Monthly Archives: November 2016

Spice World: The Meetup – Perfume Lovers London, 24th November

We were greeted by a spice themed soundtrack at the October Gallery last Thursday with tracks from Salt-N-Pepa and of course, The Spice Girls. Our fragrant leader Odette Toilette/Lizzie is nearing her due date so we were in the capable hands of Laurin and Callum. As you will see from the abbreviated sequence of events below, they also have a great way with words.

 

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Cardamom

Intoxicated, By Kilian

Laurin: Intoxicated is part of the Addictive State of Mind collection from By Kilian which features three fragrances based around a substance that can be addictive: coffee, tobacco and weed.

Callum: Intoxicated is supposed to evoke Turkish coffee and although that is usually teeth rottingly sweet, this has dark bitter spices. The green, bracing note of cardamom is particularly noticeable.

Laurin: I find it dry.

Audience Member: I get some lavender, similar to A*Men.

Callum: It’s a good example of a very strong cardamom note.

Audience Member: It’s getting sweeter with time.

 

Lumiére Blanche, Olfactive Studio

Callum: Each fragrance by Olfactive Studio is inspired by a photograph. Lumiére Blanche is the opposite of Intoxicated. Here the cardamom is in a setting which is really creamy and it’s much easier to wear.

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Audience Member: I’m picking up anise and mint.

Laurin: I think it’s like a milky drink at bedtime; like spicy Horlicks.

Callum: Does anyone think it’s like the photo? It has the bright white feel.

Audience Member: It reminds me of the sea.

Audience Member: It reminds me of Lovehearts. There’s something sherbet-y.

 

Ginger

Classique EdT, Jean Paul Gaultier

Laurin: I get lots of orange blossom and ylang ylang from Classique but once I found out there was was ginger in it, it became a lot more noticeable. When I smell it, I picture ginger root complete with its hairy bark.

Callum: I used to wear it a lot in my teens. Over time the shape of the bottle has changed. It now has a bigger derrière and smaller breasts – The Kim Kardashian Effect.

Laurin: I’d put it in the bombshell category along with Fracas.

Callum: It’s huge. Do we like it?

General murmurs of “No”.

Audience Member: It’s very dated.

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The Smell of Freedom, Gorilla Perfumes

Callum: This is a sunny ginger fragrance.

Laurin: I always think it’s like when you’re grating ginger and some of the juice runs down your hand.

Holly from LUSH: This is a triptych of a perfume. It’s a combination of three other perfumes about inspirational people, so it has a lot of notes.

Laurin: I get more lemongrass as it goes along.

Callum: It’s the opposite of Classique. It feels more stripped back.

Audience Member: It’s quite earthy.

Vanilla

Love, By Kilian

Callum: One of my favourite vanillas is the one by Mona di Orio but most are very sweet so I thought I should pick one which is representative of that. Love is pink, frilly knickers. It’s bright and sickly but amazing. It’s softened by orange blossom. It’s crazy sweet.

Laurin: I always think vanilla is too needy. You’d break up with it and it would still come round to your house and knock on the door. I like this one though because there’s something a bit scratchy about it.

Audience Member: It’s like raw cookie dough.

 

Black, Bvlgari

Laurin: This is one of my favourite fragrances of all time. It’s leather, petrol station forecourts and gimp masks. It’s a good example of an edgy fragrance that uses vanilla to make it more wearable. The perfumer is Annick Menardo and she’s very good at using vanilla in compositions such as this, Hypnotic Poison by Dior and Morn to Dusk by Eau d’Italie.

Black wouldn’t get past a focus group these days. It’s Resting Bitch Face in a bottle. It’d slit your throat if you rubbed it up the wrong way. I admire anyone who bought it when it first came out. People say it’s discontinued but you can still get it on Amazon. It also comes in this great bottle shaped like a tyre.

 

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Clove

Esprit du Tigre, Heeley

Callum: All Heeley’s fragrances are very bold in that they have a very clear idea. This is centred around the idea of Tiger Balm. It features a very pure use of clove; tarry, methylated and smoky.

Would you wear it?

Generally well liked and quite a few people would wear it except for those with memories of Tiger Balm.

 

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Jungle L’Elephant, Kenzo

Laurin: I tried this at Lizzie’s house recently and took the bottle home with me.  It’s a more rounded use of clove. It’s a Christmas pudding in a marshmallow. It has a lot of warmth. I picture a helix of clove and cardamom.  There’s a huge amount of plum and cedarwood in there too.

It was done by Dominique Ropion who is very good at doing huge perfumes which are very fine-tuned (Portrait of a Lady, Carnal Flower). Lizzie isn’t getting her bottle back.

 

Cumin

Hellstone, Gorilla Perfumes

Laurin: I read that cumin is associated with faithfulness. It can stop chickens and lovers from straying, apparently. Hellstone is rounded and has a little of that body sweat cumin but it’s also peaty and has a bit of whisky. I was thinking earlier it would be perfect for the Central Line at rush hour.

Holly from LUSH: A lot of men like to wear it in their beards.

Callum: I like it the more I wear it – the more the terror fades away.

Audience Member: It smells a bit like old books.

 

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Fareb, Huitième Art Collection

Callum: Fareb makes me think of the desert and cola. It’s dry but has a fizziness to it.

Laurin: It’s more foody. Customers at Les Senteurs used to stay they couldn’t wear it because it reminded them of their mother’s cooking.

Callum: It’s sweeter than Hellstone.

Audience Member: It’s brighter.

Callum: It’s doesn’t have the dark, peaty aspect of Hellstone.

This one was generally approved of by the room and preferred to Hellstone. Overall Fareb and Black seemed to be the hits of the evening.

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Do you like spicy fragrances? Which are your favourites?

 

 

 

 

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In Rotation

After enduring bad news across the world for the best part of a year, I’ve been feeling the need to retreat. I’ve always been a homebody but I’m craving time indoors even more than usual. After reading a lot of “improving” books this year, I’ve now escaped into the His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy by Philip Pullman. On these cold, dark evenings, it’s wonderful to get lost in this multi-universe adventure populated by witches, armoured bears and fearless 12 year-olds .

 

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A small thing that I’ve found to be very soothing on trying days, is painting my nails. The colours I’m alternating at the moment are the sophisticated berry of Butter London’s Queen Vic and the glossy dark navy of Chanel’s Marinière.

Happily, I’m still getting a kick out of my new found love of bold lipstick. I’ve even graduated from red to purple. MAC’s Rebel feels perfect for autumn and easy to wear because it isn’t as intense or blue toned as most in that shade range. The satin formula is also kinder to the lips in this chilly weather than my usual matt lipsticks.

 

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Chanel Mariniere, MAC Rebel and Butter London Queen Vic

 

One comfort food that is also healthy is homemade soup. Last weekend I made spicy cauliflower soup based on the recipe by Alice Waters (who incidentally is a friend and neighbour of Mandy Aftel). I found out about it from former perfume blogger Lavanya, who now runs the brilliant subscription box service Boxwalla.

Again, taking pleasure in the little things, I’ve been enjoying the aromas of autumn; bonfires, dry leaves, damp earth, misty mornings. It might also be my favourite time of year for perfume. Here’s what I’ve been wearing a lot lately:

Passage d’Enfer, L’Artisan Parfumeur

I recently got a back-up bottle of this one because it’s my favourite incense. Passage d’Enfer is woody, lightly resinous and has a hint of waxy white lilies which it gives it luminosity. It smells fantastic on a scarf and mingles well with the autumnal wisps of smoke in the air. Passage d’Enfer helps me feel calm and centred in this crazy world but it also has that touch of wanton florals. I adore this stuff.

Coromandel EdT, Chanel

This is one classy patchouli with lots of warmth and depth. It’s not super earthy but it’s not a dull, super clean patch either. It’s beautifully sophisticated and I enjoy it most at a bit of distance, so I tend to spray it on my wrists rather than around my neck. I particularly enjoy the touch of incense that comes out most in the base.

Tobacco Rose, Papillon Perfumes

Of course I love roses and this one is perfect for autumn thanks to its earthiness. Tobacco Rose is a rose bush firmly planted in the soil, not a sterile, disembodied bloom. There’s a reason patchouli is paired so often with rose and it’s exemplified here in the way it grounds the beautiful, rich red flower. I can’t wait for the next release from Papillon Perfumes which is coming in the New Year.

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What’s bringing you comfort this season?

 

 

 

 

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Miller Harris Mini Reviews

One of the stops on last month’s London perfume tour organised by Pia and Nick (of Love to Smell) was the Miller Harris store on Monmouth Street, Covent Garden.  Unfortunately I missed the talk but got a lovely bag of boxed samples. If you’d like to catch up on what went on that day, you can read all about it on Bonkers About PerfumeVolatile Fiction and I Scent You A Day. It was a great get-together of 20 or so perfume lovers/bloggers. Too bad I was feeling so poorly.

 

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Below are my mini-reviews of the five EdP samples we received –

Cassis en Feuille

Bergamot, galbanum, blackcurrant, geranium, tomato leaf, cedarwood

I always keep an eye out for perfumes showcasing blackcurrant because it’s a note I’m drawn to. However, they usually turn out to be sour and/or too green. Cassis en Feuille starts out very grassy, becoming a tangle of green stems accented with blackcurrant and then finally, a prominent blackcurrant scent with a green backdrop. Like a lot of the fragrances I’ve tried from this line, it doesn’t project very far. I still haven’t found my blackcurrant perfume.

Poirier d’un Soir

Bergamot, rum extract, rose, papyrus, birch tar oil, patchouli oil, white cedarwood

Why aren’t there more pear fragrances around, I wonder? “Pear Tree in the Evening” is a likeable honeyed pear scent. I’m not good with this level of sweetness but somehow I can deal with it better in the colder months. It manages to brighten up a dull autumnal day and fits the concept of sitting under a pear tree full of ripe fruit as the sun hangs low in the sky. It’s not a dupe by any means, but could be worth a try if you fell for the pear tart of La Belle Helene but couldn’t stomach MDCI prices.

La Pluie

Bergamot, tangerine, lavender, ylang ylang, cassis, jasmine, orange flower, vetiver , vanilla

The most surprising of  the five is La Pluie. Rather than being a straight-up aquatic, it’s a   tropical garden after a rain shower. It starts a little musty/powdery, slightly green and herbal. In the heart, it reveals a carpet of buttery ylang-ylang flowers interspersed with dewy jasmine.  The final twist is the soft ylang scented vanilla which comes through in the base. La Pluie stays subdued throughout its development and could be an easy, breezy choice for summer.

Tangerine Vert

Tangerine green, grapefruit, lemon, marjoram, geranium, orange flower, cedarwood, moss, sweet musk

No  surprises here. As advertised, we get a lovely tart, tangerine with green leaves in tact. For most of its development it’s a really great zingy citrus which isn’t too sour even though the notes include grapefruit and lemon. Tangerine Vert has the uplifting feeling of a bright spring day and tangerine/mandarin scents always seem to make me happy.  Sadly, the feel-good factor ends for me with the arrival of the base. The sweet muskiness is not to my taste however, if you like Kiehl’s Original Musk then you’ll probably be fine with it.

Fleur Oriental 

Bergamot, orange flower, spicy carnation, rose, heliotrope, vanilla bourbon, benzoin, amber, labdanum, musk

I have a soft spot for Fleur Oriental. It’s one of the first samples I got after falling down the rabbit hole. This was partly because I was interested in carnation perfumes at the time and partly because Katie Puckrik was a fan of it. Trying it again a number of years later, I still really admire it, despite the noticeable heliotrope. It has a silken powdery feel, the way an old-school carnation fragrance like Bellodgia might have had back in the day. This cloud of scented talcum powder is nicely spiked with citrus and orange flower, giving it a lift. The base even has a touch of the Shalimars about it. All in all, it makes for an easy to wear, floral oriental with somewhat of a retro feel and a pleasing mist of sillage.

 

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Do you like any of these or other fragrances by Miller Harris?

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Fume Chat: A Perfumed Podcast

I’ve only recently gotten into podcasts (late, I know) and they really help with the daily commute. A few weeks ago Thomas Dunckley (The Candy Perfume Boy) and Nick Gilbert (Fragrance Expertise) launched their very own podcast “Fume Chat“. Episodes are released every fortnight on a Sunday and there have been two so far.

The launch show “Hello World” included some of their favourites new releases and helped feed my mammoth lemming, Galop d’Hermes.  Last Sunday’s instalment was a “Battle of the Bottles” between Thomas and Nick’s picks from Comme des Garçons (I won’t spoil it by telling you who won). I did own Kyoto but this brand has been largely a mystery to me because many of the scents have similar names with numbers, which unfortunately is enough to put me off. I am now considerably less ignorant.

First and foremost, the podcasts are brilliantly entertaining but they are also guaranteed to widen your perfumery knowledge and add fragrances to your To Try list. Both Thomas and Nick are great company and this transmits perfectly across the digital airwaves. They also have an off-beat taste in fragrance which means you hear about scents you might not have heard about or explored further otherwise.

You can subscribe on iTunes via your iPhone or Soundcloud if you’re an Android user like me. Well worth a listen!

 

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Have you tuned in to Fume Chat? Can you recommend any other podcasts?

 

 

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Ma Bête, Night Flower and Belle de Jour By Eris Parfums

Bringing sexy back…

 

If you’re seriously into perfume, chances are you’ve visited Barbara Herman’s treasure trove of a blog, Yesterday’s Perfumes. It contains a wealth of information about vintage fragrances and was a great help to me when I was researching an eventual purchase of vintage Vol de Nuit extrait.

In 2013 Barbara released a book “Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume“. Earlier this year she launched Eris Parfums.  Working with perfumer Antonie Lie, the intention was to create luxury fragrances that would “celebrate unconventional beauty and subversive glamour” The first collection of three EdPs, La Belle Et La Bête (Beauty and the Beast) is a contemporary re-imagining of the striking and seductive floral animalic perfumes of the past.

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Ma te

Neroli, Aldehydes, Nutmeg, Cypriol, Stypras, Jasmin Sambac, Cedarwood, Patchouli and Animalic Accord

As you would expect from a perfume entitled “My Beast”, Ma Bête is an animalic. Although to start with, it’s not that variety of uncomfortably intimate skank. In the opening stage, it consists of a very sexy yet supple musk accented with neroli and a touch of spice. It has the soft texture of a vintage fur stole, wearing close to the body and giving it that second skin feel. There’s nothing invasive or TMI about it for now.  It’s sexual in the way an old Hollywood movie star could be sexual, with a certain look accompanied by the arch of an eyebrow.

Ma te has one aim and one aim only – to seduce. In the base the beast’s growl turns to a roar and you appreciate the fact that Lie used a 50% overdose of his own animalic cocktail. You could argue that it’s not very complex but I guess when you are in the mood for musk, you want it front and centre (as it were).

 

Night Flower

Bergamot, Cardamom, Leather, Suede, Indian Tuberose, Birch Tar, Patchouli, Cinnamon, Musk and Tonka

I approached Night Flower with some trepidation because I am not generally a tuberose perfume fan, to put it mildly. However, it actually turned out to be the one I enjoyed the most. The opening is a combination of bergamot, suede, cardamom and incredibly smooth tuberose. Instead of being the man-eater it usually is, here the de-fanged flower adds a layer of pink bubblegum sweetness. There’s nothing overblown or headache inducing about it.

Over time the suede turns to birch tar and Night Flower now resembles a pair of long leather gloves that hold just a trace of Fracas. It’s dark, warm and slightly powdery. I hope Lie and Herman won’t mind me saying this, but there’s an ambery muskiness present in the base that takes me back to the bottle of Obsession I owned and loved in my youth.

Belle de Jour

Orange Flower, Jasmine, Coriander, Pink Peppercorn, Ciste, Jasmine, Pimento Berries, Cedarwood Incense, Musks and Seaweed Absolute.

Compared to her two counterparts, Belle de Jour opens up surprisingly fresh, with orange and jasmine blossom petals twisting in a salty sea breeze. Here the requisite musk is white and buoyant. It stays at this elevated pitch for a couple of hours. Thereafter it smooths out, becoming floral scented, cashmere-like, clean musk. The texture is raw silk on clean skin.

Antoine Lie says “Belle de Jour is a study in contrasts: a very luminous floral that is salty, sexy and dirty.”  However, it never becomes dirty, or even naughty, on me which is a shame. I’m sure this is because I’m not picking up the type of musk used in the base, as regularly happens with me.

 

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Do you like this retro style? Have you tried any of these three?

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