Category Archives: Perfume Friends

24 Hour Perfume People – A Parisian Photo Essay

Portia of Australian Perfume Junkies invited me to join her and pals for an April trip to Paris a while ago. I thought I had better give it a miss considering I had booked a big holdaiy for July. Then last Wednesday I had one of those “life is short” moments and got on to fellow frag fanatic Lisa, to see if I could travel with her for the weekend. (Look out for her write-up on I Scent You A Day).

On Friday we boarded the Eurostar at St. Pancras.

 

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‘I Want My Time With You’ – Tracey Emin’s new pro-EU artwork.

 

On arrival at the Gare du Nord, we headed straight for the Metro.

 

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Photo credit: Lisa Jones

 

Lisa was staying at a hotel in the Latin Quarter while I was sleeping on the sofabed at Portia’s Airbnb, conveniently located in Les Halles. Before we met the others we found time to visit a huge French pharmacy. These places are full of amazing skincare that is often cheaper than back home. My usual Nuxe lip balm costs £9.50 but I got a couple here for 6.99 euro each.

 

 

When I arrived at the apartment, Scott was sorting through his precious scent strips from their trip to The Osmotheque the day before. He kindly let me sniff the recreated Iris Gris.

 

 

That evening we walked past the amazing Pompidou Centre on our way to dinner in the very cool Marais district.

 

 

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Pompidou Centre

 

 

The next morning we had croissants by the pond in the Tuileries gardens. Portia harassed the ducks and we messed about in front of The Louvre.

 

 

 

Then we made our way to the Jardin du Palais-Royal to meet up with the others (14 in total) for a 10am appointment at Serge Lutens.

 

 

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Jardin du Palais-Royal

 

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Tim and Lisa, with Margo in the background being fabulous (as per).

 

 

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A Portia Photobomb

 

 

 

 

 

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We went up the hallowed spiral staircase where few mortals are allowed to go.

 

 

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Each of the three tables had 4 different bell jars – and macarons!

 

 

After an introduction about Serge Lutens – the man himself – the staff passed around paper strips dipped into each of the twelve fragrances in turn. With strips in hand, they then read some corresponding background information about them.

The bell jars included Santal de Mysore (spiced), Miel de Bois (happily urine-free), Iris Silver Mist (bliss), Borneo 1834 (yum), Cuir Mauresque (greasy leather – in a good way), Chene (great), Un Bois Sepia (ugh), Fumerie Turque (very popular with the room), La Myrrhe (classy) and Rose de Nuit (own it).

 

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Afterwards, we were able to request others. I asked to try Une Voix Noire (which I thought I might buy) and De Profundis on skin along with Iris Silver Mist.

 

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Une Voix Noire turned out to be a transparent, almost honeyed, white floral. It was rather lovely but because it wasn’t the smoky gardenia I’d expected, it threw me.  I reckoned it was too much of a risk to purchase on the spot (I need a decant first).

 

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The Cool Kids Table

 

The one I decided to buy was Iris Silver Mist because I’m trash for iris and it isn’t as carrot-y or metallic as it used to be. When I thanked one of the SAs on my way downstairs and told her I was buying ISM, she told me it was currently available as a 30ml travel atomiser with a 30ml refill. At 120 euro for a total of 60ml (which I can spray!) compared to 190 euro for the 75ml bell jar, this was a result.

Just about everyone came away with something. In Portia’s case, three somethings – La Myrrhe, Chene and Chypre Rouge.

 

 

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Le Waft

 

 

Below left is the box and then below right is the black travel atomiser full of ISM, with the refill alongside it. I’ve worn it every day since and adore it. Anna-Maria bought the same and accidentally but brilliantly renamed it Irish Silver Mist 🙂

 

 

After lunch, we stopped off at Dior on our way to Jovoy. None of the swath of new perfumes in La Collection grabbed me but it’s great they do 40ml bottles now. Apparently Mitzah is released as a limited run each year, but only available in Paris.

 

 

 

Jovoy is a large store stocking a lot of luxury niche brands.  I tried Niral by Neela Vermeire Creations and a couple of the fragrances by Anatole Lebreton. I wanted to love Grimoire because of its wonderful name but sadly, did not. (You can read about my visit to the new London branch here).

 

 

A few of us wanted to visit the Sacré-Coeur and Montmartre so we left the others to it.

That tiny baby – bottom right – squealed and scared Portia out of her skin. Hahaha.

 

 

Before heading back to the apartment we made a visit to Divine Perfumes. Apparently L’Homme Sage went down well.

 

 

We spent the evening at a very nice restaurant where I tried my first oyster.

 

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The Last Supper

 

This fantastic group of perfume people made me feel included even though I was piggybacking on their trip at the last minute.

Lisa and I headed for the Eurostar home the next morning so it was essentially only one full day in Paris but wow, what a day.

Huge thanks to everyone involved for making it so special.

 

 

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Fun in London with The Candy Perfume Boy – Photo Essay

 

By Val the Cookie Queen from APJ

 

A Day with The Candy Perfume Boy, BlondesWunder and Kimball Shirley, cartoonist extraordinaire.

 

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Up bright and early on the Thursday before The Art and Olfaction Awards saw us heading up to Victoria Tube Station to meet Thomas, The Candy Perfume Boy (CPB) and Kimball Shirley, a very dear family friend of many years.  An American spending a little time in London.  Formerly of The Simpsons, and now of the animated sitcom Bob’s Burgers, we roped him into being our paparazzi.  He is now working on a fragrant comic picture of us all.  And we are freaking beyond excited.  
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Successfully meeting outside the Golden M in Victoria, we all headed to Les Senteurs to meet up with the utterly charming and vivacious Nathalie Vinciguerra, founder of the Anima Vinci perfume range.
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Beautiful uplifting fragrances, designed to pull at the heart and the spirit. BlondesWunder fell so in love with one she left with a decant.  It was the CPB that introduced me to the Anima Vinci range, albeit virtually, and it led to setting up the date with Nathalie whilst I was in London. (He attended the launch in the South of France).
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Suddenly finding ourselves in dire need of refreshment, Nathalie invited us to her office inside the mind-blowing Michelin House in Chelsea, originally opened in 1911.
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The building has an incredible rooftop terrace and we took our refreshment up there, happily spending another hour sniffing our way through the scents again.  
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There are five perfumes in the collection, each one is enchanting. I will introduce them in my next post here.  
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It was about time to take our leave and head off to The Holy Nando’s.  Thomas and I had promised this for ourselves several months earlier. I had never been, and he worships there.  This was a serious event and we treated it accordingly. 
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Undisputedly delicious and I now understand his regular attendance. As long as he works out properly during the week, and runs regularly, I am OK with that. 🙂 Meanwhile I need a serious stash of their Drizzle Oil.
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Having found out earlier in the day that Thomas and Nick had won a Jasmine Award for their Fume Chat Podcast, we forced ourselves to eat ice cream at Fortnum and Mason’s in celebration.  Why not?  Kimball had never been.  He had a banoffee cardiac arrest in a glass, topped with honeycomb chunks and a quarter litre side serving of liquid caramel to pour over it, as and when.  
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I do not have the words to do justice to the absolutely brilliant day that we had.  Bucket list date with CPB, hanging with a dear friend, and my daughter along to share my strange habits with both of them.  She had them laughing tears.  I’m gonna make her pay one day.  All my street cred is shot.
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Candy Burger Bussis
CQ
 

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The Art and Olfaction Awards 2018 – Photo Essay

 

I had been looking forward to last weekend for MONTHS. So many of my friends from other countries, that I rarely get to see, would be converging on my home town for the fifth annual Art and Olfaction Awards on the evening of the 21st April.

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The day before I met up with my mate (from APJ and now a ABR contributor),  Val the Cookie Queen and her fabulous daughter, Blundeswunder, over from Austria. We met at the Frederic Malle store in Burlington Arcade and immediately tried the forthcoming Sale Gosse by Fanny Bal. It has notes of pettigrain, neroli, bergamot, rosemary, Malabar and violet. On me, it’s a very lovely, sweet-but-not-too-sweet violet cologne-style fragrance. I didn’t pick up on the much talked about bubblegum.

 

While Blundeswunder scoured Topshop, Val and I did some sniffing downstaits in the cafe. ABR reader, Crikey, had sent Val some of Dior’s discontinued Mitzah and very generously included some vintage Miss Dior for me – whoop!

 

Later in the day we met up with Antonio Gardoni of Bogue Profumo for drinks. He is always excellent company and was on the judging panel for the Awards. They sent him no fewer than 180 vials of scent to assess.

 

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Antonio and Val the Cookie Queen

 

On the morning of the Awards, eight of us met for brunch at The Diner in Spitalfields. This fragrant group included Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume, Megan of Megan in Sainte Maxime, Lucy of Indieperfumes, regular commenter Lady Jane Grey and the superstar that is Margo, over from Poland. Just as much chatting and sniffing as eating took place, as you can imagine.

 

Lucy brought us lots of American indie samples to try from brands like Kerosene and For Strange Women. Val brought the new releases from the Hermssence collection.  The three perfumes are Cedar Sambac, Myrrh Eglantine and Agar Abene. The two oils are Musc Pallida and Cardamusc. Musc Pallida was beautiful but far too ethereal for £275. The one I really fell for was Cedar Sambac.

After brunch we made our way west to the niche perfume store Bloom, in Covent Garden. I’m very pleased they now stock Aussie brand Naomi Goodsir. Her niche fragrances are distinctive in a world of blah. The latest addition, the striking Nuit de Bakelite, was a finalist in the year’s Independent Category of the Awards – review to come.

 

 

The Art and Olfaction Awards celebrates independent and artisan perfumery from across the globe.  The city location changes each year (in 2017 it was Berlin) and this year they were held at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill. If you’re interested, you can read the full list of 2018 finalists and judges here. It’s fantastic that the Awards shine a spotlight on the great work indie and artisan perfumers are doing.

The event was very well attended (and rather hot) with musical accompaniment from a samba band.

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I was excited to be reunited with Portia from the back-in-business Australian Perfume Junkies. Happily, I was seated near the dynamic duo that is Nick Gilbert and Thomas Dunckley who recently quite rightly won the Innovation Jasmine Award for their brilliant Fume Chat podcast.

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Portia, Nick and Thomas

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Michael, Portia, Val and Me

A lot of indie perfumers were in attendance including Josh Meyer of Imaginary Authors, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes and Andy Tauer.

Andy Tauer, Denyse Beaulieu and Sarah McCartney all presented awards (pictured below).

 

 

Here are the winners, who each received ‘The Golden Pear’.

 

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ARTISAN CATEGORY WINNERS

Chienoir
by BedeauX
CD/ Perfumer: Amanda Beadle

Club Design
by The Zoo
CD/ Perfumer: Christophe Laudamiel

INDEPENDENT CATEGORY WINNERS

Eau de Virginie
by Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger
Perfumer: Jean-Claude Gigodot

Nuit de Bakélite
By Naomi Goodsir
Perfumer: Isabelle Doyen

SADAKICHI AWARD WINNER

(Experimental Work with Scent)

Under the Horizon
by Oswaldo Macia
Perfume: Ricardo Moya (IFF)

AFTEL AWARD FOR HANDMADE PERFUME

Pays Dogon
By Monsillage (Canada)
Perfumer: Isabelle Michaud

CONTRIBUTION TO SCENT CULTURE

Peter de Cupere (Belgium)

 

Above: Naomi Goodsir with perfumer Isabelle Doyen and Chrisophe Laudamiel

It was a fun night, not least because it was a great excuse to catch up with friends from near and far.

 

See you in Amsterdam for the 2019 Awards?

 

 

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A Stunning New Word – And Some Ramblings

By Val the Cookie Queen

Hi Guys 
 
Dropping in for my bi-monthly visit here at A Bottled Rose.  About a year ago I heard the most wonderful word used on the radio, sometime around 4.00am.   I sleep with BBC World Service playing softly at the side of the bed. I often hear interesting things but have no recollection when I wake up.  However on this occasion I got up and wrote the word down.  I have been waiting ever since to present it in a post.  
 
ANTICAPPOINTMENT
 
Forgive me those who are familiar with the word,  I was not.   It covers a host of events and situations in life.
I will in this case use it in relation to my feelings regarding the current perfume scene. My anticipation at new releases and the continual disappointment that follows. Anticappointment.
Perfume is subjective, we all know that, I name no names.  Nine out of ten things that I sniff are awful and the one out of ten that isn’t is not what I would buy. Hahahaha – it makes you wonder that I don’t just give up, huh?
To give up an addiction one first has to want to, and I don’t.  
Before anyone jumps out at me, I know there is good new stuff, but let us be honest here, it’s few and far between.  
 
Fear not.  I still have classic signs of addiction.  I recently bought 50mls of Dior”s discontinued Mitzah from a perfumista friend who scored a half gallon in Paris.  
I tried it once years ago and did not like it.  LMAO.  But I have moved on and I reckon I am gonna love it now.  It was shipped to Tara and I will get it next week. 
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Which brings me nicely to my ramblings.  I’m heading to London tomorrow, along with BlondesWunder, and as you read this we will be in Pack’n’Panic mode.  
I will get two full days with Tara, an evening with Portia, time with Bonkers Vanessa, a meet up with Megan In St Maxime, and most of us are going to The Art and Olfaction Awards. Keep your eyes out on my Instagram …
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I have a date with a favourite blogger, (to be revealed in my next post) and together we will spend some time with Nathalie Vinciguerra, the founder and CEO of Anima Vinci.  These perfumes excite me and come highly recommended.  Stay tuned. 
 
What perfume will I wear to the Art and Olfaction Awards? I hear you ask. Why Vero Profumo of course. Naja Eau de Parfum, including notes of red apple and leather. Launch date to be announced.  
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Have you ever been anticappointed?
 
Britain Bound Bussis
CQ
 
 Apple image by John Hyde Phillips

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PSA: APJ Update

Editor’s note: My dear friends over at Australian Perfume Junkies are going through every blogger’s worst nightnare at the moment,  so the Cookie Queen is here today to let everyone know what’s happening.
‘READ ALL ABOUT IT, SHOCK HORROR, HAVE YOU HEARD THE NEWS’   –  Shock Horror by Mick Farren & The Deviants  (1977) 
 
“There is some corrupted code that allowed malware to enter the APJ site.  We have worked so hard but its proving resistant to our efforts.  The places that offer a fix are expensive and not even failsafe, so we are seeking other avenues.“ –  Portia Turbo
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Australian Perfume Junkies as we know and love it has gone. Like the proverbial parrot.  As some of you may know, APJ has been having some serious issues over the last months. Portia did think for a moment that they had been resolved, but sadly to no avail.
 

You would think in this digital day and age, where everything is there to find, and it is virtually impossible to remove anything from the Web, that there would have been a way to have at least kept the content of APJ hovering in cyberspace . But no. The only way to even start to fix things is to have the slate wiped.  Where did it go? We have no bloody clue.  I managed to screenshot what I considered my three best posts, so I have something.  

I know how sad Portia is to lose the Scent Diary, her personal journal for over a year.  Not to mention the hard and loving work from all the other contributors.  
 
But yeah, APJ will regroup in one way or another.  In the meantime Tara has offered to let me carry on with my twice monthly posts here on A Bottled Rose. I couldn’t be more honoured.  And excited.  
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“The parrot is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not ‘alf hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein‘ tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.“ –  Monty Python 
 
APJ is merely resting.
 
Bottled Bussis
CQ
 
 

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A Month of Irises

Who needs roses on Valentine’s Day when you can have irises?

You may already be a reader of Undina’s excellent blog, but she came up with the idea of making February ‘A Month of Irises’.  There is a new post each week on Undina’s Looking Glass which she is adding to each day with a little iris-related review or fact, so do check in there for the rest of the month and share your SotD. Other bloggers are getting involved in the fun too and I’m hosting here on A Bottled Rose today.

I’ll be posting a full review of my current No.1 iris, Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums at the end of the month, but today I wanted to talk about another iris in my collection: 28 La Pausa by Les Exclusifs de Chanel.

 

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I own a 200ml vat of the original EdT and while it is notorious for poor longevity, strangely I don’t have any problems on that score. It would be tough to produce an iris-centric perfume that wasn’t elegant but I think you’d be hard pressed to find one more refined and coolly charming than this Chanel.

28 La Pausa is a silken iris, being low on rootiness and much more floral in character. I find it soothing and minimalist yet radiant. It stops short of aloof and floats pleasantly around me in the palest blue aura.

When I tried the new EdP version I found that it progressed rather too quickly to its vetiver base on my skin. However Victoria of Bois de Jasmin recently wrote that she prefers it, in her brilliant Top Ten of Winter Iris Perfumes so do see how you find it. That post also spawned galloping lemmings of On Lipstick from Maison Martin Margiela Replica and Mythique by Parfums DelRae.

Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens is surely the ne plus ultra of iris perfumes but it has too much of a cold knife edge for me to wear it comfortably. My “lottery win” iris would be Irisss by Xerjoff at £560 for 100ml.

Chanel No.19 EdT is the iris-forward perfume that is currently on my To Buy list. Another fantastic iris that I’m sure I’ll own one day is Prada’s Infusion d’Iris Absolu.

Some others that I admire and have reviewed in the past are Hermes Hiris, the white iris of Nirmal by Laboratorio Olfattivo, the moonlit Iris Nazarena from Aedes de Venustas and the fabulously smoky Iris Cendre by Naomi Goodsir.

If you missed it on Olfactoria’s Travels back in the day, you might be interested to read my write-up of Incredible Irises, an evening of iris at Perfume Lovers London. It features some background information about this luxurious ingredient as well as a good selection of scents.

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Please let us know in the comments which iris perfume you are wearing today or which one/s you love!

 

 

 

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Italy, Friendship and Fornasetti

 

I know I said I wasn’t going to post this week but I couldn’t wait to share my recent trip.

It was wonderful, partly because Italy is such a fabulous place but mainly because of the people I was with. Ines, Asali and Natalie are all truly kind, supportive and inspiring women.  It was a real joy to finally meet Ines (read her lovely write-up here) and Asali (who designed my gorgeous blog header) and to get to know Natalie better.

We not only saw Bologna, where we were based, but also took the train to Parma for the day.

Sadly, Ines and Asali had to leave before our final expedition to Venice on Monday.

 

Bologna

 

 

Parma

 

 

Venice

 

 

I came home feeling extremely fortunate, but also with something I’ve wanted to own for a while now.

 

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Fornaetti is an iconic Italian homewares brand, producing room fragrances, plates, cushions etc.

You may have seen their scented candles, even you didn’t know the name. The images are very striking and usually quirky. I guess they are something that you either find  appealing or you don’t. For me, they are actually much more about the ceramic holders than the scent of the candle inside. They are a thing of beauty and wit – a winning combination.

What had put me off until now was the price. The smaller 300g ones are generally £140. However, visiting Italy gave me the perfect excuse. We were browsing a clothes shop in Parma when I noticed the candles. There were about 8-10 of them and I thought they would make the perfect souvenir of this awesome experience.

 

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The shop offered a little money off and when Natalie worked out the conversion rate (£113), that swung the deal.

I took a little while to make up my mind but I went with the image that spoke to me the most.  This one of soprano Lina Cavalieri dressed as a medieval knight – called “Armatura” –  fits me to a T. As Natalie said “It’s dark and empowering”.

 

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The candle’s scent is called ‘Otto’ which was created in collaboration with perfumer Olivier Polge, who in recent years has composed Misia and Boy for Chanel.  The fragrance was inspired by the Mediterranean herbs found in and around the Fornasetti home in Milan. It has notes of thyme, lavender, cedarwood and incense and was created in Grasse, France, while the porcelain holders are made and hand-decorated in Italy.

 

 

I’ve been piecing together my own metaphysical suit of armour for a couple of years now and the idea of a fighter with femininity resonates greatly with me. It will be a nice reminder of the strong women that are my friends and for who I will travel the earth to see, as well as my own inner warrior.

 

 

Do you like Fornasetti or scented candles in general? Is there a decorative object that you’ve long lusted after?

 

 

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Italy and Instagram

Hello All,

There won’t be a blog post next week as I’m off to Italy for a few days. Tangentially, it’s a perfume-related trip, as I’ll be meeting up with three friends I’ve found through blogging.

These are, Natalie of Another Perfume Blog (which is sadly no longer extant), Ines of All I am – a redhead and Asali of The Sounds of Scent. I’ve never met Asali or Ines in real life so I’m super excited to see them for the first time and it will be beyond wonderful to spend time with Natalie again after she’s been such a great support to me over the last few months.

Add this to finally meeting Undina  a couple of weeks ago and I feel really lucky to be meeting so many women I’ve known online since the beginning of my adventure down the fragrant rabbit-hole, some six or seven years ago  As Vanessa says, we come for the perfume but stay for the friendships.

We will be travelling to Bologna from four different countries which is pretty cool. Bologna looks like a fabulous medieval city and a good base for seeing other parts of the country. It also helps that the region is known as ‘The Stomach of Italy’ because I plan on eating all the food.

I intend to post some pics on Instagram which I’ve joined recently (@abottledrose). I never thought Instagram was the place for someone with a sight impairment but I was encouraged to try it by Val the Cookie Queen and she never steers me wrong.

I’m giving it a go and enjoying it so far. The photos on Facebook have long been my favourite part and the Insta Stories are a lot of fun. I post the odd Scent of the Day pic and other bits and pieces. As I have recently become skincare obsessed there’s some of that too.

Although I did wonder at first if I should be cutting down on my social media, not adding to it, Instagram feels more carefree than other virtual hangouts.

 

 

Have you been to Bologna? Are you on Instagram? What are you thoughts about social media?

 

 

 

 

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Undina in London at Last!

I started reading Undina’s Looking Glass when it first appeared on the blogosphere six years ago.  I’ve long been keen to meet Undina so I was extremely happy when she wrote to say she and her Very Significant Other would be visiting London from their home in San Francisco.  If only Rusty could have come too…

 

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Rusty: Have submarine, will travel?

 

We met outside Harrods just as it opened at 11.30 am on a sunny Sunday. Undina made me feel at ease immediately and her still jet-lagged vSO very accommodatingly wandered around the store as we hit the perfume trail.

Undina doesn’t publish her photograph online but you can see below what we got up to.

 

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First stop, the 6th floor and the rarefied atmosphere of the Salon de Parfum. Our timing was good because they had opened an additional six fragrance boutiques two weeks before, including Penhaligon’s, Armani Privé and Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums.

 

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Undina had wanted to check out the MDCI Parfums line while in London and already owns Chypre Palatin. Six fragrances are stocked in the Roja Dove perfumerie (three feminines and three masculines). We liked Un Coeur en Mai the most and when Undina said it reminded her of another perfume, I was very pleased with myself for spotting it resembled Chamade. Both are spring green florals with a pollen-y feel.

 

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Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie

 

Guerlain’s  Muguet 2017 is a gorgeous lily of valley with rose, jasmine and green notes. If it were not for the sky high price I’d have happily bought a bottle.

 

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The new addition to L’Art et la Matière collection, Joyeuse Tubéreuse, surprised us by being not very tuberose-like. It’s a pretty floral bouquet with just a hint of super fresh tuberose. When the description says ‘airy’ (below), it’s not kidding. After about an hour it was extremely quiet.

 

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Above is the very Kilian-esque SA modelling the new Black Phantom. A boozy, woody fragrance with notes of rum, coffee, vetiver, cyanide, sugar cane and sandalwood.

Below is the Harrods exclusive Midnight in London which is £15,000 for the whole case (no more will be available).  The fragrance is a very nice mimosa-led floral which Undina liked best out of everything we tried. Oh the burden of expensive taste.

 

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By Kilian’s Midnight in London

 

I was excited that Frederic Malle had come to the Salon de Parfums because since my visit to the Burlington Arcade store with Val the Cookie Queen, I’ve been a little obsessed with the line.

 

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Of course I had to try out what the SA called ‘The Time Machine’. It’s a temperature controlled space for trying out fragrances in a diffused way.  Undina suggested spraying En Passant into it as it is the most fleeting. Sadly the first time if was so fleeting we could smell nothing, but on a second try we picked it up and it was lovely.

Next I tried Iris Poudre in the machine as I’m considering a full bottle purchase. This novel perfume delivery system is a bit of fun and maybe you do get a better idea than when you stick your nose onto a scent strip.

Undina disliked Superstitious on the card but loved it on me so that’s okay then.

 

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At Armani Privé we tried the Harrods exclusive which I have sadly zero recollection of. The good news is, however, that the coveted Limited Edition lipstick iris, La Femme Bleue, is coming back and will be permanent, if not widely available.

 

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You could go just to look at the gorgeous interiors…

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Back on the ground floor we went into the Black Hall and made a bee-line for Ormonde Jayne as it’s a favourite line of Undina’s and I own a couple of their perfumes too.  We tried yet another Harrods exclusive. This one is called Amber Royal and is a very pleasant floral amber.

Montabaco is their best seller and the one the SA told me the brand is now most known for. It’s a wearable, unisex tobacco scent but is part of the pricey Four Corners collection so the 50ml is £195. 

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At the Amouage counter I was impressed with Bracken Woman which smells exactly as you would expect and hope. Quite a contrast with the pink bottle. The notes are wild berries, fern, lily, narcissus, chamomile, leather, patchouli, vetiver and birch.

 

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Undina noted the placement of Bond No. 9 by the toilets…

 

After lunch we met Vanessa of Bonkers about Perfume at Bloom in Covent Garden. It was so lovely to see her after she couldn’t join us for Val’s visit.

 

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Bloom looked quite a bit different. They have removed the glass cabinets which makes everything easily accessible now.  A good move.

 

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Vanessa and I enjoyed trying Hummingbird, a floral fragrance in the Zoologist line authored by Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes. My favourite is still the fur coat of Civet (also by Shelley).

 

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Vanessa tried quite a few from indie brand Imaginary Authors.

 

 

Undina has been trying to make her mind up as to which formulation of Mito by Vero Profumo to purchase. We all preferred the Voile in a side-by-side test.

 

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Bloom had a tiny bit left of a sample of the forthcoming tobacco perfume from Vero, Naja, for Undina to try. I can’t wait to own a bottle.

We had tea and cake at Patisserie Valerie (it seems to be the perfumistas cafe of choice) and then I said my farewells. I would have loved to stay longer with them all but the day and my cold were catching up on me. All the same it was wonderful to spend much of the day with Undina and her v.SO and to see Vanessa again.

I look forward to seeing Undina and her v.SO again one of these days, either in London or San Franciso (it’s on the list!)

 

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Fun in London with Val the Cookie Queen

After looking forward to their visit for weeks, fellow blogger and dear friend Val the Cookie Queen and her wonderful daughter landed in London on Tuesday afternoon. I met them straight off the train from Stansted, so they hit the ground running.

Following a curry pit stop at Dosa World just off Brick Lance, we made for the DECIEM store in Spitalfields. I recently wrote about budget skincare brand The Ordinary and  Val and Hannah were just as eager to check out the products.

 

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I picked up the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% to help balance out my combination skin. I also wanted the Marula Oil but it was sold out. I have patches of dry skin at the moment so opted for the Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex from NIOD (also a DECIEM brand) because it has twelve different molecules of hyaluronic acid, as opposed to The Ordinary’s three.

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Hannah & Val checking out The Ordinary’s make-up which has a huge waiting list.

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After this, we headed to Debenhams on Oxford Street because I wanted to show Hannah the make-up line by tattooist, Kat Von D. The Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks are particularly popular and I purchased Double Dare, a rosy nude, for my holiday in Italy next month.

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Don’t bother with Kat Von D make-up if you’re going for the natural look.

 

In the lanes around Carnaby Street we stopped at MAC and visited roll n’roll jewellery store The Great Frog . This was a very cool store which Val had bought a couple of rings from in her youth. We were rather taken with the skull and crossbones stud earrings.

 

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After a M&S hummus run we called it a day.

 

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Day 1 haul

 

The next morning we met at the perfume department (obvs) in Fortnum & Mason. This was with the sole purpose of checking out the Ormonde Jayne Exclusive, Jardin d’Ombre. It’s a dusty iris in a garden of soft florals which our pal Pia of Love To Smell is mad about.  We both committed it to skin because at £195 for a 125ml bottle, you have to love it from beginning to end.

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Next we stepped into Santa Maria Novella, also on Piccadilly. It’s a tiny store but packed with the Italian pharmacy’s gorgeous bath and body products.  I was rather overwhelmed and should have done some research beforehand. I tried Iris eau de cologne, which was lovely, but it’s £90 for 100ml so I had to go away and give it some thought. It did actually last on the paper strip for a good while, so not bad value for a cologne.

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When Hannah mentioned she liked the smell of petrol, the SA brought out Nostalgia. It’s a chewy birch tar leather with bergamot, rubber, sytrax and amber. Unfortunately It became more like aftershave when it settled.

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Across the road at the Burlington Arcade, we went into the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle stand-alone store. The lovely Pawel was incredibly helpful and even tried to get us to go away and think about our prospective purchases. He failed. I bought the brilliant 10ml travel bottles of Iris Poudre and the latest release, Superstitious (review to follow next week).

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The Carnal Flower Hair Mist was amazing on Hannah

 

Pawel showed us the Coffret with 10ml bottles of each of the fragrances. It’s £450 which is actually good value for the number and quality of the perfume you’re getting. Frederic Malle is an exemplary line. Whether I would wear them all or not, I admire every single creation and as a niche collection, it’s hard to beat.

 

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Superstitious by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

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Val had kindly booked us onto the Highgate Cemetery tour, for which Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume was going to join us, but was poorly sadly. While the East Cemetery is open to the public for a fee at the gate, the West Cemetery can only be accessed via the tours, which are booked up weeks in advance.

This Victorian gothic Wast Cemetery has a really special atmosphere and you can see why a lot of famous people are buried here (most recently George Michael). The tour was a long wander around the pathways among the woods, which are packed with elegantly decaying graves. Highly recommended.

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East Cemetery above, West Cemetery below.

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The Sleeping Angel, my favourite.

Our last destination was Camden Market. It mainly appeals to younger people like Hannah, but I still enjoyed having a nose around and picked up a snake ring inspired by Undina.

 

On the way back to the station we stopped in at MAC again. Hannah works for the store in Salzburg and so I was able to benefit from her advice. She recommended the Cremeblend Blush in So Sweet So Easy and for a nude lip, Twig paired with Soar lip liner. I also took advantage of her youth to help me find a pair of trainers for spring/summer.

It was a fantastic day and a half. Happily, it felt much longer than that. We packed a lot in and it felt great to be in the company of these two fabulous females. I hope to visit them in Austria one year.

Keep an eye out for Val’s post covering her time in London on Australian Perfume Junkies in the near future.

 

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Day 2 haul

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Hannah, Val and I on our way to Highgate Cemetery

 

Have you tried any of the perfumes mentioned above? Do you have any recommendations for what to buy from Santa Maria Novella?

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