Category Archives: Perfume Shopping

Jovoy Comes to London – Photo Essay

 

I’ve long heard of French perfume store, Jovoy. Their house fragrances have been available in London for some time but now they’ve opened a shop here stocking a range of mostly high-end and luxury brands.

Located on Conduit Street, off Regent Street, the space is stylishly designed and a lot bigger than you might think on first look. Last Saturday my pal Sabine and I had a good nose around.

 

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Until fairly recently it wasn’t easy to access the exquisite perfumes from Neela Vermeire Creations north of the river, so it’s nice to see them stocked here. Pichola is one of the few tuberose perfumes I can wear, but the meditative osmanthus of Rahele is still my favourite.

 

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I really wanted to explore the range from The Different Company because I haven’t come across it before in the capital. The one I liked the most was After Midnight, probably not surprising because it has a prominent iris note.

 

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It’s hard to find a brand that does luxury better than Puredistance.

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Val the Cookie Queen suggested I try Cuir Andalou by Rania J which was a wearable, not very tarry, leather, smoothed out by a undercurrent of velvety oud.

 

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We were surprised when one of the staff told us there was more downstairs. Here we found Adedes de Venustas and Masque Milano. The latter is a niche brand that – unlike many – I think are doing something distinctive. Sabine tried Russian Tea with its mint opening and raspberry flavoured tea base.

I made a beeline for Romanza as I’ve wanted a narcissus fragrance for years and I know it’s a favourite of Claire’s, who writes the wonderful Take One Thing Off. At first the narcissus and galbanum had me getting ready to request a sample but then a forceful musk elbowed its way to the front and my high hopes were dashed. If you’ve been looking for a narcissus fragrance and you’re not sensitive to musk, you should still check it out.

I also tried L’Attesa which is a very softly spoken iris with a refined air. Extremely nice but a bit too mannered now that I’ve fallen for Iris Poudré.

 

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The full list of brands available is as follows: –
Aedes de Venustas – Alexander J – Arty Fragrance –  Atelier Flou – Begim – Berry – Berdoues – Chabaud – Dauphine – Eight & Bob – E.Coudray – Evody – Eternal Gentleman – House of Oud – Isabey Jacques Fath – Jeroboam – John Paul Welton – Jovoy – Fragance du Bois – Grossmith London – Indult – Institut très Bien – Jul et Mad – La Parfumerie Moderne – M.Miccalef – MDCI – Nejma – Neela Vermeire Créations – Olfactive Studio –  Parfumeur du Monde –  Prudence – Puredistance – Rania J – The Different Company – Volnay – Widian

 

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After the official opening on 28th September, the self-service perfume dispenser will be in operation. You’ll be able to purchase a 10ml bottle at a flat rate and fill it with one of the eight perfumes on offer.  Four will be Jovoy perfumes while the other four will include one from Neela Vermeire Creations, one from The Different Company and a new, as yet unnamed British brand.

 

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Real chunks of ambergris are locked away in a glass cabinet downstairs but the sales  assistant opened it up for us to a have sniff.  The largest piece had a strong whiff of the animalic but didn’t smell salty or sea-like the way I expected it to.

 

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The small piece on the right of picture below is the oldest and whitest, having been bleached by the sun on the sea’s surface for so long. Now this stuff nearly blew my head off. To say it was skanky in the extreme is an understatement and that was just sniffing the glass cloche!

 

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I asked if I could possibly have a sample of the fragrance that captured me the most (After Midnight) and was happy to be greeted with a positive reaction. It’s ridiculously hard to get free samples these days. Not only did they make up samples for both of us at no charge, they packaged them beautifully too.

Sabine picked up a copy of perfume magazine Nez to practice her French and we repaired to Fortnum and Mason for cake.

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon in London.

 

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Have you visited Jovoy in France? Do you think you’d like to visit the London store? Which brand/s would you be most interested in?

 

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Italy, Friendship and Fornasetti

 

I know I said I wasn’t going to post this week but I couldn’t wait to share my recent trip.

It was wonderful, partly because Italy is such a fabulous place but mainly because of the people I was with. Ines, Asali and Natalie are all truly kind, supportive and inspiring women.  It was a real joy to finally meet Ines (read her lovely write-up here) and Asali (who designed my gorgeous blog header) and to get to know Natalie better.

We not only saw Bologna, where we were based, but also took the train to Parma for the day.

Sadly, Ines and Asali had to leave before our final expedition to Venice on Monday.

 

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Parma

 

 

Venice

 

 

I came home feeling extremely fortunate, but also with something I’ve wanted to own for a while now.

 

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Fornaetti is an iconic Italian homewares brand, producing room fragrances, plates, cushions etc.

You may have seen their scented candles, even you didn’t know the name. The images are very striking and usually quirky. I guess they are something that you either find  appealing or you don’t. For me, they are actually much more about the ceramic holders than the scent of the candle inside. They are a thing of beauty and wit – a winning combination.

What had put me off until now was the price. The smaller 300g ones are generally £140. However, visiting Italy gave me the perfect excuse. We were browsing a clothes shop in Parma when I noticed the candles. There were about 8-10 of them and I thought they would make the perfect souvenir of this awesome experience.

 

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The shop offered a little money off and when Natalie worked out the conversion rate (£113), that swung the deal.

I took a little while to make up my mind but I went with the image that spoke to me the most.  This one of soprano Lina Cavalieri dressed as a medieval knight – called “Armatura” –  fits me to a T. As Natalie said “It’s dark and empowering”.

 

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The candle’s scent is called ‘Otto’ which was created in collaboration with perfumer Olivier Polge, who in recent years has composed Misia and Boy for Chanel.  The fragrance was inspired by the Mediterranean herbs found in and around the Fornasetti home in Milan. It has notes of thyme, lavender, cedarwood and incense and was created in Grasse, France, while the porcelain holders are made and hand-decorated in Italy.

 

 

I’ve been piecing together my own metaphysical suit of armour for a couple of years now and the idea of a fighter with femininity resonates greatly with me. It will be a nice reminder of the strong women that are my friends and for who I will travel the earth to see, as well as my own inner warrior.

 

 

Do you like Fornasetti or scented candles in general? Is there a decorative object that you’ve long lusted after?

 

 

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Undina in London at Last!

I started reading Undina’s Looking Glass when it first appeared on the blogosphere six years ago.  I’ve long been keen to meet Undina so I was extremely happy when she wrote to say she and her Very Significant Other would be visiting London from their home in San Francisco.  If only Rusty could have come too…

 

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Rusty: Have submarine, will travel?

 

We met outside Harrods just as it opened at 11.30 am on a sunny Sunday. Undina made me feel at ease immediately and her still jet-lagged vSO very accommodatingly wandered around the store as we hit the perfume trail.

Undina doesn’t publish her photograph online but you can see below what we got up to.

 

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First stop, the 6th floor and the rarefied atmosphere of the Salon de Parfum. Our timing was good because they had opened an additional six fragrance boutiques two weeks before, including Penhaligon’s, Armani Privé and Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums.

 

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Undina had wanted to check out the MDCI Parfums line while in London and already owns Chypre Palatin. Six fragrances are stocked in the Roja Dove perfumerie (three feminines and three masculines). We liked Un Coeur en Mai the most and when Undina said it reminded her of another perfume, I was very pleased with myself for spotting it resembled Chamade. Both are spring green florals with a pollen-y feel.

 

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Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie

 

Guerlain’s  Muguet 2017 is a gorgeous lily of valley with rose, jasmine and green notes. If it were not for the sky high price I’d have happily bought a bottle.

 

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The new addition to L’Art et la Matière collection, Joyeuse Tubéreuse, surprised us by being not very tuberose-like. It’s a pretty floral bouquet with just a hint of super fresh tuberose. When the description says ‘airy’ (below), it’s not kidding. After about an hour it was extremely quiet.

 

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Above is the very Kilian-esque SA modelling the new Black Phantom. A boozy, woody fragrance with notes of rum, coffee, vetiver, cyanide, sugar cane and sandalwood.

Below is the Harrods exclusive Midnight in London which is £15,000 for the whole case (no more will be available).  The fragrance is a very nice mimosa-led floral which Undina liked best out of everything we tried. Oh the burden of expensive taste.

 

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By Kilian’s Midnight in London

 

I was excited that Frederic Malle had come to the Salon de Parfums because since my visit to the Burlington Arcade store with Val the Cookie Queen, I’ve been a little obsessed with the line.

 

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Of course I had to try out what the SA called ‘The Time Machine’. It’s a temperature controlled space for trying out fragrances in a diffused way.  Undina suggested spraying En Passant into it as it is the most fleeting. Sadly the first time if was so fleeting we could smell nothing, but on a second try we picked it up and it was lovely.

Next I tried Iris Poudre in the machine as I’m considering a full bottle purchase. This novel perfume delivery system is a bit of fun and maybe you do get a better idea than when you stick your nose onto a scent strip.

Undina disliked Superstitious on the card but loved it on me so that’s okay then.

 

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At Armani Privé we tried the Harrods exclusive which I have sadly zero recollection of. The good news is, however, that the coveted Limited Edition lipstick iris, La Femme Bleue, is coming back and will be permanent, if not widely available.

 

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You could go just to look at the gorgeous interiors…

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Back on the ground floor we went into the Black Hall and made a bee-line for Ormonde Jayne as it’s a favourite line of Undina’s and I own a couple of their perfumes too.  We tried yet another Harrods exclusive. This one is called Amber Royal and is a very pleasant floral amber.

Montabaco is their best seller and the one the SA told me the brand is now most known for. It’s a wearable, unisex tobacco scent but is part of the pricey Four Corners collection so the 50ml is £195. 

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At the Amouage counter I was impressed with Bracken Woman which smells exactly as you would expect and hope. Quite a contrast with the pink bottle. The notes are wild berries, fern, lily, narcissus, chamomile, leather, patchouli, vetiver and birch.

 

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Undina noted the placement of Bond No. 9 by the toilets…

 

After lunch we met Vanessa of Bonkers about Perfume at Bloom in Covent Garden. It was so lovely to see her after she couldn’t join us for Val’s visit.

 

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Bloom looked quite a bit different. They have removed the glass cabinets which makes everything easily accessible now.  A good move.

 

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Vanessa and I enjoyed trying Hummingbird, a floral fragrance in the Zoologist line authored by Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes. My favourite is still the fur coat of Civet (also by Shelley).

 

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Vanessa tried quite a few from indie brand Imaginary Authors.

 

 

Undina has been trying to make her mind up as to which formulation of Mito by Vero Profumo to purchase. We all preferred the Voile in a side-by-side test.

 

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Bloom had a tiny bit left of a sample of the forthcoming tobacco perfume from Vero, Naja, for Undina to try. I can’t wait to own a bottle.

We had tea and cake at Patisserie Valerie (it seems to be the perfumistas cafe of choice) and then I said my farewells. I would have loved to stay longer with them all but the day and my cold were catching up on me. All the same it was wonderful to spend much of the day with Undina and her v.SO and to see Vanessa again.

I look forward to seeing Undina and her v.SO again one of these days, either in London or San Franciso (it’s on the list!)

 

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Fun in London with Val the Cookie Queen

After looking forward to their visit for weeks, fellow blogger and dear friend Val the Cookie Queen and her wonderful daughter landed in London on Tuesday afternoon. I met them straight off the train from Stansted, so they hit the ground running.

Following a curry pit stop at Dosa World just off Brick Lance, we made for the DECIEM store in Spitalfields. I recently wrote about budget skincare brand The Ordinary and  Val and Hannah were just as eager to check out the products.

 

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I picked up the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% to help balance out my combination skin. I also wanted the Marula Oil but it was sold out. I have patches of dry skin at the moment so opted for the Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex from NIOD (also a DECIEM brand) because it has twelve different molecules of hyaluronic acid, as opposed to The Ordinary’s three.

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Hannah & Val checking out The Ordinary’s make-up which has a huge waiting list.

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After this, we headed to Debenhams on Oxford Street because I wanted to show Hannah the make-up line by tattooist, Kat Von D. The Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks are particularly popular and I purchased Double Dare, a rosy nude, for my holiday in Italy next month.

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Don’t bother with Kat Von D make-up if you’re going for the natural look.

 

In the lanes around Carnaby Street we stopped at MAC and visited roll n’roll jewellery store The Great Frog . This was a very cool store which Val had bought a couple of rings from in her youth. We were rather taken with the skull and crossbones stud earrings.

 

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After a M&S hummus run we called it a day.

 

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Day 1 haul

 

The next morning we met at the perfume department (obvs) in Fortnum & Mason. This was with the sole purpose of checking out the Ormonde Jayne Exclusive, Jardin d’Ombre. It’s a dusty iris in a garden of soft florals which our pal Pia of Love To Smell is mad about.  We both committed it to skin because at £195 for a 125ml bottle, you have to love it from beginning to end.

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Next we stepped into Santa Maria Novella, also on Piccadilly. It’s a tiny store but packed with the Italian pharmacy’s gorgeous bath and body products.  I was rather overwhelmed and should have done some research beforehand. I tried Iris eau de cologne, which was lovely, but it’s £90 for 100ml so I had to go away and give it some thought. It did actually last on the paper strip for a good while, so not bad value for a cologne.

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When Hannah mentioned she liked the smell of petrol, the SA brought out Nostalgia. It’s a chewy birch tar leather with bergamot, rubber, sytrax and amber. Unfortunately It became more like aftershave when it settled.

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Across the road at the Burlington Arcade, we went into the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle stand-alone store. The lovely Pawel was incredibly helpful and even tried to get us to go away and think about our prospective purchases. He failed. I bought the brilliant 10ml travel bottles of Iris Poudre and the latest release, Superstitious (review to follow next week).

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The Carnal Flower Hair Mist was amazing on Hannah

 

Pawel showed us the Coffret with 10ml bottles of each of the fragrances. It’s £450 which is actually good value for the number and quality of the perfume you’re getting. Frederic Malle is an exemplary line. Whether I would wear them all or not, I admire every single creation and as a niche collection, it’s hard to beat.

 

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Superstitious by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

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Val had kindly booked us onto the Highgate Cemetery tour, for which Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume was going to join us, but was poorly sadly. While the East Cemetery is open to the public for a fee at the gate, the West Cemetery can only be accessed via the tours, which are booked up weeks in advance.

This Victorian gothic Wast Cemetery has a really special atmosphere and you can see why a lot of famous people are buried here (most recently George Michael). The tour was a long wander around the pathways among the woods, which are packed with elegantly decaying graves. Highly recommended.

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East Cemetery above, West Cemetery below.

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The Sleeping Angel, my favourite.

Our last destination was Camden Market. It mainly appeals to younger people like Hannah, but I still enjoyed having a nose around and picked up a snake ring inspired by Undina.

 

On the way back to the station we stopped in at MAC again. Hannah works for the store in Salzburg and so I was able to benefit from her advice. She recommended the Cremeblend Blush in So Sweet So Easy and for a nude lip, Twig paired with Soar lip liner. I also took advantage of her youth to help me find a pair of trainers for spring/summer.

It was a fantastic day and a half. Happily, it felt much longer than that. We packed a lot in and it felt great to be in the company of these two fabulous females. I hope to visit them in Austria one year.

Keep an eye out for Val’s post covering her time in London on Australian Perfume Junkies in the near future.

 

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Day 2 haul

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Hannah, Val and I on our way to Highgate Cemetery

 

Have you tried any of the perfumes mentioned above? Do you have any recommendations for what to buy from Santa Maria Novella?

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A London Sniffathon with Tina G of APJ – Photo Essay

I was so excited to finally meet Tina G from Australian Perfume Junkies for the first time last weekend. We’ve been virtual friends for a while now – we were introduced by our mutual pal Portia – and I really like the way she writes about fragrance. Tina’s been travelling across Europe and I couldn’t wait for her to get to London

For our intensive tour of some of the city’s fragrant hot-spots, Tina made the decision to concentrate on perfumes not available back home in Sydney, which was very wise. Believe me when I say the following highlights only cover a fraction of what we tried.

 

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Tina and I very happy to be together at Les Senteurs

First on our list was Les Senteurs where the lovely Murray spent ages filling us in on new-to-us brands.  Tina was drawn to the Tom Daxton display and we tested his new fresh floral, Magnolia Heights. I was keen to try the latest addition to Frederic Malle’s Editions des Parfums, Monsieur, which was not animalic the way I envisioned but a very suave patchouli.

Murray took us through Irish brand Cloon Keen Atelier from which Tina was intrigued by Castana which features the novel pairing of vetiver and chestnut, while I particularly enjoyed the bergamot tea of Infusion Assam.

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Tina hadn’t seen French house Les Eaux Primordiales before so we tried all of those, out of which she loved Iris Palladium and almost went for a full bottle. The whole range was very well done, including a vetiver and rhubarb scent in Abstraction Raisonnee and a very natural, wearable lavender with blackberry in Moment Perpetuel.

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Les Eaux Primordiales

Tina is a fan of minty notes so Murray suggested Geranium Pour Monsieur by Frederic Malle which she liked, but was most impressed by Menthe Fraiche from Heeley.

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Murray and Tina

Tina liked Ambre Russe and Tabac Tabou from Parfum de Empire, the latter being a great hay/narcissus/tobacco scent (review to follow). I was very taken with Yuzu Fou. I rarely click with citrus fragrances but this is very concentrated with loads of depth.

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After a meander through Marylebone we found Perfumer H, the new venture of Lyn Harris (of Miller Harris) which has been open for about 8 months now. The store smells of essential oils which is really lovely compared to the synthetic fug of mainstream fragrance shops. The very engaging Caroline told us about the Perfumer H concept. Lyn Harris is really going back to the craft, mixing up the fragrances in a small lab on the premises.

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Caroline in the lab at Perfumer H

They release two collections a year containing five perfumes (each from a different fragrance family), one for Spring/Summer and one for Autumn/Winter. When they’re retired from the current collection they go into the Archive but are still available to purchase. I wear perfume in line with the seasons so this idea appealed to me.

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The current collection of Cologne, Rain Cloud, Atlas, Leather and Musk

We tried the current collection (released in February) and were very impressed with all of them but particularly Atlas, Leather and Musk. On the other side of the room Caroline showed us the Laboratory Editions which are available to buy outright for your sole use (from £1,500) but until then, are available for sale as single bottles (from £140 for 100ml). So if you fall in love with one, you better start saving or stockpiling. From these we tried Ink, Smoke and a few others.

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Tina in front of the Laboratory Editions

Tina tried four Perfumer H fragrances on skin – Leather, Velvet, Atlas and Musk. I liked the cottony iris of Musk the best and as It happened, this is the one she decided to buy. The hand blown blue bottles are gorgeous but you can buy the perfumes in ordinary bottles for a lot less, which is what Tina did as it’s better for transporting home.

Next on the list was Selfridges where we enjoyed salt beef sandwiches before hitting the fragrance floor. After a pit-stop at Chanel we went to the Dior fragrance boutique. Tina hadn’t seen Les Elixirs Precieux before so we sniffed all four (Oud, Rose, Musc and Ambre). They are concentrated oils for layering and Rose is stunning, but so is the price at £225 for 3ml.

I was eager to try Dior’s new Le Colle Noire from La Collection Privée because it’s also a rose. It’s very pretty but I couldn’t detect anything particularly exclusive about it and I like my roses with more depth. There were no samples available but to my and Tina’s amazement the SA offered to spray the lining of my leather jacket. Thanks but no thanks!

 

 

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Dior La Collection Privée

Union sources its materials from around the UK and Tina had been impressed by her friend’s bottle of Celtic Fire so we went through the range of five fragrances. We liked Gunpowder Rose a lot and although tempted, Tina didn’t buy smoky Celtic Fire in the end. The heavy bottles were a factor.

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Union at Selfridges

Tina spotted A Lab on Fire so we sampled a few of those – including What We Do in Paris is Secret – which were surprisingly mainstream in scent. I was also disappointed to find you couldn’t pull the trigger on the Moschino Fresh bottle but had to take off the top and use the bog standard sprayer. Shame.

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Off to Covent Garden and Bloom next. Tina had been the first to tell me about British brand Beaufort and picked up a candle of 1805 Tonnerre for her friend back home. She tried all three fragrances in the line and admired Vi et Armis, which is way too much spicy smoke for me, though very striking.  Owner Oxsana kindly gave us a sneak preview of the forthcoming Beaufort release Lignum Vitae which is, to my surprise, a gourmand. We also tried a few from Turkish perfume house Nishane after which I got nose fatigue and left Tina to browse some more.

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Tina at Bloom, Covent Garden

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We finished off this fantastic day at Aqua Bar on the 32rd floor of The Shard where we met Mazz, a long-time friend of both Tina and Portia. I know Tina is partial to a cocktail and it’s hard to beat the views from here. I also love their Charcoal Cobbler cocktail which has charcoal sugar around the rim of the glass. I drank it rather too quickly and went home on the tube tired but merry.

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The view!

Perfume is a lot of fun and meeting up with perfume friends like Tina is just the best.

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The London weather did me proud!

Do you already love, or like the sound of, any of the perfumes mentioned here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you already love, or like the sound of, any of the perfumes mentioned here?

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