Monthly Archives: August 2016

Damn Rebel Bitches by Urban Reivers

Notes: Pink Peppercorn, Blood Orange, Malt, Clary Sage nad Hazelnut

 

The week before last, I went up Edinburgh to stay with my fab friend Davina during the Fringe Festival. I’d never visited the city before and was totally won over by it. The centre is compact enough to get around comfortably on foot and as my eloquent and observant pal Vanessa put it, Edinburgh is “uniquely characterful”. The architecture had me captivated and I felt right at home. I rarely visit a city and imagine myself living there, but I did with Edinburgh.

As for the Festival, thanks to Davina, I was lucky enough to see a great range of fascinating acts from a solo performance artist in a pub basement to a drag/circus/burlesque extravaganza in front of several thousand. I loved every minute and can see why people go back year after year.

 

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Edinburgh Castle and Prince’s Street Gardens

During our time wandering the city, we dropped into the Urban Reivers (“Urban Raiders”) pop-up shop on George Street which was there for the duration of the Festival. Urban Reivers is a brand-new online venture which portrays Scottish heritage in a cool and creative way. Their products include scarves, candles, cocktail boxes and perfume, which are all intended to be ideal for gifting.

 

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Damn Rebel Bitches was created in partnership with Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. The name comes from a book of the same name by Maggie Craig about the rebellious Jacobite women. These “daredevils in tweed” helped the rebels to flee during the 18th century Scottish uprisings, with one hiding a soldier under her large hooped skirt as the English army searched her house (women didn’t wear knickers back then, you know). Lady Nithsdale even broke her husband out of the Tower of London and conveyed him to France dressed in drag. They were hated by the English press which branded them ‘rebel bitches and damned Jacobites.’

 

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You may expect that with a name like Damn Rebel Bitches, the EdP would be challenging but it’s actually very easy to like It incorporates ingredients that would have been available to the women at the time. Clary sage was used as a medicinal herb while hazelnuts were a significant part of their diet.

In Damn Rebel Bitches the blood orange is the star of the show. It starts off tart and green but quickly becomes rich and syrupy. I love this material so really enjoy how it forms the substance of this fragrance and how long it lasts.The malty aspect is there, combining really nicely with the orange. The hazelnut makes for a soft, nutty/orange gourmand base. For the record, I don’t pick up on the clary sage.

All in all, Damn Rebel Bitches has a surprisingly sunny disposition which makes it very wearable, although I should mention it is on the quiet side.

 

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Is there a perfume that is inspired by your part of the world?

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April Aromatics Mini Reviews

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

 

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

 

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

 

Purple Reign

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

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

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

Jasmina

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

“An aphrodisiac par excellence.”

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

Calling All Angels

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

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

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

Rosenlust

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

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

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

 

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Erdenstern

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

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

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

Ray of Light

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

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

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

Liquid Dreams

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

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

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

Precious Woods

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

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

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

 

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

 

Image credit: AlexandraVBach

 

 

 

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

Two unassuming beauties…

 

 

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

 

Étui Noir by Miller Harris

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

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

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

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

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

 

No.02 Eau Sento by IUNX

 

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

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

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

 

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Do you like these kind of quiet yet thoughtful fragrances? 

 

 

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

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

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Gin & Tonic Cologne 

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

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

 

Sea Foam 

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

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

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

 

Sensual Oud 

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

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

 

Excentrique Moi 

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

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

 

Signature Wild 

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

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

 

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

 

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Amouroud Mini Reviews

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

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

 

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Midnight Rose

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

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

 

Safran Rare

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

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

 

Santal des Indes

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

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

 

Dark Orchid

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

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

 

Oud du Jour

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

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

 

Miel Sauvage

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

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

 

 

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

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