Monthly Archives: June 2016

Dzing! by L’Artisan Parfumeur

 

Bring on the dancing horses…

 

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

Toffee, Candy Apple and Cotton Candy.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

marilyn

 

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

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

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

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

 

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Abysmal Evenings by Paul Schutze

 

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

Behind the Rain

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

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

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

 

Tears of Eros

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

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

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

 

Cirebon

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Schutze

 

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

 

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

 

 

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Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent by Mandy Aftel plus Ancient Resins Body Oil & Hair Elixir By Aftelier Perfumes

 

Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent

Mandy Aftel’s 2001 book Essence and Alchemy had a profound effect on me, as I know it did on many others in the perfume community. It cast a spell that seems to have enchanted me for life and even led to short-lived experiments with my own  oil-based perfumes.

While Essence and Alchemy intended to  give people interested in a perfume a grounding in natural perfumery, Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent  is aimed at everyone.  Mandy was moved and inspired by witnessing the effect re-connecting with scent has on people who didn’t think they liked perfume.

 

 “Watching them discover authentic aromas and their sensual pleasure is profoundly thrilling, like watching a starving person feast on a delicious smell.”

 

That’s not to say that those already addicted to fragrance won’t find plenty to love and learn in this meticulously researched book.  Mandy has collected a large array of antique books and we get to benefit from the knowledge she has accumulated over the years.

 “Indeed entering the world of fragrance is like falling through the looking glass and finding on the other side an everyday miracle, a mystery, a source of wonder. It is truly a transformative experience and one I am passionate to share”.

 

Mandy is beguiled by natural materials and she transmits that feeling so well. You don’t just get the facts in Fragrant but an intimate explanation of why these materials matter to us as human beings; how they connect with us on a deep level and have the potential to transform us. The fact that Mandy has not lost that sense of wonder or passion comes across on every page.

 

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Fragrant goes into much more depth than Essence and Alchemy and cleverly uses a different fragrant material to tell the multi-layered story of perfume and approach it from a number of interesting angles. “Cinnamon” tells the history of the spice trade which is entwined with that of perfume, while “Mint” goes into the use of remedies within the home and the intriguing Books of Secrets. “Frankincense” explores incense and spirituality,  “Ambergris”  focuses on animal derived essences and finally “Jasmine” is a thoughtful meditation on perfume and beauty.

There are recipes at the end of each chapter for very simple oil and alcohol based perfumes and I shall definitely be trying out a few for body oils as I’m mildly obsessed with those.

Aside from the content, the writing is beautiful.  Each sentence has its own gentle rhythm, which makes reading Fragrant an almost meditative experience.

Mandy manages to reignite the passion I felt when I first discovered the world of essential  oils and then perfumery. She has reconnected me to the visceral reason why perfume captivates me so much.

Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent is a gorgeous treasure trove of a book.

 

Ancient Resins Body Oil & Hair Elixir

Ancient Resins Body Oil & Hair Elixir is something I’ve wanted to try for ages so I reverently tipped some of the sample onto my fresh-from-the-bath skin.  I was intrigued to read that Mandy created it as an ode to singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen.

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It’s built around resins that have been prized since ancient times for their spiritual and healing properties. Ancient Resins contains frankincense, Balm of Gilead (poplar buds). benzoin, elemi and labdanum in a base of jojoba and fractionated coconut oil.

Frankincense is a distinctive material and I expected it to dominate but in Mandy’s seasoned hands it practically purrs on the skin, taking a back-seat to the balsams.

Ancient Resins is a seductively balsamic body oil with a subtle vanilla undertone.

What I was particularly pleased about was how quickly it was absorbed by the skin. The oil is not at all greasy so you don’t have to linger for long before dressing. It leaves the skin thoroughly moisturised and softly fragranced. 

Ancient Resins Body Oil & Hair Elixir is a real sensual pleasure both to apply and wear.

 

ancientresins

 

Have you read Fragrant or tried any of the Aftelier body products?

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Tabac Tabou by Parfum d’Empire

A roll in the hay

 

Notes: Immortelle, Tobacco, Narcissus, Honey, Grass and Musk

 

Most tobacco perfumes take a “smoking jacket and gentlemen’s club” approach. However, last year’s Tabac Tabou sought to take tobacco right back to a time when it was used in primitive spiritual practices.

When reading this, I got visions of the Carlos Castaneda books I consumed as a teen. I don’t get a mystical vibe from Tabac Tabou, although it’s none the worse for that. It’s more about golden fields and horses’ manes than Native American pipe ceremonies and Shamanic rituals.

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A few sprays on skin and I’m surrounded by giant heaps of hay. Not bone dry, neatly stacked bales of straw but moist, messy mounds of freshly cut hay with bits of green grass, wildflowers, clumps of earth and a touch of the barnyard hidden within.

I get lots of gorgeous narcissus, the proper stuff, which is more earthy than floral and redolent of cow pats.

In this initial stage, Tabac Tabou tips over into animalic but not quite enough to scare me off.  I’m easily spooked but even I am more than comfortable with this feral aspect, which feels right at home here in the countryside.

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This fragrance is much more about narcissus and hay than pipes and tobacco. It’s the Great Outdoors rather than an air-sealed smoking den.

The immortelle is there but it’s not nearly as prominent as it usually is. It’s a difficult note for me because I usually find Its spiced maple syrup character too gelatinous and overwhelming. To start with, it’s surprisingly sheer and restrained, adding a slight honeyed sweetness but without any weight.

After the opening half an hour Tabac Tabou becomes less green and more honeyed as the animalic note fades away. It warms up and becomes a little humid, as if we’ve moved from the field into the barn.  It is Extrait de Parfum strength and though it doesn’t project far on me, it does feel like an extrait in terms of longevity.

I may not find it smoky or remisicent of tobacco leaves, but I love narcissus as a material and am happy to see it highlighted here by perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato. It’s so deep, complex and full of nature wild and free, I can see this one appealing to horse lovers as much as tobacco lovers.

I’ve been on the look-out for the perfect narcissus perfume since forever. However, on balance, even if the honeyed sweetness is low-key and slow to develop, I’d still need it to be drier in order to invest in a bottle.

All the same, Tabac Tabou is a fabulous fragrance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Visiting Liz Moores at Papillon HQ – Photo Essay

Artisan perfumer – and friend – Liz Moores of Papillon Perfumes is still recovering from major shoulder surgery. However, lovely Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume and I had been planning to visit her together for the longest time and as all our diaries were in alignment last Saturday, Liz was happy for us to come down to her home in the New Forest.

 

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An added bonus was that it was Vanessa’s birthday so it was great to be able to see her on the actual day and celebrate it with her at Liz’s.

We arrived around midday and had a welcome mug of tea outside in the hazy sunshine, accompanied by Liz’s two very friendly dogs, Sally Muff Cake and Max. Liz is an animal lover and just some of the total roll call feature in the photos.

 

 

Liz is not only an exceptionally talented perfumer but also a excellent cook. She treated us to a delicious lunch of asparagus, pancetta and lemon risotto followed by a chocolate cake adorned with a candle and presented to Vanessa with a rendition of “Happy Birthday”.

It was a pleasure to finally meet Liz’s two youngest children, the adorable Daisy and the highly creative Rowan.  Liz’s partner Simon, who as well as having his own business deals with Papillon’s packaging and crunches the all important numbers, also joined us for a time. Simon collects snakes which are stored in their drawers (see below) and has a couple of cockatiels.

 

It tells you how much we had to chat about that we didn’t get into the studio until after 6 o’clock. Once there we had a great time sniffing lots of different perfume materials which included naturals such as white frankincense, tiare, Persian rose and vanilla. Plus the hycraceum (Africa Stone) used in Salome, which Liz has to loosen up by warming it between her thighs. I joked that if she advertised this fact she could charge extra.

 

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Salome features “thigh-warmed” hyraceum

We also tried a number of aromachemicals including a chocolate one used in Angel which wasn’t commercially available for a long time. It was fun to try the fruit aromachemicals because they were so startling realistic. These included Granny Smith apple, cassis and Mirabelle plum.

 

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Below is ambergris which has been macerating in perfumer’s alcohol for a year and still has another year to go. Liz adds two drops of the tincture to finish off every bottle of Tobacco Rose.

 

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All Papillon’s perfumes are handmade here and take up to 3 and half months to macerate.

 

 

Liz decided to delay the release of White Moth for various reasons and we tried a recent mod. It was very different to the version I tried well over a year ago. That was more leathery while this was richer with a nectar-like sweetness. Notes include tiare, frangipani, heliotrope, beeswax and orange as well as champac and black tea. It’s a lovely  composition and will be particularly wonderful in warm weather.

 

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Liz checks on her Angelique compound

Even more excitingly, we got to sample an unnamed work in progress which is chypre with a zesty citrus top and a sexy costus drydown. Unfortunately costus is not IFRA compliant so Liz needs to reconstruct that affect herself  (she prefers to create without restrictions in mind and then find solutions once she’s come up with something she’s happy with). She’s also waiting on a narcissus absolute to add to the mix and I have no doubt the finished product will be utterly fabulous. I impatiently await its release.

Before we left, Liz decanted a little of her precious orris butter for me and I extravagantly smeared some onto my skin. It was divine.

 

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My orris butter!

I have so much admiration as well as affection for Liz. She has no formal training in perfumery and has bumped up against numerous obstacles on her way to creating a top quality collection to be immensely proud of.  She has spent so long ensuring each perfume is carefully structured with the perfect balance of materials and this shows in the extraordinary level of refinement she achieves.

 

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Huge thanks to Liz for letting us descend on her while she’s still not yet back to full strength and for sharing her home and studio with us.

You can read my mini-reviews of Anubis, Tobacco Rose and Angelique here and my full review of Salome here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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