Author Archives: Tara

A Mini London Meetup – Photo Essay

Last weekend Val the Cookie Queen and her fabulous daughter Hannah (aka Blondes Wunder) landed in London for a flying visit. I met them on Friday afternoon and we had a chilled time after healthy fast food at Leon.

We got on the tube to Oxford Circus and similar to last time, Val and I installed ourselves in the Topshop cafe while Hannah trawled the rails. We had goods to exchange. Val brought me perfume but I was more excited about the world’s best cookies. I immediately ate three which showed great restraint on my part.

 

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Val’s first sniff of the vintage Chanel No.5 I brought back from Sydney for Portia.

 

 

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On Saturday morning I met Val at the back entrance of Liberty on Canaby Street. We’d be spending the day with Nick of fragrance consultancy Olfiction and Thomas, The Candy Perfume Boy who was coming down from Milton Keynes with his lovely husband, Nigel.

 

 

Before they arrived, we went into the store and had a look at Le Labo. The new Tonka 25 is very soft and quiet – likely to appeal to those craving something comforting. Val checked out Vetiver 46 which was better than most in that genre for me. (Later Thomas and I had a laugh about the fact that people regularly tell him that they wear a perfume called Santal 33 that nobody else knows about).

 

 

 

We spent some time at the Frederic Malle counter where Val and I always seem to gravitate. As a collection, it’s hard to beat, especially when it comes to niche.

 

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Val’s friend Rosie joined us and became totally smitten with Portrait of a Lady. We were shown the new 30ml atomisers which are a nice addition. Prices vary depending on the perfume: Musc Ravageur is £85 while Carnal Flower is £122.

 

 

 

Thomas and Nigel arrived.

 

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Thomas checked out the Christmas limited edition coloured bottles.

 

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Nick found us after having to get an Uber thanks to a cancelled train. He was due to be on QVC at 6pm for Miller Harris. We regrouped outside and decided to head to Muji to buy some atomisers for Val.

 

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Lunch was at Nando’s. I rarely eat there but luckily I was with aficionados. I had the Fino Pitta with Peri Peri salted chips and it was so good I didn’t stop to take a photo. Before the food arrived we did what my friend Natalie calls ‘table spritzing’. Not to be encouraged in public but we were seated in a corner away from other people. Nick had brought the strangelove nyc perfume samples for Val. Believe me when I tell you the vicinity smelt of oud from then on (it was good oud though).

 

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Next stop was the bakery Crumbs and Dollies in Kingly Court for Nigel. Hannah found a vegan cupcake too.

 

 

 

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Nick and me outside the bakery. He gives excellent advice and is a great listener.

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At this point it began to rain. We made it to Champion for Hannah to get some jogging pants and then went on to Selfridges as the downpour got considerably heavier. Nick had to shoot off to QVC once we got to Oxford Street.

Our last sniff was at the Chanel counter. Bien sûr! We looked at the limited edition red bottles which photograph beautifully but I found a little underwhelming in reality.

 

 

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Check out Blondes Wunder’s excellent beauty channel on YouTube here.

 

I’m currently experiencing extremely high levels of anxiety thanks to a house move so to spend time with such wonderful people was just what I needed.

 

 

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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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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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Vintage Mini Reviews – Bal a Versailles, Paris and Magie Noire

My Aussie friends gave me so many wonderful gifts when I visited in July. These included sweets, skincare, earrings, boots (2 pairs!) and of course, perfume.

The lovely Scott is a pal of Portia’s and a fragrance fiend like the rest of us. At my last evening attending Turbo Trivia he very sweetly presented me with a selection of decants from his collection which all feature rose to some extent. This was incredibly thoughtful, given my obvious love of the note. They were all perfumes that I didn’t know well – if at all – and I was excited to try them.

 

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Portia, Jin, me and Scott

 

There were five decants in all  but I’ve decided to focus on the three that impressed me the most. (The other two being Voleur de Roses by L’Artisan Parfumeur and Parfum de Peau by Montana).

 

Bal a Versailles Vintage EDC, Jean Desprez

Rosemary, orange blossom, mandarin orange, cassia, jasmine, rose, neroli, bergamot, Bulgarian rose, lemon, sandalwood, patchouli, lilac, orris root, vetiver, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, leather, Tolu balsam, amber, musk, benzoin, civet, vanilla, cedar, resins

Bal a Versailles is a busty oriental from the days when you could find animalic perfumes on the high street. I thought it would be a real ball-buster: loud and skanky. On me however, it radiates a warm and furry hum that is suggestive rather than obscene. I’m not at ease in pornographic perfume but on me, this is lightly draped curves and candle-lit seduction. I actually find it rather comforting in small amounts, though I have little doubt spraying liberally from the bottle gives you a decidedly different effect.

The musks are silky, fuzzy, moreish and of course, sensual. The powder is pitched just right. It’s the kind of perfume that I imagine being dabbed on the décolleté and mingling with the wearer’s skin chemistry. It positively blooms with body heat. The musky base is embellished with flowers and gilded with aromatics, woods and sweet resins. Bal a Versailles is enticingly intimate and gloriously lavish.

 

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Paris Vintage EDT, YSL

Bergamot, orange blossom, rose, mimosa, cassia, hawthorn, nasturtium, violet, hyacinth, geranium, violet leaves, jasmine, orris, ylang ylang, lily of the valley, lily, linden, sandalwood, amber, musk, moss, heliotrope, cedar and ambergris

I flip over good powdery rose/violet perfumes. They tend to be feminine, glamourous  and often reminiscent of vintage cosmetics. In short, they give me my pin-up girl moment.

I imagined vintage Paris would overwhelm me with chilly and jagged aldehydes, but it is surprisingly warm and velvety.  That’s not to say it is a quiet perfume – quite the opposite. A full spray from the bottle must envelop you in a dazzling pink cloud. Its personality is charmingly optimistic, carefree and elegant. The only thing that puts me off seeking out more juice, is the tell-tale Playdoh effect caused by heliotrope. For some reason the dominant presence of that almond-tinged note gives me a headache.

Although I may not be able to wear it, Paris is still a standout fragrance.

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Magie Noire Vintage EDT, Lancome

Bulgarian rose, blackcurrant buds, jasmine, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, amber and patchouli

I remember sniffing this at the very, very beginning of my slip into perfumania. I didn’t get it. It seemed too sour and austere.

Now I’m ready for it.

This sophisticated virago brings to mind black and white movie femme fatales like Bette Davis. Maybe not conventionally beautiful but absolutely magnetic. The individual elements shouldn’t work but the overall effect is compelling. As time wears on, I find myself constantly bringing my wrist to my nose. This potion is bewitchingly good.

There are hissing blackcurrant buds and dark, bitter greens tempered by white flower petals. It’s like escaping to an enchanted hideaway, concealed by a curtain of moss. Originally released in 1971, I can’t envisage Lancôme launching something like this today (more’s the pity). Vintage Magie Noire is magnificent.

 

 

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Huge thanks to Scott for sharing these fabulous decants with me. I know these perfumes are dear to his heart and in short supply, which makes it all the more special. It’s been a real education and filled a lacuna in my knowledge. An added bonus is that I’ve found more fragrances to covet.

Do you know and love any of these treasures?

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Reading Diary – Summer 2018

 

I never thought I liked Science Fiction but then I found out last month that my favourite book series The Chronicles of St. Mary’s is classed as Sci-Fi. Hilarious. You live and learn.

 

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The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

I’ve just started getting back into historical fiction and this was a great example of the genre. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about life in Victorian London/Essex and especially how it portrayed a more informal version than what we’re used to. The mythical Essex Serpent seemingly returned to the Blackwater estuary made for a compelling thread of intrigue. The characters were wonderful and I loved the relationship between Cora and the vicar, Will. The tension between the two regarding how they viewed the serpent – and each other – drew me in more and more. Sarah Perry’s writing was superb and never too slow or heavy on detail. I especially enjoyed the various letters between characters. 4.8

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An Argumentation of Historians by Jodi Taylor

This is the ninth book in The Chronicles of St. Mary’s about my beloved bunch of haphazard historians. We visit Persepolis as it’s about to go up in flames and rural 14th Century England. It seemed like it would be a rather relaxing read after the harrowing rollercoaster of book eight. However, towards the end there’s a twist and things rapidly ramp up, leaving us on a bit of a cliff-hanger. I guess it will have to happen one day if Jodi Taylor keeps writing this series but I find it hard to believe any of them will every be less than five stars for me. 5/5

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I always steered away from reading this clssic because it sounded like a gloomy ghost story. However, recently I kept hearing people compare it to Jane Eyre, so I finally picked it up. I find it really amusing that for a good portion of the book I was wondering what all the fuss was about. It all seemed very transparent and I was lulled into a sense of complacency. Then the rug was pulled from under me so brilliantly I gasped. Very quickly, I could see why people adore this book and why Daphne du Maurier was such a clever writer.  It’s such an evocative book and Rebecca is such a shocking and vivid character. I didn’t see much of a resemblance to Jane Eyre (who is still my favourite female literary character of all-time despite Millennials apparent dislike of the book).  5/5

 

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Lost Connections by Johann Hari

This investigation into the causes of depression and the effectiveness of antidepressants was pretty confusing for me. I know my life changed when I started taking SSRI medication but I also had to try several different types before I found one that worked. This makes me conclude that it wasn’t a placebo effect and there was a chemical component. They don’t help everyone but even if they don’t help most people they can be life-changing (indeed life-saving) for some people. I also know there are people with great lives who get hit with depression out of a clear blue sky. The book did however make me want to check I still need them.  Consequently I’ve weened myself off and will see where I go from there. Please consult your doctor if you are considering coming off medication yourself.

 

Have you read any of these books or have another to recommend?

 

 

 

 

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Shopping Portia’s Perfume Collection – Photo Essay

Portia did a very brave thing recently. She employed a couple of friends to catalogue her extensive perfume collection. They took two days and came up with a figure of 1,208 bottles.

 

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Not many of us fragrance fanatics know the exact number we have and I dare say even fewer of us would want to publish it.

Some thought it might actually be more considering Portia often refers to her “perfume room” but this hallowed space functions as an office as well as providing storage. This is where the hard work of keeping Australian Perfume Junkies motoring takes place.

The cabinet you can see in the left of the photo below holds boxes with various groupings of fragrance.

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We had a really fun couple of evenings going through some of the boxes on Portia and Jin’s dining room table.

 

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We did some serious spritzing and I was in danger of running out of skin real estate.

 

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I was particularly interested in Portia’s stash of Geurlain and Chanel. There were so many vintage gems. Lots of Mitsouko, Samsara, No.22 and No.5.

 

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I also tried all three Les Eaux de Chanel and liked the herbaceous citrus breeze of ParisDeauville the most.

 

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Mahora Parfum, Guerlain

 

Portia gave me a partial bottle of vintage Miss Dior Parfum when last in London and as it is all but finished, I asked if I could buy one of the many back-ups. I wore it to Portia’s wedding and you can read my review of it here.

I also bought a full bottle of the EDT which I’d never tried before.

 

 

 

 

The perfume that was on my To Buy List at the time was Chanel No.19. I didn’t know which concentration to get so we tried them all. I totally fell in love with an old bottle of the Parfum. The galbanum is so smooth and silky that it made me swoon.

I decided to buy the EDT version along with the Parfum. We thought I could wear both at the same time to give the Parfum some throw. Well, that was my excuse.

 

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No.19 Parfum and EDT

 

Portia kindly provided me with two ‘Gifts With Purchase’. One was Niki de Saint Phalle EDT, which I liked a lot but had only owned a sample of. It’s a gorgeous, powdery green scent that I find easier to wear than Jacomo’s Silences but is in the same vein (my review is here).

The other was Caleche Parfum by Hermes which I’m looking forward to getting to know.

 

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Portia only charged me what she paid for them less what she had used (if any). I got a great deal and did my bit to help reduce the Aussie fragrance mountain 🙂 It was also the perfect way to buy vintage without risk.

 

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Just before I left Australia, Portia very generously gave me a partial bottle of vintage Mitsouko. It’s the EDT which is my favourite concentration. It is glorious.

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They will remind me of Portia and my trip of a lifetime every time I spray.

 

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Are any of these favourites of yours?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Australia Trip Highlights – Photo Essay

 

Clearly Portia’s wedding was the highlight of the holiday but the whole 3 weeks were so jam-packed that this post really contains the highlights of the highlights. I haven’t even included the little train ride through the Sydney Botanic Gardens or the morning spent chatting with Portia and Anna-Maria in the Chinese Gardens at Darling Harbour.

Before I even I arrived, I decided that despite my various ‘limitations’, I’d really go for it on this trip – and I did. No lie-ins, no rest days. I pushed myself and found I could do a lot more than I imagined, socially as well as physically. None of it would have been possible however, without the support of my friends. They mean the world to me and I would never have got to experience Australia without them.

 

 

 

Soon after I arrived, Jin (Portia’s partner, now husband) took me by ferry to a tour of Sydney Opera House. I loved the building and found its history fascinating.

 

 

 

 

 

Our mate Tina G organised our 3 night stay at Emu Apartments in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory. The day we arrived, she had arranged for us to have ‘Dinner Under the Stars’ with a talk through the night sky and a walk around the Field of Lights: a light installation which sadly could not be captured effectively by camera. It was a magical experience from start to finish.

 

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I adore that red earth!

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The landscape was like nothing I’d seen before.

 

Not only did we see Uluru at sunrise and sunset on the same day, but we did a tour of the rock itelf. Some of the aborignal stories the guide shared can only be told at Uluru and they had me enthralled.

 

 

Tina booked us on a hike of nearby Kata Tjuta – a landmark made up of 36 huge domed rocks. I had a couple of stumbles but I survived! Without her knowledge of the area, we might have missed out on this wonder.

 

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Next Portia and I flew to Cairns, Queensland and I got to meet Portia’s wonderful Auntie Tracey. We took a Quicksilver boat excursion to the outer Great Barrier Reef. I had not intended to snorkel out in the deep sea, but I did. We also took the semi-submersible for a closer look at the coral.

 

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Portia in the semi-submersible. Luckily, I wasn’t claustrophobic.

 

 

 

We drove nearly 9 hours from Cairns to Airlie Beach where we stayed at a lovely Airbnb apartment. We spent our one full day on an Ocean Rafting adventure into the Whitsunday Islands. Here I got to see the most stunning beaches and snorkel as close as it gets to the colourful coral which comes down from the beach at Border Island.

 

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The breath-taking Hill Inlet

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The breath-taking Portia Turbo

 

Spending a few days with my friend Natalie – an ex-blogger who now lives in Sydney – was a highlight in itself. I felt happy just being in her company. We visited some of the city’s many beautiful beaches. My favourite was Palm Beach where they film the TV show Home and Away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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World famous Bondi Beach

 

Like many tourists visiting Australia, I really wanted to meet a kangaroo and a koala. I got to do both and see a lot more native animals at Featherdale Wildlife Park.

 

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Feeding a baby kangaroo

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With Jin, Kath, Portia and Victor the koala (who is asleep, not drugged!)

 

Finally, it was a thrill to experience Turbo Trivia live. It was impressive to see Portia in full performance mode, entertaining the players while keeping the quiz on track. She makes it look effortless but I know how much work it takes behind the scenes.

 

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The real incentive for me to spend around 21 hours on planes to get to Australia was the people that live there. Spending time with the friends I had already made and making new ones is what made it super special. Everything else was the most fabulous bonus ever.

 

Have you visited Australia? What should I do on my next visit? 

 

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