Category Archives: Perfume Reviews

Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen

I was brought up in a strong faith. However far I wandered from its teachings, the miracle of prayer has never left me. I was taught that I could pray any time, and anywhere, on my knees, or walking down the street. It is a habit that has never left me.

“Little boy kneels at the foot of his bed, Droops on his little hands, little gold head, Hush! Hush! Whisper. Who dares! Christopher Robin is saying his prayers …” Vespers. A. A. Milne

christopher robin

February 1989 saw us heading back to the Dominican Republic for another few months. This time with two bikes. In hindsight I should have known that more than spelled trouble. We booked our tickets, Amsterdam – Miami – Port-au-Prince – Puerto Plata. The bikes went for free, unlike these days where you have to pay. (Yes, my husband still takes bikes on planes and I should have known all those years ago that it was going to be an ongoing thing. But let’s face it, I had no idea he would end up as my husband at that point in my life.)

When we disembarked in Miami, things took an unexpected turn. Chris had no visa for the US, which was OK as he was in transit, but he was taken off in another direction to me. I had to leave the airport and check back in again because I was British and did not need a visa.

Bloody Americans and their general paranoia and this was way before 9/11. So yeah, I did that, went back through passport control and sat down hoping Chris would appear again. But he didn’t. He had been made to board the plane that I should have been on with him, despite him telling them that I was not there yet, they seated him. Meanwhile I waited and missed the plane. Don’t ask, because to this day we do not know why they did not call my name. Chris and the two bikes heading off without me.

They put me on a plane to Santa Domingo, 232 km away from where Chris would be. He had no clue as to where I might be. I was exhausted, wired from no sleep and had been about twenty-four hours without a joint, and that is only half the story. I felt as gray as I looked. I had some pesos with me and travellers cheques. I got into a taxi at the airport in Santa Domingo and asked to be taken to a good hotel. It was ten o’clock at night, I was alone in what seemed like a rough city (it was), and I could not think straight. The first two hotels would not take me. A young white woman alone meant prostitute, which meant no, you cannot have a room. The taxi driver had waited for me at each hotel, thank goodness.

The third hotel he took me to let me have a room. It was an expensive hotel and I guess they took pity on me. I had to pay upfront. I was given a room and told that if I wanted room service I would have to pay cash for it, they would not let me put it on a bill.

dom map

I knew where Chris was but had no idea of the phone number of the hotel, which was not quite as much of a problem as not knowing the name of it. We had stayed in the hotel the year before but in-between then and now there had been a refurbishment and that included a name change. The owner, a friend, had written and told us as we made plans to revisit, but damned if I could remember.

I was about at my wit’s end. (As I write this I cannot tell you how much I love the era of technology that we live in, all I would have to do is send a text or make a call. Unimaginable to feel that lost now.) I knew I had to get in touch with Chris, let him know I was on the same island and not back in Miami. (Hated Florida ever since, and never been back – two hours at the airport was more than enough.). It was around midnight. I called the operator and asked for the number of the Hotel ………, that used to be, but now had another name. Right. I burst into tears.

I knelt down by the side of the bed and prayed my heart out, begging for God to help me out of this situation. Bone weary, it felt like my only chance.

Does a prayer answered show there is a God? An unanswered one that there is none? I do not know. But as I asked for help, the name of the hotel was planted within my mind. I could see it as clear as day. Things do not happen by magic, and I had read the name in the letter we had received; I knew it was there somewhere, but I had absolutely no memory of it. An immediate answer to a prayer, when I had to have it. I was so thankful and it has never left me.

I called the operator again, this time getting one that spoke better English. I knew the town and the name of the hotel. And got the number. I remember my hands shaking as I dialled the number.

Within a few seconds I was talking with Chris who was as relieved to hear from me as I was to talk to him. He told me he was jumping straight into a taxi and coming to get me. A good three-hour trip on a less than smooth road, from the north to the south of the island.

dom hotel

The right hotel in Puerto Plata

With utter relief, I peeled the small hidden piece of sticky black hashish off of the back of my watch…

“When troubled times begin to bother me, I take a toke and all my cares go up in smoke.” Up in Smoke by Cheech and Chong

Chris arrived around five in the morning and by breakfast time we were in a taxi heading back north to our original destination. Not only had he lost me, but the bikes had disappeared off of the plane in Haiti, when his plane stopped there for an hour. Thanks to an observant Lufthansa pilot and Chris not giving up looking for them, we got both bikes back three days later.

dom bikes

Val with the hotel owner/friend.

dom val

The trip had not started really well and little did I know that when we returned to Amsterdam three months later, my life would be blown apart.

CQ of APJ

Advertisements

28 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Santal Nabataea by Mona di Orio

Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion. – Rumi

Notes: Black Pepper, Blackcurrant Leaf, Dried Apricot, Oleander, Opoponax, Clay, Sandalwood, Tonka Bean and Coffee Absolute,

Santal Nabataea captured me the moment I sprayed it. I’m grateful to Val the Cookie Queen for sharing her sample with me.

santal nab

Santal Nabataea is the last 2018 release from Mona di Orio. The perfumer is Fredrik Dalman who also composed Bohea Boheme and Suede de Suede for the same house. The fragrance was inspired by the ancient kingdom of Nabataea and its capital Petra, with its striking sandstone architecture.

petra

This is not the sweetened, creamy Samsara-style sandalwood perfume you may be used to: it is something much more desiccated.

The blend of Australian and Indian sandalwood is the golden glow at its core. This is overlaid by cooling incense which is resinous rather than smoky, with a nice bite of bitter green astringency to it. This is enhanced by the presence of dusty black pepper – forever a favourite note of mine.

There is no clichéd spice market on display here or the heavy blanket of amber that is often used to underpin this kind of fragrance. The foundation is actually a savoury base of roasted coffee beans which works beautifully. Multi-layered like the various coloured strata of sandstone, it is a thoughtfully crafted composition which doesn’t use shortcuts to achieve its aim.

I hugely admire and own a bottle of Bois des Iles but I find Mona di Orio’s offering more to my current mood. Santal Nabataea is transporting and produces a meditative effect. In contrast to the plush, velvet effect of the Chanel, it’s sun-baked with a sandy texture that echoes the landscape of Petra. The aridity of it feels cleansing and it does possess an air of antiquity. While its approach to sandalwood is more pared down, it is no less luxurious.

Projection is moderate and lasting power is excellent for an EdP. Unlike a lot of traditional sandalwood fragrances which have a tendency to lean masculine, I find it completely gender neutral.

whirling

The Sufi order of Mevlevi was founded by the followers of the 13th century Persian poet and mystic, Rumi. The initiates are commonly known as Whirling Dervishes and are devoted to a life of austerity. Their whirling is part of a ceremony that puts them in a profound state of spiritual euphoria. Santal Nabataea is a whirling dervish in a bottle, spinning an aura on the skin that is not a little transcendent.

How do you feel about sandalwood fragrances? Do you like the sound of Santal Nabataea?

29 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Portia’s Winter 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 Winter List will be like an all-star list.

Here’s a pic of Tara and me on our 2018 holidays in the Australian Outback at Uluru with TinaG.

Portia’s Winter List

Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Hyde by Hiram Green

Notes: Lemon, Bergamot, Birch, Cassie, Labdanum, Vanilla and Oakmoss

 

I only drift off easily at night these days when listening to recordings of turbulent weather, such as squally winds, heavy rain or a rumbling thunderstorm. It may seem odd that these restless sounds soothe me to sleep, but I find something calming about the wildness of nature when I’m safe inside.  Wearing Hyde, the new EdP release by indie perfumer Hiram Green, gives me the same feeling.

 

hyde

 

The fragrance opens a little medicinal and those citrus top notes don’t hang around as we leap headlong into the warming arms of leather.

Most fragrances in this category smell like molten tar but this is much more of a bonfire on the breeze. It has that quality of smoke in the air that regularly occurs here in autumn/winter, which I love and look forward to at the end of every summer.

Hyde is not as heavy as many leathers. It possesses all of the atmosphere with only half of the weight. It doesn’t have that same level of dense meatiness you often find in similarly themed scents either.  It has real presence but exhibits a lightness of touch, and it’s that sinuousness in a normally rugged style, that really captivates me.

There is a savoury and moreish aspect to Hyde, although it’s not in the least bit edible.  It’s also considerably more parched than a lot of birch leather fragrances, with the feel of charred wood rather than sticky tar. I picture it as deepest brown rather than inky black.

I find myself breathing it in deeply. I like the burnt facet that hits the back of my throat at the end of the inhale. Bois d’Ascese by Naomi Goodsir is a conflagration but Hyde is a smouldering slow burn.  Where Cuir de Lancôme is plush, Hyde is unworldly. The fragrance wraps itself like smoke rings around the body and the sense of intimacy is alluring. The lasting power – particularly for a natural perfume – is superb.

The soft malt vanilla in the drydown can only be enjoyed through the lingering wisps of woodsmoke and I like it all the more for that. In common with a lot of base-heavy fragrances, Hyde is best experienced at one remove.

I’ve been thinking about how, when the shadows lengthen or the internal darkness falls, it makes sense to step down a couple of gears to ease the pressure.  It’s time to take some respite from the rat-race, either with your loved ones or alone. Hyde is the perfect perfume to hibernate with. It is as reassuring as it is addictive and would make a wonderful shared scent.

It is a must-try if you like burning/smoky scents. It’s not going to appeal to everyone but the best fragrances often don’t. Hyde isn’t trying to please the crowd. It walks its own path, leaving a trail of smoking footprints scorched into the moss-covered earth.

 

hyde pic

 

How do you feel about smoky perfumes? Will you be seeking out Hyde?

21 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Stash by Sarah Jessica Parker

Notes: Grapefruit Zest, Black Pepper, Sage, Atlas Cedar, Patchouli, Ginger Lily, Pistachio, Olibanum, Massoia Wood, Vetiver and Musk

 

I first met my friend Anna Maria on holiday with Portia in Venice a couple of years ago, then in Paris, and in her home town of Austral, Sydney last July.  She very generously gave me a bag of beauty products and jewellery, plus a bottle of her latest fragrant discovery, Stash by Sarah Jessica Parker. Anna Maria said she was really impressed by it and was interested in my thoughts – so here we are.

 

stash-sjp-perfume-ad-lg

 

I had been curious about Stash partly because I like SJP but also because I had heard good things about it when it was released in late 2016. I had also thoroughly enjoyed reading The Perfect Scent in which Chandler Burr charts the development of Sarah Jessica Parker’s first fragrance.  What we learn during the book is that while Lovely is the first perfume that was released, she actually wanted what we find in Stash: something decidedly darker.

It couldn’t be much further from the pink ballet slippers of Lovely, coming across as positively niche in character.  I had tried Stash on paper once but the difference on skin is considerable. It’s grimy and musky in the best way but wears close, like a greasy leather glove. I was happy to discover that despite the connotation of its name, Stash smells nothing like weed.

I’ve occasionally found grapefruit reminiscent of body odour but here in the opening it’s perfectly pulpy and zesty. Stash‘s heart is cedar of the dense variety found in Tam Dao by Diptyque, but there are also the nutty, milky woods of massoia and a nice base of mineralised vetiver. The incense of olibanum is what marks this fragrance out for me. That spike of burning joss sticks gives it a twist and saves it from smelling like a run-of-the-mill masculine.

The musks make it feel a little oily rather than skanky. It’s attractive in an undone, dirt-smeared kind of way. Stash is much more intimate than I expected and I like the fact it feels slick. If you prefer more throw, you’ll have to lean heavy on the sprayer. Now we’ve reached the depths of autumn, it feels just right for “sweater weather” and ideal for spritzing on a scarf.

While it’s much better than I imagined, I still need to layer something floral over the top to make it suit my style. The incense-flecked orange blossom of  Seville a L’Aube by L’Artisan Parfumeur works fantastically well.

It’s pleasing that there is a niche-style perfume like Stash on the high street for a bargain price. It may be unlikely to revive the fortunes of celebrity fragrances but at the very least it offers an alternative to the candy dross that passes for a lot of mainstream output these days.

SJP may have had to wait just over 10 years to launch her dream perfume but I have no doubt she feels it was worth the wait.

 

woman with newspaper and zip make-up

Do you admire Stash or do you prefer another SJP fragrance? Are celebrity perfumes really over?

Photo © Alex Buts/Alamy

 

 

 

 

27 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Geisha Botan by aroma M perfumes

Notes: Peony, rose, sandalwood, vanilla, velvet woods, oakmoss and musk. 

I love the whole aroma M perfumes aesthetic from the Yuzen paper used to decorate the bottles to the American indie brand’s Atelier (pictured below).

 

aroma m maria

 

Perfumer and style maven Maria McElroy regularly posts pictures full of beauty on social media, including Japanese fine art and her cat Tama chan. When it comes to the fragrances themselves, they are equally captivating. There has to be a perfume among the varied Geisha collection for just about everyone.

Geisha Botan (botan being peony in Japanese) is the latest addition.

 

 

Maria first encountered a peony garden when she moved to Tokyo in the 1980s and sees them as a quintessentially Asian flower. The peony derived its name from Paeon, a physician to the Greek gods. For centuries the roots, bark, seeds and flowers of peonies have been used for medicinal purposes and are purported to ward off evil chi.  They have a joyous, carefree quality and are a popular motif in traditional Japanese tattoos, denoting a devil-may-care attitude.

 

The peonies do not allow
The rain-clouds a hundred leagues round
To approach them.
– Buson

 

I was predisposed to like Geisha Botan because I knew it was inspired by the uplifting, rosy scent of peonies, but they are the overarching theme rather than the whole story. It is a much more nuanced and full-bodied fragrance than I expected it to be. I was imagining a breezy and innocent scent but it possesses presence and depth right from the beginning.

I was pleasantly surprised by the mossy facet and its juxtaposition with the fresh flower works well. The peony and accentuating presence of rose, lie like a bolt of vivid pink satin over the forest floor.  The contrast between the bright, blowsy blooms and the lichen covered earth makes what could have been a pretty but simple scent, into something rich and compelling.  It mirrors Aroma M’s eclectic feel, where Japanese influences are filtered through a New York state of mind.

The composition is filled out by a substantial though airy vanilla, similar to the variety found in Geisha Vanilla Hinoki, softening the overall effect and adding comfort. If you like vanilla but tire of perfumes where it’s overpowering and overly sweet, this could be a good option for you. The base compromises musky woods with a velvety feel, as advertised in the notes.

Geisha Botan is a versatile fragrance – relaxed enough to wear during the day but also intriguing enough to wear at night. It’s a sophisticated floral vanilla, the likes of which we don’t see often enough.

 

peony

 

 

Do you like peonies? Do you like the sound of Geisha Botan?

 

 

 

 

 

14 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen

“A drug is a substance which, if injected into a rabbit, produces a paper.”  Otto Loewi

HOW?  

After my LSD post several people asked me how I had got into that world.  I have psychoanalysed myself on many occasions; there is no single answer.

Not everyone who gets into the drug scene has suffered a trauma, but in my case I do think a part of my childhood may have put me onto the road to the sphere of mind altering substances.

Everyone has the potential for addiction, but some people are more predisposed to addiction than others.

CHILDHOOD TRAUMAS

I was living in the Azores, 1969.  My father was in the USAF and we were stationed on the island of Terceira.

received_19391923563744535404227384140273431.jpeg

I think I was nine or ten years old.  I was out biking around with a girlfriend, we were sharing her bike.  It was one of those chopper bicycles. It was my turn and I jumped onto it and went down a steep hill.  I have no memory of it.  I came to in the hospital, with someone putting a needle through my lip.  Funnily enough I can remember that, and one of my parents telling me to stay still, the doctor was going to sew my lip up.

I had fallen off of my bike, and as I lay unconscious,  the pedals kept turning and hitting me in my mouth.  They found a complete tooth, with root, in the street, one of six upper teeth that were badly damaged.  I had a hole in my lip you could put three fingers through.  I was so incredibly lucky though.  On the day that this happened, a plastic surgeon had flown onto the island, to visit with his family.  He came to the hospital and repaired my lip for me.

When I think of that now I cry, and wish I could thank him for fixing my face.  I still have a small lump and scarring on the inside of my lower lip.  I did not look in a mirror for many weeks. I would go on my hands and knees into the bathroom to avoid even passing one. It took eight years until my mouth had matured enough to finally have my teeth permanently fixed.  By then I was already smoking weed.

 

received_1839577091597113969860008555723186.jpeg

My parents’ marriage had been in difficulty for a while but as a kid I did not know that. Perhaps subconsciously.  One day, three or four month after my accident, Mum packed us up, my two siblings and myself, and we boarded an Iranian C130 to London Heathrow.   My Dad waving us off at the airport.  I did not know I would never see him again.  I remember the flight really well, I shared my Enid Blyton book with one of the military men on board, and he showed me his book, which I had to look at back to front, and with letters I did not recognise.

received_1865552555913214195540862666821202.jpeg

We went to live with my grandmother over the next few months, might have been nearly a year. I cannot remember clearly.   My father left the island and went back to California, where I do believe he hoped to take steps to repair the marriage. Daddy suffered from alcoholism, maybe partly due to his days when he was stationed in Korea.

 

received_20283305205385474382690952746063159.jpeg

We eventually moved into our own flat with Mum.  One morning, December 10, 1971 as we got up to go to school, Mum told us that Daddy had died suddenly, the day before.  Diabetic complications; but I now know that you can add a broken heart to that.  She then sent us off to school.  That was it.   Honestly, as I write this I have no idea how we ever began to process this.  I wonder if we ever did.  I did not recognize how desperately sad this was until many years later.

I neither accuse nor judge my parents.

AN AVERAGE FAMILY

I do feel that these two traumas in my formative years might have played a role in my going down the drugs and rock’n’roll path. And the death of my father affected all three of us kids.  No one talked about stuff like that in the seventies, you just didn’t.

My brother got into extreme sports before they were called extreme sports.  Bungee jumping using cave harnesses and elastic, cave diving and cliff jumping.  We talk daily.

My sister climbed out of her bedroom window and ran away and became a polygamist, a plural wife.  Passed away at 43 with breast cancer.

Just an average family.

received_5323217072306174939102297483205896.jpeg

I still love music of all kinds, and am at my happiest in the gym with the tunes up loud in my ears.  Perfume is my drug now.  Which is how I ended up here. And we have a bike shop.   A strange tale indeed.

I regret nothing.

CQ of APJ.

 

 

 

37 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Portia’s Autumn List

 

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

I thought it might be nice to introduce myself to those of you unfamiliar with me and Australian Perfume Junkies through some of my all-time favourite fragrances. If this works and Tara continues to enjoy my presence here, I think it might be a seasonal concept. So 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 Autumn List will be like an all-star list.

Here’s a pic of Tara and I on holidays earlier this year in the Whitsunday Islands, Australia.

 
whitsunda

 

Autumn is my favourite time of year. The blistering heat of summer recedes and the nights turn cool. I love the breadth of the temperature variation from day to day too. Here in Sydney we have quite a long Indian Summer so temps may range over a week from 11-30C during the days. That gives quite a good variety of fragrances that I can choose and still feel like I’m fitting into the Autumn spectrum. That’s not to say I always choose something Autumnal particularly, but that is the parameter we are working within here. Get it?

Ambre Céruléen by Huitième Art

You want a sweet, refined, thick yet light amber that will enfold you in its arms and sweep you away? Ambre Céruléen is the answer. Simple, comfortable, warm and inviting. I love the way I smell when wearing it.

Aromatics Elixir, Clinique

Yes, the one and only. Long-term love and long-time department store beauty, Aromatics Elixir has been pumping out its spicy, herbal, smoky woods vibe since 1971. You have probably smelt it wafting by in the street and shopping malls for years. The brighter sister of Aramis, Azuree and Cabochard, all created by Bernard Chant. Particularly fitting for Autumnal blustery days.

Cuir Beluga, Guerlain

Cuir Beluga is a strange beast. The sweetness and patchouli override the leather for much of my wear. It isn’t till almost the very last gasp that leather becomes the defining note. I wear it all year round but when Autumn hits I feel it fits the mood perfectly.

Equistrius by Parfum d’Empire

This is by far my most worn iris-centric fragrance. Though to say it is only an iris fragrance is doing Equistrius a major disservice. I also find it so perfectly blended that most of the notes I’m supposed to be smelling have all combined to become Equistrius alone. The chocolate, leather and amber are significant bit players. A very pretty choice for the warmer days of autumn and can happily segue to evening wear.

Mohur by Neela Vermeire Creations

My rose above all others. Thick and ropey gouts of Bulgarian and Damascene roses all mixed up with an Indian spice shop and the resins from a souk. Mohair is a big fragrance that happily crosses the divide between French perfumery and subcontinental attars. More going on than you can poke a stick at Mohur is the queen for me.

Olympic Amber by Olympic Orchids

You want a simple, straight up amber with a little bit of a growl, burnt caramel and a warm cocooning presence? Olympic Amber is an excellent choice from indie perfumer Ellen Covey. Particularly fabulous after soaking in a bath of her Amber/Labdanum Bath Oil. Sweet perfection.

 

portia autumn.jpg

 

So, what are you guys wearing this Autumn?
Portia xx

 

32 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Perfumes That Work For Everyone Else But You – Mood Scent 4

You know what it’s like, you read all these rave reviews for perfumes that seem to be super popular with the cognoscenti or are venerated as classics. You go out of your way to try one with eager anticipation but after lifting your wrist to your nose you think “Nope”.

It’s a feeling of disappointment mixed with a touch of confusion as to why it didn’t work for you.

I don’t have the taste of most hardcore perfumistas so this tends to happen to me a fair bit. I’m not one for typically niche-style scents which are characteristically dark and heavy. I was gutted at the beginning of my perfume career because I wanted to be one of the cool kids and like the edgy stuff. Since then I’ve become fine with it but there are still some perfumes mismatches that stick.

So today, we – the Mood Scent 4 – are sharing those fragrances that feel as if everyone  gets them but us.

 

Mood scent purple

 

Feminite du Bois by Serge Lutens

I might as well start with the big one. Feminite du Bois with its rich cedar and stewed plum, represents all those Serge Lutens perfumes that I am far too fey to carry-off. They are the ones full of warm fruit and resinous woods that must be wonderful in cooler weather and give the wearer an air of chic with a touch of edge. Sadly that will never be me. I can only wear Uncle Serge’s more transparent and non-woody compositions such as the rooty Iris Silver Mist and the rose-violet veil of La Fille de Berlin. It’s not you FdB, it’s me.

feminite du

Chanel No.5 

It was a ground-breaker when released in 1921 and manages to retain its position as the most famous perfume in the world. No.5 is synonymous with class and effortless elegance. On me it is just too soapy and well, nondescript. I have a vintage parfum from Portia to give our mutual friend, Val the Cookie Queen and I imagine that is another experience entirely. She didn’t always love it so maybe one day it will click with me too. There is always hope. Apart from anything else, who doesn’t want to own that iconic bottle?

 

no 5

 

 

Nahema by Guerlain

On paper this one should be perfect for me. I love Guerlain, I love rose, so why don’t I love Nahema? Each time I’ve tried it I’ve got an acidic green, metallic rose, which is not to my taste at all. I love roses which have a touch of sweetness but this is just plain sour on me. I have heard that it is one of those perfumes that is different on different people so I suspect my skin chemistry is the culprit. Shame.

 

nahema

 

Avignon by Comme des Garcons

Oh how I wanted to love the ultimate incense perfume by those proto-hipsters at CdG. I sprayed Avignon – probably too generously – on the back of my hand and inhaled. Jeez that thing was powerful. It nearly knocked me sideways. Straight-up, full-force Catholic frankincense clearly wasn’t for me. This led me to discover that I like my incense more subdued and preferably combined with another contrasting accord. The muted, woody incense of Passage d’Enfer with its waxy white lilies was the version that worked for me.

 

avignon

 

Knize Ten

Released in the 1920s and lauded as one of the best leathers of all time, Knize Ten sounded fantastic. Unfortunately it was oily, tough and scratchy on me. The good thing that came out of this less than positive experience was that once again, I found out what kind of leathers do work for me: those smoky, birch tar based leathers and softer suedes such as my holy grail Cuir de Lancôme.

 

Broken-Heart-4K-Wallpaper-Idea-1080x608

This is a fun one so hop on over to my blogging partners to see which notable scents missed the mark for Megan In Sainte Maxime, L’Esperessence and I Scent You A Day.

Now it’s over to you. Which perfumes that fell flat did you expect to love because everyone else did? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

30 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Vintage Mini Reviews – Bal a Versailles, Paris and Magie Noire

My Aussie friends gave me so many wonderful gifts when I visited in July. These included sweets, skincare, earrings, boots (2 pairs!) and of course, perfume.

The lovely Scott is a pal of Portia’s and a fragrance fiend like the rest of us. At my last evening attending Turbo Trivia he very sweetly presented me with a selection of decants from his collection which all feature rose to some extent. This was incredibly thoughtful, given my obvious love of the note. They were all perfumes that I didn’t know well – if at all – and I was excited to try them.

 

FB_IMG_1534536992619

Portia, Jin, me and Scott

 

There were five decants in all  but I’ve decided to focus on the three that impressed me the most. (The other two being Voleur de Roses by L’Artisan Parfumeur and Parfum de Peau by Montana).

 

Bal a Versailles Vintage EDC, Jean Desprez

Rosemary, orange blossom, mandarin orange, cassia, jasmine, rose, neroli, bergamot, Bulgarian rose, lemon, sandalwood, patchouli, lilac, orris root, vetiver, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, leather, Tolu balsam, amber, musk, benzoin, civet, vanilla, cedar, resins

Bal a Versailles is a busty oriental from the days when you could find animalic perfumes on the high street. I thought it would be a real ball-buster: loud and skanky. On me however, it radiates a warm and furry hum that is suggestive rather than obscene. I’m not at ease in pornographic perfume but on me, this is lightly draped curves and candle-lit seduction. I actually find it rather comforting in small amounts, though I have little doubt spraying liberally from the bottle gives you a decidedly different effect.

The musks are silky, fuzzy, moreish and of course, sensual. The powder is pitched just right. It’s the kind of perfume that I imagine being dabbed on the décolleté and mingling with the wearer’s skin chemistry. It positively blooms with body heat. The musky base is embellished with flowers and gilded with aromatics, woods and sweet resins. Bal a Versailles is enticingly intimate and gloriously lavish.

 

bal a versailles

 

Paris Vintage EDT, YSL

Bergamot, orange blossom, rose, mimosa, cassia, hawthorn, nasturtium, violet, hyacinth, geranium, violet leaves, jasmine, orris, ylang ylang, lily of the valley, lily, linden, sandalwood, amber, musk, moss, heliotrope, cedar and ambergris

I flip over good powdery rose/violet perfumes. They tend to be feminine, glamourous  and often reminiscent of vintage cosmetics. In short, they give me my pin-up girl moment.

I imagined vintage Paris would overwhelm me with chilly and jagged aldehydes, but it is surprisingly warm and velvety.  That’s not to say it is a quiet perfume – quite the opposite. A full spray from the bottle must envelop you in a dazzling pink cloud. Its personality is charmingly optimistic, carefree and elegant. The only thing that puts me off seeking out more juice, is the tell-tale Playdoh effect caused by heliotrope. For some reason the dominant presence of that almond-tinged note gives me a headache.

Although I may not be able to wear it, Paris is still a standout fragrance.

paris-yves-saint-laurent-perfume-review

 

Magie Noire Vintage EDT, Lancome

Bulgarian rose, blackcurrant buds, jasmine, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, amber and patchouli

I remember sniffing this at the very, very beginning of my slip into perfumania. I didn’t get it. It seemed too sour and austere.

Now I’m ready for it.

This sophisticated virago brings to mind black and white movie femme fatales like Bette Davis. Maybe not conventionally beautiful but absolutely magnetic. The individual elements shouldn’t work but the overall effect is compelling. As time wears on, I find myself constantly bringing my wrist to my nose. This potion is bewitchingly good.

There are hissing blackcurrant buds and dark, bitter greens tempered by white flower petals. It’s like escaping to an enchanted hideaway, concealed by a curtain of moss. Originally released in 1971, I can’t envisage Lancôme launching something like this today (more’s the pity). Vintage Magie Noire is magnificent.

 

 

magie-noire.png

 

Huge thanks to Scott for sharing these fabulous decants with me. I know these perfumes are dear to his heart and in short supply, which makes it all the more special. It’s been a real education and filled a lacuna in my knowledge. An added bonus is that I’ve found more fragrances to covet.

Do you know and love any of these treasures?

29 Comments

Filed under Perfume Friends, Perfume Reviews