A Month of Irises

Who needs roses on Valentine’s Day when you can have irises?

You may already be a reader of Undina’s excellent blog, but she came up with the idea of making February ‘A Month of Irises’.  There is a new post each week on Undina’s Looking Glass which she is adding to each day with a little iris-related review or fact, so do check in there for the rest of the month and share your SotD. Other bloggers are getting involved in the fun too and I’m hosting here on A Bottled Rose today.

I’ll be posting a full review of my current No.1 iris, Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums at the end of the month, but today I wanted to talk about another iris in my collection: 28 La Pausa by Les Exclusifs de Chanel.

 

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I own a 200ml vat of the original EdT and while it is notorious for poor longevity, strangely I don’t have any problems on that score. It would be tough to produce an iris-centric perfume that wasn’t elegant but I think you’d be hard pressed to find one more refined and coolly charming than this Chanel.

28 La Pausa is a silken iris, being low on rootiness and much more floral in character. I find it soothing and minimalist yet radiant. It stops short of aloof and floats pleasantly around me in the palest blue aura.

When I tried the new EdP version I found that it progressed rather too quickly to its vetiver base on my skin. However Victoria of Bois de Jasmin recently wrote that she prefers it, in her brilliant Top Ten of Winter Iris Perfumes so do see how you find it. That post also spawned galloping lemmings of On Lipstick from Maison Martin Margiela Replica and Mythique by Parfums DelRae.

Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens is surely the ne plus ultra of iris perfumes but it has too much of a cold knife edge for me to wear it comfortably. My “lottery win” iris would be Irisss by Xerjoff at £560 for 100ml.

Chanel No.19 EdT is the iris-forward perfume that is currently on my To Buy list. Another fantastic iris that I’m sure I’ll own one day is Prada’s Infusion d’Iris Absolu.

Some others that I admire and have reviewed in the past are Hermes Hiris, the white iris of Nirmal by Laboratorio Olfattivo, the moonlit Iris Nazarena from Aedes de Venustas and the fabulously smoky Iris Cendre by Naomi Goodsir.

If you missed it on Olfactoria’s Travels back in the day, you might be interested to read my write-up of Incredible Irises, an evening of iris at Perfume Lovers London. It features some background information about this luxurious ingredient as well as a good selection of scents.

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Please let us know in the comments which iris perfume you are wearing today or which one/s you love!

 

 

 

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Mood Scent 4: First Love Perfumes

Today, we as the joint blogging project Mood Scent, 4 are sharing the first perfumes we fell in love with. What memories do they recall? How do we feel about them now?

Unlike many British teenage girls in the 1980s, I didn’t go through a phase of wearing soft, feminine fragrances like Anais Anais or Lou Lou. No, I went straight for the hard stuff…

 

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Obsession by Calvin Klein

Mandarin, orange blossom, bergamot, jasmine, rose, coriander, tagete, armoise, oakmoss and amber

I bought a small bottle of Obsession on a school trip to France and vividly remember a friend asking to try some on the ferry home. I couldn’t believe she was expecting me to open the brand new bottle and let her be the first one to use it. Me being me, I complied without a word. That tells you how much I coveted that bottle and the scent within. Looking back now, this classic 1980s power perfume seems way too strong for a teenager but I loved it. A heavy, musky amber is just about the opposite of anything I’d wear today.

 

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Parfum d’Ete by Kenzo

Mahogany, green leaves, lily-of-the-valley, freesia, peach, hyacinth, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, cycalmen, peony, narcissus, iris, sandalwood, oakmoss, cedar, musk and amber 

I went through quite a love affair with Kenzo perfumes at one point. I bought and thoroughly enjoyed their excellent fruity florals Le Monde Est Beau and Ca Sent Beau.  I remember trying the now discontinued version of Parfum d’Ete on skin for the first time at a department store. By the time I reached the exit I was so smitten I turned around, went straight back to the counter and bought a bottle.  It’s a pleasant, breezy scent with plenty of heft despite its lightweight feel.  Although the name meaning “summer fragrance”, it actually comes across as rather spring-like with its tender florals and green shoots full of water.

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Aromatics Elixir by Clinique

Sage, chamomile, verbena, geranium, jasmine, ylang-ylang, tuberose, rose, patchouli and oakmoss

I bought the 70s classic Aromatics Elixir when I started my first permanent office job and received lots of compliments on it. So much so that my mother, sister and boss all started wearing it too. It was unlike anything I’d come across before and I guess it was my first experience of a chypre. While I’d find it a bit too intense now, I still admire it. It’s such a distinctive, cohesive composition that is more than the sum of its parts, which are herbal, floral, woody and mossy.  My mum still wears it, 20 years later.

 

 

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Envy by Gucci

Hyacinth, magnolia, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, iris, musk and woods

Owing to the popularity of Aromatics Elixir among those close to me, I had to find a new signature scent. I turned to Envy which had just been released in 1997 It was created by perfumer Maurice Roucel who composed the iconic Iris Silver Mist for Serge Lutens three years earlier and Musc Ravageur for Frederic Malle three years later. It’s such a clever perfume in my book because it takes the green floral as a theme and turns it into something sleek, chic and subtly sexy.

 

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Unfortunately Esperanza isn’t up to joining us today but don’t miss the First Love Perfumes of Megan In Sainte Maxime  and I Scent You A Day.

 

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Please share your own fragrant first loves in the comments below!

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Books I’ve Been Reading Lately – October 17 to January 18

Do you set reading goals in the New Year? I thought about doing it but decided against it. I don’t think finally finishing Sapiens counts. I’m going to continue to make an effort to read consistently and fairly broadly and try not feel guilty about indulging my love of fantasy.

Here’s what I got through over the last few months.

 

All the Harry Potter books by J K Rowling

Encouraged by a couple of friends, I finally read the seven Harry Potter books. I had thought it was pointless as I didn’t get to read them as a child (being too old) and disliked the first film. However, hardly a week goes by without some reference to Harry Potter.  I enjoyed the first few books but got properly hooked about midway through the third. From there on in, they just got better and better as the kids grow up and the plots get darker and more complex.

The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is nothing short of brilliant. If you’re a fan but haven’t checked it out already, J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore website is well worth a look. You can get sorted into your Hogwarts House and find out your Patronus. I dearly wanted the Sorting Hat to place me in Ravenclaw with the other dreamers – and it did!

 

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Christmas Past by Jodi Taylor

Another Christmas short story from the St. Mary’s Chronicles. What a treat. I especially enjoyed this one because it continues on from the last book in the series about a lovable bunch of time-travelling historians, rather than being a complete standalone. It amazes me how Jodi Taylor manages to mix humour in with dark themes so effortlessly. This quick read involves a journey back to Dickensian London to brighten the wretched lives of two young chimney sweeps on Christmas Eve.

 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This book has recently been made into a film by Steven Spielberg. It’s set in a dystopian near-future where people spend most of their time plugged into a virtual reality programme called the OASIS. In his Will, its creator states his multi-billion fortune will go to the first person who completes a quest within that virtual universe. He was obsessed with the books, comics, films and most of all, videogames, that he grew up with in the 1980s and the “Easter Egg hunt” is based on knowledge of the pop culture of the time. Therefore if you don’t remember the 80s, the constant references are likely to become tedious. The nostalgia the writer obviously feels for that era is half the pleasure of the book.  Being a child of the 80s myself and a fan of fantasy novels, I loved it.

 

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Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Well this was a big mistake for the beginning of January. What a wretched tale of the cruel mistreatment of children and the horrors of the workhouse. Thank goodness Dickens brought awareness to this issue in the 19th Century but I did not need to read about it during a depressing start to the year. I picked it because after Ready Player One I wanted to swing back into the past. I have a weird tendency after finishing a book to want to read something that’s the polar opposite. I’d only read A Christmas Carol so wanted to try more Dickens and thought this one would be accessible. It wasn’t a difficult read and there was some justice and salvation, but overall the grimness didn’t make it worth my while.

 

Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff

I found this via self-improvement writer, Mark Manson’s recommendations of the 5 Best Books for Anxiety and Depression.

For those of us worrying we are not “winning at life”, self-compassion is the answer. You read a lot about self-care but fostering a kind, compassionate attitude to yourself is what really makes the difference. It can interupt the habit of regretting the past, beating yourself up in the present and fearing the future. People tend to pour scorn on self-help books but I have come across a handful that have totally shifted my perspective and changed my life for the better: this is one of them.

 

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Please share what you’ve been reading lately in the comments!

 

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Three Neroli Fragrances To Brighten Winter

I’ve been looking for a nice neroli perfume for ages. Both orange blossom and neroli are derived from orange blossom flowers but the methods of extraction differ and this results in markedly different scents. Orange blossom absolute is thicker, sweeter and more floral while neroli essential oil is tarter, greener and brighter.

After sharing my wish to find a good neroli fragrance, my mate Esperanza of L’Esperessence very kindly sent me a selection of samples from her home in Holland. They were the perfect antidote to the grey skies and mood that accompanies January in London.

 

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Grand Neroli, Atelier Cologne

Notes: Neroli, Lemon, Sicilian Bergamot, Petitgrain, Galbanum, Moss, Birch Leaf, Musk, White Amber and Vanilla.

Neroli lends itself to the cologne style so you’d expect Atelier Cologne to do a good job with it. Grand Neroli is not quite as zesty as the Heeley but still starts with that lemony tang. It moves from tart, through floral, to green. It’s the most nuanced of the three and I like the way it changes and develops over time. True to the brand’s remit, this is a full- bodied take on a cologne with good lasting power. However I find the musk quite prominent and that’s a deal-breaker for me. It’s a white musk which fades through the day and isn’t headache inducing like some.

 

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Oranges and Lemons, Say the Bells of St Clement’s, Heeley

Notes: Orange. Lemon. Bergamot,  Mandarine, Neroli, Petitgrain, Earl Grey Tea, Ylang Ylang and Vetiver

We used to play a singing game to “Orange and Lemons” at children’s birthday parties when I was little which means this perfume has a very happy association for me.  As is often the case with old English nursery rhymes, the lyrics dating from circa 1740 are pretty grim when you look at them:

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
Chip chop chip chop the last man is dead

The fragrance goes on zingy as you’d expect with the presence of lemon but it’s not so bitter as to make me wince. The projection lessens considerably after about 2-3 hours but this is citrus-heavy and citrus accords have limited longevity. However, the lasting power was very good despite the closeness to the skin. The Earl Grey tea accord is a nice idea but wasn’t noticeable to me. St. Clement’s is simple but very cheering and easy to wear. It’s my favourite of the three.

 

 

 

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Neroli, Yves Rocher

Notes: Bigarade (bitter orange), Bergamot, Orange Blossom, Neroli and Musks.

Neroli is part of the Secret d’Essences collection of signature fragrances using quality raw materials. This is really pretty. It has none of the tart lemon of the two previous iterations. This feels more like a perfume than a cologne and you could say it leans more traditionally feminine in style. Neroli has a lovely golden hue with no interruptions. It has just the right balance between sweet and sour.  This is probably because unlike the other two, it contains orange blossom which adds that floral syrupy-ness but also means it’s not a straight-up neroli fragrance. Sadly, its longevity wasn’t great on me but at around £30 for 50ml, you can afford to re-apply during the day.

 

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Have you tried any of these? Do you have any more neroli fragrances to recommend me in the comments?

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Winner of the 2nd Birthday! Giveaway!

Many thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway but most of all, for the many lovely comments. Knowing there are people out there reading and enjoying the blog is what it’s all about.

Now, the winner of the samples of Naja and Dryad is:-

 

Stephen!

 

Stephen, please get in touch via abottledrose at gmail dot com with your address.

 

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2nd Birthday Giveaway!

This week marks two years of A Bottled Rose.  To celebrate and to thank you for reading, I’d like to give away hefty spray samples (pictured) of two of my favourite launches of 2017 to one winner.

It’s probably not surprising that both come from indie perfumers, however an honourable mention should be made of Superstitious by Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums, of which I own a travel spray. It’s glorious.

The first giveaway sample is from my bottle of Naja by Vero Profumo which is a captivating concoction of citrusy lime blossom dusted with pollen in the top, suede-like osmanthus in the heart and a base of golden blond tobacco. Of course, this is Vero Profumo so there’s a lot more to it than that, including wisps of smoke and a touch of spice. This is an uncommon tobacco perfume with the texture of suede and layer upon layer of contrast. Despite being full-bodied it never feels too much. Naja is a enthralling chiaroscuro. As is her way, Vero takes structure of classical perfumery and twists it in a new and entirely modern direction. You can read my full review of this bewitching shape-shifter by clicking here.

Second comes Dryad by Papillon Perfumes. This wood spirit starts with bright green galbanum, continuing to wend and wind its way through to the heart of the ancient forest. The best part is the vintage-esque drydown reminiscent of old-school oakmoss.  If you do not normally favour green scents or are yet to find one that you really click with, then I recommend you try Dryad. Where many in this genre lack depth and interest, this is a sophisticated chypre fragrance with an oriental slant and no astringency. My full review is here.

 

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To enter, please tell me in the comments what was your favourite new perfume (or fragrant discovery) of 2017. I was going to limit the draw to the UK because it’s so hard to smuggle perfume out of the country but if you’re based abroad and willing to take the risk your prize might not make it to you, please join in the fun.

The giveaway will close on Monday 15th January. The winner will be generated by Random.org and announced on Wednesday 17th January.

Good luck!

 

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Merry Christmas!

 

Another year is drawing to a close and so is my second year blogging here at A Bottled Rose. To celebrate the blog’s second birthday, I’ll be holding a giveaway for large samples of my two favourite releases of last year. Be sure to come back on the 3rd January for all the details.

Until then I’ll be kicking back over the holidays and taking a break from posting. I’d just like to wish you all a peaceful, happy time over the Christmas break (whether you celebrate or not) and all good things for the coming year ahead.

 

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Image: Vintage Art Deco Christmas card

 

 

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DSH Perfumes: Mini Reviews – Poppy, French Lily, Foxy and Habibi

I was fortunate to receive a package from American artisan perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, containing a fabulous selection of her latest fragrances for me to try. All were released during 2017 and the samples come in the form of little glass roll-ons which work much better than dab vials.

I’ve recently wrote about the one that was my personal highlight, the vintage fur Une Robe de Zibeline.  Today, I’m posting mini reviews of four others that stood out to me.

 

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Poppy

Poppy is a nice surprise because from the name, I was expecting something cheery and lightweight. It’s actually a sophisticated floral oriental with a central carnation accord that isn’t too clove-heavy. Poppy is backed by the seductive kind of musk which I wish perfumers used more often. It’s that kind of muskiness which is reminiscent of the nape of the neck, drawing you closer. It feels sensuous rather than skanky.
French Lily

Now this is a lily to have a spring love affair with. I’ve never clicked with a lily perfume before this one. I can’t bear the scent of stargazer lilies and lily of the valley is usually pretty but a bit too innocent and simplistic for my tastes. French Lily has all the fresh green beauty of muguet but with a sexy Parisian twist.  The balance between purity and carnality is just right, with the lily accented rather than overwhelmed by the musk. Megan in Sainte Maxime felt the same and you can read her full review here.

 

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FOXY

Who doesn’t want to try a perfume called Foxy?! Amber fans may well swoon at this one. It’s a gently spiced amber with an apple whiskey accord and a furry feel. It’s in the same luxurious, gourmand amber category as Ambre Narguile by Hermes. I may not be an amber person but at this time of year I can really appreciate the warming, edible goodness of a well done amber fragrance such as this.

 

Habibi

Habibi is an Arabian term of endearment (‘my beloved’) while the fragrance is an uncommon orange blossom.  Where most perfumes in this category are joyful and sunlit, Habibi is candlelit and sets an exotic, even erotic, mood. Oud and saffron combine to create a leathery orange blossom scent with honeyed facets. Jasmine adds to the seductive, verging on narcotic, feel. The oud is smoothly animalic and it’s good to see it used in a composition where – for once – rose isn’t its counterpart.

 

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Have you tried any of DSH Perfume’s 2017 launches? Are there any past releases I should investigate?

 

 

 

 

 

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Parfum de Maroc & Velvet Tuberose by Aftelier Perfumes

This is a busy but special time at Aftelier Perfumes HQ in Berkley, California. A lot of work is put into their annual Christmas store/party and there are special fragrant creations for the holidays.

Artisan, natural perfumer Mandy Aftel has released two 9ml EdP pocket sprays for Christmas, namely Bergamoss and Parfum de Maroc  (both $60).  Mandy was inspired to re-issue Parfum de Maroc by our Portia. How cool is that?

 

Parfum de Maroc

Notes: Saffron, Galangal, Turkish Rose, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Myrrh

Although it wasn’t originally created for the festive season, Parfum de Maroc is a great fit for this time of year. It was actually inspired by an ancient Moroccan spice recipe ‘Ras el Hanout’ but its combination of rose, orange and spices really enhances the Christmas spirit.

The pretty rose at its heart is made fruity by bitter orange, which in turn is studded with pomander spices of nutmeg and cardamom. There is a lightness to the composition that makes it full of joyful anticipation. The spices are softened beautifully by the rose, making for a gently spicy, gourmand floral.

 

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Velvet Tuberose

Notes : Pink Grapefruit, Grand Fir, Transparent Florals, Tuberose Absolute, Heady White Flowers, Creamy Sandalwood, Damp Earth, Spun Sugar

For tuberose lovers who really want to spoil themselves with something truly special this Christmas, there’s Velvet Tuberose solid perfume ($240).  For some time, Mandy has wanted to create a solid tuberose perfume which highlights its luscious, sumptuous feel and stays close to the body. If you’ve only ever tried synthetic tuberose fragrances, the scent of the natural absolute used here is very different.

Velvet Tuberose emphasises the creamy, luxurious feel of tuberose as well as its more familiar narcotic and sensuous facets. It is supported by forest notes and rare mitti attar: a traditional aromatic essence of baked earth distilled into sandalwood.  I’ve rarely experienced such a gorgeous tuberose fragrance; it’s floral, sweetened and rather romantic.

The carrier for the scent is organic coconut oil and it is presented in a handmade sterling silver compact.

 

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I also have to mention that Mandy has created two new Face & Body Balms in 15ml tins for the holidays because they both sound lovely.

 

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Frankincense Face & Body Balm contains two types of the resin which is known for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties. Rose Face & Body Balm contains Turkish rose absolute and Bulgarian rose wax which are combined with moisturising squalene and nourishing sea buckthorn berry oil ($35 each).

 

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Are you treating yourself to anything fragrant this festive season?

 

 

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Night Out Perfumes – Mood Scent 4

We are four perfume bloggers from France, Holland, England and Wales posting on a different joint subject every couple of months.  Each time we pick a selection of  fragrances to fit a particular mood or occasion. You’ll find links to the other participating blogs at the end of the post. Our previous subjects have been Rainy Day Perfumes, Wedding Guest Perfumes and Mainstream Perfumes.

December marks the start of the party season, which for many will include various get-togethers with friends, family and work colleagues. It therefore seems a good time to discuss today’s topic of Night Out Perfumes.

I’ve chosen five different evening activities and matched them with five appropriate perfumes.

 

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Dining at a Restaurant – Anima Dulcis, Arquiste

A perfume to match a meal has to be gourmand, but I have a hard time with much of this genre of fragrances because I’m not good with high levels of sweetness in my perfume (though I love it a little too much in food). Most gourmands take the sugary route with lots of vanilla, syrup and/or caramel, but that’s not the only option.

Anima Dulcis by Arquiste is a sophisticated chocolate scent inspired by a recipe for spiced cocoa kept by nuns for centuries. The chocolate accord is dark and spiked with spices and chilli. I should mention that I don’t pick up on any cumin if you’re super sensitive to it as I am.

Notes: Sesame Seed, Cinnamon, Oregano, Clove Buds, Cumin, Jasmine, Smoked Chili Infusion, Vanilla, Cocoa and Oriental-Chypre Accord.

 

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A Show at the Theatre – Bois des Iles Parfum, Chanel

If you’re going to be sitting in close quarters with people you don’t know for any length of time, it’s best to choose a perfume that is on the quiet side. This doesn’t mean it has to be dull however. Somewhat sadly, people don’t dress up for the theatre any more but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear a classy perfume.

Choose a fragrance that feels decadent but make it the Parfum concentration so it doesn’t draw more attention to you than what’s happening on the stage. Perfumer Ernest Beaux was inspired to create Bois des Iles for Chanel while at the opera. The sumptuousness of the theatre is reflected in this golden, sandalwood masterpiece.

Notes: Aldehydes, Bergamot, Neroli, Peach, Jasmine, Rose, Lily of the Valley, Iris, Ylang-Ylang, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Benzoin and Musk.

 

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Dancing at a Club – Superstitious, Editions des Parfums Frederic Malle

Conversely to the situation above, at a club anything goes. In fact you need a perfume that is able to compete for attention.  Superstitious is a rarity for me: a loud perfume that I love. Frothy aldehydes laced lavishly with jasmine float on top of a dusty and earthy vetiver.

It’s a lot of fun and I enjoy how the surface layer of peaches and cream contrasts with the dark and dirty base underneath. It starts off elegant but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Superstitious gets increasingly dishevelled as the night wears on.

Notes: Jasmine, Rose, Peach, Amber, Incense, Vetiver, Patchouli and Aldehydes.

 

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A Walk in the City – Rose de Nuit, Serge Lutens

Strolling along London’s Southbank is one of my favourite things to do. During December it’s particularly enjoyable because in the evenings the trees are festooned with twinkling lights and there’s always something festive going on. It’s a great option for a date because you can walk and talk, see what attractions are on offer and take in the views across the River Thames.

For a night like this, a nocturnal, leather-tinged rose seems to fit the bill. The Paris exclusive Rose de Nuit contains red roses and yellow jasmine petals smeared with beeswax and emitting a wanton undercurrent of animalic musk. There’s something raspy about it that creates a bit of a frisson.

Notes: Turkish rose, jasmine, apricot, amber, musk, sandalwood and beeswax

 

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Drinks at a Bar – Liqueur Charnelle, Parfumerie Generale

If you’re going to be imbibing alcohol then a boozy perfume seems the obvious choice. Like gourmands, I rarely come across fragrances with prominent alcoholic notes that I like. I’m drawn to the idea of them but when I put them on my skin they are often too strident.

Liqueur Charnelle by Parfumerie Generale is one of the few boozy perfumes that I really enjoy. The burn of cognac is mellowed by frozen raspberries sprinkled with pepper. It feels hedonistic in a very seductive way and it’s perfect for after-hours, grown-up fun.

Notes: Cognac, Dried Fruits, Lime (linden blossom), Grapes, Caramel, Vanilla, Black Pepper, Pink Pepper, Elemi, Amber, Raspberry, Coumarin and Tobacco. 

 

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Check out the Night Out Perfumes chosen by my fellow fragrance bloggers Megan in Sainte Maxime, I Scent You A Day and L’Esperessence.

 

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Which perfume do you usually turn to for a big night out?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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