Tag Archives: Chypre

Eau de Rochas by Rochas

 

Notes: Lime, Mandarin, Bergamot, Orange, Grapefruit, Verbena, Coriander, Carnation, Jasmine, Narcissus, Patchouli, Vetiver, Oakmoss, Amber and Musk

 

I picked up Eau de Rochas in the Perfume Lovers London annual swap event last December. The bottle was full and although I had never tried it before, I vaguely remembered reading good things about it.

I first wore it when summer finally rolled around and I’ve hardly wanted to wear anything else since.

 

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I favour citrus fragrances with an aromatic facet because they have that bit of extra omph and complexity. When I began wearing Eau de Rochas my thoughts kept coming back to Diorella – released 2 years later. It’s similar in structure with citrus, herbs, flowers and a resinous base. Eau de Rochas may be in the cologne category but it reads more like an effervescent fruity chypre.

Most of the citrus burns off over time leaving a musty, mineral underlay. It’s that patchouli/vetiver backdrop which gives this summer Eau some weight and sex appeal. It may be buried in the midst of the notes list but the patch is the first thing I notice on spraying, just underneath the sparkling citrus tonic. It gives Eau de Rochas the slinky, lived-in feel that Diorella lacks.

The contrast between the prominent bright lime and subdued dry patchouli is enticing. I’m always looking out for summer fragrances with some sensuality and this has just the right amount of dirt under its polished fingernails. I’m drawn to fragrances which walk the line between clean and earthy (most recently exemplified by Superstitious). This combination gives a hint of something unwholesome and intriguing under a shiny surface.

Don’t be put off if you prefer coriander and basil in food to perfume. I’m not fond of those notes but I can’t pick them out here. The aromatic effect is that of a bouquet garni adding the background flavour of leafy herbs.

Eau de Rochas is not a vapid cologne but a fragrance with a languorous, old school feel that matches its pretty bottle perfectly. It’s well worth a try if you’re a fan of patchouli, retro perfumery and/or light fragrances with hidden depth. I don’t like paying a lot for summer spritzes and you can grab this online for a great price.

I find it lasts well for an EdT and can still notice it on my skin in the late afternoon, although it’s doubtful anyone else can. It’s completely gender neutral.

Eau de Rochas has the relaxed yet sexy vibe you’d expect from a French cologne-style fragrance released in 1970. It doesn’t have to try too hard.

 

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Was there a perfume you couldn’t get enough of over the summer?

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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?

 

 

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Dryad by Papillon Perfumes

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Liz Moores with her equine soulmate, Perry.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Picture credit: Dreaming Dryad by mariyaolshevska at DeviantArt

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Civet, Nightingale and Macaque by Zoologist Perfumes

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

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

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

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Civet

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

Perfumer: Shelley Waddington (En Voyage Perfumes)

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

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

Nightingale

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

Perfumer: Tomoo Inaba

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

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

Macaque

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

Perfumer: Sarah McCartney (4160 Tuesdays)

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

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

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

 

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Niki de Saint Phalle by Niki de Saint Phalle 

Unique green…

Top notes : artemisia, mint, green notes, peach and bergamot; Middle notes: carnation, patchouli, orris root, jasmine, ylang-ylang, cedar and rose; Base notes: leather, sandalwood, amber, musk and oakmoss.

The inimitable Portia of Australian Perfume Junkies brought this 1982 release to my attention and kindly sent me a sample when I expressed interest. I’m always on the lookout for interesting green fragrances which are more than simply light and fresh: Niki de Saint Phalle fits the bill.

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It’s funny, I can have trouble with powdery perfumes but the thin veil of green powder here feels just right. Truthfully, it doesn’t smell high-end but it does have an old-school vibe about it which I find appealing.

There is a tension between the tart greenness and the spring florals which works. It may have come out in the early 80s but it really belongs to the 70s – the era of the green chypre. This genre seems to be a thing of the past, though if the aquatic trend can make a comeback, anything is possible.

Niki de Saint Phalle does smell of another age and not as classy as No 19 say, but it does have an individual charm. There’s an uncompromising sour note in there that is refreshing and wakes up the senses. For someone so tired of the relentless sweetness in perfumery these days, I find it a welcome palate cleanser.

It will please those who are fond of galbanum; that chlorophyll-packed note found in Jacomo’s Silences, with which NdSP shares a kinship. The base is oakmoss-style chypre heaven and feels like a carpet of smooth moss under your bare feet. There’s also a very nice touch of ambery warmth. During this final stage, I inhale almost to the point of dizziness.

I found it really interesting and inspiring to read about the woman herself, while trying her fragrance. Niki de Saint Phalle was an artist who worked in a number of media. After suffering a nervous breakdown, she was encouraged to pursue her love of painting as a form of therapy. Her “Shooting Paintings”  of the early 1960s were bags of paint in human form covered in white plaster which she shot to create the image. She went on to make work which explored the female archetypes and women’s place in society.

In part inspired by Gaudi, she purchased some land in Tuscany to create a monumental sculpture park. This was 20 years in the making and The Tarot Park eventually opened in 1998. It looks like a surreal wonderland with her huge colourful works interspersed amongst the greenery of the trees and shrubs.

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It seems fitting that her fragrances is intense, uncompromising and striking, like de Saint Phalle and her art.

 

Do you have any interesting green fragrances to recommend? Have you tried Niki de Saint Phalle?

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In Rotation

Spring has sprung in the UK and so the perfumes I have in heavy rotation at the moment reflect this. I use the season as the first criteria for narrowing down my daily fragrance selection, followed by mood. So of the several scents I feel appropriate for this time of year, here are the ones that are currently getting the most wear and why.

Vol de Nuit EdT (vintage) by Guerlain

Notes: Bergamot, Galbanum, Petitgrain, Jasmine, Jonquil, Violet, Carnation, Rose, Spices, Woods, Iris, Vanilla, Sandalwood and Amber.

I think it’s the large amount of Guerlainade that does it – Vol de Nuit just makes me feel so grounded. If I’m feeling stressed during springtime, I always turn to this enigmatic chypre oriental: it soothes me. The vernal scents of green leaves and delicate flowers are weighed down in the rich earth, dark woods and emerald moss.

I have a 93ml refillable cannister which is three-quarter full, but I still feel uneasy as I watch the level drop. Vol de Nuit is the fragrance that I feel most at home in.

Champaca EdP by Ormonde Jayne

Notes: Neroli, Pink Pepper and Bamboo,  Champaca Absolute, Freesia Absolute and Basmati notes: Myrrh, Green Tea and Musk

I wear green-tinged fragrances in March/April to echo the resurgence of nature. Most greens have a bitter edge but this pale green floral is nothing but fresh, breezy and easy to wear. It reminds me of the striking rice terraces of Bali, the most breath-taking place I’ve ever visited. This is probably because of the bamboo and Basmati rice accords.

For me, Champaca is a relaxing, beautiful, feel-good perfume that transports me to much more scenic climes. It’s filled with light, air and lush vegetation.

Diorella Edt (vintage) by Dior

Notes: Sicilian Lemon, Basil, Honeysuckle, Peach, Vetiver and Oakmoss

Diorella has such a fruity zing it mirrors the bright new mornings after the clocks go forward. When I first spray it after the winter, I’m reminded of just how much I enjoy this early love of mine. It always feel right, whenever, wherever.

The zesty citrus, gentle florals and fresh herbs make it uplifting while the mossy base gives it an air of easy-going elegance. It’s a killer combination.

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My bottles of Diorella, Vol de Nuit and Champaca

Which fragrances do you have in rotation right now?

 

 

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