Category Archives: Perfume Friends

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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Fume Chat: A Perfumed Podcast

I’ve only recently gotten into podcasts (late, I know) and they really help with the daily commute. A few weeks ago Thomas Dunckley (The Candy Perfume Boy) and Nick Gilbert (Fragrance Expertise) launched their very own podcast “Fume Chat“. Episodes are released every fortnight on a Sunday and there have been two so far.

The launch show “Hello World” included some of their favourites new releases and helped feed my mammoth lemming, Galop d’Hermes.  Last Sunday’s instalment was a “Battle of the Bottles” between Thomas and Nick’s picks from Comme des Garçons (I won’t spoil it by telling you who won). I did own Kyoto but this brand has been largely a mystery to me because many of the scents have similar names with numbers, which unfortunately is enough to put me off. I am now considerably less ignorant.

First and foremost, the podcasts are brilliantly entertaining but they are also guaranteed to widen your perfumery knowledge and add fragrances to your To Try list. Both Thomas and Nick are great company and this transmits perfectly across the digital airwaves. They also have an off-beat taste in fragrance which means you hear about scents you might not have heard about or explored further otherwise.

You can subscribe on iTunes via your iPhone or Soundcloud if you’re an Android user like me. Well worth a listen!

 

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Have you tuned in to Fume Chat? Can you recommend any other podcasts?

 

 

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Love to Smell – A Must Watch

In these “interesting times” it’s a relief to be able to watch something that will transport you to a joyous place of fragrant fun. Nick of Nick Gilbert- Fragrance Expertise and Pia of Volatile Fiction were already much-loved perfume friends and bloggers but in May this year they came together to form their own YouTube channel, Love to Smell.

This is like having two of your favourite superheroes unite to fight a common evil, only in this case it’s to, er, have a giggle reviewing perfumes on camera – what could be better?!

Nick and Pia bounce off each other really well and are clearly enjoying themselves (which is wonderfully contagious) but the fact is, they know their stuff. Both have a passion for science and work in the industry so their opinions are informed by their experience on both sides of the supplier/consumer divide.

There is a new Love to Smell video released every Friday and the one below is from last week.

Watch, like, subscribe and enjoy!

 

 

Do you follow Love to Smell? Are you generally fond of Vloggers?

 

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Visiting Liz Moores at Papillon HQ – Photo Essay

Artisan perfumer – and friend – Liz Moores of Papillon Perfumes is still recovering from major shoulder surgery. However, lovely Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume and I had been planning to visit her together for the longest time and as all our diaries were in alignment last Saturday, Liz was happy for us to come down to her home in the New Forest.

 

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An added bonus was that it was Vanessa’s birthday so it was great to be able to see her on the actual day and celebrate it with her at Liz’s.

We arrived around midday and had a welcome mug of tea outside in the hazy sunshine, accompanied by Liz’s two very friendly dogs, Sally Muff Cake and Max. Liz is an animal lover and just some of the total roll call feature in the photos.

 

 

Liz is not only an exceptionally talented perfumer but also a excellent cook. She treated us to a delicious lunch of asparagus, pancetta and lemon risotto followed by a chocolate cake adorned with a candle and presented to Vanessa with a rendition of “Happy Birthday”.

It was a pleasure to finally meet Liz’s two youngest children, the adorable Daisy and the highly creative Rowan.  Liz’s partner Simon, who as well as having his own business deals with Papillon’s packaging and crunches the all important numbers, also joined us for a time. Simon collects snakes which are stored in their drawers (see below) and has a couple of cockatiels.

 

It tells you how much we had to chat about that we didn’t get into the studio until after 6 o’clock. Once there we had a great time sniffing lots of different perfume materials which included naturals such as white frankincense, tiare, Persian rose and vanilla. Plus the hycraceum (Africa Stone) used in Salome, which Liz has to loosen up by warming it between her thighs. I joked that if she advertised this fact she could charge extra.

 

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Salome features “thigh-warmed” hyraceum

We also tried a number of aromachemicals including a chocolate one used in Angel which wasn’t commercially available for a long time. It was fun to try the fruit aromachemicals because they were so startling realistic. These included Granny Smith apple, cassis and Mirabelle plum.

 

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Below is ambergris which has been macerating in perfumer’s alcohol for a year and still has another year to go. Liz adds two drops of the tincture to finish off every bottle of Tobacco Rose.

 

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All Papillon’s perfumes are handmade here and take up to 3 and half months to macerate.

 

 

Liz decided to delay the release of White Moth for various reasons and we tried a recent mod. It was very different to the version I tried well over a year ago. That was more leathery while this was richer with a nectar-like sweetness. Notes include tiare, frangipani, heliotrope, beeswax and orange as well as champac and black tea. It’s a lovely  composition and will be particularly wonderful in warm weather.

 

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Liz checks on her Angelique compound

Even more excitingly, we got to sample an unnamed work in progress which is chypre with a zesty citrus top and a sexy costus drydown. Unfortunately costus is not IFRA compliant so Liz needs to reconstruct that affect herself  (she prefers to create without restrictions in mind and then find solutions once she’s come up with something she’s happy with). She’s also waiting on a narcissus absolute to add to the mix and I have no doubt the finished product will be utterly fabulous. I impatiently await its release.

Before we left, Liz decanted a little of her precious orris butter for me and I extravagantly smeared some onto my skin. It was divine.

 

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My orris butter!

I have so much admiration as well as affection for Liz. She has no formal training in perfumery and has bumped up against numerous obstacles on her way to creating a top quality collection to be immensely proud of.  She has spent so long ensuring each perfume is carefully structured with the perfect balance of materials and this shows in the extraordinary level of refinement she achieves.

 

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Huge thanks to Liz for letting us descend on her while she’s still not yet back to full strength and for sharing her home and studio with us.

You can read my mini-reviews of Anubis, Tobacco Rose and Angelique here and my full review of Salome here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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