Category Archives: Perfume Reviews

Gucci Bloom Acqua di Fiori by Gucci

Hello A Bottled Rosers,

While you are all sweltering in heatwaves up north I thought we could chat about a new to me fragrance in my collection. Someone at Gucci has remembered how to make wonderful fragrances again. It’s really exciting and fun for me to find new Gucci fragrances to try and love. The Absolute range is killer and so too is the Gucci Bloom range.

Gucci Bloom Acqua di Fiori 2018

Alberto Morillas

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Galbanum, Blackcurrant bud
Heart: Jasmine, Rangoon creeper, Tuberose
Base: Musk, Sandalwood

A leafy green fruity floral aquatic. HA! Sounds particularly vile, doesn’t it? WRONG! It’s freaking wonderful. An aquatic wash that gives a salty seaside vibe without it feeling like the regular cucumber water that so many perfumistas find horribly reminiscent of the 1990s. Here it’s all poured over white flowers with a lovely tart yet unscreechy blackcurrant. Refreshing without resorting to most of the old fashioned tropes.

Gucci Bloom Acqua di Fiori is the late, hazy days of summertime captured in a bottle. In feeling it’s analogous to hanging out on a Sunday afternoon with a white wine spritzer and joining the kids running through sprinklers to cool off.

 

 

I really like the way that green is used, it’s an interesting, slightly off kilter leafiness with a hint of unripe fruit. The closest I can think in terms of feeling was that Annick Goutal scent Mandragore. Here we smell a similar ivy-like green cutting across everything else. The Gucci does it with a really lived-in set of musks and breathy white flowers which feels very tropical hotel gardens in the moonlight.

 

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A casual, wearable white floral fragrance that starts with the pep of thirst quenching water and finishes warm and cozy. Perfect summer wear but also excellent for our mild winter here in Sydney. It’s reminding me of what we look forward to in a couple of months time.

Have you tried any of the Gucci Bloom series yet? What did you think?

Portia xxx

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Most Worn – Summer 2019

I don’t plan on posting perfume reviews during August and Strange Tales From The Cookie Queen will be taking a break until the end of the month. However, Portia will be joining ABR on a monthly basis (yay) and inspired by her own excellent Summer List, I thought I’d share my own most worn perfumes this season.

The U.K. has experienced another heatwave this year with temps hitting an all-time high for July last Thursday of 38.1 degrees Celsius (about 101F). No joke when you don’t have aircon. Thank goodness for the cooling, distracting powers of perfume.

 

Eau de Rochas by Rochas

I love this cheapie from 1970 so much. You may not envisage it from the wide-ranging notes list but Eau de Rochas is all about lime and patchouli on me The tart lime against the raspy patch is bliss and has been perfect for muggy (overcast, humid) days. It makes a pleasant change from the white flowers or clean citrus. The bottle fits in well with my home décor too which is a bonus, haha.

Frangipani by Ormond Jayne

A dear friend in Sydney gave me a travel spray of this swoon-inducing fragrance when I stayed with her last summer. It reminds me of her every time I wear it. Frangipani is my favourite of the OJ white florals. It’s all creamy petals and tropical langour with zero screechiness. A squeeze of lime cuts through the buttery flowers like an ocean breeze.  The carefree, barefoot feeling it gives me is priceless: carrying me off to the Polynesian islands which I hope to visit for real one fine day.

 

 

Eau de Mandarine Ambrée by Hermes

The Hermes Eau de Cologne collection is top-notch and in an ideal world I’d own all of them. Eau de Mandarine Ambrée takes the fruity note that makes me the most happy – mandarin – and combines it with a lightweight, sunlit amber to extend its lasting power. My friend was disappointed that the mandarin didn’t last longer and gifted me her bottle but it doesn’t bother me. It can be a little syrupy so I wear it when the heat is in the low to mid twenties.

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Prodigieux le parfum by NUXE

I love the original NUXE multi-use oil – it has a sprayer and dries quickly, as well as smelling great. The scent reminds me of summer holidays sur le continent. Where others cite Bronze Goddess as their beach perfume of choice, I’m not so fond of the prominent coconut accord. Prodigieux le parfum is the perfect beachy scent for me with its notes of orange blossom, magnolia and vanilla. It brings me all those old school sun lotion vibes while I’m chained to the office desk. I only wear it when the temperature hits the high 20s. It doesn’t feel right to be laying on the sand – olfactory speaking –  otherwise.

 

 

 

Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens layered with Seville a L’Aube by L’Artisan Parfumeur

Here’s the curveball. EauMG recently posted a fantastic Instagram story about how she was standing next to an older lady who looked like an ex-model and smelt amazing. She screwed up her courage and asked what she was wearing. It turned out to be Chanel’s Paris-Venise (neroli, vanilla, tonka) layered with Iris Silver Mist. MIND BLOWN. I don’t own the Chanel so I improvised with the orange blossom oriental Seville a L’Aube instead. It it worked well. The Artisan can be a little ‘thick’ and sweet so ISM’s cool steeliness was a great counterbalance. I just need to use a bit less SaL’A or flip the order because I lost that stunning iris after a while.

 

How’s your summer coming along? Any perfumes you’ve been loving in the heat?

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Portia’s Summer List

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

I come from Australian Perfume Junkies and would like to share some of my all-time favourite fragrances. Each season, according to your Northern Hemisphere weather, I’ll tell you what I have that gets quite a bit of wear. So Portia’s Summer List will be like a personal all-star list.

SUMMER! Suddenly the world is hot. Wearing way less clothing, floaty linens and cottons for choice. If the seaside is within driving or transport distance there are lazy beach days (personally I am a pool fan, no sharks or sand). Salads jump to the front of the food order and light, easy drinking wines flow all afternoon. I tend to either look for shimmering, cool colognes or lean into the heat with heavy middle eastern concoctions, both perfectly viable summer expressions of fragrance.

Here is a photo of Tara, Anna Maria, Jin and me in Venice a few years ago. We have definitely had some amazing adventures together.

Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia by Guerlain

Lily, yang, vanilla and fruits all combine to create a creamy tropical dream. This is not the usual tart cologne of the Aqua Allegoria line but a rich, sophisticated and long lasting gem. It always smells to me like there’s coconut in the mix as well. On the long hot days of summer Lys Soleia will fit right in with its golden smelling extravagance.

Geranium Pour Monsieur by Frederic Malle

Imagine arcticly frigid mint and incense facing off against anise, clove and resins in a refreshing, utterly unique blend. Nothing smells quite like it and very little on the shelves will give you such a jolt of cool wind in your flagging sails. Geranium Pour Monsieur is the ultimate frosty spritz.

Granville by DIOR

It’s no secret how much I love Granville. A classic cologne with lemon, thyme and rosemary twisted through fresh pine needles and a peppery snap. Its sharp, awakening burst is an excellent foil for those summer days when you are hurried, sweating and uncomfortable. A couple of spritzes and you are good to go.

Niki de Saint Phalle

Where would summer be without a dry, rasping, uptight chypre that flows into a mossy cuddle bunny? It would be a very dreary summer indeed. Niki de Saint Phalle has been one of my favourite summer spritzes for years, friendlier than CHANEL No 19 and less floral that Piguet Futur I find NdSP a perfect balance.

Rahele by Neela Vermeire Creations

Osmanthus, leather, violet and modern oakmoss all drizzled perfectly over some white flowers. Rahele is the sleeper of the Neela Vermeire Creations oeuvre, it easily gets the most wear across the year of all the NVCs. It was my wedding fragrance, fits with any mood or event and has a quiet elegance few fragrances can match.

Ubar by Amouage

When I want to push back at the heat with a burning brand of my own then the choice is often Ubar. I discovered its sublime hot weather qualities while travelling desert Rajasthan in India and have kept it in summer rotation ever since. A fruity white floral underscored by ambergris, vanilla, woods, patchouli and resins galore.

So what are you all wearing this summer?
Portia xx

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Galop d’ Hermes

Notes: Saffron, Quince, Rose, Osmanthus, Leather and Musks

 

Christina Nagel’s Twilly was chic with just right amount of quirk and her additions to the Hermessence line have been stellar, with my particular favourite being the radiant jasmine, Cedre Sambac. The oils are exquisite and if I had the budget, I’d purchase Musc Pallida in a heartbeat. The 2016 release of Galop continued the trend and lies somewhere between the two in terms of availability and price point.

Val the Cookie Queen fell hard for Galop and kindly gifted me with a large decant last winter. I’ve nearly drained it.

Let’s start by taking a look at that fabulous stirrup bottle…

galop

Galop has a very striking olfactory colour palette. To my mind it’s petal pink and saffron orange.  It is only available in Parfum concentration which, of course, has excellent lasting power but also retains a transparency that is very much in the classic style of the previous in-house perfumer, Jean Claude Ellena.

I never tire of the saffron, quince and rose accord. It’s masterfully crafted with no facet being out of kilter. The tart quince counters the sweetness of the rose and the savoury saffron bathes the whole composition in golden light.  It just sings. The saffron has a substantial presence but it’s not as pungent as it can be. I’m generally fond of it as a note but can find it overwhelming. Here it is perfectly pitched, gloriously bright and full but not too spicy.

The rose heart is pure pink, softly sweet and very pretty. It’s poles apart from a dark, sultry red rose. There is also a mouth-watering, juicy fruitiness which I imagine is coming from peachy osmanthus.

Hermes started making riding acoutremonts and so there is often a nod to leather in their fragrances. It’s present here but to my nose it’s more like blush suede.

Galop has just the right amount of tension between sweet and sour and this makes it moreish.

One perfume that I constantly turn to during spring/summer is Vaara by Penhaligon’s. It has a similar saffron/quince/rose combination but a lot lighter (EdP strength) and lacks any leather. Where Vaara dries done to a soft rose, Galop’s development doesn’t have any clear demarcations. The saffron merely becomes calmer and creamier.

It’s a fragrance I pick up in a hurry with the confidence that it always feels right. I can see Galop being the same only on a whole other level of elegance, complexity and quality.

I’ll have to content myself with the Penhaligon’s fragrance until I have the funds for the Hermes.

 

galop horse

Do you like saffron in fragrances? Have you tried Galop?

 

 

 

 

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Boxwalla Perfume Box

I’ve mentioned before that my friend and ex-perfume blogger, Lavanya, started the hugely successful box subscription service, Boxwalla. There are Book, Film, Food and (green) Beauty Boxes. It had to only be a matter of time, but there is now a one-off Perfume Box.

The perfumes are from LA-based Sigil Scent and are inspired by alchemy and nature. They are all-natural EDPs composed by perfumer Patrick Kelly.

Sigil is a revival of old magic—a primal mysticism that transcends traditional gendered fragrances to cultivate both the masculine and feminine within you.

The two-phase concept is a great idea. The first box contains four 2ml samples which gives you time to test and decide which one you’d like to receive a full bottle of in the second box.

Lavanya kindly gifted me the first box and here are my impressions: –

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Solutio

Key notes: Cypriol, labdanum, chaparral tincture, cypress

‘Solutio’ is the alchemical practice of purification and dissolution. The perfume is a fizzy herbal green with a bracing, almost menthol feel at first. It settles down to a citrus aromatic blend which feels like strolling on a Greek island in the sunshine. The resinous, woody base prolongs its longevity.
Anima Mundi

Key notes: Immortelle, hinoki, rose, jasmine

Anima Mundi ‘world soul’ combines creamy, heady florals with smooth hinoki wood and caramelised smokiness. It’s an uncommon scent with a lot of contrast and texture: A deep throated, spicy floral with a substantial immortelle base. I struggle with that final note but if you love it, this could be the one for you.

Amor Fati

Key notes: Oud, galbanum, palo santo, opoponax

‘Amor Fati’ represents the belief that all the highs and lows of life are essential to the cyclical beauty of our existence. What a reassuring philosophy. The perfume is an unusual mix of smoky opoponax and resinous galbanum. The oud definitely doesn’t dominate. It‘s grounding and head-clearing with the scent of incense in the air and pine needles underfoot.

Prima Materia

Key notes: Vetiver, Oakmoss, Neroli, White Sage

In ancient times, ‘prima materia’ referred to the formless root of all matter—a blend of stars and soil, from which all things emerge. This fragrance unites bright neroli and white sage to represent the stars, and oakmoss and vetiver to represent the earth. It’s a cleansing, herbal-tinged chypre with a bright, tart edge and a murky vetiver base.

Before sampling them all I thought Prima Materia would be my favourite but in the end I’d choose Amor Fati for my full bottle which shows the system works. Not everyone is drawn to natural perfumery but there are no worries of poor lasting power here. Those that have a love of essential oils and aromatherapy blends are likely to find them immensely soothing to the senses.

If you’re based in the US and are interested in the Perfume Box you can find out more here.

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Bengale Rouge by Papillon Perfumes

Notes: Turkish Rose, Orris, Sandalwood, Tonka, Oakmoss, Honey, Vanilla, Labdanum, Benzoin and Sweet Myrrh

All of the Papillon perfumes handmade by Liz Moores are a product of her loves, life and home. Take her last fragrance Dryad released in 2017, which was a homage to the ancient forest she lives in.

It seems fitting therefore that her next launch is inspired by her beloved Bengal cat, Mimi. These leopard-coated felines are incredibly striking and have a quirky nature all their own. Have you noticed how many perfume people are also cat people? A lot.

The first thing I thought of when encountering the opening of Bengale Rouge was Guerlain’s classic Shalimar with a strong orange citrus edge. I picked up that same grown-up vanilla only with more of a whipped texture and a rosy bloom, permeated by resins.

It stops short of being an edible gourmand. Sweet perfumes are something I struggle with these days but here the honeyed tones are undercut with plenty of doughy iris, tree resins and rambling roses.

bengale rouge bottle

Bengale Rouge isn’t just about a cat but a combination of the cat and its perfume-wearing human. Have no doubt, this is a fully fleshed out fragrance and a million miles away from a novelty ‘Cat Fur’ scent. The presence of orris butter adds a fantastic skin-like property and a cosmetic/boudoir facet. I don’t find it overtly sexy but it has a ‘back of the neck’ warmth: a kind of intimate vulnerability. I think this is the key to Bengale Rouge. It manages to calm the nerves while feeling subtly sensual.
The base is chiefly labdanum which has an amber aroma and a cosy, furry feel.

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The fine balance achieved here can’t have been easy but the vanilla has been leavened enough for it to work effortlessly within this multi-faceted structure that is refined while exuding a pleasing amount of langour.

Bengale Rouge doesn’t have an animalic growl but purrs ever so softly. Liz tells me that this Eau de Parfum actually verges on Extrait strength so that it clings to the skin like a caress and doesn’t let go. Unreserved spraying is a must to enjoy the full effect.

I tend to wear Dryad in the spring and Tobacco Rose in the autumn (or the evening). Bengale Rouge is Papillon’s most versatile and accessible fragrance to date. It would wear comfortably at any time without feeling in the least bit sloppy. Unlike most vanilla-forward fragrances, it is beautifully constructed with plenty of interest.

Liz felt that Bengale Rouge was the kind of perfume we needed to counteract the bleakness that exists in the world right now. It gives us something soothing to hold close while we hope for better times further down the road.

bengale rouge feature

Do you feel the need for a comforting scent like this to wrap yourself up in?

First two photo credits: Liz Moores

Last photo: Gemma Ward/Vogue Paris

N.B. Liz was kind enough to send me an advance sample of Bengale Rouge. Fingers crossed they will be available to order by July.

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Lustre by Hiram Green

“Life is golden” – Hiram Green

 

Notes: Bulgarian Rose, Citrus, Orris and Olibanum

 

Hiram Green’s strikingly dark and moody Hyde recently won the Artisan Perfume Award at the Art & Olfaction Awards in Amsterdam. It was the worthiest of winners. Hiram is an uncommon talent using naturals to create compositions of great sophistication and complexity.

At Esxence this year he surprised everyone by unveiling a brand new rose soliflore: Lustre.

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However stunning a rose perfume may be, it rarely smells like the real thing. Lustre does. It’s the pure perfume you get when you poke your nose into the heart of the open flower. We had a rose garden when I was growing up and it’s a joy to find this scent captured so beautifully: A true bottled rose.  Not to say that this is a simplistic natural concoction. It is an expertly crafted, well-rounded, fine fragrance.

The sweet scent of the Bulgarian rose is there (of course) but it is edged with citrus tartness. There is something lemony about the scent of real roses and it’s present here, most notably in the opening.

From looking at the notes you may expect to find prominent iris and incense.  I can clearly pick up on the resinous tones of olibanum if I get in close and sometimes I sense iris powder. However, the supporting accords are chiefly working together behind the scenes to create this vivid illusion of a rose in full bloom. Somehow Hiram found a way to do this without relying heavily on tried and tested  materials like patchouli, geranium or vetiver. 

Where Hyde is night, Lustre is day. It is a fresh summer rose bathed in golden sunlight, as heat begins to warm the petals and releases its scent.  Its radiance is a pleasure in itself and it takes a considerable amount of time to die down completely. It encompasses the flower’s multi-faceted aroma and makes it seem as if one has suddenly bloomed somewhere close by.

Lustre proves how a linear soliflore can retain your attention. It’s captivating when a fragrance unfolds on the skin and develops in distinct stages, moving through head, heart and base. But then a perfume will come along to remind me that blanket preferences can’t be set in stone. Lustre is rose, rose, rose and I don’t tire of it because of its depth and beauty. The intrigue is vertical, rather than horizontal. You can reach down, layer after layer, petal after petal and experience a world of rose in a single inhalation.

 

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Do you like the idea of a sunlit garden rose?

 

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Vanilla Collection Winner!

Last week I covered a Meet the Perfumers event at Les Senteurs featuring Sylvaine Delacourte Paris and offered her Vanilla Collection sample set in a giveaway.

Random.org has declared the winner to be:

Vanessa

Congratulations Vanessa! Hope you enjoy discovering the set.

 

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Nuit de Bakelite by Naomi Goodsir

“…the sound of latex when several stalks of tuberose tangle…” – Naomi Goodsir website

Notes: Angelica, Violet Leaf, Galbanum, Orris, Karo Karounde, Tuberose, Leather, Davana, Styrax, Tobacco, Labdanum and Gaiac Wood

When I attended the Art & Olfaction Awards last spring, I was really pleased when Naomi Goodsir won an award for Best Indie Perfume with Nuit de Bakelite. I admire her whole line which is full of modern, striking perfumes that stand out in a sea of niche mediocrity.

All the Naomi Goodsir fragrances are inspired by materials and textures. The wonderful Iris Cendré is orris ashes,  Cuir Velours is a leather glove, while Bois d’Ascese was inspired by a wooden church in a blazing forest.

The Aussie designer collects objects made of Bakelite, the first man-made plastic.  When she tasked perfumer Isabelle Doyen with creating a perfume inspired by it, the result  (released in 2017) was compelling and extremely clever. It’s taken me forever to corral my thoughts about it.

nuit de bakelite

First things first, Nuit de Bakelite is primarily a green perfume with tuberose lurking in in the dark heart of its foliage. So if you haven’t tried it already, kindly forget any ideas of creamy, blousy concoctions like Fracas.

Perhaps galbanum with its powerful, sharp scent of chlorophyll, is one of the few materials that could push tuberose into a supporting role. It wraps huge, rubbery leaves around that fleshy flower, emphasising its green and gummy facets to the nth degree. There are whiffs of earthiness, tobacco and vinyl fumes. This is where the natural world and the synthetic collide.

It has a kinship with the green chypres of the past – only catapulted into a futuristic urban jungle. It certainly shares their fearless nature, but it’s also lush and exotic in a photoreal, exaggerated way. Everything is bigger and brighter than usual.  It feels alive and buzzing with intensity.

There is only a subtle shifting in emphasis as it develops. The tuberose comes more to light as the fierce green opening recedes a little and then, after a number of hours, the presence of tobacco is much more noticeable.

Nuit de Bakelite fascinates me even if it’s not something I would wear myself. There is a hypnotic, addictive quality to it but no indoles to my nose. It possesses nuclear longevity and has exceptional throw. Portia once gave me a card sprayed with it and the next day I could smell it the moment walked into the room where I’d left it.

It is a uniquely arresting fragrance but never anything less than supremely stylish.

 

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Have you tried this most memorable of fragrances?

 

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Violet Ida by Miller Harris

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

ziegfeld-girl

 

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

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