Tag Archives: Artisan

In Rotation – Autumn 2017

It’s autumn in the UK and I’m really enjoying wearing my two favourite releases of this year (practically non-stop). They are both by artisan perfumers whose work exhibits great depth and attention to detail. As different as they are, each fragrance feels perfect for this time of year.

I spent a few days at a forest lodge in Scotland earlier in the month and the autumnal countryside was stunning. The scents of green leaves, woodsmoke and damp earth filled the air.

 

 

Dryad by Papillon Perfumes

Narcissus, Oakmoss, Jonquil, Costus, Galbanum, Clary Sage, Deer Tongue, Cedrat, Benzoin, Lavender, Thyme and Orris

Liz Moores is very connected to nature in all its forms, so it’s no wonder she should see the soul in a tree and create a perfume in its honour: Dryad. Bitter greens are crushed underfoot as the woodland becomes denser and darker. The drydown has the glorious feel of a vintage oakmoss chypre. Green perfumes are rarely this complex or classy. Wear it while wistfully wishing you lived in the forest, or kicking up leaves walking through the park.

 

Naja by Vero Profumo

Osmanthus absolute, melon, linden blossom, tobacco

The green in Naja is a neon bright lime.  It starts out like juice, then blossom and finally powder. This provides an overlay to the palest blond tabacco which feels just right for these damp days with a hint of bonfire in the air. Naja is a perfume full of contradictions that exist side by side. It is body and spirit, dissonance and harmony, purity and poison. Wear it to weave protection spells and cast out evil. It’s the perfect perfume for the run-up to Halloween.

 

Coromandel by Chanel 

Bitter Orange, Neroli, Jasmine, Rose, Orris, Patchouli, White Chocolate, Vanilla, Woods, Incense

While I’m wearing Dryad and Naja on skin, I’m also wearing Coromandel on fabric. It’s my favourite scarf perfume. I sprayed it onto the front of my long black cotton scarf once I’d wound it round my neck.  The luxe patchouli works really well when you can catch wafts of it as you walk. I have the EdT version which has wisps of incense which show up in mild weather.  It really complements both Dryad and Naja. Wear it to amplify and complement the wonderfully musty aromas of autumn in a super chic way.

 

20171020_172846.jpg

What fragrances have you been turning to lately?

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Anna Zworykina Perfumes – Mini Reviews

To continue the all-natural theme of recent weeks, let me introduce you to Anna Zworykina, a Russian artisan perfumer with a Phd in Biochemistry. She has been making fragrances for 15 years and kindly sent me a selection of EdP samples to try, all of which I found to be distinctive and well-structured.

As you may be aware, Luca Turin isn’t exactly a fan of natural perfumery but even he was converted by Anna’s work.

anna z perfumes

Shiny Amber

Notes: Ginger,  lemon, bergamot, yuzu, jasmine,  champaka, benzoin, labdanum, vanilla, tonka bean, ambergris

Ambers are usually for cosying up with in the winter but Shiny Amber is about the gifts of summer; bright sunshine and ripe fruit. It’s a lemony, citrus amber with lots of lift and radiance – not qualities you normally associate with amber fragrances. It makes for a nice twist on this classic genre and those fond of amber perfumes should welcome one that’s wearable in warmer weather.

 

Apple Orchard

Notes: Galbanum, blackcurrant bud, jasmine, neroli, champaka, roses, lavender, oregano, cognac, cardamom, angelica, oakmoss, vetiver, labdanum, vanilla.

An olfactory evocation of autumn, Apple Orchard is a fruity/smoky fragrance rather than a straight-up apple perfume (as you can see from the notes).   It speaks softly of dimming light, misty mornings and bonfires of fruitwood. It cleverly evokes that wistful feeling I often have in those months, with their long, leaning shadows. I find Apple Orchard  quietly enchanting.

 

samples

My Vanilla

Notes: Black pepper, clove, galbanum, elemi, juniper berry, nutmeg, jasmine, cumin, orange blossom, cardamom, cedarwood, vanilla, tonka bean, sandalwood, orris, agarwood.

It seems Anna prefers her vanilla to be tempered and low calorie which is no bad thing in my book. My Vanilla opens with green grass and settles into spice over vanilla.  Cumin is most prominent on my skin, but that is a note I’m sensitive to – probably because I have issues with it.

 

Winter Blush

Notes: Oranges, roses, jasmine, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, iris, balsam Peru, benzoin, rosewood, cedar, labdanum.

Winter Blush is a thoroughly joyful perfume. It has the aroma of the festive season but has been done in a fresher, brighter style than a lot of Christmassy fragrances. It’s a lightweight gourmand with lots of juicy tangerine which has enough tartness to cut through the gentler accords of chocolate and spice.  Winter Blush becomes pleasingly vanillic/balsamic in the base.

 

Cuir de Russie

Notes: Tar leather, tobacco, wormwood.

If you’re a leather fragrance fan you’re very likely to love this. Cuir de Russie is very much in the classic birch tar leather mold. It starts out with a blast of pine needles, thick tar and black smoke. While calming a little, it manages to retain those salty, meaty facets and chewy texture throughout. It’s easy to imagine the Russian forest where birch tree bark was melted into tar. This Cuir de Russie has plenty to get your teeth into, with a nice amount of throw and great lasting power.

 

RUSKOZHA_BR6_8003-utverzhdenny1.jpg

 

There are about 30 fragrances in all on the Anna Zworykina Perfumes website so if you your interest has been piqued by the above, do check out the sample sets. Anna divides her collections into Leather, Gothic, Floral, Warm & Enveloping and Landscape.

Are you drawn to any of the fragrances mentioned? Are you open to trying all-natural perfumes?

 

 

12 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Moon Bloom, Shangri La and Dilettante by Hiram Green

When artisan perfumer Hiram Green kindly offered to send me fragrance samples from his home in The Netherlands, the first one I thought of was Arbolé Arbolé. I’d heard great things about it but as it turned out, this was the one that suited me the least (I find orientals tricky). Therefore I’ll refer you to Val the Cookie Queen’s wonderful post about it on APJ here.

Below are my thoughts on the other three, all-natural, Eau de Parfums.

 

Shangri_La_50ml_duo.jpg

 

Shangri La 

Notes: Citrus, peach, jasmine, rose, iris, spices, vetiver, and oakmoss. 

Shangri La is Hiram Green’s interpretation of the classic chypre, a century after Coty started the genre with the original of the same name.

Of course this is a modern version but its genre is recognisable straight away.  There’s peachy citrus undercut by a background of oakmoss, which instantly reminds me of  Mitsouko.  You should give Shangri La a try if you already love the iconic Guerlain or you want to but don’t, because this is much more accessible.  It still has the humid feel and oakmoss of Mitsouko but the peach is much more juicy.  Shangri La possesses that full-bodied sophistication that is so characteristic of chypres.

 

Dilettante

Notes: Orange Flower, Petitgrain, Orange Essential Oil

I’m always hopeful when trying an orange blossom perfume but all too often they are overly soapy or indolic. However Dilettante is pitch perfect. Within the first few seconds alone I get all the aromatic aspects of the orange tree: zesty fruit, green leaves and lush blossom.

Orange blossom, pettigrain and orange essential oil are such fantastic natural materials that they are ideal for an all-natural perfume. You really don’t need much else. Dilettante is smooth, sunlit and full of orange flower goodness, becoming mellower yet richer over time.  It moves through all the shades of orange from bright flame through to burnished gold. It’s a simple composition that just works. Summer is exactly the right time to try it too: no other type of fragrance is so full of liquid sunshine. Yum.

 

Moon Bloom

Notes: Tuberose Absolute, Jasmine Absolute, Ylang Ylang, Coconut, Leafy Greens, Spices and Resins.

I own some tuberose absolute and I much prefer it to the often headache inducing synthetic version. It is fresh, narcotic, tropical, buttery and fleshy, as well as deeply sensual. You get all of that in Moon Bloom as well as the facet that smells like bubblegum. Admittedly tuberose is not my favourite material but I appreciate it for how incredibly striking and complex it is.  Here it’s complemented with other white florals and fresh green notes.

In contrast to most tuberose perfumes, Moon Boom hums at a low register, intensifying its sultry feel. The coconut is not immediately obvious but adds a creamy texture and rounds out the composition while also accentuating the exotic feel, stopping short of beachy. This is a nocturnal fragrance for hot and humid nights and a must-try for tuberose fans.

 

Girls___Models_Model_in_flowers_055356_.jpg

 

None of these three fragrances suffer from the dual criticisms of flatness or short-life which are usually leveled at natural perfumery. All are available in a 50ml bottle and 10ml Travel Size (hurrah!).

Have you tired any of Hiram Green’s perfumes? If not, do any of the above pique your interest?

 

 

20 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Curious EdP and Perfume by Aftelier Perfumes

Notes: Tobacco, Hay, Smoke, Orange Leaf, Siam Wood and Dirty Orange.

 

A project that has been three years in the making has finally come to fruition: the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents is now open in Berkeley, California.  Here, artisan perfumer Mandy Aftel shares her personal and unique collection of aromatic materials and antique books.

Visitors can experience over three hundred natural essences and connect with the ingredients that have inspired people over centuries, but which are sadly used much less in perfumery today.

 

Mandy.Aftel_Perfume.Museum_JB_093_lc -ss

The ambergris exhibit: Archive of Curious Scents

 

The atmosphere of the Archive was the inspiration behind Curious, the latest release from Aftelier Perfumes. There is even an exhibit that breaks down the fragrance note by note so that visitors can see how the essences weave together to create the finished scent.

 

curiousgroup-ss_14

 

 

The camphor-like, leafy opening of Curious suggests bracing air and pine forests.  As it settles, there is the scent of green saplings and creamy white woods over a beguiling mixture of moss and ash. ‘Dirty orange’ is a great descriptor because while the orange leaf is verdant and fresh at the start, it later morphs into a spiral of peel rubbed with earth. I think it’s the orange nuances which lift Curious and give it an extra dimension.

The drydown is a smoky botanical musk; unlike anything I’ve tried before.  The smokiness isn’t tarry or rubbery the way it is in leather fragrances – or indeed the fantastic Vanilla Smoke.  Imagine instead slender grey plumes twisting skywards from a woodland fire.

Mandy thinks of tobacco absolute as nature’s musk and combined with hay absolute the way it is in Curious, creates an aromatic muskiness without the laundry sheet or skanky facets often present in synthetic musks. It drapes across the skin and melds with your own chemistry.

It’s redolent of the outdoors while possessing the texture of fur and the way it plays with the animal and the vegetal is compelling. As usual, Mandy has made a composition that is as clever as it is rewarding.

Unlike many smoky/musky perfumes, Curious has an enigmatic quality that makes it beautifully mysterious.

When comparing the EdP and the Perfume, I would say the EdP is airier with more swirling smoke, while the Perfume is more potent but sits closer to the skin. Out of the two, the EdP is more my style, but I can see plenty of people soaking up the depth of the Perfume.

In either formulation, it is a fascinating fragrance in the truest sense of the word. Its complexity and presence hold my attention with ease. It absolutely does trigger your curiosity as you try and get a handle on exactly what you’re inhaling.

If Curious is what the Archive smells like then it must be a feast for the senses as well as an enthralling exploration into the history of perfumery.

 

curious

 

Do you like the idea of a smoky musk perfume? Would you love to visit the Archive of Curious Scents one day?

23 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

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.

liz and horse

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.

 

dreaming_dryad_by_mariyaolshevska-d258yyp.jpg

 

Picture credit: Dreaming Dryad by mariyaolshevska at DeviantArt

30 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

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.

Red-Roses443.jpg

 

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.

liq-qoz-wildroses-2t

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.

rozy_voile_extrait_386d996784

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.

20170226_121121.jpg

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?

 

 

 

 

18 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Fragranced Organic Teas by Aftelier Perfumes

After I shared a surprisingly popular post about tea a couple of weeks ago, the wonderful indie perfumer Mandy Aftel kindly sent me samples from her own tea collection. I was thrilled and had a fine time trying each one.

 

20170128_203428.jpg

 

I drank them without milk and without sugar (on my first cup at least) to get the true taste. All four teas are organic and use edible essential oils and absolutes on a base of premium tea leaves. Depending on what method of infusion you use, on the first steeping you can watch the leaves unfurl in the water. You can also re-infuse them several times, which is great. Below are my impressions of each variety.tea-roseginger-2tOolong Tea Rose & Ginger 

This organic Tieguanyin oolong tea from Taiwan is infused with Mandy’s Chef Essences of Turkish Rose and Fresh Ginger. I thought I didn’t like floral teas, however either rose is an exception or this tea is so subtly flavoured/scented it’s a joy. I was also concerned the ginger might be overpowering but it added a lovely gingerbread background warmth. I think I might struggle with straight-up oolong but this combination of flavours gives it body and make it work beautifully for me. Now I’m looking forward to trying more rose flavoured teas.

Black Tea Cardamom & Orange

I love the scent of black tea, cardamom and orange so it’s no surprise that this turned out to be a hit with me. The cardamom comes through more than the orange but it’s a gentle backnote to the tea itself which is full, rounded and satisfying in the way black tea usually is for me. According to the website this is “Organic Red Pearls Black Tea, a rare tea from Fujian, is fully-oxidized Mao Feng tea leaves that have been rolled into small black pearls. They are then pan-fired where they develop a burnished sheen, toasty caramel-like aroma, and spicy, assertive — yet wonderfully sweet — flavor.”

Oolong Tea Frankincense GABA

An incense tea! I love incense so this was a novel and fun experience for me. The scent is fantastically resinous, rather than smoky and it’s the fullest oolong tea I can imagine.  The oolong tea from Taiwan has fruit and honey notes and is infused with hojary incense. GABA is a natural enzyme that calms and relaxes which is a definite plus. You’d think it might feel strange drinking incense but doesn’t. It’s perfect for de-stressing after work on a cold winter’s evening.

Aged Pu’erh in Tangerine Peel

Until late last year I hadn’t even heard of Pu’erh. It’s actually a fermented tea from Yunnan, China. Here, the leaves are packed into the rind of a whole tangerine.and aged for four years. They take on the flavour of the tangerine and the citrus is enhanced further by the addition of Mandy’s Yellow Mandarin Chef’s Essence. I found the unique scent very comforting.  It’s earthy and rubbery and laced delicately with citrus. Perhaps surprisingly, this tea is really refreshing and I found it easy to drink without sugar, which is rare. I also love that it comes in the tangerine peel.

tea-puerhtangerine-3t

 

 

Each tea composition is expertly balanced with essences and absolutes that complement and enhance the leaves; never overwhelming them.  They are clearly created with the same care and artistry as the Aftelier perfumes. They’ve brought home to me just how closely smell and taste are connected and how making a cup of tea can become, in Mandy’s own words, “a time-stopping pleasure” during a demanding day.

 

Do you like the sound of any of Mandy’s teas? Are there any scented teas you currently enjoy?

21 Comments

Filed under Food & Drink

Amber Tapestry by Aftelier Perfumes

What the world needs now…

Top Notes: Heliotropin, Yellow Mandarin
Middle Notes: Jasmine Grandiforum, Jasmine Sambac, Pear, Cinnamon
Base Notes: Ambreine, Labdanum, Maltol, Benzoin, Castoreum, Ambergris, Coumarin

 

At the fabulous Scented Supper in October, I learnt that before becoming an accomplished artisan perfumer, Mandy Aftel trained as a weaver. She continues to intuitively apply this skill when working with natural aromatics; intertwining them to create balance in terms of aroma, texture, weight and vibrancy. She has certainly done a masterful job of weaving together the various fragrant strands in her new release, Amber Tapestry.

ambertapestrydrawing-s_7

 

There are so many leaden ambers in this classic oriental category however Mandy breathes new life and light into the form.  Ambers don’t normally sing on my skin but this one does. I find lift and luminosity where I normally find flatness and opacity.

The smooth yellow mandarin in the opening of the EdP is simply gorgeous and just as Mandy tells us, it is the most floral of all the citruses. The amber accord is an enticing combination of fuzzy labdanum,  ambreine (a derivative of labdanum resinoid) and the salty tang of ambergris.

The amber accord is liberally embroidered with jasmine from start to finish and it’s the silkiest jasmine I’ve come across. It’s never screechy or uncomfortably indolic. The two varieties used here interlace wonderfully with the amber, adding floral interest, contrast and radiance.

The cinnamon is super soft and I only pick up slivers of the pear if I lean in close. Amber Tapestry also contains maltol and benzoin but I don’t find it too sweet or gourmand.

Coumarin and heliotropin give it a plush, powdery finish. The texture feels like the fur of a rust coloured cat or even dusty golden suede, thanks to the inclusion of castoreum. It stays fairly close to the body, wrapping itself around my skin. However, when you’re within its sphere, it’s enveloping. I’m struck time and again by how meticulously well blended Amber Tapestry is. It feels seamless.

There are no pointy edges; all is softness and comfort. However the ambergris and castoreum prevent it from being too safe. Amber lovers will need a pillow to cushion their fall as they swoon but non-amber fans, such as me, are likely to be taken with it as well because it is so lustrous and floral.

We all need some warmth, beauty and light to console us in these dark days of winter (not to mention these troubled times) and it’s just the thing to lift our spirits as we go into the festive season.

Memento Mori came to jangle our senses but Amber Tapestry has come to soothe them. It’s just what the doctor ordered. Using perfume to self-medicate is a regular practice of mine and this is the perfect remedy for what ails many of us right now.

 

Babak-Kazemi.jpeg

 

Does the idea of a floral amber appeal to you?

 

 

31 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Memento Mori by Aftelier Perfumes

 

Love and loss…

 

Top Notes: Butter, Orris, Phenylacetic Acid

Middle Notes: Turkish Rose Absolute, Phenylethyl Alcohol

Base Notes: Beta Ionone, Ambreine, Ambergris, Antique Civet, Patchoulyl Acetate (a patchouli isolate)

 

Memento mori, “remember that you have to die”, is a Latin expression that dates back to Ancient Rome. We can get so wrapped up in the trivial trials and tribulations of our day to day lives we forget that life is short and most of what we worry about is not worth the torment.

A memento mori is something that reminds us of our mortality, inspiring us to make the most of life. The concept has been translated into many art forms including paintings, music, ceramics and literature.

mourning-jewellery

Since the Middle Ages people have worn memento mori mourning jewellery to remind them of lost loved ones. Rather than being morbid, these were tokens of love which allowed the wearer to hold on to the memory of their dearly departed.  In the perfume Memento Mori artisan perfumer Mandy Aftel portrays this idea in the form of fragrance.  It’s a thought-provoking concept which has been just as  thoughtfully executed.

Memento Mori captures the aroma of the lost lover. Mandy uses musk, butter, the doughy facet of orris and the earthy, mushroom-y facet of woody violets to create the idea of skin. The soft rose adds a pink blush.

She manages to give the scent an unusual lived-in, very human, quality with the warm, ripe smell of an unwashed body. It’s about body heat and someone’s unadorned natural smell rather than anything sexual.

As time ticks on and the pain of grief begins to fade, the fragrance reveals a tender layer of powdery pastel florals. The retro combination of iris/rose seems to reflect the sweet memories the separated lovers shared.  While I find the first stage challenging, this is a classic accord I really love.

In the base, warmth radiates through amber and patchouli while the musk gently lingers on and imparts a feeling of comfort. The bereaved is consoled by the realisation that though we must die, our love does not.

aftelier-memento-s

 

The carrier for the fragrance is a blend of fractionated coconut oil and organic alcohol so that it is fittingly clinging.  I found it has more lift than many all-natural perfumes and that the lasting power is actually better than most synthetics.

Mandy says that Memento Mori was a deeply personal creation for her and I can understand why. It takes courage for any artist to share something so intimate with the world but I find that when they do it is all the more meaningful for it.

Memento Mori is a meditation on love and loss you need time and space to fully experience and appreciate it.  It’s an evolving art-piece as affecting and detailed as any of those other wearable tokens of remembrance and just as emotionally charged.

 

all-is-vanity

Memento mori optical illusion painting “All Is Vanity” by Charles Allan Gilbert

 

Do you have a perfume that reminds you of someone important to you?

 

 

t

11 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Dirty Rose and Violet Chocolatier by PK Perfumes

The PK in PK Perfumes is Paul Kiler, an artisanal perfumer based in California. He places himself at the forefront of a new movement called Real Perfumery which purports to use the best materials available to create fragrances which comply to a “Standard of Excellence”.

Although Kiler uses both naturals and synthetics, his fragrance contain 20 to 50% essential oils, absolutes and resins.  The line currently contains 14 scents, the earliest of which were launched in 2012.

The first works I tried by Paul Kiler were the two perfumes he composed for Zoologist. It was fortuitous therefore that shortly afterwards, my pal Portia of Australian Perfume Junkies, kindly put the following two samples in her last package.

 

Dirty Rose

Notes: Bergamot, black spruce, laurel, cherrywood smoke, rose, nagarmotha, teak wood, tobacco, cedar, mahogany, earth, amber, costus, leather, vetiver bourbon,  Labdanum

dirty rose

I love a messed-up, dark rose and Dirty Rose is firmly in that stable. It’s rooted in dark, moist earth and musky in the best way. It’s not the high-pitched musk that stabs you in the head but that deep throated unguent which intoxicates. The rose also smells like it was briefly set on fire; the flames having been beaten out but leaving a lingering charred scent.

The deep red flower that is at the heart of all this darkness is mostly hidden in the shadows. It has a definite kinship with my much-loved Rose de Nuit but the rose is much less prominent in Dirty Rose.  Here, the rose is coated in leather and musk and battened down by earthy patchouli and a canopy of spice. It has the feel of an oud fragrance without containing any agarwood.

I like my roses to be more rosy, but Dirty Rose may suit those fans of arid orientals who don’t like their rose front and centre. It is as far from the prim, feminine tea roses of yesteryear as you can get.

 

 

Violet Chocolatier

Notes: Violets, apricots, cocoa, nutmeg, hazelnut, magnolia, jasmine, rose, honey, gardenia, amber and benzoin.

violet-chocolatier-small

Ha! Violet Chocolatier – perhaps unsurprisingly – smells just like a violet cream; those chocolates with a violet fondant centre. It’s fun to experience and the chocolate is bittersweet so I don’t find it saccharine. As much as I have an aversion to sugary perfumes, I actually prefer these powdery, gourmand violets to those that highlight the flower’s green, metallic facets.

Somehow Violet Chocolatier segues effortlessly into a floral heart – most notably creamy white flowers – proving it’s not just a one-trick pony. This seamless transition exhibits Paul’s Kiler’s considerable perfumery skills.  The pale petals have a honeyed coating which feels dreamy and fits the decadent mood of the fragrance.  In the base it takes a final turn into cosy amber territory.

Violet Chocolatier is a clever composition and not you usual gourmand.

 

violet-choc

The painting by Daria Jabenko which inspired Violet Chocolatier

 

Can you recommend any more fragrances from PK Perfumes?  I’d be particularly intrigued to hear from you if you’ve tried Zafran, Ere or Starry Starry Night. 

 

17 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews