Monthly Archives: October 2018

Geisha Botan by aroma M perfumes

Notes: Peony, rose, sandalwood, vanilla, velvet woods, oakmoss and musk. 

I love the whole aroma M perfumes aesthetic from the Yuzen paper used to decorate the bottles to the American indie brand’s Atelier (pictured below).

 

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Perfumer and style maven Maria McElroy regularly posts pictures full of beauty on social media, including Japanese fine art and her cat Tama chan. When it comes to the fragrances themselves, they are equally captivating. There has to be a perfume among the varied Geisha collection for just about everyone.

Geisha Botan (botan being peony in Japanese) is the latest addition.

 

 

Maria first encountered a peony garden when she moved to Tokyo in the 1980s and sees them as a quintessentially Asian flower. The peony derived its name from Paeon, a physician to the Greek gods. For centuries the roots, bark, seeds and flowers of peonies have been used for medicinal purposes and are purported to ward off evil chi.  They have a joyous, carefree quality and are a popular motif in traditional Japanese tattoos, denoting a devil-may-care attitude.

 

The peonies do not allow
The rain-clouds a hundred leagues round
To approach them.
– Buson

 

I was predisposed to like Geisha Botan because I knew it was inspired by the uplifting, rosy scent of peonies, but they are the overarching theme rather than the whole story. It is a much more nuanced and full-bodied fragrance than I expected it to be. I was imagining a breezy and innocent scent but it possesses presence and depth right from the beginning.

I was pleasantly surprised by the mossy facet and its juxtaposition with the fresh flower works well. The peony and accentuating presence of rose, lie like a bolt of vivid pink satin over the forest floor.  The contrast between the bright, blowsy blooms and the lichen covered earth makes what could have been a pretty but simple scent, into something rich and compelling.  It mirrors Aroma M’s eclectic feel, where Japanese influences are filtered through a New York state of mind.

The composition is filled out by a substantial though airy vanilla, similar to the variety found in Geisha Vanilla Hinoki, softening the overall effect and adding comfort. If you like vanilla but tire of perfumes where it’s overpowering and overly sweet, this could be a good option for you. The base compromises musky woods with a velvety feel, as advertised in the notes.

Geisha Botan is a versatile fragrance – relaxed enough to wear during the day but also intriguing enough to wear at night. It’s a sophisticated floral vanilla, the likes of which we don’t see often enough.

 

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Do you like peonies? Do you like the sound of Geisha Botan?

 

 

 

 

 

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Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen

“A drug is a substance which, if injected into a rabbit, produces a paper.”  Otto Loewi

HOW?  

After my LSD post several people asked me how I had got into that world.  I have psychoanalysed myself on many occasions; there is no single answer.

Not everyone who gets into the drug scene has suffered a trauma, but in my case I do think a part of my childhood may have put me onto the road to the sphere of mind altering substances.

Everyone has the potential for addiction, but some people are more predisposed to addiction than others.

CHILDHOOD TRAUMAS

I was living in the Azores, 1969.  My father was in the USAF and we were stationed on the island of Terceira.

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I think I was nine or ten years old.  I was out biking around with a girlfriend, we were sharing her bike.  It was one of those chopper bicycles. It was my turn and I jumped onto it and went down a steep hill.  I have no memory of it.  I came to in the hospital, with someone putting a needle through my lip.  Funnily enough I can remember that, and one of my parents telling me to stay still, the doctor was going to sew my lip up.

I had fallen off of my bike, and as I lay unconscious,  the pedals kept turning and hitting me in my mouth.  They found a complete tooth, with root, in the street, one of six upper teeth that were badly damaged.  I had a hole in my lip you could put three fingers through.  I was so incredibly lucky though.  On the day that this happened, a plastic surgeon had flown onto the island, to visit with his family.  He came to the hospital and repaired my lip for me.

When I think of that now I cry, and wish I could thank him for fixing my face.  I still have a small lump and scarring on the inside of my lower lip.  I did not look in a mirror for many weeks. I would go on my hands and knees into the bathroom to avoid even passing one. It took eight years until my mouth had matured enough to finally have my teeth permanently fixed.  By then I was already smoking weed.

 

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My parents’ marriage had been in difficulty for a while but as a kid I did not know that. Perhaps subconsciously.  One day, three or four month after my accident, Mum packed us up, my two siblings and myself, and we boarded an Iranian C130 to London Heathrow.   My Dad waving us off at the airport.  I did not know I would never see him again.  I remember the flight really well, I shared my Enid Blyton book with one of the military men on board, and he showed me his book, which I had to look at back to front, and with letters I did not recognise.

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We went to live with my grandmother over the next few months, might have been nearly a year. I cannot remember clearly.   My father left the island and went back to California, where I do believe he hoped to take steps to repair the marriage. Daddy suffered from alcoholism, maybe partly due to his days when he was stationed in Korea.

 

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We eventually moved into our own flat with Mum.  One morning, December 10, 1971 as we got up to go to school, Mum told us that Daddy had died suddenly, the day before.  Diabetic complications; but I now know that you can add a broken heart to that.  She then sent us off to school.  That was it.   Honestly, as I write this I have no idea how we ever began to process this.  I wonder if we ever did.  I did not recognize how desperately sad this was until many years later.

I neither accuse nor judge my parents.

AN AVERAGE FAMILY

I do feel that these two traumas in my formative years might have played a role in my going down the drugs and rock’n’roll path. And the death of my father affected all three of us kids.  No one talked about stuff like that in the seventies, you just didn’t.

My brother got into extreme sports before they were called extreme sports.  Bungee jumping using cave harnesses and elastic, cave diving and cliff jumping.  We talk daily.

My sister climbed out of her bedroom window and ran away and became a polygamist, a plural wife.  Passed away at 43 with breast cancer.

Just an average family.

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I still love music of all kinds, and am at my happiest in the gym with the tunes up loud in my ears.  Perfume is my drug now.  Which is how I ended up here. And we have a bike shop.   A strange tale indeed.

I regret nothing.

CQ of APJ.

 

 

 

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Portia’s Autumn List

 

Hi there A Bottled Rosers. Thanks Tara for letting me infiltrate you inner sanctum.

I thought it might be nice to introduce myself to those of you unfamiliar with me and Australian Perfume Junkies through some of my all-time favourite fragrances. If this works and Tara continues to enjoy my presence here, I think it might be a seasonal concept. So each season, according to your Northern Hemisphere weather, I’ll tell you what I have that gets quite a bit of wear. So Portia’s Autumn List will be like an all-star list.

Here’s a pic of Tara and I on holidays earlier this year in the Whitsunday Islands, Australia.

 
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Autumn is my favourite time of year. The blistering heat of summer recedes and the nights turn cool. I love the breadth of the temperature variation from day to day too. Here in Sydney we have quite a long Indian Summer so temps may range over a week from 11-30C during the days. That gives quite a good variety of fragrances that I can choose and still feel like I’m fitting into the Autumn spectrum. That’s not to say I always choose something Autumnal particularly, but that is the parameter we are working within here. Get it?

Ambre Céruléen by Huitième Art

You want a sweet, refined, thick yet light amber that will enfold you in its arms and sweep you away? Ambre Céruléen is the answer. Simple, comfortable, warm and inviting. I love the way I smell when wearing it.

Aromatics Elixir, Clinique

Yes, the one and only. Long-term love and long-time department store beauty, Aromatics Elixir has been pumping out its spicy, herbal, smoky woods vibe since 1971. You have probably smelt it wafting by in the street and shopping malls for years. The brighter sister of Aramis, Azuree and Cabochard, all created by Bernard Chant. Particularly fitting for Autumnal blustery days.

Cuir Beluga, Guerlain

Cuir Beluga is a strange beast. The sweetness and patchouli override the leather for much of my wear. It isn’t till almost the very last gasp that leather becomes the defining note. I wear it all year round but when Autumn hits I feel it fits the mood perfectly.

Equistrius by Parfum d’Empire

This is by far my most worn iris-centric fragrance. Though to say it is only an iris fragrance is doing Equistrius a major disservice. I also find it so perfectly blended that most of the notes I’m supposed to be smelling have all combined to become Equistrius alone. The chocolate, leather and amber are significant bit players. A very pretty choice for the warmer days of autumn and can happily segue to evening wear.

Mohur by Neela Vermeire Creations

My rose above all others. Thick and ropey gouts of Bulgarian and Damascene roses all mixed up with an Indian spice shop and the resins from a souk. Mohair is a big fragrance that happily crosses the divide between French perfumery and subcontinental attars. More going on than you can poke a stick at Mohur is the queen for me.

Olympic Amber by Olympic Orchids

You want a simple, straight up amber with a little bit of a growl, burnt caramel and a warm cocooning presence? Olympic Amber is an excellent choice from indie perfumer Ellen Covey. Particularly fabulous after soaking in a bath of her Amber/Labdanum Bath Oil. Sweet perfection.

 

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So, what are you guys wearing this Autumn?
Portia xx

 

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Andy Tauer at Les Senteurs – Photo Essay

I was invited to an event at London niche perfume store Les Senteurs that took place last Wednesday. It featured three special guests from the perfume industry: Pissara Umavijani of Parfums Dusita, Lynorette Morsch from  Les Bains Guerbois and Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes.

 

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Pissara moved to Paris from Thailand in the hope of starting her own perfume brand within three months, which turned out to be a year. Lynorette is the Product & Export Manager for Les Bains Guerbois who are a heritage brand dating back to the 1885 Parisian Spa, reinvented in 2016. I trotted along largely because I’d missed out on hearing Andy Tauer talk previously. He has been making artisan perfumes in Zurich, Switzerland for the last 14 years-odd years.

 

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Andy Tauer

 

He explained to us that he wouldn’t be where he is now without Luca Turin. They were both blogging in 2005 when blogging really was a thing. Andy sent Luca some samples which were included in Perfumes: The Guide, kick-starting his career. Prior to that he been working on research programmes for the EU and was looking for a creative outlet. He happened to read a book by natural perfumer Mandy Aftel while on holiday (presumably Essence and Alchemy) and decided to explore perfumery, firstly using essential oils.

 

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It was interesting to hear how he believes his inspiration comes from outside and sees it as “a genie on my shoulder”. He mentioned that in the past, artists didn’t take credit for their creations but felt they acted as a conduit.  Andy says if anything he sees himself more as an engineer and doesn’t feel it appropriate to call his own work “art” .

His favourite materials to compose with are ambergris and its synthetic interpretation, Ambroxan. He also enjoys working with rose as you can tell from the number of rose perfumes in his line.

 

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When the three were asked to pick a perfume or two from their collections to share, Andy (of course) chose L’AdDM. He told us that in a way, it is a curse as well as a blessing because everything he releases gets compared to it and it’s hard to beat.  The idea behind it was the scented breeze you encounter when stepping out onto the balcony at a hotel on the edge of the Moroccan desert, filled with spice and a touch of jasmine. It featured in the fantastic exhibition Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent that Megan in Sainte Maxime and I visited last year.

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Lynorette, Andy and Pissara

 

Pissara chose two fragrances, the first of which is evocative of her home country, Thailand. As James Craven, the Fragrance Archivist for Les Senteurs noted, La Douceur de Siam is a very romantic, pink-tinged perfume. Pissara agreed, saying that it was inspired in part by the sun rising over the temples. The second was Melodie de l’Amour which is a lush white floral with a fair bit of fresh tuberose that won an Art and Olfaction Award in 2017.

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James Craven, Fragrance Archivist (centre)

 

The Dusita perfumes are high quality and very polished. Mind you, Oudh Infini has enough barnyard skank to knock your socks off.

 

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Lynorette chose two fragrances from Les Bains Guerbois which to her, represent two different seasons: 2015 Le Phenix for winter (cardamom, ginger, patchouli, cedarwood, incense and amber) and 1885 Les Bains Sulfureux (the aromatic scent of the Turkish and Roman bathhouses) for summer.

 

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Persolaise was live-streaming the event and asked a great question from one of the viewers: “Which perfume do you admire from another brand?”.

 

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Persolaise had social media covered

 

Pissara said she loves fragrances with a long history such as Diorissimo and Andy Tauer said he has worn the classic leather Knize Ten as wall as Palisander from the Comme des Garcons Red Series. Lynorette was fond of By Kilian’s Taste of Heaven because she likes lavender and Cocobello by Heeley because its coconut scent reminds her of holidays.

 

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It was an enjoyable and enlightening evening and an added bonus was getting to catch up with a few fragrance friends.

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Nick Gilbert of Olfiction – how to wear this season’s brights

 

Do let me know your thoughts about the perfumes of any of these three houses in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Current Favourites – Beauty/Hair/Body

I thought I’d share a few products I’ve recently discovered that have been real gam-changers for me.

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Lack of sleep and long, busy – but super fun – days for 3 weeks in Australia really showed on my face each morning. What saved it were two new cosmetic buys. The first was IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream with SPF50+ (£30). This cult product finally became available in the UK at Boots this year after long being raved about Stateside.

It’s leans more medium coverage than the advertised full, but you can build it up a little. It’s quite thick so I found that applying it with a damp Beauty Blender was the best method. The look is incredibly luminous in daylight (see below pic) without looking shiny. Worth noting is that you only need to apply about a pump and a bit so clearly it’s not going to provide you with the full SPF 50 protection on its own.

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Me wearing the It Cosmetics CC Cream

 

The other product that worked miracles by hiding the ever-present dark circles and dips under my eyes was NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer (£24). The make-up artists at SpaceNK may recommend this for blemishes but if the undereye area is a concern for you – and you apply with a damp Beauty Blender – it can work brilliantly. I use it on evenings out or days when I need a little extra help.
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Olaplex Hair Perfector No.3 and Philip Kingsley’s Elasticizer Extreme have both transformed my hair. I colour and heat treat my fine and naturally curly locks, so regular strengthening treatments are an absolute must. Olaplex was a previously only a salon service but Hair Perfector No.3 is now available to purchase from online retailers (currently just £18.70 for 100ml on AllBeauty as opposed to £32 on LookFantastic) .

Now my hair is in much healthier condition I’ve been using Elasticizer Extreme (£32 for 150ml) every other week which makes my mane feel considerably thicker. Both need to be applied to towel-dried hair for at least 10-20 minutes (I do 30 minutes). You then rinse out and shampoo and condition as normal.

 

The Soaper Duper range of bath and body products have great green credentials and are   reasonably priced. I order online but apparently you can find them in larger branches of Tesco. They use 95% naturally derived ingredients and come in 100% recycled plastic bottles.  Fragrances include Nourishing Coconut, Fig & Yuzu, Juicy Passionfruit, Zingy Ginger, Zesty Lemon and even Fruity Green Tuberose. I really like the body washes (£6.50 each for 500ml) and intend to try the Non Drying Shea Butter Hand Wash next.
soaperHave you tried any of these or have a favourite of your own to share?

 

 

 

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Perfumes That Work For Everyone Else But You – Mood Scent 4

You know what it’s like, you read all these rave reviews for perfumes that seem to be super popular with the cognoscenti or are venerated as classics. You go out of your way to try one with eager anticipation but after lifting your wrist to your nose you think “Nope”.

It’s a feeling of disappointment mixed with a touch of confusion as to why it didn’t work for you.

I don’t have the taste of most hardcore perfumistas so this tends to happen to me a fair bit. I’m not one for typically niche-style scents which are characteristically dark and heavy. I was gutted at the beginning of my perfume career because I wanted to be one of the cool kids and like the edgy stuff. Since then I’ve become fine with it but there are still some perfumes mismatches that stick.

So today, we – the Mood Scent 4 – are sharing those fragrances that feel as if everyone  gets them but us.

 

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Feminite du Bois by Serge Lutens

I might as well start with the big one. Feminite du Bois with its rich cedar and stewed plum, represents all those Serge Lutens perfumes that I am far too fey to carry-off. They are the ones full of warm fruit and resinous woods that must be wonderful in cooler weather and give the wearer an air of chic with a touch of edge. Sadly that will never be me. I can only wear Uncle Serge’s more transparent and non-woody compositions such as the rooty Iris Silver Mist and the rose-violet veil of La Fille de Berlin. It’s not you FdB, it’s me.

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Chanel No.5 

It was a ground-breaker when released in 1921 and manages to retain its position as the most famous perfume in the world. No.5 is synonymous with class and effortless elegance. On me it is just too soapy and well, nondescript. I have a vintage parfum from Portia to give our mutual friend, Val the Cookie Queen and I imagine that is another experience entirely. She didn’t always love it so maybe one day it will click with me too. There is always hope. Apart from anything else, who doesn’t want to own that iconic bottle?

 

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Nahema by Guerlain

On paper this one should be perfect for me. I love Guerlain, I love rose, so why don’t I love Nahema? Each time I’ve tried it I’ve got an acidic green, metallic rose, which is not to my taste at all. I love roses which have a touch of sweetness but this is just plain sour on me. I have heard that it is one of those perfumes that is different on different people so I suspect my skin chemistry is the culprit. Shame.

 

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Avignon by Comme des Garcons

Oh how I wanted to love the ultimate incense perfume by those proto-hipsters at CdG. I sprayed Avignon – probably too generously – on the back of my hand and inhaled. Jeez that thing was powerful. It nearly knocked me sideways. Straight-up, full-force Catholic frankincense clearly wasn’t for me. This led me to discover that I like my incense more subdued and preferably combined with another contrasting accord. The muted, woody incense of Passage d’Enfer with its waxy white lilies was the version that worked for me.

 

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Knize Ten

Released in the 1920s and lauded as one of the best leathers of all time, Knize Ten sounded fantastic. Unfortunately it was oily, tough and scratchy on me. The good thing that came out of this less than positive experience was that once again, I found out what kind of leathers do work for me: those smoky, birch tar based leathers and softer suedes such as my holy grail Cuir de Lancôme.

 

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This is a fun one so hop on over to my blogging partners to see which notable scents missed the mark for Megan In Sainte Maxime, L’Esperessence and I Scent You A Day.

Now it’s over to you. Which perfumes that fell flat did you expect to love because everyone else did? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

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