April Aromatics Mini Reviews

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

 

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

 

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

 

Purple Reign

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

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

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

Jasmina

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

“An aphrodisiac par excellence.”

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

Calling All Angels

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

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

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

Rosenlust

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

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

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

 

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Erdenstern

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

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

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

Ray of Light

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

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

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

Liquid Dreams

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

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

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

Precious Woods

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

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

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

 

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

 

Image credit: AlexandraVBach

 

 

 

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

Two unassuming beauties…

 

 

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

 

Étui Noir by Miller Harris

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

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

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

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

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

 

No.02 Eau Sento by IUNX

 

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

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

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

 

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Do you like these kind of quiet yet thoughtful fragrances? 

 

 

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

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

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Gin & Tonic Cologne 

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

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

 

Sea Foam 

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

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

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

 

Sensual Oud 

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

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

 

Excentrique Moi 

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

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

 

Signature Wild 

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

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

 

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

 

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Amouroud Mini Reviews

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

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

 

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Midnight Rose

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

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

 

Safran Rare

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

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

 

Santal des Indes

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

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

 

Dark Orchid

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

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

 

Oud du Jour

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

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

 

Miel Sauvage

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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The wonderful Nick Gilbert

 

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

 

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

 

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Lizzie, radiant in orange.

 

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

 

Phenyl Ethyl Alcohol

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

Paul Smith Rose

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

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

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

 

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Citronellol

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

Rosewater, Marks and Spencer

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

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

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

 

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Nick and Laurin

 

Damascone (Beta)

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

Audience member: It smells a bit minty.

Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.20

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

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

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

 

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Rose Oxide

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

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

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

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

Audience member: “Terminator Rose”

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

 

Mad Madame, Juliette Has A Gun

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

 

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Geraniol

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

Audience member: It’s so green.

Nick: It’s very crisp.

Geranium pour Monsieur, Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums

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

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

geranium pour monsieur

 

Ionone (Alpha)

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

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

Nick: Penhaligon’s had four.

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

Lipstick Rose

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

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

Audience member: It reminds me of Shalimar.

Nick: It does have a vanillic undertone.

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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Rhinoceros, Beaver and Panda by Zoologist

Zoologist is a Canadian niche house whose creations possesses two commodities that we could do with more of in Perfumeland – novelty and wit.  The man behind this concept is Victor Wong who cleverly decided to commission indie perfumers to author each animal inspired scent. However, it should be noted that no animal products were used in any of the fragrances.

I tried the inaugural three perfumes which were launched in 2014. My interest has been piqued enough to want to try the latest additions, being the delightful sounding Hummingbird by Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes and the intriguing – not to say award winning – Bat by Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids.

The bottles are fantastic with the illustrations being reminiscent of The Wind in the Willows.

 

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Rhinoceros

Top Notes: Rum, Bergamot, Lavender, Elemi, Sage, Armoise, Conifer Needles. Heart Notes: Pinewood, Tobacco, Immortelle, Geranium, Agarwood, Chinese Cedar Wood. Base Notes: Vetiver, Sandalwood, Amber, Smoke, Leather, Musks

I thought Rhinoceros would be too much of a beast for me to handle but while it’s not my usual style, I really enjoyed testing and wearing it. It’s a strange mix of booze, smoke, oud and pine which swirls across my skin and holds my attention. The subtle pine accord, along with the other aromatics, make an interesting contrast against the more  upfront combination of alcohol, tobacco, oud and leather.

The oud is the most pronounced component of Rhinoceros on me and while we are not short of oud frags to choose from, this one is particularly urbane, being nicely refined with sophisticated tobacco and leather.

The aromatics and rum recede in the base, but it remains as arid as the desert plain throughout.  It would be attractive to those who like the idea of a “gentlemen’s club” style scent with a twist.  In opposition to the tough hide of its inspiration, Rhinoceros is surprisingly smooth with a distinguished air.

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Rhinoceros was composed by Paul Kiler of PK Perfumes, as was Beaver.

 

Beaver

Top Notes: linden-blossom, Fresh Air, Musk, Light citrus. Heart Notes: (Synthetic) Castoreum, Iris, Vanilla, Smoke*, Undergrowth. Base Notes: (Synthetic) Animal Musks, Ash*, Cedar, Amber

*I have a sample of the original version but the website states that the formula has been modified this year with the removal of the smoke and ash notes, redesigning of the linden blossom and the addition of light leather and more musk.  A limited number of bottles of the original formula are still available.

Beaver-60ml-Front_grande

Composed by British perfumer Chris Bartlett of Pell Wall Perfumes, this fragrance was largely inspired by the beaver’s river habitat but also uses a castoreum-style base to represent the mammal’s musk.

First we get sparkling, juicy lime bringing to mind a rushing river in bright sunlight, but this is soon undercut by a light plume of smoke and something vaguely metallic.  I don’t get the dirty facet others seem to, so I’m guessing this is yet another case where my nose is failing to pick up a certain type of musk. The muskiness I do pick up in Beaver is of the sheer, woody musk variety and flows nicely with the aquatic citrus accord.

As time wears on the watery aspect fades to a faint backwash overlaid with a cottony musk drydown.  I find it subdued – especially compared to Rhinoceros – but no doubt this wouldn’t be the case if I got the intended “beaver musk”.

 

Panda

Top Notes: Buddha’s Hand Citron, Bamboo, Sichuan Pepper, Green Tea, Mandarin, Zisu Leaves. Heart Notes: Osmanthus, Orange Blossom, Lillies, Mimosa, Incense. Base Notes: Sandalwood, Pemou Root, Cedar, Fresh Musk, Bourbon, Haitian Vetiver, Damp Moss

Panda is a full of lush green vegetation filled with sap on the inside and dampened with rain on the outside. It makes me think of misty, verdant mountainsides and clean air. However, I’m thrown by something that verges on the medicinal.  I can best liken it to a drop of potent cleaning fluid on wet leaves.

This distracting facet calms down in the drydown when the whole scent becomes a darker shade of green, mimicking dense undergrowth.

 

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I really admire what Victor Wong is doing with this house and all three fragrances exhibit a high level of quality and excellent longevity.

I would be very interested to read your own experience of any of the Zoologist perfumes in the comments.

 

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Love to Smell – A Must Watch

In these “interesting times” it’s a relief to be able to watch something that will transport you to a joyous place of fragrant fun. Nick of Nick Gilbert- Fragrance Expertise and Pia of Volatile Fiction were already much-loved perfume friends and bloggers but in May this year they came together to form their own YouTube channel, Love to Smell.

This is like having two of your favourite superheroes unite to fight a common evil, only in this case it’s to, er, have a giggle reviewing perfumes on camera – what could be better?!

Nick and Pia bounce off each other really well and are clearly enjoying themselves (which is wonderfully contagious) but the fact is, they know their stuff. Both have a passion for science and work in the industry so their opinions are informed by their experience on both sides of the supplier/consumer divide.

There is a new Love to Smell video released every Friday and the one below is from last week.

Watch, like, subscribe and enjoy!

 

 

Do you follow Love to Smell? Are you generally fond of Vloggers?

 

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Barcelona – Photo Essay

No perfume post today I’m afraid as I’ve been been away for a long weekend in Barcelona. So I’m sharing a few holiday pics instead. As with my trip to Venice earlier in the year, I took some decants but didn’t wear a single one. I did spray on some Nuxe Huile Prodigieux one evening and the scent from that was perfect.

I’ve long been dreaming of visiting Barcelona so this year I decided to make it happen. The main draw for me was the architecture of Antonio Gaudi. His style is often polarising but I love it. He was a genius and a visionary. Not only is his work stunning but thoughtful, functional and imbued with symbolic meaning.

The top of my list was his basilica, La Sagrada Familia or “Church of the Holy Family”. Construction commenced in 1882 and is expected to be completed in 2026. I’m happy to report that it totally surpassed my high expectations. The use of colour is way ahead of its time and the inspiration taken from nature makes it seem as if it grew out of the ground after a scattering of magic beans.

 

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La Sagrada Familia

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The colours! 

 

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The columns are inspired by trees so lean at an angle.

I knew of Casa Batllo’s striking facade but I had no idea how beautiful it was inside, with so many breathtaking features. You can only imagine what it must have been like to live in a house as unique this with such attention to detail.

 

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The stunning tiled light-well at Casa Batllo

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The cute mushroom fireplace at Casa Batllo

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Casa Batllo’s main room overlooking the street

 

 

Park Guell was another item on my Gaudi hit list. I particularly wanted to walk along the colonnaded pathway which showcase his organic style.

 

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The view from Park Guell with the two pavilions in the foreground

We strolled along Las Ramblas and the beachfront, but my favourite part of the city was the Gothic Quarter. Like Venice, you feel like you are looking back in time.

 

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The Bridge of Sighs in the Gothic Quarter

On our last night we saw a flamenco show which I thought might be a touristy “castanets” version. I was wrong. This was the real deal and so intense I was on the edge of my seat and cheering. I thought the women would be the stars of the show but the men danced with such passion – hitting their chests and thighs and stamping their feet with amazing power and speed – they were mesmerising.

 

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Tablao Flamenco Cordobes

 

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Las Ramblas

 

Have you been to Barcelona? Which is your favourite European city?

 

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Dzing! by L’Artisan Parfumeur

 

Bring on the dancing horses…

 

Notes: Leather, Ginger, Tonka Bean, Musk, White Woods, Caramel, Saffron,

Toffee, Candy Apple and Cotton Candy.

 

When I met up with lovely Esperanza of Esperessence a while back, she kindly gave me a decant of Dzing! I was really pleased with this because although I’ve found it a little too skanky in the past, I thought it was a fantastic perfume which I really wanted to write about.

Even when I didn’t think it was something I could wear, I still admired Dzing! from afar. I loved its brilliant “Ta-dah!” name and its novel circus concept.

 

Dzing-100ml

First released in 1999, it’s a brilliantly executed fragrance. This is down to perfumer Olivia Giacobetti who is a masterful ringmaster. She orchestrates this clever composition so that it is both cohesive and evolving.  To experience Dzing! is a thrill and more than likely to raise a smile of recognition.

When I sprayed my newly acquired decant, I held it close to the back of my hand, the way I usually do with samples and decants. As expected, the most prominent note on my skin was sawdust with eau de elephant. Not scrub-worthy but not something I’d want to spray properly.

The next day I sprayed it on the same place, but at a bit of a distance. The difference in scent was remarkable. This time, after a bright orange opening, I got soft creamy saffron, old books and a layer of sawdust concealing something only mildly animalic. There was also a hint of leather from the horses’ saddles and the lion-tamer’s whip.

In the base, Dzing! has a fabulous fur-like quality; warm and silkily textured.  The sweetness of the toffee, caramel and cotton candy (candy floss in the UK) comes through and the balance of this with the last traces of the departed animals is perfect for me during this final encore.  The sugary treats are also kept in check by hay and vanillic cardboard accords.

Lasting power is excellent and I’d put the projection at moderate.

Dzing! Is that rare beast; a truly unique fragrance. L’Artisan Parfumeur deserve a standing ovation for continuing to produce it.  It’s a good reminder of why we need niche perfumery and where it excels.

 

marilyn

 

Please let me know  your thoughts about Dzing! in the comments, or if there is a another quirky perfume which you really admire.

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Behind the Rain, Tears of Eros and Cirebon by Paul Schütze

There’s nothing like learning a new skill to increase your admiration one hundred-fold for those who execute it at a high level. Recently I’ve been dabbling in art and so now when I see what experienced artists can produce, it fills me with awe.

Paul Schütze is a London-based artist who has created works in a variety of forms including photography, installations and soundworks.

 

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Abysmal Evenings by Paul Schutze

 

After creating scented elements for art installations and objects, he launched a collection of three personal fragrances in April of this year. Each one represents a key moment or impression from the artist’s memory.

Behind the Rain

Notes: Black Pepper, Fennel, Frankincense, Grapefruit, Linden, Mastic, Moss, Patchouli and Vetiver.

Who doesn’t love the smell of petrichor? That amazing aroma is created when rain hits the dusty ground for the first time after a prolonged dry spell.  The is what Behind the Rain seeks to capture and it does indeed start with a delicious blast of musty earth paired with juicy grapefruit, thereby mimicking the contrast between the dry soil and the quenching rain.

As the opening fades, I find myself wanting to spray it again to relive that short but fun moment. However, this is the fleeting nature of petrichor so it’s true to life. The rest of the development is tart grapefruit zest against a soft green backdrop with a lingering touch of musty-ness that reminds me of dusty tea leaves. Sometimes I’m repelled by grapefruit notes but here it remains pleasant and fresh for hours on end.

 

Tears of Eros

Notes: Ambergris, Benzoin, Cardamom, Cedar, Clementine, Frankincense, Gaiac Wood, Hyacinth, Iris Butter, Labdanum and Pepper. 

The stimulus for Tears of Eros was a chance moment when the aromas of Japanese incense, clementine peel and hyacinths collided in Paul’s Parisian studio.  It’s described evocatively as a “living incense”.

After an opening salvo of sparkling clementine Tears of Eros moves through a phase of green hyacinth before settling into a woody hyacinth with a hazy aura of incense. In the base it becomes salt encrusted and makes me think of driftwood. Tears of Eros is an unusual composition and holds me captivated partly for this reason.  It’s the one out of three which is the stand-out for me.

 

Cirebon

Notes: Bergamot, Bigarade Orange, Cedar, Magnolia, Orange Blossom, Petitgrain, Sandalwood and Vetiver

The inspiration for Cirebon is a night spent sitting by a lake on the island of Java as the sound of a traditional Indonesian Gamelan orchestra drifts across the water. I’ve visited Bali and went to a performance featuring Gamelan music which really is mesmerising.

The fragrance seeking to capture this experience can be summed up in two words, “spiced orange”, but it’s so nicely done that I don’t tire of it. Sometimes a simple accord that really works is all you need and Cirebon has the quality and depth of the other two compositions in the collection.

The orange is distilled down to its essence making it thick and potent, while the spicy facet is very smooth and suave. This turns what could have been a bright citrus cologne into a dark, sensual scent.

I really wish guys I’m in close proximity to on the tube would start wearing Cirebon instead of the unpleasant olfactory foghorns they usually go in for.

Paul Schutze

 

It’s interesting that a number of indie perfumers are also artists, including Liz Zorn of Soivohle and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes.  I wonder if, for them, perfumery is just another form of artistic expression, another palette to work with.

 

Do you see a connection between art and perfume? Do Behind The Rain, Tears of Eros or Cirebon appeal to you?

 

 

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