Category Archives: Perfume Reviews

London, Istanbul, Tel Aviv and Brooklyn by Gallivant

For the last few years I’ve taken holidays exclusively in cities and while not exactly restful, I’ve loved every minute of it. There’s something exhilarating about exploring a metropolis and seeing how you slot into it.

British indie perfume house Gallivant has recently launched with four fragrances that intend to capture this free-wheeling feeling. Founder Nick Steward has worked in the industry for many years, most recently as product and creative director of L’Artisan Parfumeur. He created the collection with two independent perfumers, namely Karine Chevallier and Giorgia Navarra (the latter being the Italian protégée of Bertrand Duchaufour).

 

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London

Notes: Cucumber, Rose de Mai Absolute and Leather

Being a born and bred Londoner, of course I was curious to try a perfume inspired by my city. Cucumber is a note I struggle with but I don’t notice it specifically. Instead the opening is generally very fresh, green and water-filled, but with something almost skanky just beneath the surface.  Once it dries down, the leather comes across as raw and a little musty, like the leather jackets on the vintage clothes stalls in Camden Market, turning lightly rosy over time. London is an unconventional shape-shifter, morphing from a green aquatic into a floral leather. Like its fragrant namesake, London is full of eccentric contrasts; a place where you can be your own strange self.

 

Istanbul

Notes: Cardamom, Geranium, Patchouli, Vanilla and Amber

I fear the city of Istanbul might rather overwhelm me but I bet it’s a fascinating place to visit with its coming together of east and west, ancient and modern. There is certainly a novel opening to the fragrance of the same name.  The combination of cardamom and herbs makes for an unusually fresh, almost mentholated, spice accord. The aromatics continue into the heart with geranium and lavender backed by spiced amber. It has the texture of suede and gets progressively drier and dustier in the base. Istanbul takes a few unexpected turns on this well-trodden oriental path.

 

Tel Aviv

Notes: Clementine, Jasmine Sambac Absolute, Musks and Deertongue Absolute

It’s nice to see a city represented in scent that is not one of the usual suspects. Tel Aviv brings the laid-back beach vibe into the heart of the city. It’s an easy-to-like tropical floral with a relaxed feel. After a brief burst of clementine, the clean jasmine and fruity ylang-ylang combine to give that luscious, languorous effect so typical of this much-loved genre. You can almost see the bright white light reflecting off the buildings and feel a refreshing airiness among the flowers. I’ve heard Tel Aviv is a hedonistic city and Gallivant were aiming for “lingering 1970s glamour”.  The warm, lightly musky base gives us a taste of that.

 

Brooklyn

Notes: Lemon and Orange Juice, Magnolia, Transparent Flowers and Musks.

I stuck to Manhattan when I visited New York but this feels like a good fit with how I imagine Brooklyn to be. The fragrance is bright and fizzy which chimes with what I assume is the buzzy and hip borough of the city. It reflects the intellectual, creative types you’d expect to find hanging out on the sidewalks.  They probably wouldn’t wear anything fussy so this citrus with substance seems to hit the mark. Fuzzy musks and cardamom massively extend the life of the sherbet-y citrus into the soft, white floral heart and beyond. Somehow Brooklyn manages to feel lively and breezy at the same time.

 

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The focus on top quality materials is clear and I can imagine the streamlined approach appealing to the urban explorers Gallivant is aimed at.  While sleek and accessible, each composition still has a quirk of its own.

It’s also good to see a new brand in the indie/niche sector enter at a sensible price point with the “nomad sized” 30ml EdPs coming in at £65. Individual samples are available as well as a Discovery Set, via the website.

 

Let me know your thoughts about the sound of this new brand in the comments. Do any of the cities appeal to you?

 

 

 

 

 

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Dryad by Papillon Perfumes

“My dryad hath her hiding place/Among ten thousand trees…”

– From The Dryad by Richard Le Gallienne (1866 – 1947)

 

Notes: Cedrat, Bigaradier Orange, Bergamot, Narcissus, Oakmoss, Jonquil, Clary Sage, Orange Blossom, Lavender, Orris, Vetiver, Thyme, Galbanum, Costus, Tarragon, Apricot, Benzoin, Peru Balsam, Deertongue, Styrax,

I’m fortunate to know artisan perfumer Liz Moores and while I can see facets of her character in Papillon’s other fragrances it feels like her fifth creation, Dryad, gets to the core of who she is.

If you follow Liz on social media, you’ll know that she spends a lot of her time nurturing animals (as well as children) and regularly shares the beauty of her surroundings in the New Forest.

Unlike most of us in this day and age, Liz seems to be living her life in sync with nature; celebrating the festivals that mark the changing of the seasons and noticing the waxing and waning of the moon.  She may be a glamour puss but I suspect she is an earth mother at heart.

This way of life must cultivate a great sense of connectedness with the natural world and I can feel that in DryadI tried an early mod of this forthcoming release during a visit to Papillon HQ last year, so I couldn’t wait to sample the final version which will be available from June. 

A dryad is a human-like tree nymph from Greek mythology and these shy creatures often inspired love and desire in the gods.

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Liz Moores with her equine soulmate, Perry.

 

As I enter Dryad’s mythical forest domain, I’m met with the unmistakable vivid green aroma of galbanum. Its usual astringency warmed by the sunshine of orange citrus and tamped down by an accord of leafy aromatic herbs.

Oakmoss forms the striking emerald carpet that is underfoot for the duration of the perfume’s development. No doubt this explains in large part why Dryad bears a resemblance to vintage Vol de Nuit parfum, as Claire astutely notes on Take One Thing Off.  Liz tells me that she was able to use a variety of oakmoss that is compliant, in very small amounts, with the IFRA regulations and then built it up with other supporting accords.

There’s something lurking just behind the trees (costus?) that prevents the scent from being entirely wholesome. It takes Dryad from what could have been light, bright and legible and turns it into something dappled, deep and mysterious. It seems to distil the very essence of an enchanted forest.

Dryad is not a fragrance with clear demarcations of head, heart and base but one of gradations, moving over time from sunlit green through to earthy brown. It’s a journey which takes the wearer from the edge of the forest to its shaded, sacred centre. Meandering through the ancient trees at a languid pace, it lasts for an extraordinary long time on skin.

Like Salome, Dryad is meticulously structured. It’s the kind of green chypre/oriental with a complex character and an old soul that’s rare to find these days.

A lecturer at university once remarked in a seminar that I always looked as if I were dreaming of some otherworldly place. Dryad actually takes me there.

 

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Picture credit: Dreaming Dryad by mariyaolshevska at DeviantArt

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In Rotation: Spring 2017

My perfume choices have been all over the places lately thanks to the changeable weather we’ve been experiencing in the UK this spring. As I write this on Monday 10th April, yesterday was 25 degrees Celsius. For that one day heatwave, I spritzed Dita Von Teese EdP for its tropical flowers, hint of spice and oriental-lite base. Today, it’s back down to 15°C so I’m returning to usual perfume programming which currently consists of the following: –

 

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Vaara, Penhaligon’s

Notes: Quince, Rose Water, Carrot Seeds, Coriander, Saffron, Rose, Freesia, Magnolia, Peony, Honey, White Musk, Cedar, Sandalwood, Benzoin and Tonka Bean.

On mild spring days I’ve been testing out my bottle of Vaara. I bought it when a friend was selling off her perfumes and I picked it up for not very much at all. Still, I’ve been re-assessing my collection, spurred on by Vanessa’s brilliant 20 ‘desert island’ scents post and wanted to check that it warranted a place on my shelf. So far so good. The fabulously unique start of quince, saffron, carrot seed and sparkling rosewater hangs around much longer than I feared, before moving into the rosy heart.

 

28 La Pausa, Chanel

Notes: I can’t find a notes list, but there is A LOT of Iris Pallida.

This huge 200ml bottle was generously gifted to me by the same friend I bought Vaara from.  It’s the original EdT which is no longer available.  Val the Cookie Queen and I tried out the new EdP last year and although it got off to great iris start, it all too quickly dried to down to a squeaky clean vetiver. Maybe the Parfum formulation is a better though. Unlike a lot of people, I’m fortunate in that the EdT lasts reasonably well on me.  This elegant iris feels just right for early spring with its floral-woody character and silky, slightly powdery texture.  28 La Pausa is the refined orris choice.

 

Antonia, Puredistance

Notes: Jasmine, Rose Essence, Ylang Ylang, Orris, Ivy, Galbanum, Vanilla and Vetiver.

Green florals like Antonia are another staple for me when March finally comes around. It’s luxurious, sun-lit and incredibly well blended. Quite a few green fragrances have a rather mealy-mouthed character, owing to the unforgiving nature of galbanum. However, Antonia is lusciously full-bodied and surprisingly warm. This spring goddess is resplendent in emerald with delicate flowers laced through her hair. Thanks to B for my bottle.

 

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What fragrances have you been wearing lately?

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Mood Scent 4 – Rainy Day Perfumes

Welcome to the first joint blogging project by Mood Scent 4! We are four perfume bloggers from France, Holland, England and Wales who will be posting on a different joint subject every couple of months.  Each time we will all pick a selection of five or so fragrances to fit a particular mood or occasion. You’ll find links to the other blogs at the end of the post.

We hope you have fun reading our different choices and adding your own in the comments.

Mood scent

I love it when it’s raining outside and I’m cosy indoors with little to do but listen to the raindrops patter against the window pane. Generally I don’t wear perfume on days like these unless I’m testing out a sample, but it’s fun to imagine what would be rainy day appropriate.

Silences by Jacomo

Notes: Orange blossom, Galbanum, Bergamot, Lemon, Green notes, Cassia;  Iris, Jasmine, Narcissus, Hyacinth, Rose, Lily-of-the-Valley,  Vetiver, Musk, Sandalwood, Oakmoss, Cedar and Ambrette.

This one feels just right for a rainy day in spring, both by name and scent. While most people have retreated indoors, you might want to take a peaceful walk in the rain. A soaking from an April shower seems to amplify the green aroma of vegetation in the air. Silences is a verdant green with a few flower petals and a little powder, that has a calming effect. It is also a bargain if you can find it online.

Celtic Fire by Union

Notes: Pine needles, Fir balsam, Marmite, Birch Tar, Peat and Bog Myrtle.

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My dream rainy day scenario would be eating toast by a roaring fire inside a cabin up in the Highlands of Scotland. The next best thing is Celtic Fire with its peaty, smoky aroma and quirky use of a salty Marmite accord. It’s a statement perfume with a certain meaty substance to it. There’s nothing quite like it.

Dzing! by L’Artisan Parfumeur

Notes: Leather, Ginger, Tonka Bean, Musk, White Woods, Caramel, Saffron, Toffee, Candy Apple and Cotton Candy

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If you do choose to spend your rainy day with a good book and it’s not the digital kind, then Dzing! would be a good accompaniment. It may recreate the smell of the circus but there’s also a whiff of old paperbacks in there, which have started to curl at the edges and smell of musty vanilla. It’s also a clever, completely unique scent and you don’t have to worry about the soupçon of skank if it’s just going to be you and your novel of choice.

L’Eau Froide by Serge Lutens

Notes: Olibanum, Sea Water, Musk, Vetiver, Mint, Incense, Pepper and Ginger.

I know there’s not a lot of love for the Serge Lutens L’Eau line but I like this one. I can’t handle big incense perfumes like the mighty Avignon by Commes des Garcons, so a gentle watery incense with aromatic touches suits me just fine. L’Eau Froide is a softly refreshing fragrance that wouldn’t be too distracting and could match a contemplative mood on a wet day.

Vanilla Smoke by Aftelier Perfumes

Notes: Yellow Mandarin, Siam Wood, Saffron Absolute, Vanillin, Vanilla Absolute, Lapsang Souchong, Ambergris and Coumarin

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Here you get gorgeous, soothing vanilla wrapped up in lovely, rubbery leather. Vanilla Smoke is my ideal comfort scent and will be particularly perfect when autumn rolls around and it starts to get cold and rainy. Enjoy it while taking a rain check – put your feet up and sip one of Mandy’s fabulous Fragranced Teas.

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Make sure you check out the other posts at Megan In Sainte Maxime, I Scent You A Day and L’Esperessence.

What are your own Rainy Day Perfumes?

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NAJA by Vero Profumo

Hypnotised by the cosmic serpent…

Notes:  Osmanthus Absolute, Melon, Linden Blossom and Tobacco

 

The release of NAJA has been long anticipated by the many fans – including myself – of rebel perfumer Vero Kern.  It was finally launched at Esxence in Milan last week and I was lucky enough to receive a sample thanks to my dear friends at Australian Perfume Junkies.

NAJA is Vero Profumo’s Jubilee Scent, celebrating 10 years of this unique independent perfume house, with a limited distribution of 650 50ml bottles.

It is a mystical creation, rich in symbolism, which holds the promise of redemption and rebirth.

NAJA is a fragrance of magic and mystery, as exemplified by its stunning black bottle.

 

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The snake is NAJA’s familiar and it is one of the oldest and most widespread symbols in mythology. Snakes (or serpents) features in Greek, Ancient Egyptian, African, Aboriginal, Native American, Indochina, Norse, Christian, Hindu and Jewish mythologies.  Primarily it stands for the creative life force, with the shedding of the snake’s skin representing transformation, immortality and healing.

Historically, snakes have been used in shamanic rituals to bridge the gap between our world and that of the spirits. The snake’s venom is also associated with the chemicals in plants which have the power to heal (or poison) as well as expand consciousness. This mirrors the tobacco plant which again has been used by shamans for its medicinal and psychotropic properties.

In NAJA, tobacco takes the form of the serpent which spirals throughout the length of the fragrance’s development.  The first hit however is a drop-dead gorgeous combination of fruit (mostly lime) and flowers over a fine layer of seductive powder.  The slice of melon combined with the apricot of osmanthus and the luscious lime of linden blossom, gives the fragrance spectacular radiance. Vero always uses fruit accords so beautifully in her perfumes, elevating them to the level of sensual.

I’ve never found a tobacco fragrance that works for me because they are often loaded with cherry and immortelle or they’re too dry and traditionally manly for my taste. Here the tobacco is golden in tone and incredibly smooth. In the base, it becomes suede-like in both texture and scent. At this stage, the olfactory hallmark of Vero Profumo’s orientals (see reviews of Onda and Rozy) is most apparent. It’s a somewhat animalic, tarry smokiness that gives them the classic feel of iconic perfumes from yesteryear, such as Caron’s Tabac Blond.

You might look at the symbolism and the packaging and expect a fragrance of intimidating darkness, but you’d be wrong. Just as the snake embodies the duality of good and evil, poison and cure, so NAJA is imbued with the duality of light and shade, masculine and feminine, spirituality and humanity. It is my ideal, multi-faceted tobacco fragrance and my favourite work by Vero to date.

Unlike previous releases, there is only one formulation of NAJA.  It has above average projection and amazing day-into-night longevity.

Prepare to embrace the serpent.

 

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Do you think you will fall under NAJA’s spell?

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Parallel by 4160 Tuesdays and Get Lippie

Notes: Rose Absolute, Frankincense, Black Pepper and White Woods, Caraway and Mandarin Petitgrain.

As you may know, a few years ago beauty and perfume blogger Louise Woollam of Get Lippie experienced the nightmarish olfactory dysfunction, parosmia. She lost her sense of smell after a cold but when it came it back, nothing smelled as it should and most things smelt absolutely awful. You can see her talking about this traumatic time in her life tonight in Episode 5 of Incredible Medicine: Dr Weston’s Casebook on BBC Two at 9pm.

The fragrance Paradox was created with perfumer Sarah McCartney in a successful attempt to make a scent Louise could actually enjoy at this very dark time. It was a lovely, chilled, green violet perfume with a touch of lavender and spine of orris.

Now, to celebrate her sense of smell returning to normal, they have reunited to make the spicy oriental Louise has always wanted. The result is Parallel which again is available from 4160 Tuesdays. I love how, like most of the perfumes, you can get it in a 30ml bottle.

 

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The mood boosting, citrus green-ness of mandarin petitgrain characterises the opening of Parallel and it feels like a fitting start to the optimistic story this perfume is telling. Louise must have felt such excitement as well as relief when things started to smell as they should once again.

The core of Parallel is a combination of peppery resin and almost creamy orange. It starts out punchy and invigorating and smooths out to create a constant, orange-tinted resinous buzz.  It’s backed up by soft cashmere  woods and just a splash of rose. This isn’t an all-natural perfume but there’s something about its simplicity and oil-like quality on the skin that reminds me of one.

Those wary of big orientals need not fear as Parallel stays close to the body. Far from being overwhelming, I find it extremely easy to wear and I’m not drawn to this genre usually.

It’s lovely that Sarah and Louise came together once more under much happier circumstances to create a perfume which completes this scented story. I’m looking forward to seeing the tale being told on tonight’s programme which is all about those with rare conditions. It also features a man whose bones are stronger than granite and a woman with two wombs.

It will serve as an important reminder that even if you can’t triumph over a medical condition you can always find ways around obstacles in order to live a life truly worth living. This is something I try to tell myself every day.

 

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Guest Posting on APJ

I’m slipping into Portia’s skyscraper heels today on Australian Perfume Junkies as she continues to whirl her way across Europe, landing in London at the end of this month. Can’t wait!

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Portia and I in Venice around this time last year.

 

So if you’d like to read my thought on Sensual Orchid by LM Parfums you can hop across to my review on APJ by clicking here.

Do check out Portia’s brilliant Scent Diary posts while you’re there.

 

 

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Mon Guerlain by Guerlain

 

“My invisible tattoo, my fragrance, Mon Guerlain.”

Notes:  Bergamot, Carla Lavender, Paradisone (radiant floral), Coumarin, Iris, Vanilla Tahitensis, Sambac Jasmine and Album Sandalwood.

 

Guerlain has long been the perfume house I’ve most admired. They are not a designer brand that does fragrance on the side to bring in the big bucks – they have only ever been about the scent.

However, a while ago I gave up on their new releases because for me, they never lived up to the promise of the past. I tried to switch-off and content myself with the classics, such as my holy grail, Vol de Nuit. However, it’s hard to ignore this recent big launch, especially as they have Angelina Jolie fronting the ad campaign.

 

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Mon Guerlain may have some nicely musty lavender in its top notes along with some citrus sparkle but this is no 21st century Jicky.  Guerlain categorise it as a “fresh oriental” although I’d describe it as a gourmand with a feather-light fougère accord (which comes from the combination of lavender and hay-like coumarin).

I wasn’t surprised that Mon Guerlain is another sugary confection, especially given the pink juice, but you might have expected otherwise if you knew the inspiration was Angelina’s “strong, free and sensual femininity”.

Perhaps it’s naive to think it would – or should – reflect anything other that what is popular right now. The last time I looked, the number one selling perfume in France was still the iris-drowning-in-caramel that is La Vie Est Belle.

Mon Guerlain is nowhere near as invasive as the Lancome, or even Chanel’s Allure which features a similarly frothy cloud of candy floss, albeit it at fifty times the volume. Unlike most other modern gourmands, Mon Guerlain is surprisingly soft spoken. There’s not much throw, which is an asset in my view. At least that closeness to the skin echoes a kind of tattoo-like intimacy.

Admittedly, I have a low tolerance for sweetness in perfume and am not generally a fan of this style but I still think it’s a shame that we no longer have to wait for the trademark Guerlain vanilla base. It used to be that you had time to anticipate your dessert – now it arrives with the starter. It also makes the fragrance less sophisticated because it’s missing that air of mystique. Mon Guerlain isn’t bad, it’s just not very compelling.

Without contrast there is no tension and without tension there is no excitement, no drama, no addiction. For that, see the coquettish caramelised lavender of Kiki by Vero Profumo who incidentally, had the fragrance as tattoo concept with Rozy back in 2014.

It’s funny, I commented on Bonkers About Perfume the other week about how I wasn’t pro negative reviews, but hopefully it’s clear I’m coming from the perspective of a long-time Guerlain fan and heavens knows they won’t be affected by what I write.

 

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It’s not my Guerlain but it may still be yours.

 

How have you fared with Guerlain’s releases of the last decade or so?

 

 

 

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February: A Month of Roses

At the start of February I joined Undina’s giveaway challenge (inspired by Chemist in the Bottle) to wear nothing but rose perfumes for the whole month. Being her usual fastidious self, Undina compiled a calendar with a different rose fragrance scheduled for each day. Me being me, I took a more scatter-bomb approach, grabbing whatever appealed on the day.

One of the positive side effects of the project, was that it made me go through my samples and decants to dig up the roses. I love rose perfumes anyway (obviously) but it was good to have the motivation to try – and use up – the samples and decants languishing around my house.

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Here’s what I wore over the course of the month –

Tobacco Rose by Papillon Perfumes (Full Bottle)

This is a  rose bush in a bottle with leaves, earth and hay. A rose found in early autumn to hold on to as nature reclaims summer’s florid show. You can take comfort from it in the same way you might from a walk in the woods. It’s a womanly, over-blown rose with depth and throw to spare. One spray will last all day and it’s one of the few perfumes I’ve been complimented on.

Rose Oud, By Kilian (Decant)

This was the first western oud fragrance I came across and it’s still my favourite. The quality of the velvety rose is outstanding and the combination of saffron and oud complement it beautifully. It really is a deep red rose in the middle of an arid desert.

Wild Roses by Aftelier Perfumes (Sample)

Mandy Aftel’s intention was to capture the rose in situ within the garden. It’s easy to forget that these flowers have such varied scents. At its heart we have a balsamic, honeyed rose but there are also subtle fruity and animalic facets. Taragon absolute represents the herb garden and the leaves of the rose bush, while patchouli roots it in the earth. It’s incredibly complex and potent, especially for an all-natural fragrance.

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Le Fille de Berlin by Serge Lutens (Full Bottle)

I love the vintage pin-up look but while the clothes and make-up don’t suit me, I can wear a beautiful retro rose/violet scent like this one. The softly musky amber base makes for a perfect finish. Unlike a lot of fragrance by Serge Lutens, La Fille de Berlin has a transparency that makes it extremely wearable. I wear this from spring through autumn.

Rozy Voile d’Extrait, Vero Profumo (Sample)

Rose may be the most recognisable facet of this oriental tour de force but there is so much more going on here. Smoked honey, amber and fruit swirl and buzz on the skin with a vital intensity. When I first encountered it, Rozy represented to me the complexity and power of untamed feminine energy – and it still does. Perfumer Vero Kern is someone l hugely admire and I can’t imagine anyone else making a rose-centred perfume remotely like this one.

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Rose de Nuit, Serge Lutens (Full Bottle)

It was nice to give my bell jar an airing. Rose de Nuit is a rosy musk more than it is a pure rose fragrance. It’s not skanky or headache-y but oily and unctuous. It’s a nocturnal harlot in perfume form who doesn’t believe in any such thing as the walk of shame. She’s brazen but sophisticated and oh-so-enticing.

Mille et Une Rose, Lancome (Decant)

Appropriately enough I won this decant on Undina’s Looking Glass. Mille et Une Rose is a soft yet deep, somewhat sweet rose with an amber base and a trail of musk. It makes me think of one of those pretty peach coloured roses with a multitude of petals, circling around and around, layer after layer. It’s velvety, easy to wear and rather romantic.

Velvet Rose, Senoma Scent Studio (Sample)

Again from Undina’s prize package, Velvet Rose is a sparkling, dewy rose. It’s a frothy cascade of pale pink tea roses with a touch of greenery. Delicate but long-lasting, it has that vintage cosmetic association that I really love. The more I inhale it, the more I enjoy it. It’s incredibly pretty and joyful.

The Coveted Duchess Rose by Penhaligon’s (Sample)

This recent release is part of the Portraits collection.  At first I’m thrown by a metallic green note but this does fade in the heart which is a fresh and fruity rose soliflore with a swirl of powdery sweetness. The base is a rosy woody musk. Green and/or fruity roses aren’t really my style but it’s nicely done and will no doubt be popular.

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Vaara, Penhaligon’s (Full Bottle)

Vaara has such an original and vivid start that the first time I tried it I was a tad disappointed that it ended up being a light and linear rose perfume. Now I just enjoy it for what it is – a refreshing rose perfume to wear in the summer with its striking opening of tart quince, creamy saffron and a splash of rosewater.

 

Did you take part in the Month of Roses? How did you get on? Could you wear roses day after day?

 

 

 

 

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Civet, Nightingale and Macaque by Zoologist Perfumes

I’m a great admirer of Zoologist Perfumes and am extremely happy to hear they are now being stocked in the UK by Bloom. It’s great to see an independent brand that is brim full of originality and making the most of artisan perfumers.

After writing about the first three fragrances (Rhinoceros, Beaver and Panda)  I was excited to try samples of some of the subsequent releases.

It’s worth noting that none of these – of any of their Eau de Parfums – contains animal products.

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Civet

Top Notes: Bergamot, Black Pepper, Lemon, Orange, Spices, Tarragon
Heart Notes: Carnation, Frangipani, Heliotrope, Hyacinth, Linden-blossom, Tuberose, Ylang
Base Notes: Balsams, Civet, Coffee, Incense, Labdanum, Musks, Oakmoss, Resins, Russian Leather, Vanilla, Vetiver, Woods

Perfumer: Shelley Waddington (En Voyage Perfumes)

I thought Civet was bound to be too much for this fragile flower but not so. Shelley Waddington was aiming for the effect of a fur coat over naked skin and that’s exactly what she’s achieved.  After a glittering citrus start, the warm vintage fur is draped around your shoulders. It’s a real stunner with facets of cosmetic powder, flower petals and body warmth. I find it sensual and a little heady rather than intimidatingly animalic. I particularly love its glamorously retro aura and the way it makes me feel cocooned.

The use of coffee in Civet is an inspired modern twist. You wouldn’t necessarily know it was there without the notes list but it adds a roasted depth which is subtle and – like the touch of vanilla – is blended nicely into the whole. The spices are also handled with a light touch. It doesn’t hit you over the head with its sex appeal but entices you to close your eyes and nuzzle it like a blissed-out feline.

Nightingale

Top Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Saffron
Heart Notes: Japanese Plum Blossom, Red Rose, Violet
Base Notes: Oud, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Moss, Frankincense, White Musk, Labdanum, Ambergris

Perfumer: Tomoo Inaba

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Nightingale immediately showers you with plum blossom as if caught in a snowstorm of deep pink petals. It’s sweet and powdery, the way a combination of rose and violet often is. This cosmetic-style accord is underlined with a full-bodied opacity that comes from the patchouli and moss. It’s a vivid, striking opening to a perfume that has a unique character.  It’s fully embellished but doesn’t take itself too seriously.

A complex yet playful composition, Nightingale mellows out beautifully, developing that recognisable vintage chypre signature so many of us covet. I can imagine it successfully captures the feeling of celebration and optimism that comes with the onset of spring in Japan.  The tendrils of musk rising up from under its blush coloured skirts prevent it from coming across too innocent. Nightingale is ideal for lovers of classic chypres and the woman or man who is not afraid to indulge in a swathe of pink when the mood takes them.

Macaque

Top Notes: Cedar, Green Apple, Red Mandarin
Heart Notes: Frankincense, Galbanum, Honey, Rosewood, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine Tea
Base Notes: Cedarmoss, Green Tea, White Oud, Musk

Perfumer: Sarah McCartney (4160 Tuesdays)

I imagined a perfume named after a monkey would be about base instincts and therefore rather confrontational and even skanky. It’s actually the exact opposite. On spraying, I’m pleasantly surprised to find myself surrounded by clean air, the head-clearing scent of evergreens and a cascading waterfall. The aroma of lush vegetation and mossy undergrowth is cut nicely by tart citrus fruit.

Macaque is more about the mountain habitat than the mammal itself. It represents not only the forested slopes but the temple that overlooks it. There are the slimmest scented strands of frankincense, flower petal offerings and fragrant teas which drift across the canopy. It’s much more spiritual than beastly and extremely atmospheric. Macaque is a refreshing bright green fragrance which creates a sense of place, far away from our material world and its humdrum concerns.

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Do any of these fragrant creatures appeal to you? Do you have a favourite from the line?  

 

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