Monthly Archives: April 2019

Violet Ida by Miller Harris

Notes: Bergamot, Carrot Seed, Orris Butter, Heliotrope, Vanilla and Amber

 

When I first heard about the recent Miller Harris release Violet Ida from The Candy Perfume Boy, it sounded like it had my name written all over it. This is because I have a deep affection for fragrances that are reminiscent of old-fashioned make-up.  Examples of this style include Chanel’s Misia, Malle’s Lipstick Rose and L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Drole de Rose. Basically anything that smells like the inside of a vintage hand-bag.

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Despite being called Violet Ida, this is actually an iris perfume. It’s named after a heroine from a Graham Greene novel, Ida Arnold, who wears violets in her hair. The name conjures the retro feel of the fragrance rather than its contents, given that violets make most people think of the scents of a bygone era.

“…she took care of herself, her lipstick told you that, the confidence of her big body. She was well covered but she wasn’t careless; she kept her lines for those that cared about lines.” – Extract from Brighton Rock

There’s a squeeze of fresh bergamot on opening but the iris is right there front and centre, gloriously rich and velvety. The scent of heliotrope makes its presence known as a sweet Play-Doh aroma. It’s not a note I get along with but I appreciate it works here, employing playfulness to break iris’s cool composure.

The powdery texture of Violet Ida is pivotal to its character. It’s a feather-soft cloud over warm skin, possessing that dressing table haze of cold cream, waxy lipstick and face compacts. What I particularly appreciate about it is that where most perfumes in this vein rely on a rose/violet combination to create the cosmetic effect, the main focus here is on iris. This makes it stand out from the crowd and ups the quality quotient considerably.

While some boudoir perfumes have a hint of something naughty in the mix, Violet Ida is entirely innocent. Its gentle nature may not project far but it does last well, progressing to a fluffy crème brûlée base.

For me, Violet Ida evokes the Ziegfeld Follies movies from the 30s and 40s which I watched on TV as a child with my mother. The studied glamour of those heavily made-up and elaborately costumed women parading down staircases may seem faintly ridiculous now, but it made a lasting impression on me.

It feels good to indulge in a spot of harmless nostalgia now and again.

 

ziegfeld-girl

 

How do you feel about perfumes that mimic cosmetics? Any favourites?

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Portia’s Spring List

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

I come from Australian Perfume Junkies and would like to share some of my all-time favourite fragrances. 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 Spring List will be like an all-star list.

Here’s a pic of Tara and me with Anna Maria, husband Johnny and youngest son Marc while she was out in Australia last year.

Portia’s Spring List

Spring! It means the end of wearing socks and tracksuit pants to bed. PHEW! In Sydney it often means some warm rainy days, one of my favourite combinations. Suddenly I am seeing the bulbs come up, the crabapples and cherry blossoms flower, people are generally smiling more and the feeling of renewal seems universal. I love that the days are warm and evenings cool so I can wear a range of fragrances.

A Quiet Morning by Miller et Bertaux

Saffron, woods, jasmine and rice create an uplifting woodsy fragrance. It’s very 21st century niche but wears so well on my skin and fits a springtime mood perfectly. It also has incredible happy memories of discovering it with Jin, Sandra and Birgit in Vienna back in 2013, then going back to buy it with Michael in 2014.

Eau Absolue by Mona di Orio

Eau Absolue is a queer fish. Citrus, orange blossom and resins float effortlessly over bay and woods. I always smell lavender in the mix too, though it’s not noted. Smooth like just cleaned glass and cool. My 100ml bottle is well over a third used, there may even be a backup bottle around here somewhere. SHHH!

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li by Hermès

A rainswept afternoon in the garden. This mainly minty citrus fragrance is a beautiful way to smell on warmer spring afternoons. The jasmine and musks give it buoyancy. Hard to wear Monsieur Li with a frown.

Ostara by Penhaligon’s

Ostara is the smell of spring. Narcissus in bloom. I completely understand why it didn’t sell well. It’s too obviously a soliflor of a scent people like to smell but not to smell of. Unless of course you are a hard core perfumista and it smells EXACTLY how we want to smell. Fabulous.

Shalimar EdC by Guerlain

Yes, it’s just like Shalimar EdT or EdP. Just a little less intense. It has excellent longevity and throw though. I love to wear it in spring. Just as an aside this EdC can be bought for peanuts on the discounter sites. I know Val the Cookie Queen is an EdC devotee also.

Y by Yves Saint Laurent

A cool galbanum floral chypre in the 1970s style. Full of oak moss and delightfully sheer. If Silences, CHANEL No 19 and Deneuve are way too over the top for you but you like the idea of a chypre then Y could be the perfect choice. You can only find it on eBay nowadays but it’s definitely worth looking for.

 

 

So, what are you guys wearing this Spring?

Portia xx

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Vintage Chanel No.19

Notes: Galbanum, Bergamot, Neroli, Iris, Rose, Lily of the Valley, Jasmine, Leather, Vetiver, Sandalwood and Musk.

I was surprised when Lila (formerly of Perfume Lovers London) said that Chanel’s No.19 was her comfort scent. I had the impression that it was rather austere and aloof. Iris and galbanum with their cooling breeze aren’t most people’s idea of cosy.

Then last summer I had the opportunity to try the vintage EdT and Parfum from Portia’s extensive perfume collection. These were a very different experience to the modern incarnations. I was immediately swooning and bought both bottles.
No.19 was launched in 1970 and the perfumer was Henri Robert who also composed Cristalle and Pour Monsieur for Chanel.

Now winter is behind us, I’m wearing it day after day and I never seem to tire of it. I have even come to find it comforting – not in a cosseting way but in a calming, steadfast way.

It might seem superficially tender with its soft, airy aura of new shoots and delicate flowers but first looks can be deceiving. Like all the greats, it has a distinct personality. No.19 feels willowy yet unshakeable: you can rely on her to possess grace under fire. Her roots go deep into the ground. She has a quiet, inner confidence that feels like an olfactory safety net.

Aldehydes may not be listed but I sense something like them in the vintage versions. The body of the perfume is draped in a cocoon of silk. What really marks this out as belonging to another era however, is the presence of oakmoss. It’s lamented by perfume people for a reason. It’s such a rich, complex material with great depth and a dash of black magic.

Galbanum is such a tricky note. While I like the idea of green stems in theory, when it’s a major part of a perfume I often find it too sharp and harsh, overwhelming the rest of the composition. However, this is Chanel galbanum which is quite a different beast. It must be about as smooth and refined as galbanum can get.

No.19 is an incredibly cohesive fragrance. Every aspect feels streamlined and in harmony. The iris is bound up with the other chief accords and I picture green, blue and white intertwining strands. The base is a pleasing contrast of soft woods, earthy vetiver, low-key leather and feline musks.

Even though I enjoy the EdT, the Parfum is incomparable. It really blooms into a lush, slightly powdery, haze on the skin that has a similar feel to Chamade by Guerlain. The galbanum is also taken to another level to the point where it’s practically green syrup. It is eye-rollingly gorgeous.

Like spring, No.19 gives me hope. There is a chance of renewal after the bleakness of winter. An inner strength that was always there throughout the dark times surges to the surface when there is no longer a need to take cover. It is the chance to live rather than merely survive.

no 19

How do you feel about No.19?

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