“While she looks at you so cooly, and her eyes shine like the moon in the sea, she comes in incense and patchouli, so you take her, to find what’s waiting inside, the year of the cat. AL STEWART.
It was not until last week when I went to Vienna with a girlfriend that I bothered to really try the Coromandel EdP. It fell into the “it cannot possibly be better than the EdT, oh my gosh what did Chanel do?” category.
The service and knowledge in the stand-alone Chanel beauty store in Vienna is excellent. Totally welcoming, you can spray everything, and all of the parfum extraits are out to try. (That has not been my experience in the Chanel Boutiques, you know, the ones that have security on the door, and take your backpack when you walk in.) We were sprayed top to bottom with Le Lion and Coromandel, each given both perfumes in the cute mini form, and sent off to breakfast and truck around town whilst the fragrances settled. Who knew if we would even go back? I also grabbed a few drops of the Coromandel Extrait and off we went.
My girlfriend knew before exiting the store that she would be back for Le Lion. We returned in due course, and she made the purchase. We both received more cute minis, and as the fabulous SA said, one can never have too many. I was enjoying the Coromandel EdP, but not enough to justify buying it, I still have the EdT after all.
I came home and spent the next four days wearing the EdP. Well well. It is much smoother than the screechy EdT. Screechy does not mean I don’t like it, I love it. But it can be wearing on the nose. Several years ago Tara and I tried a number of the EdPs in the store in Covent Garden. My Coromandel impressions at the time were that they had taken the incense out, an integral part. Uhm, nope. So I never bothered again.
Fast forward five years. The incense is there, but in the base notes, and to my nose it was in the heart notes of the EdT. Therein lies a really big difference. The EdP is not as tenacious and what is not to love about a rich patchouli, benzoin, and incense base? Infinitely more wearable, not as tenacious, divine dry down. Chanel Patch don’tcha know?
I WhatsApped Chanel Vienna and ordered a bottle. Two days later I had it. WhatsApp? Of course, Why? How do you order your Chanel?
*Yep, Chanel here have a WhatsApp number. I’m screwed. Thank you Peter.
Hey there A Bottled Rose, It’s a Mood Scent 4 week. WOO HOO! This month the crew are looking at Roses, Roses, Roses. I’m a total rose fan and there seem to be loads of them in my wardrobe. I think it stems (see what I did there?) from my Mum’s love of roses in the garden. She had two major favourites, Mr Lincoln (deep red) and Freesia (yellow) both fragrant. My personal favourite (narcissistically) is a David Austin rose, Wise Portia, which is mauve/pink and if you cut one and have it in a room the whole room is suddenly full of sweet, peppery rose.
Can’t wait to read about your favourite Roses, Roses, Roses fragrances in the comments too. Please let me know the ones you thought I’d put in that didn’t make the list too.
How much do you push yourself out of your reading comfort zone? It’s a question I’ve been contemplating lately. I don’t want to constantly dwell in a genre fiction ghetto, but I also don’t want to spend a lot of time reading books I don’t enjoy. I did find in March that books dealing with real life issues aren’t confined to Booker Prize winners. I read a brilliant sci-fi book covering all the same topics but in a much more subtle and entertaining (for me) way.
The Examined Life by Stephen Groz
“Closure is just as delusive-it is the false hope that we can deaden our living grief.”
This is a collection of stories from the couch of a London psychiatrist. Most end with some kind of twist or revalattion. Unsurprisingly, a lot of them show people in denial, consciously or unconsciously, about what is going on in their lives. I can’t say they gave me any insight into my own life, being more a diverting read than a tool for self-reflection. They do shine a light on psychoanalysis as well as human nature and shows what can be achieved with the process although these are short summaries and usually feature more extreme cases which is understandable. I found the child cases most interesting although there were only two of these. 2.75/5
A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Wayfarer 1) by Becky Chambers
“All you can do, Rosemary – all any of us can do – is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play.”
If it’s possible for a sci-fi book to be cosy, then this is it. Set in a time when humans have left Earth for good, Rosemary gets a job aboard a spaceship called the Wayfarer. It has a small crew made up of humans and other species, who – with one exception – are more like family than colleagues. That’s what makes this novel so feel-good. It’s mainly character focused and the relationships between those characters – including the ship’s A.I. – are really special.
There was more than enough of a plot to keep me interested and it got tense towards the end. I’ve long been curious about the sci-fi sub-genre of space operas and apparently this falls under that category. To be honest, I’m still none the wiser but I loved it.
Can’t wait to read the rest of the 4-part series, although I believe they can all be read as standalones 5/5.
Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
“You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft, that you will die without ever realizing your true potential.”
I have so much love and respect for David Goggins. He is the most mentally tough person on the planet but he wasn’t born that way; he MADE himself that way. By the age of 8 he’d endured hundreds of beating by his pimp father. As a teen he cheated his way through school and was going nowhere fast. The racism he suffered in his small Indiana town didn’t help either.
He gradually began to turn his life around by realising that no one was coming to save him and he needed to be accountable to himself. Through strict accountability and self-discipline he ‘calloused his mind’ to the point where he no longer relied on motivation to achieve his goals. He became a Navy SEAL and went on to hold a number of endurance records. He has more than his fair share of haters for having such an extreme fitness regime but they are seriously missing the point. Goggins doesn’t expect others to do what he does. He is showing you that you can do better than you are doing now – immeasurably better. That if he can transform his life, you can too and begin to fulfill your potential.
I knew his story well already but wanted to hear the Audible audiobook because I heard it has a unique format. It is narrated by the writer who worked on the book, but every few pages he breaks off and interviews David about what has just happened and where his head was at the time . This gives an incredible level of additional insight. There are also 10 challenger throughout the books which are intended to help you become the hero of you own life. It was the bestselling audiobook on Audible last year for good reason. 5/5
The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey
‘How does a man accept a woman, any woman into his house? Just like that, let alone a mermaid. Life changed quick, boy, I never plan it so. Later I saw that change came as change always comes, from a chain of events with a long history, too long to see from back to front, till it come.’
This was an odd one. It has been shortlisted for a number of prizes and won Costa Book of the Year 2020 so I expected it to be pretty accessible with relatively broad appeal. I think that’s what threw me and I might have enjoyed it more otherwise.
This is a deeply strange tale set on the fictional Caribbean island of Black Conch where a mermaid is caught by white American tourists in 1976. She is treated brutally by the tourists (and some of the locals) when she is strung up on the shore. This beginning was unpleasant to read. However she is rescued by a local fisherman, David, and they fall in love.
It is written in the local parlance and partly in verse but readable for the most part, plus it’s only short. I came to like the characters that helped the mermaid but wasn’t captivated by it. Maybe I am too skewed towards gentle fairytales and myth re-tellings so one set in the in the 1970s was a bit too jarring for me.. I can appreciate how inventive it was though and it is much praised so go for it if it sounds intriguing to you. 3.25/5
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
“You see, Megan, I learnt first hand how women are discriminated against, which is why I became a feminist after I’d transitioned, an intersectional feminist, because it’s not just about gender but race, sexuality, class and other intersections which we mostly unthinkingly live anyway”
I usually avoid winners of the Booker Prize but I’d heard so much about this one and my sister really enjoyed it so I gave it a go. I also liked the fact it was structured as a series of stories about the lives of 12 girls, women and one non-binary ‘other’. They span the twentieth century and follow a broad range of Black people from a suburban teacher, to a feminist lesbian playwright, to a high-flying banker. Some were more likeable than others, all were interesting and I liked the way the stories interconnected; the best friend of the main character in one story, became the protagonist in the next and so on. The writing is exemplary and I liked the way most of the characters came together at the end.
I still prefer to escape into the distant past or future or a fantasy land, but it’s good to spend some time in the real world. It dealt with a range of issues including race, gender and sexuality. I’ll just always struggle with literary fiction, particularly when the ‘political’ issues are upfront and centre. 3/5
Do you tend to stick with the genres of fiction you love? Do you see any problem with this?
(OK Everyone. This is my first time using the new WordPress block editor. ASSHOLES! Why did they have to screw with the way this works. SO annoying. Whoever made these changes deserves a measly, unhappy life. )
Hey there A Bottled Rose, It’s a Mood Scent 4 week. WOO HOO! This month the crew are looking at Zesty Citrus. The Northern Hemisphere moving towards warmer weather you’ll be grabbing out your Zesty Citrus frags any moment now! How exciting. As we’ve just come through the hot I have a list of some of the things I wore throughout. Of course it doesn’t have to be warm to wear them, some are perfect win her warmers or brighteners.
Can’t wait to read about your favourite Zesty Citrus fragrances in the comments too.
Base notes: Oakmoss, Spices, Civet, Incense, Patchouli, Amber, Sandalwood, Myrrh, Vetiver and Musk
I’ve long lusted after vintage Magie Noire and been filled with regret that I didn’t buy a bottle when I first encountered it over ten years ago. Therefore, last year when Vanessa mentioned in Part 1 of her perfume collection reorg that she no longer felt any attachment to her vintage bottle, I asked if I could buy it from her. After sending me a sample, she generously gifted me the remains of her bottle. When it arrived I was thrilled to find that it was the Darth Vadar version.
I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to green chypres in recent times. There’s something about their mix of forest wildness and stern self-possession that seems to cut through any anxiety.
Magie Noire was launched in 1978 and I can’t help but wonder if a brand released a fragrance today with the name ‘Black Magic’ whether it would be in the same genre. I think it would more likely be some kind of amber oriental. It is the antithesis of Lancome’s current smash hit La Vie Est Belle with its overwhelming iris-drowning-in-caramel accord.
Magie Noire is magnificently eerie. It opens with tart, lip-staining, blackcurrants and bitter stems with a scattering of white flowers. But what gets me is the depth. I’ve read that it starts off with the base notes first and I can see where that comes from. You can pick up on the deeper, darker notes straight away. There is also just a tinge of honied, fruity sweetness but it doesn’t quite manage to blunt its thorns.
I sense I’m experiencing something greater than the sum of its parts. Its fully formed personality materialises before me. It’s every dream of a beguiling witchy scent I’ve ever had.
Vol de Nuit captured my attention because of the way it sits at the intersection of chypre and oriental. Magie Noire does something similar being half green chypre and half sultry oriental. I find the complexity and contrast between the two utterly enthralling.
Unlike most green chypres, it has the slinky texture of fur. The throw is moderate and I find its longevity to be excellent.
It possesses a maturity that is perfectly in keeping with the fragrances of its era. Magie Noire does not pander. On the face of it, it’s all wildflowers, fresh shoots and berries but they lie in the shadow of intoxicating leather, civet and musk.
I see Magie Noire as the mythological crone; a mature woman at the height of her powers. Before the patriarchy took over, discrediting and burning these astute women as witches, the ancient crone was associated with attributes of ‘wisdom, compassion, transformation, healing laughter, and bawdiness’*. This is a woman who has grown comfortable in her own skin and feels able to speak her mind because she could care less what others think of her. She rejoices in her esoteric interests and values her coven. If you look closely, you can see a wry sparkle in her eye.
Is Magie Noire a favourite of yours? Do you love the vintage version? I understand old bottles are prone to turning.
“I went out on the balcony to clear my head, I was burning up in my queen-sized bed, down on the strip beneath the billboard moon, teenaged kids look for love in the neon sex and doom, of your Hollywood perfume.” Hollywood Perfume. The Pretenders.
I first met Freddie in 2014 and we have remained friends ever since. We share a deep love of Vero Profumo, and of the Hermessence collection, and of Malle’s Le Parfum de Therese. Style matters.
Although on the surface it may look as though Freddie Albrighton leans more towards the weird and unwearable (indeed I do believe he had a phase of this) he actually has a deep love for fragrances that are quite classical in their construction and beauty.
That is not to say that I wasn’t apprehensive when he told me he was going to create his own perfume line. After all we have all had more than enough of the complete and utter crap put together by people in their broom cupboards and sold at extortionate rates to those who were not brought up on the literary folklore tale of The Emperor`s New Clothes penned by Hans Christian Anderson.
I need not have been. Freddie Is an artist, clear to see in his tattoo work. This translated well in the cross-over to perfume, proving he would not be satisfied with anything less than performing to the best of his ability. You are either a perfectionist or you are not – this being a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection, and only offers up what to them, at the time is the best that they can do.
MABEL´S TOOTH. A dark fragrance, but Mabel has a diamond on her tooth, allowing it to glint and glisten. Ristretto with a splinter of caramel. Earthy and nutty. Not for those who take marshmallows in their chocolate.
BERNADETTE MARGARET EVELYN THERESA. Vintage without the vinegar. Full of joy and flowers. Apricot schnapps and quantum droplets of patchouli. The beauty of this is quite astonishing and there is actual love in the formula. You can feel it. I want to drown in it.
BOYS. Walking into Top Shop on Oxford Circus. Straight onto the first level, full of plastic earrings, leather bags, fake leather bags, pink fluffy slippers, purple fluffy slippers, cupcakes, candy canes, lollipops, key rings, a photo booth or two. Add a hefty dose of shattered violets and a hit of musk.
This collection is exactly what we need after a year of lockdown, and as we manoeuvre our way through the months to come. Perfumes that are bright and cheerful, and a delight to have on the skin. These have no nuclear bases that cling ’til you’re in a coma. They slowly vanish, leaving a whisper of what was. And then you spray more. At 89 pounds for 50ml, what are we waiting for?
“And what costume shall a poor girl wear, to all tomorrow’s parties?” Lou Reed.
The Vero Profumo Eau de Parfums, although related to both the Voiles and the Extraits, are quite different. The EdPs are available again as limited editions in the black VP bottles. Online only, from Campomarzio. The Voiles are no longer available, and apart from a couple, neither are the extraits. You missed out? Tough.
Vero Kern once said that she likes to put “something a little bit disturbing” into her fragrances. Perhaps a note that people cannot identify. Sometimes it may disturb in a positive way and sometimes in a negative. “A characterful perfume has to have this disturbance, otherwise it is flat.” The Eau de Parfums are anything but flat.
The EdPs are sensual. Carnal, fleshly, unchaste. Voluptuous and beautiful. Lustful, earthy, and warm.
Vero commented at the launch of the original three edps, Rubj, Kiki, and Onda, that the new perfumes were not diluted versions of the extraits. An EdP needs a structure highlighting more the top notes as opposed to the base notes; but the aim still being to keep the original style of the extrait intact.
The EdPs are delightfully lascivious. “I replaced the animalic notes with the unique scent of the passion fruit …. it lends a sensual and erotic lightness to the composition.” The luscious passion fruit links the four perfumes, Rubj, Kiki, Onda, and Rozy, adding to their communal seductiveness. (There is no passion fruit or cumin in any of the Voiles or the extraits, regardless of what you read – discontinued anyway. The number of comments and posts from people in the past writing about the cumin in Rubj Voile or extrait, used to make Vero crazy. Me too. I mean really? )
The above does not apply to the Mito EdP. That is a completely different kettle of fish. It is rich and green, sparkly and mossy, uplifting and elegant. Oh and the Mito Extrait is divine, but suck it up, it’s discontinued. NAJA stands alone from them all. And at the moment of writing this is still available.
I have the Rubj and Kiki EdPs in the black bottles, and the fragrances are exactly the same as in the original bottles. No changes at all. So chill.
All of the perfumes Vero created are exquisite, but it is so much more than that. They have the same effect on me as The Velvet Underground did when I first heard them. Both added to my soul. Both Vero and the Velvet Underground have an erotic, revolutionary, pioneering, and subversive character. A most powerful perfume synesthesia. Vero and the Velvets stand at opposite ends of the bridge that connects me to the young woman I was, and to who I am now.
Some of the above thoughts have appeared in previous pieces I have written.
Hey there A Bottled Rose, It’s a Mood Scent 4 week. WOO HOO! This month the crew are looking at Fabulously Fruity! Woo Hoo! I’ll admit that this months theme was my idea. Little did I know how freaking hard it was going to be to whittle my selection to six. I can’t remember ever having such a hard time. The genre is so vast and covers the widest range from full on fruit bombs to subtle weavings within other stories. What I have tried to do is cover six entirely different experiences of fruit, Seriously, I could easily have had 50 perfumes listed here today, and that’s just the ones I wear regularly. There was much humming and haaing.
Can’t wait to read about your favourite Fabulously Fruity fragrances in the comments too. Please let me know the ones you thought I’d put in that didn’t make the list too.
I’ve noticed a couple of perfume brands seem to be particularly popular with UK social media influencers. One is Atelier Cologne and the other is Maison Margiela. So much so that my sister bought the Maison Margiela REPLICA Memory Box on the back of one of them raving about it.
She was enamored by the REPLICA concept of the ‘reproduction of familiar scents and moments from varying locations and periods’ like Coffee Break, Bubble Bath and At The Barber’s. Yes, it’s a cross between Demeter and CB I Hate Perfumes who pioneered this concept many years ago now.
The REPLICA Memory Box is a sample set with 10 x 2ml EdT spray vials. After testing, my sister gave two of the more masculine fragrances to her husband and the rest to me.
Under the Lemon Trees
This is a simple, bright, citrus fragrance. More like zesting a lemon than walking under lemon trees. It was fine until it all but disappeared after an hour. I suspect this is because after the citrus burst, it reverted to a white musk that I can’t smell.
Springtime in a Park
I thought this was going to be super dull but it’s actually a wistful, romantic lily of the valley with a fantastic pear note. It has a lovely, soft, hazy quality. Not my usual style but I enjoyed wearing it. Really pretty and mood-lifting and gives me a hit of the much needed hopefulness that Spring brings.
Lazy Sunday Morning
This is like a sweeter version of Springtime in a Park: mainly lily of the valley but this time paired with a syrupy orange blossom. There are musks to evoke clean bedding but they are subsumed by the flowers. It’s a pleasant floral but I liked Springtime’s airiness and originality more.
I thought this would be a rugged coastal fragrance but it’s actually your classic tropical beachy scent. Beach Walk leaves you smelling like warm skin and coconut sun lotion with some glorious ylang-ylang thrown in. It’s not new but this style of perfume is hard not to like.
By The Fireplace
Ooh this is more like it. I’m trash for a smoky scent and this one has a great roasted nut accord over a smoky vanilla base. It reminds me of the caramelised nutty smokiness of Aomassai by Parfumerie Generale which I always had a soft spot for.
A fresh floral in that straight-from-the-florist’s-fridge kind of way. It’s freesia-forward with clean jasmine rounding it out. Nothing special but it’s perfectly pretty and the kind of fragrance a lot of civilians (including a friend of mind) love.
This opens like a traditional masculine but settles into something far more interesting. It’s a refreshing sea breeze over leafy aromatics lining the sand dunes. The combination of salt and herbs works well and makes it more striking than most others in the line.
Whispers in the Library
I saved this one for last as I love the name and idea of it. Sadly, it was just too sweet. Old books have a vanillic quality but this is overly sugary and smells more like a bakery. A vanilla perfume sprinkled lightly with black pepper and cedar shavings. Shame.
What’s good about these perfumes is that they are available as 10ml travel sprays which is probably ideal for these kind of ‘novelty’ fragrances. I guess my main criticism would be that the ones I tried are generally not quite novel enough.
Do you like the sound of any of these? Did you like the Demeter or CB I Hate Perfumes back in the day?
Hey there A Bottled Rose, It’s a Mood Scent 4 week. WOO HOO! This month the crew are looking at Frankincense and Myrrh. It was Esperanza’s idea and I think she may have been spurred on by fabulous Christmas scents. So many have one of the other note mixed with a seasonal hit of spices and vanilla. These are not a duo I’d spent much time thinking about as a team, except in reference to the Jesus story. It was really interesting to note how much I like the combinations, whether as main roles or bit parts.
Can’t wait to read about your favourite Frankincense and Myrrh fragrances in the comments too. You needn’t have both in each scent, that’s just a way for me to narrow the playing field.