Summer Break

Just checking in to let you know there won’t be a post on the blog for a few weeks. It’s time to take a break. I’m off  to Majorca on Monday for a lazy holiday by the sea which is something I haven’t done in ages and feel I really need.

For the last few years I’ve done city breaks and traveled with hand luggage only. The result of suddenly not having a restriction on liquids is that I’ve started throwing whole bottles into the case with abandon. Hopefully I’ll be able to lift it. I haven’t even started on the perfume yet…

 

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If you’re heading off yourself, have a wonderful time and if you’re not, I hope you manage to do something fun for yourself before the end of August. We all need a break from the daily grind now and again.

Back soon!

 

 

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My Dehydrated Skin Saver – Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex by NIOD

I’ve been using hyaluronic acid products for a few years now to try and combat skin dehydration. I’ve tried a couple of different brands and gone through tube after tube, bottle after bottle.

Throughout this time, I never saw a noticeable difference in my skin although it felt good straight after application. I was convinced it must be doing something though. It’s one of the few products that has been proven to plump and hydrate the skin and I am forever hearing how it can ‘attract up to one thousand times its weight in water’.

I persevered with hyaluronic acid, even as my skin deteriorated last autumn and I developed an extremely dehydrated, flaky patch on my cheek. My skin had become ‘compromised’.

Then after becoming intrigued by The Ordinary, I read on the DECIEM website that the effectiveness of  hyaluronic acid to penetrate the skin depends on the size of its molecules. The Ordinary’s offering has three different sizes of molecule but the site actually points customers to sister brand NIOD for a more advanced formulation. Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex (MMHC) has – count them- 12 different sizes of molecule as well as a precursors to hyaluronic acid.

 

“Many products have used HA to claim hydration benefits, but HA is too large of a molecule to penetrate the skin and instead sits on the surface and can draw moisture out of the skin making the surface feel soft and hydrated temporarily.” – The Ordinary website

 

Therefore when I visited the London DECIEM store with Val the Cookie Queen in mid-May I decided to go straight for the big guns and purchased the more expensive NIOD version (£25 for 15ml or £38 for 30ml).

 

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I cracked open NIOD’s MMHC and applied a few drops after cleansing as instructed.

After one day there was a marked improvement, after two days the dryness was almost gone, after three days I was so happy to get my smooth skin back I can’t to tell you. I know it was the Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex that made the difference because  I hadn’t changed anything else.

Hyaluronic acid had finally lived up to its hype and done the business.

Since then NIOD have released MMHC2 with an improved formula, which they are calling ‘the second generation’ of MMHC. I will be purchasing it as soon as my bottle runs out.

 

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How have you got on with hyaluronic acid products?  Do you recommend anything else from DECIEM brands?

 

 

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Anna Zworykina Perfumes – Mini Reviews

To continue the all-natural theme of recent weeks, let me introduce you to Anna Zworykina, a Russian artisan perfumer with a Phd in Biochemistry. She has been making fragrances for 15 years and kindly sent me a selection of EdP samples to try, all of which I found to be distinctive and well-structured.

As you may be aware, Luca Turin isn’t exactly a fan of natural perfumery but even he was converted by Anna’s work.

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Shiny Amber

Notes: Ginger,  lemon, bergamot, yuzu, jasmine,  champaka, benzoin, labdanum, vanilla, tonka bean, ambergris

Ambers are usually for cosying up with in the winter but Shiny Amber is about the gifts of summer; bright sunshine and ripe fruit. It’s a lemony, citrus amber with lots of lift and radiance – not qualities you normally associate with amber fragrances. It makes for a nice twist on this classic genre and those fond of amber perfumes should welcome one that’s wearable in warmer weather.

 

Apple Orchard

Notes: Galbanum, blackcurrant bud, jasmine, neroli, champaka, roses, lavender, oregano, cognac, cardamom, angelica, oakmoss, vetiver, labdanum, vanilla.

An olfactory evocation of autumn, Apple Orchard is a fruity/smoky fragrance rather than a straight-up apple perfume (as you can see from the notes).   It speaks softly of dimming light, misty mornings and bonfires of fruitwood. It cleverly evokes that wistful feeling I often have in those months, with their long, leaning shadows. I find Apple Orchard  quietly enchanting.

 

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My Vanilla

Notes: Black pepper, clove, galbanum, elemi, juniper berry, nutmeg, jasmine, cumin, orange blossom, cardamom, cedarwood, vanilla, tonka bean, sandalwood, orris, agarwood.

It seems Anna prefers her vanilla to be tempered and low calorie which is no bad thing in my book. My Vanilla opens with green grass and settles into spice over vanilla.  Cumin is most prominent on my skin, but that is a note I’m sensitive to – probably because I have issues with it.

 

Winter Blush

Notes: Oranges, roses, jasmine, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, iris, balsam Peru, benzoin, rosewood, cedar, labdanum.

Winter Blush is a thoroughly joyful perfume. It has the aroma of the festive season but has been done in a fresher, brighter style than a lot of Christmassy fragrances. It’s a lightweight gourmand with lots of juicy tangerine which has enough tartness to cut through the gentler accords of chocolate and spice.  Winter Blush becomes pleasingly vanillic/balsamic in the base.

 

Cuir de Russie

Notes: Tar leather, tobacco, wormwood.

If you’re a leather fragrance fan you’re very likely to love this. Cuir de Russie is very much in the classic birch tar leather mold. It starts out with a blast of pine needles, thick tar and black smoke. While calming a little, it manages to retain those salty, meaty facets and chewy texture throughout. It’s easy to imagine the Russian forest where birch tree bark was melted into tar. This Cuir de Russie has plenty to get your teeth into, with a nice amount of throw and great lasting power.

 

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There are about 30 fragrances in all on the Anna Zworykina Perfumes website so if you your interest has been piqued by the above, do check out the sample sets. Anna divides her collections into Leather, Gothic, Floral, Warm & Enveloping and Landscape.

Are you drawn to any of the fragrances mentioned? Are you open to trying all-natural perfumes?

 

 

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Mainstream Perfumes – Mood Scent 4

Welcome to the latest instalment in the Mood Scent 4 blogging project. (If you missed the previous posts they were about Rainy Day Perfumes and Wedding Guest Perfumes). Today, my fellow bloggers and I are sharing our mainstream perfume picks.

Ninety-nine percent of the time I write about – and wear – fragrances other than those from the mainstream. When I fell down the rabbit-hole I snubbed my previous ‘duty free’ choices in favour of niche and high-end boutique fragrances such as Les Exclusifs de Chanel.

Now I’m coming full circle. The niche perfumes – generally starting at £150 for 50ml – are becoming more and more unremarkable. I’m starting to re-assess and re-appreciate what is available on the high street.

I’ve limited my choices below to the fragrances available at my local Beauty Base.

 

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Infusion d’Iris L’Absolue EDP by Prada

Notes: Neroli, orange blossom, iris, mastic, benzoin, tonka bean, vanilla and white musk.

The original Infustion d’Iris is great; a wash of light blue with a flash of orange and tints of green. However my preferred version is L’Absolue which takes it to whole other level. As the name suggests, the iris is beefed-up with a nice dose of rootiness and an improved amount of throw. I love iris but it’s hard to find high quality, straight-up versions at your local perfume emporium. This is a total winner.

 

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Agent Provocateur (AP Signature) by Agent Provocateur 

Notes: Saffron, rose, jasmine, magnolia, coriander, vetiver, amber and musk.

My sister used to wear this and it was fantastic on her. Agent Provocateur is a fresh, blush rose wrapped in a big, fluffy cloud. It’s pleasing when a perfume fits the brand perfectly, the way it does here. The scent is a boudoir mist of rosy powder and femininity. I don’t get anything animalistic from it. To me it’s a coquettish, girlie perfume, in the best way. If you search online, you can get it for a song.

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No.19 EdP by Chanel

Notes: Green notes, bergamot, rose, iris, vetiver, oakmoss and leather.

No.19 is old-school chic at its finest. Can you think of two more rarefied materials than iris and galbanum? The soft aldehydes at early doors settle down to a gently powdery finish. When you put this on, don’t be surprised to find yourself standing a little taller. I liked the Poudré version but it lasted all of 30 minutes on me. Apparently the EdP is not merely a different concentration but a reinterpretation. The high street doesn’t get much classier.

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Eau des Merveilles by Hermes

During summer, it’s tempting to reach for a fragrance which makes you feel like you’ve spent the day on the beach. Eau des Merveilles combines salty skin with joy inducing orange. The scent dries down to a hollowed-out woody amber which takes its lead from ambergris rather than oriental amber. I find its tenacity a little wearing after a while but it’s a good alternative to the usual coconut-heavy, ‘resort perfumes’.

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Encre Noire by Lalique

There are quite a few great mainstream fragrances aimed at men, such as Terre de Hermes and Dior’s Eau SauvageEncre Noire is a forest vetiver loved by women as well as men. It’s wonderfully aromatic, opening up in a glade of pine trees before letting the smoky vetiver take centre-stage. You can read my full review of this and the flanker Encre Noire A L’Extreme here.

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Don’t miss the mainstream scents chosen by my pals at L’Esperessence, Megan In Sainte Maxime and I Scent You A Day.

 

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Which mainstream perfumes do you think are of note?

 

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Moon Bloom, Shangri La and Dilettante by Hiram Green

When artisan perfumer Hiram Green kindly offered to send me fragrance samples from his home in The Netherlands, the first one I thought of was Arbolé Arbolé. I’d heard great things about it but as it turned out, this was the one that suited me the least (I find orientals tricky). Therefore I’ll refer you to Val the Cookie Queen’s wonderful post about it on APJ here.

Below are my thoughts on the other three, all-natural, Eau de Parfums.

 

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Shangri La 

Notes: Citrus, peach, jasmine, rose, iris, spices, vetiver, and oakmoss. 

Shangri La is Hiram Green’s interpretation of the classic chypre, a century after Coty started the genre with the original of the same name.

Of course this is a modern version but its genre is recognisable straight away.  There’s peachy citrus undercut by a background of oakmoss, which instantly reminds me of  Mitsouko.  You should give Shangri La a try if you already love the iconic Guerlain or you want to but don’t, because this is much more accessible.  It still has the humid feel and oakmoss of Mitsouko but the peach is much more juicy.  Shangri La possesses that full-bodied sophistication that is so characteristic of chypres.

 

Dilettante

Notes: Orange Flower, Petitgrain, Orange Essential Oil

I’m always hopeful when trying an orange blossom perfume but all too often they are overly soapy or indolic. However Dilettante is pitch perfect. Within the first few seconds alone I get all the aromatic aspects of the orange tree: zesty fruit, green leaves and lush blossom.

Orange blossom, pettigrain and orange essential oil are such fantastic natural materials that they are ideal for an all-natural perfume. You really don’t need much else. Dilettante is smooth, sunlit and full of orange flower goodness, becoming mellower yet richer over time.  It moves through all the shades of orange from bright flame through to burnished gold. It’s a simple composition that just works. Summer is exactly the right time to try it too: no other type of fragrance is so full of liquid sunshine. Yum.

 

Moon Bloom

Notes: Tuberose Absolute, Jasmine Absolute, Ylang Ylang, Coconut, Leafy Greens, Spices and Resins.

I own some tuberose absolute and I much prefer it to the often headache inducing synthetic version. It is fresh, narcotic, tropical, buttery and fleshy, as well as deeply sensual. You get all of that in Moon Bloom as well as the facet that smells like bubblegum. Admittedly tuberose is not my favourite material but I appreciate it for how incredibly striking and complex it is.  Here it’s complemented with other white florals and fresh green notes.

In contrast to most tuberose perfumes, Moon Boom hums at a low register, intensifying its sultry feel. The coconut is not immediately obvious but adds a creamy texture and rounds out the composition while also accentuating the exotic feel, stopping short of beachy. This is a nocturnal fragrance for hot and humid nights and a must-try for tuberose fans.

 

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None of these three fragrances suffer from the dual criticisms of flatness or short-life which are usually leveled at natural perfumery. All are available in a 50ml bottle and 10ml Travel Size (hurrah!).

Have you tired any of Hiram Green’s perfumes? If not, do any of the above pique your interest?

 

 

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Curious EdP and Perfume by Aftelier Perfumes

Notes: Tobacco, Hay, Smoke, Orange Leaf, Siam Wood and Dirty Orange.

 

A project that has been three years in the making has finally come to fruition: the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents is now open in Berkeley, California.  Here, artisan perfumer Mandy Aftel shares her personal and unique collection of aromatic materials and antique books.

Visitors can experience over three hundred natural essences and connect with the ingredients that have inspired people over centuries, but which are sadly used much less in perfumery today.

 

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The ambergris exhibit: Archive of Curious Scents

 

The atmosphere of the Archive was the inspiration behind Curious, the latest release from Aftelier Perfumes. There is even an exhibit that breaks down the fragrance note by note so that visitors can see how the essences weave together to create the finished scent.

 

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The camphor-like, leafy opening of Curious suggests bracing air and pine forests.  As it settles, there is the scent of green saplings and creamy white woods over a beguiling mixture of moss and ash. ‘Dirty orange’ is a great descriptor because while the orange leaf is verdant and fresh at the start, it later morphs into a spiral of peel rubbed with earth. I think it’s the orange nuances which lift Curious and give it an extra dimension.

The drydown is a smoky botanical musk; unlike anything I’ve tried before.  The smokiness isn’t tarry or rubbery the way it is in leather fragrances – or indeed the fantastic Vanilla Smoke.  Imagine instead slender grey plumes twisting skywards from a woodland fire.

Mandy thinks of tobacco absolute as nature’s musk and combined with hay absolute the way it is in Curious, creates an aromatic muskiness without the laundry sheet or skanky facets often present in synthetic musks. It drapes across the skin and melds with your own chemistry.

It’s redolent of the outdoors while possessing the texture of fur and the way it plays with the animal and the vegetal is compelling. As usual, Mandy has made a composition that is as clever as it is rewarding.

Unlike many smoky/musky perfumes, Curious has an enigmatic quality that makes it beautifully mysterious.

When comparing the EdP and the Perfume, I would say the EdP is airier with more swirling smoke, while the Perfume is more potent but sits closer to the skin. Out of the two, the EdP is more my style, but I can see plenty of people soaking up the depth of the Perfume.

In either formulation, it is a fascinating fragrance in the truest sense of the word. Its complexity and presence hold my attention with ease. It absolutely does trigger your curiosity as you try and get a handle on exactly what you’re inhaling.

If Curious is what the Archive smells like then it must be a feast for the senses as well as an enthralling exploration into the history of perfumery.

 

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Do you like the idea of a smoky musk perfume? Would you love to visit the Archive of Curious Scents one day?

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Read Any Good Books Lately?

 

During the spring I went on a mini detour into Greek Mythology. Of course, it all started with a book…

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This is such a gorgeous book in terms of both the writing and the story. Miller re-imagines the story of Achilles from the point of view of his childhood friend. Exiled and awkward, Patroclus is mesmerised with the beautiful golden boy and half-God, Achilles. He finds his feelings are reciprocated when he follows him to Mount Pellion and then into the Trojan War. This is first and foremost an uncommon love story.

 

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Greek Myths by Kathryn Waterfield and Robin Waterfield

The Song of Achilles made me curious to learn more about the Greek myths. This book appeared to be pretty accessible which is what I was after. It’s not too difficult to follow at first, but my goodness, the Greek myths contain a cast of thousands.  I found it impossible to keep track, not least because many of the names are a mouthful to non-Greek speakers. However, it gave me a good idea of the main protagonists and stories.

 

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (Canongate Myths Series Book 2)

Reading the Greek myths often feels like a never-ending succession of sex and violence (and not in a good way). Needless to say, women tend to get a raw deal, so it was good to find a book that gives voice to the women who are used and abused.

Much is made of Odysseus’s wily character but what happened to his wife Penelope while he was off fighting the Trojan War and undertaking his legendary odyssey? Here Penelope looks back from her place in the underworld during the present and tells her side of the story.

I enjoyed it and liked the wry asides about modern life.

 

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For The Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

I started a sample of this take on the Trojan War/Helen of Troy story with once again, a female slant, but didn’t go as far as to download the book. Please let me know below if you’ve read it or any of the original Classical literature such as The Iliad.

 

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

I enjoyed The Hobbit and felt prepared to tackle The Lord of Rings trilogy. I enjoyed the chapters I read but I was going at a snail’s pace. I concluded this was because it didn’t seem to fit the hot, sunny, summer weather. After barely progressing over the course of a month, I decided to shelve it until the autumn.

 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

This book proved I wasn’t in a reading slump because I whizzed through it. Admittedly it’s a quick YA read with short chapters, but I loved the characters. It’s the tale of two teenage friends, Dante and Ari, growing up in El Paso during the late 1980s. Although it’s a simple story, I found it beautiful.

 

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We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie    

This is a slightly extended version of Chimamanda’s wonderful TEDx Talk. It’s only 65 pages and available on Kindle for 99p. I must read one of her novels soon. Please let me know below if you have a favourite or can suggest the best one to start with.

 

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What have you been reading lately? Any good reads to recommend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Encre Noire and Encre Noire A L’Extreme by Lalique

Notes: Cypress, Vetiver Bourbon, Vetiver Haiti, Woods and Musk.

I’ve never been one to wear ‘masculine fragrances’ or perfumes centred around veitver. However Encre Noire – black ink – has always held a certain fascination for me. I know  a lot of women love it and I like the way the bottle resembles a bottle of ink.

 

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A little while ago I got samples of the original EdT (released in 2006) and one of the flankers, Encre Noire à l‘Extrême EdP (released last year).

 

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The first half of Encre Noire is focused on cypress which is like being dropped into the midst of a dense, dark green grove. It has the feel of an aromatic incense perfume, like Armani’s Bois d’ Encens.  The veitver gently wafts up from underneath, like earth permeating a layer of pine needles lying on the forest floor. What’s great is that the cypress lasts right through to the base.

Swampy vetiver accords turn my stomach; a kind of grassy ditch water aroma that I can’t abide. Encre Noire thankfully doesn’t have that, even when the cypress eventually fades and the vetiver comes into full effect. It has more of the smoky kind of veitver, which is probably down to the inclusion of vetiver bourbon.

What I do like about vetiver is its strength.  Wearing Encre Noire, you can feel that characteristic certainty – an unshakeable self belief that will get you where you want to go. At the same time, it has a head-clearing quality which would indeed make it ideal to wear while writing or whenever you need to focus.

 

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Encre Noire à l’Extrême EdP

 

Encre Noire à l‘Extrême opens up at a much lower pitch without the deep green waft of cypress. It’s dark and dusty from the start, like an unexplored attic in a crumbling mansion.

While the original Encre Noire is centring yet expansive, Encre Noire à l‘Extrême is more intense. It’s also more intimate and rather seductive with its light veil of powdered musk. The hazy, dry woods present are just as soft and malleable.

The two iterations converge in the base where they are reduced to tones of grey, like a charcoal drawing.

Encre Noire à l’Extrême conjures up darkness in a way that is soothing and mysterious rather than alienating. Imagine being relieved when night falls because you can take off your mask and finally be your true self.  It’s a sophisticated vetiver which has been polished and stripped of its vegetal harshness. More than ink, it makes me think of grey mist; the outline of a stranger in the gloom.

 

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Both incarnations of the fragrance have bucketfuls of atmosphere, especially for mainstream offerings. I’d recommend giving it a try if you like intriguing, dry scents which feel grounding. It’d make a good choice for those who want an alternative to the sugary confections filling up the shelves in the high street.

 

How you get along with vetiver? Have you tried any version of Encre Noire?

 

 

 

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Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent – Somerset House, 24th June 2017

When I first heard about the perfume exhibition at Somerset House I wasn’t that bothered about going. I scanned the list of perfumes to be showcased and didn’t feel tempted. I was totally missing the point though. This isn’t just about the individual perfumes, it’s about interacting with fragrance in a new way.

Rather than a traditional exhibition, this is an interactive experience that seeks to open up your mind and give context to what you’re smelling, as well as chart the evolution of scent through recent times.

“Multi-sensory exhibition featuring ten extraordinary perfumes and their pioneering creators, who have radically changed our perceptions of fragrance over the last 20 years.”

I’m grateful to Megan of Megan In Sainte Maxime for suggesting we went along last Saturday. It was lovely to get to hang out with her and we had a lot of fun.

I know it’s only just opened but it was nice to see a queue of people waiting to go in for the 3pm session.

SPOILER ALERT: I mention which perfumes the rooms represent, so if you are planning on going along, you may want to read this post after you’ve been.

 

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The exhibition’s content was selected by Senior Curator Claire Catterall and fragrance expert/writer Lizzie Ostrom (Odette Toilette).

 

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The first room was a brief run through some landmark scents of the last century starting with L’Origan by Coty from 1905 and ending with CK One in 1994. They included Chypre de Coty, Shocking, Vent Vert, Youth Dew, Georgio and Opium.

 

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Megan sniffing L’Origan by Coty

 

At the start of the 10 perfume rooms we were offered a piece of card and a pencil to write down our thoughts on each scent. What an excellent idea!

 

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Room 1 had a trough of small dark beads strewn with black balls that had scent inserted into them. One of the staff told us we’d go through the first 5 rooms before we’d find out what the scents were and this process would then be repeated with a further 5.

The first perfume turned out to be Comme des Garcons 2 by Mark Buxton which aims to capture the scent of ink used in the Japanese art of Calligraphy. CdG were ground-breaking in developing personal fragrances inspired by synthetic substances.

 

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Those beads felt nice!

 

Room 2 held a big metal cube with vents at each corner, releasing the fragrance. Maybe it was the delivery system which made me note down “hot radiator” but there was a definite whiff of paint and dust. The actual perfume was Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 which I didn’t recognise at all.

 

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Next, in room 2, was a suspicious looking rumpled bed in a dimly lit room and I quickly twigged that this was Secretions Magnifiques by Etat Libre d’Orange. What at first seemed like balled-up tissues impregnated with scent, were attached to the covers and I had to push myself to pick one up and sniff it. There was that stomach-churning aroma of bodily fluids and metal mixed with white flowers.

 

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In sharp contrast to the previous room, Room 3 had billowing white linens at the windows and a dream-like video playing on the wall. I recognised Olivia Giacobetti’s En Passant the moment I lifted one of the lengths of white fabric to my nose. A lovely wistful scent of fresh, watery lilacs by Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums.

 

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Room 4 had little scented bean bags and two purple chaise longues which were being hogged by a reclining couple. The perfume was very faint on the fabric but I got an iris-tinted powder. It turned out to be Olfactories Purple Rain by Prada: a high-end reworking of their Infusion d’Iris perfume.

 

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After the fifth room the fragrances were revealed with descriptions, notes and a chance to try them again.

 

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The fragrance I found the most intriguing was up next, although the room wasn’t quite as inspiring. There was a narrow shelf which seemed to be decorated like a desert floor the day after hipsters had been camping out – like a scene from Burning Man. The aroma on the little pyramids was smoky and dusty but I also noted pine needles. There was a cool vibe created by a speaker playing an American voice talking about perfume over the top of a Velvet Underground-style soundtrack.

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El Cosmico by D S & Durga contains notes of dry shrubs, desert pepper, pinyon pine, creosote, dry sand accord, oak and khella.

 

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Scented bean bags were used again in room 7 which contained bark benches and a tree stump. The scent was not too dissimilar to that of the previous one to my nose but nowhere near as complex.  I noted down that I wouldn’t want to wear it as personal fragrance but would love it as a scented candle.  It was Charcoal by Lyn Harris for Perfumer H.

 

 

 

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Charcoal scented bean bag.

 

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Next we were met by a room of people studiously painting away in silence. There were little jars of what Megan correctly identified as L’ Air du Desert Morocain by Andy Tauer and you were encouraged to paint your impressions of it.

 

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We had the most fun in the Avignon room. With its hanging black, leather-look pouches and little cubicles, Megan understandably got a 50 Shades vibe. It transpired that it was actually seeking to represent confession booths at Catholic church. Through the lattice-work in the walls we could hear who I assume was perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, talking about the composition process.

 

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In Room 10 you picked out a scented cuddly toy and had your photo taken with it. We concentrated so much on selecting our toy and getting our photo taken (which wasn’t easy as there didn’t appear to be a flash or countdown) that we didn’t spend much time focusing on the scent.

It was Dark Ride by Xyrena which seeks to replicate the aroma of theme park water rides and includes notes of chlorine and fog machines. Our picture was sadly too appalling for public consumption.

 

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As before, the next room contained information about the perfumes in the last 5 rooms.

 

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It was great that at the end of the interactive experience there was a chance to talk to some perfumers from Givaudan. They were also doing demonstrations of how to put together an accord. People were really interested and one woman even asked if they had any civet for her to smell.

 

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There were some individual ingredients to try from the previous 10 perfumes.

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They were collecting and taking photos of people’s notes at the end.

 

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Of course, you exit via the gift shop but even this was a cut above the rest. You could buy all but one of the perfumes in the exhibition (which is exclusive to Selfridges, possibly Purple Rain?) and lots of fragrance books, as well as a booklet about the exhibition and large scented postcards.

 

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You could tell it was a well thought out project with a great deal of time and effort put into the details and presentation, all with the aim of eliciting maximum engagement.

They’ve done a brilliant job of compelling us to interact with fragrance differently; to think about what we’re smelling and what associations it brings up before discovering the name, brand and notes.

Visitors really seemed to be enjoying themselves, comparing their thoughts and making the most of the interactive opportunities. I was totally impressed.

 

Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent is on at Somerset House until 17th September.

 

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I got to meet another online perfume pal for the first time!

 

What do you think about the exhibition and the perfumes selected? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. 

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Italy, Friendship and Fornasetti

 

I know I said I wasn’t going to post this week but I couldn’t wait to share my recent trip.

It was wonderful, partly because Italy is such a fabulous place but mainly because of the people I was with. Ines, Asali and Natalie are all truly kind, supportive and inspiring women.  It was a real joy to finally meet Ines (read her lovely write-up here) and Asali (who designed my gorgeous blog header) and to get to know Natalie better.

We not only saw Bologna, where we were based, but also took the train to Parma for the day.

Sadly, Ines and Asali had to leave before our final expedition to Venice on Monday.

 

Bologna

 

 

Parma

 

 

Venice

 

 

I came home feeling extremely fortunate, but also with something I’ve wanted to own for a while now.

 

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Fornaetti is an iconic Italian homewares brand, producing room fragrances, plates, cushions etc.

You may have seen their scented candles, even you didn’t know the name. The images are very striking and usually quirky. I guess they are something that you either find  appealing or you don’t. For me, they are actually much more about the ceramic holders than the scent of the candle inside. They are a thing of beauty and wit – a winning combination.

What had put me off until now was the price. The smaller 300g ones are generally £140. However, visiting Italy gave me the perfect excuse. We were browsing a clothes shop in Parma when I noticed the candles. There were about 8-10 of them and I thought they would make the perfect souvenir of this awesome experience.

 

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The shop offered a little money off and when Natalie worked out the conversion rate (£113), that swung the deal.

I took a little while to make up my mind but I went with the image that spoke to me the most.  This one of soprano Lina Cavalieri dressed as a medieval knight – called “Armatura” –  fits me to a T. As Natalie said “It’s dark and empowering”.

 

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The candle’s scent is called ‘Otto’ which was created in collaboration with perfumer Olivier Polge, who in recent years has composed Misia and Boy for Chanel.  The fragrance was inspired by the Mediterranean herbs found in and around the Fornasetti home in Milan. It has notes of thyme, lavender, cedarwood and incense and was created in Grasse, France, while the porcelain holders are made and hand-decorated in Italy.

 

 

I’ve been piecing together my own metaphysical suit of armour for a couple of years now and the idea of a fighter with femininity resonates greatly with me. It will be a nice reminder of the strong women that are my friends and for who I will travel the earth to see, as well as my own inner warrior.

 

 

Do you like Fornasetti or scented candles in general? Is there a decorative object that you’ve long lusted after?

 

 

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Filed under Perfume Friends, Perfume Shopping, Travels