracas. It’s dark, warm and slightly powdery. I hope Lie and Herman won’t mind me saying this, but there’s an ambery muskiness present in the base that takes me back to the bottle of Obsession I owned and loved in my youth.

Belle de Jour

Orange Flower, Jasmine, Coriander, Pink Peppercorn, Ciste, Jasmine, Pimento Berries, Cedarwood Incense, Musks and Seaweed Absolute.

Compared to her two counterparts, Belle de Jour opens up surprisingly fresh, with orange and jasmine blossom petals twisting in a salty sea breeze. Here the requisite musk is white and buoyant. It stays at this elevated pitch for a couple of hours. Thereafter it smooths out, becoming floral scented, cashmere-like, clean musk. The texture is raw silk on clean skin.

Antoine Lie says “Belle de Jour is a study in contrasts: a very luminous floral that is salty, sexy and dirty.”  However, it never becomes dirty, or even naughty, on me which is a shame. I’m sure this is because I’m not picking up the type of musk used in the base, as regularly happens with me.

 

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Do you like this retro style? Have you tried any of these three?

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A Scented Supper With Mandy Aftel

Last Wednesday evening, I was fortunate to attend a Scented Supper hosted by The Perfume Society in honour of artisan perfumer Mandy Aftel.

Mandy was visiting London with her lovely husband, Foster, for their anniversary. Her all-natural fragrances for Aftelier Perfumes – such as the wonderful Vanilla Smoke – are highly creative and have won her a loyal following as well as widespread acclaim. Furthermore, her beautifully written books on the topics of fragrance and food have inspired many, including myself.

The location was the North London HQ of Michelin restaurant trained Pratap Chahal known as That Hungry Chef. He explained to us that he started the Scented Suppers after reading Mandy’s book Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent which brought his attention to the connection between fragrance and food. He began to experiment and his wife quipped that at first the house smelled like “A Mexican brothel!”. A couple of years down the line though and he has perfected his art. Last August he actually visited Mandy’s studio in California: there was a lot of synergy going on…

 

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The menu was scented with a perfume made up of the various scented elements used in the meal.

 

I have to be careful about what I eat and wondered how I would cope with so many strong flavours. However, each dish was subtly balanced and it was one sensory delight after another. Highlights were the patchouli pearl barley, frankincense cream with chickpea and apple crumble, chocolate tartlets with silver leaf and the most tender beef imaginable cooked with tobacco and patchouli (a l’Aftel). Even the slate the butter rested on was infused with fir oil. Not shown was a mini pistachio and saffron kulfi which somehow was in my mouth before I could take a photo.

 

Above from top left shows the beetroot starter, beef main and dessert of frankincense cream.

Inbetween courses Mandy was more than happy to answer questions from The Perfume Society’s Jo Fairley as well as other guests. What came across most strongly was her passion for the materials she works with. It seemed to me that her perfumes act primarily as conduits which allow her to express herself through her beloved naturals. She loves hunting down new materials and says she gets just as much of a thrill from them now as she did when she started out 20 years ago. Mandy feels perfume is intrinsically interesting and finds smell “primitive and sexy”. She is fascinated by all odours, whether others label them good or bad.

 

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Instagram moment of the evening: Chocolate tartlets on a bed of smoking hay infused with vetiver

 

Mandy thinks of smell as “disembodied flavour” and as we know, smell is a huge part of taste. She collaborated on the book Aroma: The Magic of Essential Oils in Food and Fragrance with the chef Daniel Patterson and has another book entitled The Art Flavor coming out next summer. She believes the smell of cooking is the ultimate home fragrance. Her Chef’s Essences are concentrated flavours which enliven dishes with just a couple of drops and are used by artisanal producers of items such as chocolate, ice cream and candles. The Essences include Basil, Pineapple, Peru Balsam, Frankincense and Ylang Ylang, among others.

 

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On the subject of perfume, Mandy told us that her favourite material is probably ambergris because she loves everything about it. She’s also noticed that the combination of patchouli with benzoin crops up in a lot of her perfumes and is very fond of gardenia/tiare. While she adores absolutes, Mandy doesn’t tend to work with essential oils that have a camphorous facet, such as tea tree and eucalyptus.

I admire Mandy for sticking to her personal values and not being afraid to take risks. She decided not to play it safe with her recent release Memento Mori which she acknowledged is a polarising scent “partly putrid, partly pretty”. Mandy has intentionally kept her business small-scale, turning down large orders for her Chef’s Essences and maintaining relationships with her customers.

 

 

An exciting project that Mandy is working on at the moment is her perfume museum. This will showcase the large collection of fragrant materials she has amassed over the years. It will be open to no more than 6 people at a time, by appointment. They will be able to smell the items on display and Mandy is particularly looking forward to seeing their reactions. She showed us photos of a cache of 100 year-old Rimmel perfumes she obtained from France. It is hoped that the museum, which is on Mandy’s property in Berkeley, will be open by the end of January next year.

 

Above shows Thomas, The Candy Perfume Boy, sniffing Pratap’s bottle of oud wood and then Nick Gilbert before and after finding out it was worth £1,500.

 

 

Mandy’s first book about natural perfumery, Essence & Alchemy, was life-changing for me when I read it about ten years ago, so it was a complete joy to be able to finally meet her. She was just as warm, thoughtful and interesting as I imagined her to be, if not more so.

 

 

Huge thanks to Mandy Aftel, The Perfume Society and That Hungry Chef for a magical evening.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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”.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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. 

 

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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.

 

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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“.

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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.

 

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Happy, Clinique

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

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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