Monthly Archives: March 2021

Vintage Magie Noire by Lancome

Top notes: Galbanum, Cassis, Cassia, Hiacynth, Bulgarian Rose, Raspberry and Bergamot.

Middle notes: Honey, Narcissus, Cedar, Orris Root, Ylang-Ylang, Tuberose, Jasmine and Lily-of-the-Valley.

Base notes: Oakmoss, Spices, Civet, Incense, Patchouli, Amber, Sandalwood, Myrrh, Vetiver and Musk

I’ve long lusted after vintage Magie Noire and been filled with regret that I didn’t buy a bottle when I first encountered it over ten years ago. Therefore, last year when Vanessa mentioned in Part 1 of her perfume collection reorg that she no longer felt any attachment to her vintage bottle, I asked if I could buy it from her. After sending me a sample, she generously gifted me the remains of her bottle. When it arrived I was thrilled to find that it was the Darth Vadar version.

I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to green chypres in recent times. There’s something about their mix of forest wildness and stern self-possession that seems to cut through any anxiety.

Magie Noire was launched in 1978 and I can’t help but wonder if a brand released a fragrance today with the name ‘Black Magic’ whether it would be in the same genre. I think it would more likely be some kind of amber oriental. It is the antithesis of Lancome’s current smash hit La Vie Est Belle with its overwhelming iris-drowning-in-caramel accord.

Magie Noire is magnificently eerie. It opens with tart, lip-staining, blackcurrants and bitter stems with a scattering of white flowers. But what gets me is the depth. I’ve read that it starts off with the base notes first and I can see where that comes from. You can pick up on the deeper, darker notes straight away. There is also just a tinge of honied, fruity sweetness but it doesn’t quite manage to blunt its thorns.

I sense I’m experiencing something greater than the sum of its parts. Its fully formed personality materialises before me. It’s every dream of a beguiling witchy scent I’ve ever had.

Vol de Nuit captured my attention because of the way it sits at the intersection of chypre and oriental. Magie Noire does something similar being half green chypre and half sultry oriental. I find the complexity and contrast between the two utterly enthralling.

Unlike most green chypres, it has the slinky texture of fur. The throw is moderate and I find its longevity to be excellent.

It possesses a maturity that is perfectly in keeping with the fragrances of its era. Magie Noire does not pander. On the face of it, it’s all wildflowers, fresh shoots and berries but they lie in the shadow of intoxicating leather, civet and musk.

I see Magie Noire as the mythological crone; a mature woman at the height of her powers. Before the patriarchy took over, discrediting and burning these astute women as witches, the ancient crone was associated with attributes of ‘wisdom, compassion, transformation, healing laughter, and bawdiness’*. This is a woman who has grown comfortable in her own skin and feels able to speak her mind because she could care less what others think of her. She rejoices in her esoteric interests and values her coven. If you look closely, you can see a wry sparkle in her eye.

Is Magie Noire a favourite of yours? Do you love the vintage version? I understand old bottles are prone to turning.

*from http://www.cronecounsel.org

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Freddie Albrighton Perfumes

DREAMY. LIGHT. COMFORTING. WEARABLE. AFFORDABLE. ACCESSIBLE.

“I went out on the balcony to clear my head, I was burning up in my queen-sized bed, down on the strip beneath the billboard moon, teenaged kids look for love in the neon sex and doom, of your Hollywood perfume.” Hollywood Perfume. The Pretenders.

I first met Freddie in 2014 and we have remained friends ever since. We share a deep love of Vero Profumo, and of the Hermessence collection, and of Malle’s Le Parfum de Therese. Style matters.

Although on the surface it may look as though Freddie Albrighton leans more towards the weird and unwearable (indeed I do believe he had a phase of this) he actually has a deep love for fragrances that are quite classical in their construction and beauty.

That is not to say that I wasn’t apprehensive when he told me he was going to create his own perfume line. After all we have all had more than enough of the complete and utter crap put together by people in their broom cupboards and sold at extortionate rates to those who were not brought up on the literary folklore tale of The Emperor`s New Clothes penned by Hans Christian Anderson.

I need not have been. Freddie Is an artist, clear to see in his tattoo work. This translated well in the cross-over to perfume, proving he would not be satisfied with anything less than performing to the best of his ability. You are either a perfectionist or you are not – this being a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection, and only offers up what to them, at the time is the best that they can do.

MABEL´S TOOTH. A dark fragrance, but Mabel has a diamond on her tooth, allowing it to glint and glisten. Ristretto with a splinter of caramel. Earthy and nutty. Not for those who take marshmallows in their chocolate.

BERNADETTE MARGARET EVELYN THERESA. Vintage without the vinegar. Full of joy and flowers. Apricot schnapps and quantum droplets of patchouli. The beauty of this is quite astonishing and there is actual love in the formula. You can feel it. I want to drown in it.

BOYS. Walking into Top Shop on Oxford Circus. Straight onto the first level, full of plastic earrings, leather bags, fake leather bags, pink fluffy slippers, purple fluffy slippers, cupcakes, candy canes, lollipops, key rings, a photo booth or two. Add a hefty dose of shattered violets and a hit of musk.

This collection is exactly what we need after a year of lockdown, and as we manoeuvre our way through the months to come. Perfumes that are bright and cheerful, and a delight to have on the skin. These have no nuclear bases that cling ’til you’re in a coma. They slowly vanish, leaving a whisper of what was. And then you spray more. At 89 pounds for 50ml, what are we waiting for?

http://www.freddiealbrighton.com

Stay tuned for an Instagram live interview with @freddiealbrightonperfume and me @armadilloscookiequeen. Imminent.

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February Reading Diary

I am a big proponent of qutting books you’re not enjoying because I think it’s an important factor in having a good reading life. However I know people find this hard (hey Portia). Maybe it’s a throwback from school or the way books are intellectualised that makes it feel like a failure if you ‘give up’ on a book. We don’t feel this way about turning off a TV show though and you wouldn’t force yourself to finish a film you were finding a chore so why do it with a book? Nothing kills the joy of reading faster. I DNF (Did Not Finish) quickly and often and I encourage you to do the same.

Obviously it helps that many of my ebooks are bought for 99p (as were 3 of the 5 below). Buying Kindle offers, secondhand paperbacks or borrowing via the Libby app is a good idea.

The only exception is ‘hate reading’. I hate read The Starless Star and that brought its own perverse pleasure.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

“Here she is a puppet, a vessel for others to pour their speech. And it is not a man she has married, but a world.”

I read this book at the same time as Vanessa and Undina. I read the ebook, Vanesssa the paperback and Undina the audibook.

It was very much my style being an atmospheric, slightly eerie, historical fiction set in Amsterdam in the 1600s. Eighteen year-old Nella marries the nearly forty year-old merchant, Johannes Brandt, and moves to the city. Marriage is far from what she expected as she rarely sees Joanne’s, while his haughty sister, Marin, runs the house as if Nella doesn’t exist. Her only solace is the replica house Johannes buys her as a wedding present. She contacts a mysterious miniaturist to make items for the house but soon finds the striking little models of items and people turn out to be prophetic.

I read the first half at a leisurely pace but raced through the second half as we are hit with one revelation after another. It was nearly a five star book except that the mystery of the fortune-telling miniatures is never resolved plus it made no sense to me to have the epilogue at the start of the book instead of the end. Still a very good read. 4/5

The Four Agreements by MIguel Ruis

“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”

This is a modern self-help classic based on ancient Mexican Toltec wisdom. It’s a quick read and pretty simple in concept. The Four Agreements we are encouraged to make with ourselves are: Be Impeccable with your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions and Do Your Best. All admirable and will make a real difference if you can implement them but you need to challenge your existing limiting beliefs first and that’s not so easy (probably more achievable with CBT). It did remind me of the Carlos Castenda books I read in my youth about the Toltec shaman Don Juan which was nice and I hope to remember not to take things personally more. 3.75/5

The Ten Thousands Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

“How fitting, that the most terrifying time in my life should require me to do what I do best: escape into a book.”

This book ticked so many of my boxes. It’s a portal fantasy with a historical setting and the most gorgeous writing. January, a girl with copper coloured skin, lives with her benefactor, Mr Locke, in Vermont during the early 1900s. Her father travels the world sending back rare artefacts for Mr Locke’s collection. At age 7, January writes in her notebook and a door opens up to another world that smells of salt and cedar. At the age of 17 she finds a book called The Ten Thousand Doors and her story is then interwoven with that of Adelaide Larson who sees a door open in a field and a strange boy walk through it. The two of them spend the following decade looking for one another again. Meanwhile, January learns that Mr Locke’s archaeological society is not as harmless as it seems and she is in fact, in grave danger.

The story is beautifully told and it was great to have a mixed race heroine in a fantasy book for once. There was also a strong olfactory element which I always enjoy. Just my thing. 5/5

A Cry in the Dark (Carly Moore #1) by Denise Grover Swank

Towards the end of February I found out shielding was extended to 31st March, so I only felt like reading something pulpy and undemanding. Years ago, I read the Rose Gardner Mysteries by this author and they were humorous with a good slug of romance, all set in the Deep South (which I love). Cry in the Dark is similar being a spin-off featuring a side character from the original series. By this point, I had zero recollection of her or her storyline but it didn’t matter. Carly is escaping a dangerous and powerful ex, with a new identity, when her car breaks down and she has to make a stop in a backwoods Smoky Mountain town. She gets a temporary job at Max Drummond’s tavern but is attracted to his seemingly hostile brother, Wyatt. On her first night in the town she witnesses the murder of a teenage boy by a drugs gang and the police are out to nail it on her.

It was not in the least bit scary/stressful because the baddies are more like comic book characters. Truth be told, the plot was a load of twaddle and the writing is sub par. I did consider DNFing it, but sometimes it’s good to read something daft if you’re feeling fragile. 2.75/5

Eat, Drink, Run by Bryony Gordon

“I learn how to do something called a burpee, which seems to involve squatting down, throwing your legs back, and then jumping back up again. Burpees look simple, fun even, but do not be fooled. They have actually been sent from the third circle of hell to punish those of us who have committed the cardinal sin of gluttony.”

I’d previously read journalist Bryony Gordon’s mental health memoir, Mad Girl. I bought the audio book about running to listen to on my 30 minute trots around the local streets because I thought it might be motivating. Actually it’s less a book about how to run and more about how exercise can help your mental health. At age 36, 16 stone, a smoker and binge drinker, Bryony agrees to run the London Marathon for the Royals’ Heads Together charity. She goes to one of those ‘body camps’ in Ibiza that rich people go to train for the marathon and is told she has a biological age of 51. However, during one of my 30 minute stints, with some ups and downs, she goes from jogging to running 10km. Sadly I found this rather demotivating as after 2 months, I still feel like I’m about to collapse running 3.7km. Why can’t I improve?!

This is a very short, humorous book though and not intended as a guide for runners. The inclusion of the podcast she did with Prince Harry in which he opened up about his own struggles for the first time was a nice bonus. 3/5

How do you feel about giving up on books you’re not getting on with?

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Vero Profumo Eau de Parfums – The Return

And what costume shall a poor girl wear, to all tomorrow’s parties?” Lou Reed.

The Vero Profumo Eau de Parfums, although related to both the Voiles and the Extraits, are quite different. The EdPs are available again as limited editions in the black VP bottles. Online only, from Campomarzio. The Voiles are no longer available, and apart from a couple, neither are the extraits. You missed out? Tough.

Vero Kern once said that she likes to put “something a little bit disturbing” into her fragrances. Perhaps a note that people cannot identify. Sometimes it may disturb in a positive way and sometimes in a negative. “A characterful perfume has to have this disturbance, otherwise it is flat.” The Eau de Parfums are anything but flat.

The EdPs are sensual. Carnal, fleshly, unchaste. Voluptuous and beautiful. Lustful, earthy, and warm.

Vero commented at the launch of the original three edps, Rubj, Kiki, and Onda, that the new perfumes were not diluted versions of the extraits. An EdP needs a structure highlighting more the top notes as opposed to the base notes; but the aim still being to keep the original style of the extrait intact.

Vero in her Atelier.

The EdPs are delightfully lascivious. “I replaced the animalic notes with the unique scent of the passion fruit …. it lends a sensual and erotic lightness to the composition.” The luscious passion fruit links the four perfumes, Rubj, Kiki, Onda, and Rozy, adding to their communal seductiveness. (There is no passion fruit or cumin in any of the Voiles or the extraits, regardless of what you read – discontinued anyway. The number of comments and posts from people in the past writing about the cumin in Rubj Voile or extrait, used to make Vero crazy. Me too. I mean really? )

The above does not apply to the Mito EdP. That is a completely different kettle of fish. It is rich and green, sparkly and mossy, uplifting and elegant. Oh and the Mito Extrait is divine, but suck it up, it’s discontinued. NAJA stands alone from them all. And at the moment of writing this is still available.

I have the Rubj and Kiki EdPs in the black bottles, and the fragrances are exactly the same as in the original bottles. No changes at all. So chill.

Vero and Val

All of the perfumes Vero created are exquisite, but it is so much more than that. They have the same effect on me as The Velvet Underground did when I first heard them. Both added to my soul. Both Vero and the Velvet Underground have an erotic, revolutionary, pioneering, and subversive character. A most powerful perfume synesthesia. Vero and the Velvets stand at opposite ends of the bridge that connects me to the young woman I was, and to who I am now.

CQ.

Some of the above thoughts have appeared in previous pieces I have written.

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Mood Scent 4: Fabulously Fruity

Hey there A Bottled Rose, It’s a Mood Scent 4 week. WOO HOO! This month the crew are looking at Fabulously Fruity! Woo Hoo! I’ll admit that this months theme was my idea. Little did I know how freaking hard it was going to be to whittle my selection to six. I can’t remember ever having such a hard time. The genre is so vast and covers the widest range from full on fruit bombs to subtle weavings within other stories. What I have tried to do is cover six entirely different experiences of fruit, Seriously, I could easily have had 50 perfumes listed here today, and that’s just the ones I wear regularly. There was much humming and haaing.

Can’t wait to read about your favourite Fabulously Fruity fragrances in the comments too. Please let me know the ones you thought I’d put in that didn’t make the list too.

 

So excited to be blogging with these three superstars again: Esperanza L’Esperessence, Megan Megan In Sainte Maxime and Samantha I Scent You A Day. Check theirs out too.

Mood Scent 4: Fabulously Fruity

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