Monthly Archives: September 2016

Blasted Heath and Blasted Bloom by Penhaligon’s

There’s nothing like a returning trend which you remember vividly from the first time around to make you feel your age.  It doesn’t seem like five minutes since aquatics fragrances were at high tide before receding from the mainstream market. When they went out of vogue, many of us were relieved to see the back of them.

Really, it’s unfair to tar all watery-themed fragrances with the same brush. For me (and I suspect many others) it was more the ubiquity of the calone-fuelled 1990’s phenomenon L’Eau d’Issey that made me tire of the genre. There’s actually been a number of really great niche oceanic fragrances since then, including Heeley’s Sal Marin and Epice Marine Hermessence.

Last year aquatic fragrances staged a comeback. I was pleasantly surprised by Jo Malone’s Wood Sage and Sea Salt and in September Penhaligon’s launched a duo of scents which were also inspired by the windswept British coastline.

Blasted Heath and Blasted Bloom were both composed by perfumer Alberto Morillas who incidentally did – count them – five L’eau d’Issey flankers.

Blasted Heath

Aquatic accord, seaweed absolute, clary sage absolute, green leaves, Clearwood™, tobacco absolute, whiskey accord, patchouli essence, Alaskan cedarwood essence, gaiacwood essence, vetiver SFE and musks.

Blasted Heath embodies the scent of salty sea air and seaweed mingling with the aromatics of shrubbery and wild herbs.  There’s an aquatic accord woven through dense leaves and sage.

It has a decidedly masculine feel, with a slight metallic edge. If you can imagine such a thing as an aquatic fougere you’d be on the right track. Blasted Heath is as much about aromatic greenery as it is about seawater.

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Blasted Bloom

Notes: Wild berries, aquatic accord, green leaves, eglantine rose, pink pepper CO2, hawthorn, Alaskan cedarwood essence, Clearwood™, moss and musks.

As you may have suspected from the name, here in Blasted Bloom we have wildflowers at the shore being blown about by the bracing sea breeze. The berry note isn’t bold or syrupy sweet but actually quite tart and subdued.

The flowers are delicate and spring-like while the aquatic aspect is less evident than in Blasted Heath. This is more about cool, reviving coastal air than brine and algae. You wouldn’t need to be a fan of aquatics to enjoy this, but you would need to like super fresh florals.

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Both fragrances wear pretty light with soft sillage and moderate longevity. Neither is to my taste but Blasted Heath is novel and it successfully captures the wilderness by the cliff edge as the waves crash into the rocks below.

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How do you feel about aquatic fragrances? Are there in the genre that you admire?

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Memento Mori by Aftelier Perfumes

 

Love and loss…

 

Top Notes: Butter, Orris, Phenylacetic Acid

Middle Notes: Turkish Rose Absolute, Phenylethyl Alcohol

Base Notes: Beta Ionone, Ambreine, Ambergris, Antique Civet, Patchoulyl Acetate (a patchouli isolate)

 

Memento mori, “remember that you have to die”, is a Latin expression that dates back to Ancient Rome. We can get so wrapped up in the trivial trials and tribulations of our day to day lives we forget that life is short and most of what we worry about is not worth the torment.

A memento mori is something that reminds us of our mortality, inspiring us to make the most of life. The concept has been translated into many art forms including paintings, music, ceramics and literature.

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Since the Middle Ages people have worn memento mori mourning jewellery to remind them of lost loved ones. Rather than being morbid, these were tokens of love which allowed the wearer to hold on to the memory of their dearly departed.  In the perfume Memento Mori artisan perfumer Mandy Aftel portrays this idea in the form of fragrance.  It’s a thought-provoking concept which has been just as  thoughtfully executed.

Memento Mori captures the aroma of the lost lover. Mandy uses musk, butter, the doughy facet of orris and the earthy, mushroom-y facet of woody violets to create the idea of skin. The soft rose adds a pink blush.

She manages to give the scent an unusual lived-in, very human, quality with the warm, ripe smell of an unwashed body. It’s about body heat and someone’s unadorned natural smell rather than anything sexual.

As time ticks on and the pain of grief begins to fade, the fragrance reveals a tender layer of powdery pastel florals. The retro combination of iris/rose seems to reflect the sweet memories the separated lovers shared.  While I find the first stage challenging, this is a classic accord I really love.

In the base, warmth radiates through amber and patchouli while the musk gently lingers on and imparts a feeling of comfort. The bereaved is consoled by the realisation that though we must die, our love does not.

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The carrier for the fragrance is a blend of fractionated coconut oil and organic alcohol so that it is fittingly clinging.  I found it has more lift than many all-natural perfumes and that the lasting power is actually better than most synthetics.

Mandy says that Memento Mori was a deeply personal creation for her and I can understand why. It takes courage for any artist to share something so intimate with the world but I find that when they do it is all the more meaningful for it.

Memento Mori is a meditation on love and loss you need time and space to fully experience and appreciate it.  It’s an evolving art-piece as affecting and detailed as any of those other wearable tokens of remembrance and just as emotionally charged.

 

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Memento mori optical illusion painting “All Is Vanity” by Charles Allan Gilbert

 

Do you have a perfume that reminds you of someone important to you?

 

 

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The Power of Red Lipstick

A recent survey showed that 54% of British women feel too shy to wear red lipstick. I could relate to this as I have been wearing pinky nude lip shades for the last 20 years. This was mostly because I didn’t think my lips were full enough and partly because I just didn’t see myself in such a statement colour. My lip shape hasn’t changed but caring about it has. Life is too short. I’ve decided to give red lipstick a go.

“Red is powerful, strong, smart, bold, sexy, lethally feminine and iconic…Nothing has such a glamorous,timeless appeal. It breaks my heart that so many women are scared to wear it” – Sali Hughes, Pretty Honest

I like the fact you can’t hide in the background while wearing red lipstick: it forces you to stand out. I was spurred on by Val the Cookie Queen’s post on Ellis Faas Red lipstick. She sent me some samples in  “Milky Lips” and I immediately liked the way it made me look and feel.

About a year ago, I bought Ruby Woo by MAC Cosmetics but wasn’t ready for it until now. It’s a highly pigmented, incredibly striking red and perfect for nights out.  I have discovered that I like matte finishes because they feel clean, modern and long-lasting. I also seem to be drawn to shades with cool/blue undertones, though I have no idea if this suits my skin tone or not. I’m trying not to get hung up on the rules.

I recently bought a Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour by MAC in Dance with Me. This is a dark cranberry red and while I love the shade, I think it will take time before I feel confident about application. Unlike the lipsticks, I do notice how drying it is during the day so doubt I’ll re-purchase, especially considering the price.

For me, one of the most enjoyable things about a new passion is finding out all about it and the options available. YouTube has been invaluable for this. I have found the videos by French Canadian beauty vlogger Emily Fox, particularly helpful because they are so clear and she has great taste (as well as being very likeable and has a lovely accent).

After watching Emily’s MAC videos, I ordered Russian Red, a darker matte red which makes me feel very pulled together. I also got Flat Out Fabulous which is a gorgeous bright, yet somehow muted, magenta/plum. At the last minute I added Relentlessly Red to my basket which turned out to be a lighter pinky/coral red than suits my skin tone, but works well with a red lip pencil underneath.

I saw a Cruella Velvet Matte Lip Pencil by NARS on another vlogger and was wowed by its scarlet beauty. It does feel like a fairy-tale, wicked queen red. I particularly like that it’s a combination of a lip pencil and lipstick, so you don’t have to double up. The texture is beautifully velvety so it’s a dream to apply. I love it.

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Wearing Cruella by NARS on a work morning.

The only budget red lippie I’ve bought so far is Rimmel’s Lasting Finish Matte by Kate Moss in 107, which is the colour of red wine. I also have my eye on several Matte Lipsticks by NYX, namely Merlot, Bloody Mary and Eden.

I’ve bought a couple of coloured lip pencils to wear with the lipsticks and a clear one by Lord & Berry because I thought that would be easier on mornings when I’m rushed. You wear it just outside the lip line and it stops the colour bleeding around the edges. I am rather paranoid about not applying these bold and bright lipsticks flawlessly but my best is going to have to be good enough.

As Val says, wearing red is liberating, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun. Now I want to spend the rest of my life in the Red Lips Club.

“When do you know you’ve happened upon the right red? Magic happens. Everything seems to brighten. The face lights up. The overall look -clothes, face, hair – comes together. The mood lifts. That is what I love about red lipstick!” – Dita Von Teese, My Beauty Mark

 

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Please share your favourite red lipsticks in the comments. I’m eager for more suggestions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dirty Rose and Violet Chocolatier by PK Perfumes

The PK in PK Perfumes is Paul Kiler, an artisanal perfumer based in California. He places himself at the forefront of a new movement called Real Perfumery which purports to use the best materials available to create fragrances which comply to a “Standard of Excellence”.

Although Kiler uses both naturals and synthetics, his fragrance contain 20 to 50% essential oils, absolutes and resins.  The line currently contains 14 scents, the earliest of which were launched in 2012.

The first works I tried by Paul Kiler were the two perfumes he composed for Zoologist. It was fortuitous therefore that shortly afterwards, my pal Portia of Australian Perfume Junkies, kindly put the following two samples in her last package.

 

Dirty Rose

Notes: Bergamot, black spruce, laurel, cherrywood smoke, rose, nagarmotha, teak wood, tobacco, cedar, mahogany, earth, amber, costus, leather, vetiver bourbon,  Labdanum

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I love a messed-up, dark rose and Dirty Rose is firmly in that stable. It’s rooted in dark, moist earth and musky in the best way. It’s not the high-pitched musk that stabs you in the head but that deep throated unguent which intoxicates. The rose also smells like it was briefly set on fire; the flames having been beaten out but leaving a lingering charred scent.

The deep red flower that is at the heart of all this darkness is mostly hidden in the shadows. It has a definite kinship with my much-loved Rose de Nuit but the rose is much less prominent in Dirty Rose.  Here, the rose is coated in leather and musk and battened down by earthy patchouli and a canopy of spice. It has the feel of an oud fragrance without containing any agarwood.

I like my roses to be more rosy, but Dirty Rose may suit those fans of arid orientals who don’t like their rose front and centre. It is as far from the prim, feminine tea roses of yesteryear as you can get.

 

 

Violet Chocolatier

Notes: Violets, apricots, cocoa, nutmeg, hazelnut, magnolia, jasmine, rose, honey, gardenia, amber and benzoin.

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Ha! Violet Chocolatier – perhaps unsurprisingly – smells just like a violet cream; those chocolates with a violet fondant centre. It’s fun to experience and the chocolate is bittersweet so I don’t find it saccharine. As much as I have an aversion to sugary perfumes, I actually prefer these powdery, gourmand violets to those that highlight the flower’s green, metallic facets.

Somehow Violet Chocolatier segues effortlessly into a floral heart – most notably creamy white flowers – proving it’s not just a one-trick pony. This seamless transition exhibits Paul’s Kiler’s considerable perfumery skills.  The pale petals have a honeyed coating which feels dreamy and fits the decadent mood of the fragrance.  In the base it takes a final turn into cosy amber territory.

Violet Chocolatier is a clever composition and not you usual gourmand.

 

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The painting by Daria Jabenko which inspired Violet Chocolatier

 

Can you recommend any more fragrances from PK Perfumes?  I’d be particularly intrigued to hear from you if you’ve tried Zafran, Ere or Starry Starry Night. 

 

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Constance, Millicent and Loretta by Deco London

 

Deco London is a British fragrance brand which launched last year and is inspired by Art Deco and the glamorous Bright Young Things of the 1920s.  Founder and Creative Director Sophia Fannon-Howell may well have drawn on her own ancestry for inspiration, being descended from a number of colourful characters, including English poet, satirist and Restoration wit John Wilmot 2nd Earl of Rochester and Grace O’Malley, the Eilzabethan Irish ‘Pirate’ Queen.

Sophia apparently has a passion for vintage perfume and set out to establish a luxury fragrance brand that reflects British elegance, history and quality. There are six fragrances in the line at present; three feminines and three masculines. They each have names that would have been popular among the upper classes at the time, with their own personality and sense of style.

Below are brief reviews of the three feminine EDPs.

 

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Constance

Notes: Bergamot, Mandarin Blossom, Mimosa, Raspberry Blossom, Rose, Pink Pepper, Jasmine, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Labdanum, Vanilla, Beeswax, Musk

Constance is demure by day, transforming into a flapper by night. Starting off fruity with a woody undercurrent, it soon becomes gently spicy while remaining lady-like.  The spices are gourmand-tinged and extremely soft. It’s as if they’ve been lightly pressed into the equally soft woods.

I get a strong sense of texture here; velvety, cushioned and warm to the touch. The whole feeling is rather languid. I see Constance lounging in an Egyptian themed nightclub, flourishing a long cigarette holder and sporting a razor-sharp bob. For Downton Abbey fans, she’s very much the Lady Mary of the bunch.

Millicent

NotesBergamot, Mandarin, Honeysuckle, Orange Blossom, Jasmine, Lily, Ylang, Patchouli, Cashmere Woods, Musk

Millicent is more conservative and subdued than Constance; she is very feminine and understated. Her dark blonde hair is perfectly waved and her clothing is always proper and appropriate to the occasion. After an orange citrus start, the scent is full of well-blended, fresh white florals on a light and clean musky/woody base. It’s uncomplicated and not my favourite type of fragrance but Millicent is wearable, smooth and nicely done.

Loretta

Notes: Orange Blossom, Osmanthus, Rose, Jasmine, Patchouli, Moss, Amber, Musk, Vanilla, Vetiver

I instantly took a shine to Loretta when I read she is described as a “romantic bohemian, graceful with ethereal beauty”. The scent is an elegant yet relaxed white floral chypre and the kind that would drift along nicely on a summer’s day. It has the peachy tones of osmanthus and the cleanest of jasmines, creating a cool haze over a gently mossy base. Loretta is sophisticated and more thoughtful than her two sisters: a delicate modern chypre in the style of Perle de Mousse by Ann Gerard.

 

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All three in the collection are good quality, tasteful and accessible. With the Art Deco packaging, they’re likely to appeal to those who have a thing for London during the Roaring Twenties era as much, if not more so, than perfume lovers.

 

Are you drawn to a particular period in history? Do you have any perfumes that reflect that era?

 

 

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