This was the last Perfume Lovers London event to be organised and presented by the fantastic Lila Das Gupta after starting the group back in January 2012. Lila has done an amazing job and provided us with so many evenings of fragrant fun, we will be forever grateful.
But the good news is that the lovely Odette Toilette/Lizzie Ostrom will be taking over and Lila will continue to attend along with the rest of us, as a member. Yay!It was a great turn out (50 or more) with lots of familiar faces and a kind of a leaving party vibe. Though Lila led proceedings, it was a sort of Show and Tell.
Lila introduced the evening by saying we weren’t going to do a historical trip through colognes and in any case, as Michael Edwards says, there’s a lot of myths surrounding the origin of Eau de Cologne. So we tried a diverse group of fragrances from the genre and a good time was had by all.
Jean Marie Farina Eau de Cologne by Roger & Gallet
Notes: Bergamot, lemon, neroli, petitgrain, rosemary, cedarwood, sandalwood, myrtle, cedar, vetiver, musk and white amber.
Lila described this as classic cologne (it dates back to 1806) with no doubts as to what it is. That’s indeed how it came across – lots of zingy citrus and easy to recognise as an Eau de Cologne. Lila said it wasn’t her favourite and I think most of us prefer something with a twist.
Florida Water by Lenman & Kemp Barclay
Notes: Citrus, sweet orange, lavender and clove.
The fabulous Katie Puckrik told us some of the background to Florida Water. It originates from 1808 and is an American version of Eau de Cologne with more of an emphasis on sweet orange as opposed to zesty citrus and with the addition of spice.
It was seen as suitable for young ladies in the Victorian era as it was deemed “nice”. It was marketed as an all-purpose feel-good aroma which could be added to your bath water and laundry. Lila commented that it smelt like Cola. KP agreed but qualified that with “cheap Cola”as it’s not terribly effervescent.
Interestingly, Katie told us that Florida Water had a second life which continues to this day as an item used in witchcraft. It has been used in purification rituals practiced by the Santeria religion and you can buy it in magic shops in New Orleans.
She read us some of the possible uses which included helping those in a “possession trance” (we’ve all been there) and attracting love by adding a few drops to a bowl of water and lighting a “red attraction candle”. Florida Water soap is also recommended for use after dealing with negative people. Katie quipped that she needed it after arriving via London Underground.Agua Lavanda by Antonio Puig
Notes: Bergamot, lavender, rosemary, nutmeg, geranium, cedar, oakmoss, musk and tonka bean.
Lila said Agua Lavanda reminds her of her childhood in Spain. For her it’s the smell of sitting in church where incense merged with the lavender scented oil men used to slick back their hair. Lila reckons the stuff sold in the plastic bottle is better, but the version in the glass bottle lasts longer.
She can’t understand why British people are generally adverse to lavender fragrances but as someone in the audience mentioned, here it’s associated with the older generation as well as men’s grooming products.
Mugler Cologne by Thierry Mugler
Notes: Bergamot, neroli, petitgrain, orange blossom, S molecule and white musk.
Lila categorises colognes as scents at a high pitch (lacking base notes) and a lower concentration. She finds Mugler Cologne to be uplifting and well priced while not relying on citrus. Perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek, who was in the audience, commented that it smelt like lime to her. Others got grapefruit while Lila found it slightly green as well.
Drinkable Eau de Cologne
Lizzie told us she is a fan of a blog called Diseases of Modern Life which has an article entitled “Lady perfume drinkers of the late 19th century”. It explains that because well-to-do Victorian women couldn’t be seen drinking alcohol in public, they’d pour a little of their respectable Eau de Cologne onto a cube of loaf sugar and eat it.
So in this spirit, Lizzie had infused a bottle of vodka with rosemary, food grade bergamot oil, orange, lemon and some orange blossom water as a substitute for neroli (which is pricey stuff). We each put a sugar cube in an empty class and she poured a little of the vodka cologne over it, which was then topped up with Prosecco. I have to say it smelt amazing and tasted pretty good too.
Bergamote Soleil by Atelier Cologne
Notes: Bergamot, bigarade, ambrette, jasmine, lavender, cardamom, vetiver, oak moss and white amber.
Lila sees Atelier Cologne as a very interesting line. Bergaamote Soleil is a new release from them and it got a rather mixed reaction. While some focused on a grapefruit aspect quite a few got a “cat pee” note which was hard for them to miss once recognised.
Tea Tonique by Miller Harris
Notes: Bergamot, petit grain, lemon, smokey tea, nutmeg, mate abs, birch tar and musk
Ever since Bulgari’s Eau Perfumée Eau Thé Vert people realised you could play around with colognes and put tea accords in them. Lila bought Green Tea by Elizabeth Arden when she first came across it in the States. CK One also contained a tea note.
Tea Tonique is a favourite of Lila’s from the Miller Harris line and we tried it on paper. It generally got a very good reception from the room. It reminds Lila of scent of the dry leaves when you poke your nose in the tea tin or the moment hot water hits the leaves. A member of the audience thought it had a rubbery facet. I liked Tea Tonique a lot.
Cologne Reloaded by Bogue Profumo
Antonio Gardoni, the man behind Bogue, took centre-stage to tell us the story behind his Cologne Reloaded which was a limited edition and unfortunately no longer available.
It all started when fifty vintage bottles of bases used by pharmacists to make up colognes came into his possession. He found out they dated back to the 1950s and got the original recipe from the manufacturer. After making up the bases at the intended 4% concentration he started to experiment.
To create Cologne Reloaded he mixed together all 5 bases (light to dark) and made them up to 15%. He added citrus, spices and herbs and a flowery heart. There’s also roasted vetiver and roasted patchouli in the base but what really stood out to me was the white birch tar. A leathery cologne!
Antonio had also brought along his own homemade cologne cocktail of gin, soda, rosemary, lavender, orange blossom water, vanilla and citrus peels with yellow food colouring to make it look like cologne. Hmm, this may become a trend…
Pell Wall Perfumes
Chris Bartlett of Pell Wall Perfumes introduced us to a perfume he is working on for release this summer. He came across a wild orange oil he really liked and created the fragrance to showcase it. It’s 15% orange oil, with an aldehydic top and though it lasts longer than most citrus colognes, it’s still relatively short-lived. Chris said “it’s a big hit and then it’s gone” but he believes if it’s long-lasting then it’s not really a cologne. It doesn’t have a name yet but someone suggested he call it “Lila” and I couldn’t agree more 🙂
Thanks once again to Lila for all her hard work and enthusiasm in running the Perfume Lovers London group for the past 4 years. It’s been an absolute blast and this evening was one of the very best.