Tag Archives: Iris

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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In Rotation: Spring 2017

My perfume choices have been all over the places lately thanks to the changeable weather we’ve been experiencing in the UK this spring. As I write this on Monday 10th April, yesterday was 25 degrees Celsius. For that one day heatwave, I spritzed Dita Von Teese EdP for its tropical flowers, hint of spice and oriental-lite base. Today, it’s back down to 15°C so I’m returning to usual perfume programming which currently consists of the following: –

 

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Vaara, Penhaligon’s

Notes: Quince, Rose Water, Carrot Seeds, Coriander, Saffron, Rose, Freesia, Magnolia, Peony, Honey, White Musk, Cedar, Sandalwood, Benzoin and Tonka Bean.

On mild spring days I’ve been testing out my bottle of Vaara. I bought it when a friend was selling off her perfumes and I picked it up for not very much at all. Still, I’ve been re-assessing my collection, spurred on by Vanessa’s brilliant 20 ‘desert island’ scents post and wanted to check that it warranted a place on my shelf. So far so good. The fabulously unique start of quince, saffron, carrot seed and sparkling rosewater hangs around much longer than I feared, before moving into the rosy heart.

 

28 La Pausa, Chanel

Notes: I can’t find a notes list, but there is A LOT of Iris Pallida.

This huge 200ml bottle was generously gifted to me by the same friend I bought Vaara from.  It’s the original EdT which is no longer available.  Val the Cookie Queen and I tried out the new EdP last year and although it got off to great iris start, it all too quickly dried to down to a squeaky clean vetiver. Maybe the Parfum formulation is a better though. Unlike a lot of people, I’m fortunate in that the EdT lasts reasonably well on me.  This elegant iris feels just right for early spring with its floral-woody character and silky, slightly powdery texture.  28 La Pausa is the refined orris choice.

 

Antonia, Puredistance

Notes: Jasmine, Rose Essence, Ylang Ylang, Orris, Ivy, Galbanum, Vanilla and Vetiver.

Green florals like Antonia are another staple for me when March finally comes around. It’s luxurious, sun-lit and incredibly well blended. Quite a few green fragrances have a rather mealy-mouthed character, owing to the unforgiving nature of galbanum. However, Antonia is lusciously full-bodied and surprisingly warm. This spring goddess is resplendent in emerald with delicate flowers laced through her hair. Thanks to B for my bottle.

 

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What fragrances have you been wearing lately?

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Iris Cendré by Naomi Goodsir

 

An iris rising from the ashes…

 

Notes: Bergamot, Tangerine, Orris Butter, Violet, Amber, Cistus, Tobacco

 

Earlier this year I ordered a sample of Iris Cendré from Surrender to Chance along with Vanilla Smoke by Aftelier Perfumes, which were  my two lemmings of the moment. Vanilla Smoke was a great success and is on my Full Bottle List but what about Iris Cendré? I’ve been mulling it over.

Seeing as I love the note so much, I feel there is definitely room for more than one iris in my collection and I like the atmospheric, striking style of Naomi Goodsir’s perfumes.  With so much positive feedback last year, Iris Cendré definitely got me intrigued. I was also interested to see what perfumer Julien Rasquinet’s take on iris would be as he does smoky scents so well (such as Bois d’Ascese by the same brand). I quite fancied an iris among the ashes.

 

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Iris Cendré starts a little vegetal and a little powdery, with a brief burst of chilled orange juice. As the iris comes into full focus, I’m reminded of why I love this material as much as I do. I read on The Candy Perfume Boy that one perfumer described orris as “a perfume in itself” and that sums it up its complexity perfectly.

Here, it strikes a nice balance being not too carroty, cosmetic or floral. The mood is subdued and candlelit. As iris often does, it evokes a wistful feeling in the wearer.

Iris Cendré is powdered but in a very gentle, smooth way and I’m relieved that it’s not sweet.  It’s true to iris’s nature but adds something new in its sprinkling of cinders. It doesn’t smell of billowing smoke or incense to me, but more like powdery charcoal which turns to dust at the slightest touch.  The effect is subtle and sophisticated.

As time goes on, to my surprise the backdrop turns from grey to green. I enjoy this transformation into mossy suede a great deal. In this way, Iris Cendré turns the typical perfume progression on its head. The deep, resinous, bold accords are at the start, moving into soft greenery as it develops. This makes it an unique iris fragrance. Although it may disappoint those who aren’t fans of green accords and who want those indigo/grey tones all the way through. 

The base sounds like it should be heavy, being made up of amber, cistus and tobacco but it’s not. As with other creations by Rasquinet, it’s a sheer, clean, woody/ambery blur.

The projection is weak but maybe that’s the result of dabbing rather than spraying. The other aspect that gives me pause is what I can best describe as a kind of persistent musky fuzziness. My mate and fellow blogger Tina G noticed something similar so at least I know I’m not imagining it.

Personal niggles aside, Iris Cendré is an original and distinctive take on the note and worth trying if you’re an iris fan.

 

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Please share your experience in the comments if you’ve tried Iris Cendré.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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?

 

 

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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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Paradox by 4160 Tuesdays

The scent of hope for someone who could no longer enjoy perfume…

 Notes: Citrus fruits, Iris, Violet, Petitgrain, Woods and Musks

Today, British beauty and perfume blogger, Louise Woollam, is attending the Fragrance Foundation’s Jasmine Awards. She has been short-listed for three articles including one about the creation of Paradox Eau de Parfum on her blog Get Lippie. Two years ago, things were very different.

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Louise Woollam

It’s not hard to empathise with just how traumatic it would be to have your sense of smell distorted so much that scents that used to make you swoon now make you want to be sick.

After what seemed like a pretty run-of-the-mill cold, Louise lost her sense of smell (anosmia). Then when she started to regain it, she experienced parosmia which made most food – let alone perfume – smell horrendously unpleasant. In her article for The Guardian, Louise wrote “I have had days when everything smells like faeces, making me retch. I thought I was losing my mind.”

During this disturbing time Louise went on a trip to the Osmotheque (which I also attended) during which she discovered she could smell violets and citrus the same way she always had. Sarah McCartney, perfumer of 4160 Tuesdays, then set out to work with Louise to create a fragrance based on these notes which she could actually enjoy.

Through a process of elimination and trying a few different combinations they hit upon a composition of bright yuzu and cubeb (a fruit of the pepper family), three different types of ionones (which smell like violets) and orris/iris to smooth out the citrus and amp up the violets.

The perfectly named Paradox was born.

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The opening of the fragrance is a thicket of dense grass; the blades parting to reveal tart, yellow, citrus fruit.  The feel is cool and breezy as the violets come through. They aren’t the sweet Parma variety but the chilly, green kind.

The orris is very much in the supporting role of providing backbone to the violets, giving them even more of a bluish purple hue. When I press my nose in close I get deep green foliage. The base comprises clean woods and musk but as often happens, I don’t register this.

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Last year, Sarah decided to make the fragrance available for sale with at least £5 from every bottle sold being donated to the charity Fifth Sense which provides support to those affected by smell and taste-related disorders.

Thankfully, matters are now much improved but Louise’s sense of smell is still far from what it was. She says that working with Sarah on Paradox gave her more than a perfume she could wear, it gave her hope that recovery was possible.

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