Tag Archives: Incense

Mood Scent 4 – Rainy Day Perfumes

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

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

Mood scent

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

Silences by Jacomo

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

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

Celtic Fire by Union

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

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

Dzing! by L’Artisan Parfumeur

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

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

L’Eau Froide by Serge Lutens

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

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

Vanilla Smoke by Aftelier Perfumes

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

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

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

What are your own Rainy Day Perfumes?

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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.

 

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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.

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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?

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Étui Noir by Miller Harris and No.02 Eau Sento by IUNX

Two unassuming beauties…

 

 

My mate Tina G from Australian Perfume Junkies  purchased a few fragrances during her recent trip to Europe (naturally). When we met up in London, she was kind enough to share decants of two of them with me. You can read all about the fragrant fun we got up to that day here. We managed to fit in a shed-load of sniffing and it was a total blast.

 

Étui Noir by Miller Harris

 Top: Bergamot Italy EO, Tangerine, Elemi Gum
Heart: Iris Butter Morocco, Incense, Cashmere Wood, Styrax EO
Base: Patchouli Indonesia EO, Vetiver Haiti EO, Leather, Amber, Birch EO, Labdanum Abs

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I know Tina is drawn to both iris and leather – as am I – so although I generally don’t gravitate towards Miller Harris, I was keen to try her decant of Étui Noir (‘Black Case’). It was released this year and is Eau de Parfum strength.

From the little I’d read, I expected Étui Noir to be a rather dry and austere leather but on spraying I find out that couldn’t be further from the truth. The crisp citrus opening is there and then it’s gone, revealing a cosmetic, powdery iris embedded in sweet suede (as opposed to tough leather).

I’d describe Etui Noir as a cosmetic fragrance crossed with a suede scent, in a similar vein to the far drydown of scents like Naomi Goodsir’s Cuir Velours, Ramon Monegal’s Cuirelle and even Chanel’s Misia.  Like Misia, it’s a bit too sweet for me but then I have an extremely low tolerance for sweetness in perfume these days.

The base is predominantly amber and patchouli and lasting power is excellent. Unlike most perfumes in the leather category, I don’t find it smoky or tarry. This along with the sweet iris powder makes it very accessible; easy to wear while still being chic. It stays close to the body, but this suits its ‘second skin’ character. Étui Noir is one of those fragrances that will quietly surround you with the aura of silky soft suede.

 

No.02 Eau Sento by IUNX

 

 Notes: Cedar leaf, cypress, driftwood and red seaweed.  

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I’m a fan of perfumer Olivia Giacobetti because she has such a light touch, even with traditional heavy materials. Here she takes wood and makes it as airy as wisps of Japanese incense. Eau Sento is the kind of transcendent, contemplative, woody scent that I can enjoy wearing. Vanessa of Bonkers about Perfume quite rightly likens some perfumes in this fragrance family to being “trapped in a tea chest”, but this is the exact opposite. It’s all about space and fresh air.

Don’t be unduly put off by the aquatic aspect. That ozone hit of seaweed is in the mix, but it just makes the scent more interesting – it places the wood at the water’s edge. Eau Sento has the soothing quality of incense, like staring out at the sea and finding all your problems suddenly put into perspective.  As with a lot of Giacobetti’s compositions, it’s simple yet quietly compelling: a thoughtful seashore scent.

 

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Do you like these kind of quiet yet thoughtful fragrances? 

 

 

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Behind the Rain, Tears of Eros and Cirebon by Paul Schütze

There’s nothing like learning a new skill to increase your admiration one hundred-fold for those who execute it at a high level. Recently I’ve been dabbling in art and so now when I see what experienced artists can produce, it fills me with awe.

Paul Schütze is a London-based artist who has created works in a variety of forms including photography, installations and soundworks.

 

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Abysmal Evenings by Paul Schutze

 

After creating scented elements for art installations and objects, he launched a collection of three personal fragrances in April of this year. Each one represents a key moment or impression from the artist’s memory.

Behind the Rain

Notes: Black Pepper, Fennel, Frankincense, Grapefruit, Linden, Mastic, Moss, Patchouli and Vetiver.

Who doesn’t love the smell of petrichor? That amazing aroma is created when rain hits the dusty ground for the first time after a prolonged dry spell.  The is what Behind the Rain seeks to capture and it does indeed start with a delicious blast of musty earth paired with juicy grapefruit, thereby mimicking the contrast between the dry soil and the quenching rain.

As the opening fades, I find myself wanting to spray it again to relive that short but fun moment. However, this is the fleeting nature of petrichor so it’s true to life. The rest of the development is tart grapefruit zest against a soft green backdrop with a lingering touch of musty-ness that reminds me of dusty tea leaves. Sometimes I’m repelled by grapefruit notes but here it remains pleasant and fresh for hours on end.

 

Tears of Eros

Notes: Ambergris, Benzoin, Cardamom, Cedar, Clementine, Frankincense, Gaiac Wood, Hyacinth, Iris Butter, Labdanum and Pepper. 

The stimulus for Tears of Eros was a chance moment when the aromas of Japanese incense, clementine peel and hyacinths collided in Paul’s Parisian studio.  It’s described evocatively as a “living incense”.

After an opening salvo of sparkling clementine Tears of Eros moves through a phase of green hyacinth before settling into a woody hyacinth with a hazy aura of incense. In the base it becomes salt encrusted and makes me think of driftwood. Tears of Eros is an unusual composition and holds me captivated partly for this reason.  It’s the one out of three which is the stand-out for me.

 

Cirebon

Notes: Bergamot, Bigarade Orange, Cedar, Magnolia, Orange Blossom, Petitgrain, Sandalwood and Vetiver

The inspiration for Cirebon is a night spent sitting by a lake on the island of Java as the sound of a traditional Indonesian Gamelan orchestra drifts across the water. I’ve visited Bali and went to a performance featuring Gamelan music which really is mesmerising.

The fragrance seeking to capture this experience can be summed up in two words, “spiced orange”, but it’s so nicely done that I don’t tire of it. Sometimes a simple accord that really works is all you need and Cirebon has the quality and depth of the other two compositions in the collection.

The orange is distilled down to its essence making it thick and potent, while the spicy facet is very smooth and suave. This turns what could have been a bright citrus cologne into a dark, sensual scent.

I really wish guys I’m in close proximity to on the tube would start wearing Cirebon instead of the unpleasant olfactory foghorns they usually go in for.

Paul Schutze

 

It’s interesting that a number of indie perfumers are also artists, including Liz Zorn of Soivohle and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes.  I wonder if, for them, perfumery is just another form of artistic expression, another palette to work with.

 

Do you see a connection between art and perfume? Do Behind The Rain, Tears of Eros or Cirebon appeal to you?

 

 

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Geisha Vanilla Hinoki by Aroma M Perfumes

Evergreen vanilla

 

Notes: Bergamot, Clove, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Cedarleaf, Lavender, Leather, Patchouli, Amyris and Cedarwood.

 

I know it’s terribly remiss of me but I admit to never having tried anything by artisan perfumer Maria McElroy, of Aroma M, before. This is not through lack of interest mind you, but purely down to logistics. It’s not easy to get hold of American indie fragrances outside of the States. However, I think I’ve started with a good one.

The recently released, Vanilla Hinoki has been five years in the making and is the latest addition to Aroma M’s much admired Geisha Collection. Before we talk about the scent though, let’s take a moment to appreciate the gorgeous bottle covered with traditional Yuzen paper.

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The zesty opening stage of the Eau de Parfum comes as a surprise: like breaking the rind of an clementine and being squirted with the juice. The citrus is quickly joined by warming spices, chiefly in the form of clove but also cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s a familiar combination that smells so natural it resembles an aromatherapy blend. I find it simultaneously soothing and stimulating.

As promised, Vanilla Hinoki strikes a different chord to the usual calorific gourmand vanilla perfumes.  Its key ingredient is a hard to source vanilla found only in Morocco. This is partnered with hinoki wood, hinoki being a species of cypress tree which is native to Japan and much prized for the quality of its timber. As well as temples, shrines and palaces, sacred hinoki wood is used to build the hot spring pools or “onsen” found at Japanese mountain inns. Its odor profile is fresh and evergreen with lemony facets.

Maria McElroy’s intention was to recreate the sybaritic feeling of reposing at your leisure in one of those steamy pools. This concept really appeals to me because I am a big fan of soaking in hot water. Once, immersed, I soon feel the tension leave my shoulders and it’s one of the few times my mind actually manages to switch off. I think the bath may be my “safe place”.

On me, Vanilla Hinoki is a very soft, gently spiced, woody vanilla fragrance with a fuzzy, languid feel. The vanilla is very mellow and much more like the pod with its spicy and woody facets, than a dessert. The buoyant, steamy effect Maria achieves is very clever.

The subtle vanilla is perfectly complimented by the scent of evergreen trees which surround the mountainside onsen. It teeters on the verge of incense which adds to its calming quality.

 

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Some people find sweet vanilla perfumes comforting because of the sugar hit but Vanilla Hinoki is comforting in an entirely different way. It’s wonderfully relaxing; like sinking into warm water and washing your troubles away. You feel lighter as the soft vanilla steam rises around you in clouds.

 

Does this sound like your kind of vanilla? Do you have any more Aroma M perfumes to recommend?

 Photo credit: BHM Photos

 

 

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Tango, Terralba, Luci Ed Ombre and Montecristo by Masque Milano 

Welcome to the Masquerade Ball

It might not have met my high expectations but I did enjoy trying Russian Tea by Italian niche brand, Masque Milano. It had an atmospheric mood and an appealing (if fanciful) backstory. I liked it enough to become intrigued by the other releases from the brand.

Below are my impressions of the four other fragrances currently in the line-up.

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Tango 

Notes of amber, jasmine sambac, Turkish rose, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, tonka bean, benzoin, sandalwood, guaiac wood, cedar and melilotus.

Opening with a liqueur-like red rose, Tango settles into an incredibly smooth and silky amber. It’s not ground-breaking but it’s seamlessly well done and high quality. There’s a nice sprinkling of spice and just the right amount of vanilla.

Tango could be worth investigating if you’re still seeking a wearable, classy amber fragrance.

Terralba 

Notes of clary sage, lemon, green tangerine, myrtle, thyme, curry leaves, everlasting flower, lentisque, juniper, cypress and cedarwood

Terralba was created to invoke the aroma of a Mediterranean shoreline where the scent of coastal shrubbery mixes with sea salt. Unfortunately it reminds me more of the old school fougères which were popular with my father’s generation.

I’m sure I’m doing it a great disservice but I find the association hard to shake. You may have better luck if you are a fan of green, herbal fragrances.

Luci Ed Ombre 

Notes of incense, ginger, tuberose, jasmine, moss, cedarwood and patchouli

I really enjoyed testing Luci Ed Ombre because it’s rather novel and the idea behind it is so effectively realised. The wearer is transported to the border of a bright field and a gloomy forest where a sense of foreboding creeps over them.

It’s brought to life using patches of moss, earth, gently indolic flowers and a touch of musty incense (which intensifies in the base).

Luci ed Ombre is the kind of white floral I can get on board with – one shrouded in darkness. My only reservation is that it’s a touch reticent.

Montecristo 

Notes of cabreuva, ambrette seeds, rum, tobacco leaves, celery seeds, cistus, benzoin, golden stone, styrax gum, gaiac wood, cedar wood and patchouli

Whoa. An opening of booze and barbecue smoke, that’s got my attention.

Montecristo calms into a distinctive smoky leather with old dry wood and a burnt facet. It’s not as harsh and manly as it sounds. There is some sweet resin in the mix, probably from the styrax, which counterbalances it.  Over time, it becomes increasingly sensual.

Interestingly, it features hyraceum (“Golden Stone”) which helps make Papillon Perfumes’ Salome so gloriously carnal. Here it feels more like animal hide than human skin.  Montecristo is chic, striking and not a little addictive.

woman wearing a venetian mask

Overall I’ve been impressed by the offerings from Masque Milano. The fragrances tend to have an intimate feel and plenty of character.

I particularly like that the line comes across as very Italian: stylish, sophisticated and sultry, with just a dash of machismo.

 

Do you own or admire any of the Masque Milano fragrances?

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Cuir Velours by Naomi Goodsir  

Peach skin suede…

Naomi Goodsir is an Australian designer whose hats look as cool and striking and as her fragrances smell.

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Cuir Velours (Velvet Leather) was released in 2012 and includes notes of leather, tobacco, rum, cistus labdanum, incense and immortelle.

Despite the “Cuir” in the name, I get a refined suede rather than tough leather. There is nothing that reminds me of tanning fumes or birch tar and I don’t get any smoke. For the most part, both the aroma and texture is akin to velvety peach skin.

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On opening, the muted suede is drenched in fruity, boozy, syrup. At this stage it lies somewhere between Boxeuses and Bottega Venetta. I presume it’s the immortelle and rum that’s creating this effect, but it isn’t too spicy or harshly alcoholic.

It’s all a bit too sweet and boozy for my taste, but the whole feel is very smooth and luxe. It doesn’t shout and there are no rough edges.

If you love gourmand-inflected suede scents then I can imagine it verging on the addictive. It’s easier to wear than other fragrances in this category because while it is sweet, it’s not domineering.

It may also appeal if you have a fondness for cosmetic perfumes. As it settles, Cuir Velours throws off a beauty balm like quality which now reminds me of Ramon Monegal’s Cuirelle but without the honey. It’s that face-powder-mixed-with-cold-cream-on-suede effect which adds softness and an increased level of comfort.

I start to enjoy it a few hours in, when the booze has completely evaporated and the sweet syrup has dialled down a few notches. Now it really feels velvety soft and creamy with that “Your Skin But Better” vibe. I get some labdanum in the far drydown which only adds to that feeling.

For a fragrance layered with so many traditionally bold accords, Cuir Velours winds up being surprisingly low on projection.  I have to get  close to detect it, but when I do it’s inviting and rather sensual.

 

Woman in cape and leather boots

In style alone, it’s reminiscent perfumer Julien Rasquinet’s other creation for Naomi Goodsir, Bois d’Ascese and his Russian Tea for Masque Milano. They all have a striking yet subdued profile and seem to cling to the skin.  However, I would say that Cuir Velours leans more feminine than either of those two. Longevity is very good as it quietly lingers for hours.

It’s a low-key, sweetened suede with a cosmetic twist which would be equally appropriate at the office as on a date. Perfect to wrap yourself in on cold days when the chill wind threatens to get into your bones.

Cuir Velours is a fragrance to live in and make your own, like a second skin.

 

Have you tired Cuir Velours? Would you recommend I try Naomi Goodsir’s Or du Serail?

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