Shopping Portia’s Perfume Collection – Photo Essay

Portia did a very brave thing recently. She employed a couple of friends to catalogue her extensive perfume collection. They took two days and came up with a figure of 1,208 bottles.

 

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Not many of us fragrance fanatics know the exact number we have and I dare say even fewer of us would want to publish it.

Some thought it might actually be more considering Portia often refers to her “perfume room” but this hallowed space functions as an office as well as providing storage. This is where the hard work of keeping Australian Perfume Junkies motoring takes place.

The cabinet you can see in the left of the photo below holds boxes with various groupings of fragrance.

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We had a really fun couple of evenings going through some of the boxes on Portia and Jin’s dining room table.

 

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We did some serious spritzing and I was in danger of running out of skin real estate.

 

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I was particularly interested in Portia’s stash of Geurlain and Chanel. There were so many vintage gems. Lots of Mitsouko, Samsara, No.22 and No.5.

 

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I also tried all three Les Eaux de Chanel and liked the herbaceous citrus breeze of ParisDeauville the most.

 

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Mahora Parfum, Guerlain

 

Portia gave me a partial bottle of vintage Miss Dior Parfum when last in London and as it is all but finished, I asked if I could buy one of the many back-ups. I wore it to Portia’s wedding and you can read my review of it here.

I also bought a full bottle of the EDT which I’d never tried before.

 

 

 

 

The perfume that was on my To Buy List at the time was Chanel No.19. I didn’t know which concentration to get so we tried them all. I totally fell in love with an old bottle of the Parfum. The galbanum is so smooth and silky that it made me swoon.

I decided to buy the EDT version along with the Parfum. We thought I could wear both at the same time to give the Parfum some throw. Well, that was my excuse.

 

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No.19 Parfum and EDT

 

Portia kindly provided me with two ‘Gifts With Purchase’. One was Niki de Saint Phalle EDT, which I liked a lot but had only owned a sample of. It’s a gorgeous, powdery green scent that I find easier to wear than Jacomo’s Silences but is in the same vein (my review is here).

The other was Caleche Parfum by Hermes which I’m looking forward to getting to know.

 

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Portia only charged me what she paid for them less what she had used (if any). I got a great deal and did my bit to help reduce the Aussie fragrance mountain ūüôā It was also the perfect way to buy vintage without risk.

 

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Just before I left Australia, Portia very generously gave me a partial bottle of vintage Mitsouko. It’s the EDT which is my favourite concentration. It is glorious.

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They will remind me of Portia and my trip of a lifetime every time I spray.

 

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Are any of these favourites of yours?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Australia Trip Highlights – Photo Essay

 

Clearly Portia’s wedding was the highlight of the holiday but the whole 3 weeks were so jam-packed that this post really contains the highlights of the highlights. I haven’t even included the little train ride through the Sydney Botanic Gardens or the morning spent chatting with Portia and Anna-Maria in the Chinese Gardens at Darling Harbour.

Before I even I arrived, I decided that despite my various ‘limitations’, I’d really go for it on this trip – and I did. No lie-ins, no rest days. I pushed myself and found I could do a lot more than I imagined, socially as well as physically. None of it would have been possible however, without the support of my friends. They mean the world to me and I would never have got to experience Australia without them.

 

 

 

Soon after I arrived, Jin (Portia’s partner, now husband) took me by ferry to a tour of Sydney Opera House. I loved the building and found its history fascinating.

 

 

 

 

 

Our mate Tina G organised our 3 night stay at Emu Apartments in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory. The day we arrived, she had arranged for us to have ‘Dinner Under the Stars’ with a talk through the night sky and a walk around the Field of Lights: a light installation which sadly could not be captured effectively by camera. It was a magical experience from start to finish.

 

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I adore that red earth!

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The landscape was like nothing I’d seen before.

 

Not only did we see Uluru at sunrise and sunset on the same day, but we did a tour of the rock itelf. Some of the aborignal stories the guide shared can only be told at Uluru and they had me enthralled.

 

 

Tina booked us on a hike of nearby Kata Tjuta – a landmark made up of 36 huge domed rocks. I had a couple of stumbles but I survived! Without her knowledge of the area, we might have missed out on this wonder.

 

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Next Portia and I flew to Cairns, Queensland and I got to meet Portia’s wonderful Auntie Tracey. We took a Quicksilver boat excursion to the outer Great Barrier Reef. I had not intended to snorkel out in the deep sea, but I did. We also took the semi-submersible for a closer look at the coral.

 

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Portia in the semi-submersible. Luckily, I wasn’t claustrophobic.

 

 

 

We drove nearly 9 hours from Cairns to Airlie Beach where we stayed at a lovely Airbnb apartment. We spent our one full day on an Ocean Rafting adventure into the Whitsunday Islands. Here I got to see the most stunning beaches and snorkel as close as it gets to the colourful coral which comes down from the beach at Border Island.

 

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The breath-taking Hill Inlet

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The breath-taking Portia Turbo

 

Spending a few days with my friend Natalie – an ex-blogger who now lives in Sydney – was a highlight in itself. I felt happy just being in her company. We visited some of the city’s many beautiful beaches. My favourite was Palm Beach where they film the TV show Home and Away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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World famous Bondi Beach

 

Like many tourists visiting Australia, I really wanted to meet a kangaroo and a koala. I got to do both and see a lot more native animals at Featherdale Wildlife Park.

 

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Feeding a baby kangaroo

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With Jin, Kath, Portia and Victor the koala (who is asleep, not drugged!)

 

Finally, it was a thrill to experience Turbo Trivia live. It was impressive to see Portia in full performance mode, entertaining the players while keeping the quiz on track. She makes it look effortless but I know how much work it takes behind the scenes.

 

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The real incentive for me to spend around 21 hours on planes to get to Australia was the people that live there. Spending time with the friends I had already made and making new ones is what made it super special. Everything else was the most fabulous bonus ever.

 

Have you visited Australia? What should I do on my next visit? 

 

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Portia and Jin Tie The Knot – Photo Essay

With a bit of planning, it worked out perfectly that I was in Australia for the wedding of my dear friend Portia (from Australian Perfume Junkies) to the adorable Jin. The Big Day came on the 28th July, towards the end of my stay, but I wanted to start with it and then post about the rest of the trip.

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Me and Jin

 

 

It was an emotional day, maybe more so because I was there for the run-up to the event and attended a planning meeting the day after I arrived in Sydney. It was held at a local Italian restaurant and the dress code was casual. The informal vibe suited the happy couple perfectly, however a string quartet kept it classy.

 

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Eleven of Jin’s South Korean family had flown in and he was given away by his father. Considering being gay isn’t even acknowledged in South Korea this was a big deal and a testament to what an exceptional person Jin is.

Portia was given away by his cousin, Mark, who flew in just for the day. They all walked down the aisle to Amazing Grace which is Jin’s mother’s favourite hymn. I understand she shed a tear. The Celebrant was a fellow drag queen and¬† long time friend of Portia’s, Sandy Bottom, which made proceedings more personal.

We were very firmly – and understandably – asked to put our phones on silent and not to take photos during the ceremony.¬† A funny thing happened when Jin realised he had not in fact switched his own phone off. This may have been Portia’s faovurite moment of the whole day.

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Portia and Jin with their Best Men and Women

 

The couple said their own vows to each other and exchanged Tiffany diamond earrings. This was harder than they expected because their hands were shaking. It was extremely touching. These two are such a great match.

 

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The rose-cut diamond stud in situ.

 

Speeches took place after the starters. Portia’s BFF Kath gave a moving speech and read out messages from those who were unable to attend. The words from Val the Cookie Queen and her family were received with “aaaahs” around the room.

 

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BFF Kath

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Portia’s Best Man Phil came up with my favourite line of the event “Portia has found the Jin to his Yang.”

 

 

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Portia’s wedding day scent was Rahele by Neela Verneire Creations. Jin, entirely coincidentally, wore Bombay Bling! also by NVC. I went for vintage Miss Dior Parfum which I fell in love with after Portia introduced me it to.

 
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You can tell the food was fabulous from me stuffing my face rather than posing for this photo (top right).

 

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Tina G, Scott and Ainslie Walker 

 

After the cake was cut, Portia and Jin invited us all to have a photo taken with them.

 

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Below is the Aussie crew I hung out with in Paris earlier this year.

 

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Michael wore Sheiduna by Puredistance, while Anna Maria¬† and Scott both wore Shalimar, which is a favourite of Portia’s.

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Me and the married couple.

It was interesting to learn that one gentlemen told Portia he expected the “gay wedding” to be over-the-top and showy. It was the exact opposite, being intimate, warm and relaxed. A Turbo Trivia regular summed it up for me when she said to Portia that she told her mum “You could cut the love in the room with a knife”.

 

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Huge congratulations to Portia and Jin who I know will continue to share lots of laughs and exciting journeys for many, many years to come. I love them to bits.

 

Thanks to Portia, Anna Maria and others for some of these photos. 

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Mood Scent 4: Relaxing Perfumes

Shut out any distractions and put your feet up for a scroll through the perfumes that the Mood Scent 4 turn to when they want to kick back. I’ve chosen four very difference fragrances that all induce a feeling of calm in me. Not everyone uses fragrance for mood-altering purposes but I find it particularly useful for this and regularly choose my Scent of the Day based on how I feel that day, or how I’d like to feel.

 

 

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Slowdive by Hiram Green

Neroli, Orange Flower, Tobacco Flower, Dried Fruit, Beeswax, Tuberose and Resins.

Imagine floating in a warm pool of honey while watching a beautiful orange-tinted sunset. That is the blissed-out feeling you get when wearing Slowdive. This tobacco/honey fragrance is full of the mellow fruitiness and hazy sunlight of early autumn. The languid feeling of summer still lingers but without that season’s oppressiveness. Walk through the orchard at harvest time and look ahead to an evening¬† cosying-up with the comforting scent of woodsmoke in the air. The hint of floral creaminess from tuberose adds to the languor.

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Passage d’Enfer by L’Artisan Parfumeur

White Lily, Frankincense, Aloe Wood, Benzoin and White Musk

I associate quiet incense perfumes, such as this, with peace and a kind of meditative tranquillity. Instead of being restricted to the room where you’ve lit that stick of Nag Champa, you can take that soothing incense with you. Not all incense fragrances are relaxing though. Avignon by Comme des Garcons is an exemplar of the genre but it’s too powerful to enable me to unwind. Passage d’Enfer is a low-key, woody incense with the soft, waxy petals of lily to aid its gentility. You’re entering a cool, musty church and taking a moment to soak up the mystical atmosphere. I wear it on days when I’m feeling the need for a bit of centring.

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Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens 

Iris Pallida, Galbanum, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Clove, Incense, Vetiver, Labdanum, Musk, Benzoin and White Amber

This is the fragrance that descends on me like a calming fog; obliterating all annoyances.¬† It is the one I turn to when life is feeling just a little too harsh and I need something to buffer me from the world. The rooty iris is grounding, beautiful and supremely relaxing to the point of anathesatic. The stark, breath=taking beauty of it is enough to make the earth stop turning for a brief moment. It’s a fragrant form of respite and an escape route to another place where is all is well.

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Rahele by Neela Vermeire Creations

Green Mandarin, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Violet Leaf, Osmanthus, Rose, Magnolia, Jasmine, Iris, Violet, Cedar, Sandalwood, Oakmoss, Patchouli and Leather.

I’ve always found osmanthus to be a dreamy floral scent. Its the aroma of ripe apricots caught on a cool breeze. Rahele is a composition based on osmanthus, accented with other muted florals to create a perfume with the same meditative quality you sometimes get when spending time in nature.¬† It possesses space and air, giving the wearer lots of room to breathe.

 

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While you’re taking time out to do a bit of reading, carry on at Megan In Sainte Maxime, I Scent You A Day and L’Esperessence to see their laid-back perfume choices.

 

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Is there a perfume in your collection that you find relaxing?

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Heading Down Under

I can’t quite believe it, but on Friday I will be flying to Australia for 3 weeks. I’ve never visited the country before but have wanted to for a while, largely because I’m fortunate to have made so many great friends through perfume that happen to live in Sydney. Not least of these is the big-hearted bundle of fabulousness that is Portia of Australian Perfume Junkies.

 

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I’m going at this particular time to attend Portia’s wedding, now that Australia has marriage equality. I’m sick with excitement at the thought of getting to hang out with my pals and see the sights. Portia is generously taking me travelling so I’ll get to see the Whitsunday Islands and The Great Barrier Reef as well as Uluru where our mate Tina G has put together some wonderful plans for the three of us. I’ll also be staying with another ex-perfume blogger who I can’t wait to see again.

Normal service will resume on 6th August with a Mood Scent 4 post. I appreciate your patience in the meantime!

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Perfume has brought me so much, it’s quite extraordinary and I’m truly grateful.

 

 

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That Was the Week That Was: Tunnels, Penalties and the Return of Australian Perfume Junkies

By Val the Cookie Queen of Australian Perfume Junkies

 

I took a short vacation with my husband, aka Nofearkris, last week. Probably not a vacation as you might know it. We went to Lake Garda in Italy, a well known biking Mecca. We took top class electric bikes with us, and if you have never ridden one you have no idea of what you are missing. Allow me to share my first day with you.

 

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After a traffic-free five hour drive down from Salzburg to Riva del Gardo, we settled into our very nice room with an amazing view. So far, so good. We decided to go out for a ride. Chris had been biking in the area several times before and was ready to show me the trails. He said it would be an easy ride. FFS. He has been saying that for 25 years and I believe him every time. So we took a straight up the mountain 6km ride on a dirt and gravel trail. Fine. I loved it.

 

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As we reached the end of the trail, we took a right turn and carried up the road for several kilometers until we realized that maybe it was the wrong way to where we (read Chris) wanted to go. I was pretty wasted suddenly, lack of food and a lot of energy used in the uphill. Turned around and headed back to the original goal, Lake Ledro. I live at a bloody lake, and we were staying on a lake and I really did not care about seeing another lake.

Nevertheless, we rode on and eventually reached the destination. After refueling on spaghetti and Coke, headed back down towards Riva. The sky was a black as coal and we decided to take the asphalt road back, and not go back down the 6km. I was having a good time at this point I must add, feeling great from the food. The euphoria was short lived.

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We suddenly came to a tunnel, and headed straight into it. Shit. The tunnel was 6000m long, bikes NOT allowed in the tunnels and a 500 Euro fine if caught. Luckily we did not know about the fine at this point. I was shit scared and pedalling my bloody arse off. No lights on the bikes, and no light in front of me, nor behind me, Cars flying by beeping and flashing us. Awesome. I hit 42km on my bike, so desperate to get out. Chris, biking behind me at this point, said he had never seen my legs going so fast. Eventually – a light at the end of the tunnel.

As we came out it had started to rain, but to our great joy we saw another tunnel in front of us. Face palm. This one was only 1000 meters, and we knew it came down into Riva. I flew on when suddenly my sunglasses case fell out of my bum-bag which I had stupidly not done up correctly. My hero husband braked immediately and went back and got them. Sheesh.

 

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We were spewed out of the tunnel into a torrential downpour, thunder and lightening, and huge hailstones bouncing off of my helmet. We biked through water 30cm deep in places. Soaked and sodden, but absolutely elated that I had survived this easy ride, we finally arrived back at the hotel.

 

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After dinner we retreated to the hotel and settled in for the second half of the England – Columbia game. I love football and fly the England flag whenever they play, despite the heartbreak it inevitably brings. Thought it was in the bag until the Columbian coke and coffee boys put one in the net in injury time. 1-1. Then there was extra time, followed by the dreaded penalty shootout. My phone going like mad from friends and family. I was more scared than I had been in the tunnel. I hid in the bathroom, door ajar, looking through my fingers. England won the shootout and I nearly had a stroke. Vacation,
day one, was over. I was beginning to unwind.

 

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I wore Herm√®s throughout, one must retain one¬īs style.

 

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We stopped in Val di Sole, Italy, on the way home to watch the UCI World Cup Downhill MTB 2018 qualification runs. Chris asked me to bike up to the start at the top of the course. Hahahahahaha. Nope. I stayed down and watched at the finish line and drank coffee and ate salami sandwiches.

 

 

Australian Perfume Junkies is back up and running. I will slip back into my first and third Tuesday slots there and look forward to the challenge of keeping things fresh! I am ever thankful to Tara and A Bottled Rose for giving me a home whilst APJ got things sorted out. However, the exciting news is I am gonna stay with A Bottled Rose too; going in a somewhat different direction with a “Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen‚Äú monthly post.

 

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Biking Bussis
CQ

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Cedre Sambac by Hermes

When a gaggle of us from around the globe met up for bunch in London ahead of the Art and Olfaction Awards, a highlight was that Val the Cookie Queen shared with us the PR set of five recent Hermessence creations by their in-house perfumer, Christine Nagel.

Read Val’s ravishing review of the two Essences de Parfums here.

 

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I tried Musc Pallida, Myrrhe Eglantine and Cedre Sambac on skin. I didn’t smear enough of the beautiful iris oil, so it was Cedre Sambac that I fell for that day. I was still breathing it in with a sigh at 10pm that night as we sat chatting in the bar of The Tabernacle.

Fast forward a couple of months and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The only jasmine perfume I owned was a 10ml travel spray of Superstitious by Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums, which I only find suitable for special occasions because it’s so bold and glamorous. I had a gap in my collection for an everyday jasmine that would be lovely in the summer.

Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume mentioned that there was someone on a Facebook  group who was selling the travel sprays individually (officially only available in a set of three). I contacted him on impulse and a few days later, the 15ml bottle arrived.

 

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These five new releases were inspired by the Middle East. however this is Christine Nagel and Hermes we’re talking about so there are no clanking clich√©s. The theme is executed with a light hand and style to spare.

I normally avoid perfumes with spice or at the very least, approach them with caution, but the soft spice in Cedre Sambac is what makes it so unique and addictive. The creamy, spiced cedar is much more like malleable Indian sandalwood.

While I said I had room for an easy-to-wear jasmine in my collection, the name Cedre Sambac is pertinent here – this is a cedar base richly embellished with climbing jasmine. This is probably in large part why it suits me so well. Time and time again, I’ve found jasmine soliflores to be too indolic, too clean or too loud. I also tend to find straight-up florals rather dull. Cedre Sambac keeps me on my toes and glued to my wrist.¬†The jasmine used is absolutely exquisite and doubtless high quality. It’s warm and silky as opposed to fresh and blousy.

I’m always banging on about how I’m drawn to contrast in perfumery and I find this marriage of strength and gentleness incredibly attractive.¬†The composition is so expertly blended that the two are inextricably wrapped around each other in a tight embrace.

It may be an Eau de Toilette but Cedre Sambac lasts well on me at a low volume and becomes the most seductive of skin scents after a few hours.

There is a sensual, mildly animalic facet that I only pick up clearly when I get close. I like that this touch of filth is kept intimate and not on display to the whole world. It’s much sexier that way. I believe it’s this dirty little secret tucked into the folds of its cascading rosettes that elevates Cedre Sambac from pleasingly pretty to utterly beguiling.

 

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Have you tried any of the five new Hermessences? If not, do any appeal?

 

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Serge Lutens Wax Samples Winner

In last week’s review of Iris Silver Mist I offered to giveaway the large number of wax samples I was given at the Serge Lutens store in Paris.

 

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The winner of the random draw is:

 

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Congratulations fragoom! Please email me at abottledrose at gmail dotcom with your postal address.

Thanks to everyone who commented and entered.

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Musc Ravageur by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle  

By Val the Cookie Queen of APJ

A Dislike of  Cinnamon

But there is an exception to every rule. 

After my chai post it was interesting to see both in the comments and in private messages that I was not alone in my extreme dislike of cinnamon.
When I bake I prefer to use allspice or nutmeg or cardamom, cinnamon makes everything taste like Christmas or an apple pie.  Dior, one of the Poisons I think, and Diptyque’s L’Eau both have cinnamon in as far as I remember. I don’t have them here to sniff, but remember hating them. Correct me someone if I am wrong.  My mother didn’t like cinnamon, and always made the most delicious baked rice pudding with nutmeg. 
 
Perhaps my aversion to¬†cinnamon is hereditary. ¬†There again I was brought up my first eight years in the States. That might have done the damage. Americans love cinnamon and they chuck it into and onto ¬†every possible thing. Real or¬†artificial¬†flavoured.Toothpaste,¬†mouthwash, chewing gum. If you¬†don‚Äôt watch out they’ll dump a¬†ton of the stuff¬†onto of your¬†overfoamed coffee. ¬†
Do you know Cinnabons? Cinnamon rolls with half a gallon of cinnamon goop injected into each one. A chilled cardiac arrest.  And then you get the sweet potatoes baked in maple syrup, topped with cinnamon.  
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Perhaps it offers comfort, in which case I dread to imagine how much of the stuff they’re gonna be using these days. Let us move on to perfume.¬†
 
Musc Ravageur – The Exception
 
I love the Frederic Malle line.  The old ones, the news ones, the reformulated ones.  It is a stunning collections of perfumes.  
Musc Ravageur was the first one that I bought. A thick and spicy vanilla. Created in 2000 by the great Maurice Roucel, also responsible for Iris Silver Mist and Dans Tes Bras.  
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Not a floral note to be seen.  It is an oriental, and not a musk as we know it.  A glittering citrus opening, captured quickly by a rush of cinnamon, clove and vanilla.  I have learned through trial and error that you need to spray a decent whack of Musc Ravageur, to AVOID the cinnamon.  A light spray seems to encourage the cinnamon to hang around way too long.  
It dries down to an amber, sandalwood, patchouli base, wrapped in vanilla. It is kind of stained and slightly grubby. Not for your average American. They have Cinnamon Burst Cheerios.
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My bottle is a good few years old. I understand the newer version is easier to wear. No, I do not know what that means.
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Licentious Bussis
CQ
 
 
 

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Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens – And A Giveaway

Iris Pallida, Galbanum, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Clove, Incense, Vetiver, Labdanum, Musk, Benzoin and White Amber

 

When I visited the Serge Lutens flagship store in Paris back in April, I was talking to a member of our group about how we loved fragrances that evolve on the skin. Then I promptly purchased a perfume that pretty much stays consistent from beginning to end: Iris Silver Mist. It’s a reminder that we don’t always need twists and turns. Sometimes consistency is what we crave.

 

 

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The sleek black atomiser of ISM I bought in Paris

 

I owned a small decant of ISM maybe 5 years ago and wanted to fall in love with it quite badly. Howver, it was a bit too metallic; as if a cold knife were pressed against my skin. Like a lot of the Lutens fragrances, it appears to have been reformulated since then. It is not only less metallic, but less reminiscent of freshly dug carrots. For once, reformulation had worked in my favour to make Iris Silver Mist considerably more wearable.

While it may not be as evocative of orange vegetables as it used to be, it is still satisfyingly rooty. I love this about it because when I’m in the mood for iris, I want it in all its raspy, rootsy glory.

Released in 1994, I’d forgotten that this Paris Exclusive was composed by Maurice Roucel and not Christopher Sheldrake.

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It’s not worth spending much time pondering the notes list. This is such a cohesive composition it’s hard to unpick and really, why would you? It’s all about that spectacular overdose of orris. Everything else is merely there to enhance and complement that striking effect.

Iris Silver Mist is likely to cause the uninitiated to take a step back. It’s unearthed bulbs, freezing fog, green shoots, rich soil, purple violets and even a crisp ream of paper. The dusting of powder serves to soften its edges somewhat and gives it a silky feel. However, it is still most definitely a statement fragrance rather than a pretty perfume.

On me, it swathes the skin so closely, others’ reactions are not of any concern.

ISM is as much an atmosphere as a scent. It’s introspective and wistful but it is also rarefied and mysterious. Has a name ever fitted a pefume more perfectly? I doubt it. You inhabit it the way you might inhabit an otherworldly mist at dusk.

It doesn’t need to mutate. It just has to be.

I find it more soothing than sombre, though I lean towards the melancholy so maybe I simply feel at home. Lately my nerves have been on edge and Iris Silver Mist has been s supremely calming influence, grounding and pacifying me. It’s a beautiful, ethereal filter through which to view the world.

 

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When people ask me what my favourite perfume is, I now have an answer: Iris Silver Mist.

A Giveaway

When I bought my atomiser the SA at Serge Lutens gave me what I think must be close to a complete set of wax samples. If you’d like them, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do a draw next week and announce the winner on Thursday 28th June.

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