Tag Archives: Luxury

WARSZAWA by Puredistance

 

Notes: Galbanum, Grapefruit, Violet Leaf, Jasmine Absolute, Broom Absolute, Orris Butter, Patchouli, Vetiver and Styrax

 

Puredistance put the class back into luxury perfumery. It seems these days that a number of brands in this exclusive niche are focusing on the blinged-out packaging, with the fragrant contents coming as something of an afterthought. Puredistance have elegant, covetable packaging but more importantly, meticulously composed, high quality scents.

Warszawa is their eighth release and the third authored by perfumer Antoine Lie. It promises to transport the wearer to “a dreamy world of old-time chic” and seeing as this is one of my favourite types of fragrance, I’m feeling hopeful…

 

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Warszawa is an uncommon boudoir scent. It’s a powder puff of creamy florals with a glints of galbanum and citrus to start. This allows it to take off without the powder dragging it down. Through its development, it moves from bright green to deepest velvety emerald.

It’s a modern interpretation of the Roaring Twenties with all the glamour and dizzyingly good times that encompasses.  Sometimes powdery perfumes can feel dated but Warszawa feels beautifully retro.

Boudoir perfumes are often reminiscent of vintage cosmetics and Warszawa also mines that seam. Picture a woman with Marcel Waves in her lingerie and stockings, who is attending to her toilette before an evening of decadence. From her vanity, she applies rose-scented blush, waxy lipstick and an iris face powder. As a finishing touch, she dabs on a rich jasmine perfume, creating a cloud of lusciousness.

What sets Warszawa apart from most other boudoir/cosmetic fragrances however, is that it has a smooth green overlay. I’ve come across broom absolute in perfumes like Amouage’s Opus III. It’s redolent of overgrown meadows of wildflowers and heaps of honeyed hay.  Antoine Lie takes these untamed aromas of nature and moulds them into something incredibly warm, intimate and refined. Vanessa summed up Warszawa perfectly in her Bonkers post as a “forest green corset”.

It’s a full-bodied, kaleidoscopic fragrance that doesn’t have clear demarcations of individual accords or a top/heart/base. Puredistance fragrances tend to be supremely well blended and this is no exception.

Warszawa feels feminine in an entirely grown-up way; it doesn’t equate femininity with syrupy sweetness. This is a ‘heels and winged eyeliner perfume’ and veers nowhere near the nebulous pink fluffiness aimed at the youth market.

Of course a guy can rock anything he chooses but I love it when a truly womanly fragrance is released. Even long-established perfume houses like Guerlain and Chanel are clamouring to woo Millennials, thereby making women over forty feel invisible. Therefore, it’s good to find that Puredistance isn’t chasing the latest trends and has made a perfume that feels like me.

Warszawa is now my favourite fragrance from the collection and with 25% parfum oil, you only need a single spray for knock ’em dead sillage and all day longevity.

 

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Do you long for more fragrance releases that feel like they are aimed at you?

 

 

 

 

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Rose Omeyyade, Iris Fauve and Cuir Sacré by Atelier des Ors

My mate Megan of the excellent blog Megan in Sainte Maxime was kind enough to send me some samples from French niche brand, Atelier des Ors, which launched in 2015. As pleased as I was to receive them, for some reason I didn’t rush to spray.

The bottles are beautifully faceted and contain juice with floating flecks of gold leaf, but I leans more towards an artisan aesthetic. I also had the impression that the compositions were skewed towards the oriental, which I have a poor track record with. I finally got over myself and tried the three which focus on notes I gravitate towards: rose, iris and leather.

 

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Rose Omeyyade

Top notes: Raspberry, Rose, Pink Pepper
Middle notes: Patchouli, Brown Sugar, Guaiac Wood
Base notes: Amber, Sandalwood, Oud

I’d describe Rose Omeyyade is a slightly jammy, almost boozy, softly spiced, rose-centred fragrance.  Sweet but not sickeningly so, the raspberry brings out the fruity facet of the rose, placing it on the verge of gourmand. I keep noticing something like spicy incense, which I’m putting down to the pink pepper combined with guaiac wood.  This is very much a composition based around a prominent rose note, rather than a rose soliflore.

The oud is mildly skanky which makes a nice change from the plethora of sanitised versions out there. It also gives the fragrance a bit of edge. In the drydown the woods become a little too persistent for me, however if you are fond of ‘east meets west’ rosy perfumes, you should give Rose Omeyyade a spin.

 

Iris Fauve

Top notes: Bergamot, Cinnamon, Iris
Middle notes: Patchouli, Haitian Vetiver, Cypriol oil.
Base notes: Myrrh, Musk, Labdanum, Liatris (Deerstongue/Wild Vanilla)

Iris Fauve was released this year and turns out to be a pussy cat rather than the beast its name suggests. After a bright bergamot opening, it becomes smooth and fuzzy with pillowy iris atop a bed of ambrette-style musk.  Usually irises are cool and metallic, rooty or cosmetic but here it’s in my favourite mode; warm, sensual and somewhat doughy. The overall texture is suede-like but without any hint of leather present.

Cinnamon can be harsh and anti-social but here it plays nice and mixes well. There’s a lick of liquorice in the drydown from the myrrh but nothing forceful. It’s said to “drape the skin like a soft and reassuring caress” and it does indeed stay close to the body.  In short, Iris Fauve is a welcome addition to that small subset of warm iris fragrances.

 

Cuir Sacré

Top notes: Juniper Berries, Cypress, Cardamom
Middle notes: Incense, Saffron, Cedar Needles
Base notes: Leather, Vetiver

Not only do I generally love saffron notes in perfume but my favourite discontinued leather fragrance Cuir de Lancôme contains creamy saffron wrapped-up in buttery suede. Therefore it’s unsurprising that I really enjoy the strong saffron opening of Cuir Sacré. Most spices are not my friend but the orange-gold of saffron with its floralacy is something else entirely. It speaks of luxury and seems to pair brilliantly with more austere accords.

The leather is super smooth and refined rather than rough and tarry. It’s not all about sleek upholstered interiors though. There is a distinct aromatic accord unwinding throughout that is evocative of dark green pine forests which, along with the saffron, lifts it above most of the niche leathers currently available. If I wasn’t in the mood for my usual birch tar, smoky leather I’d certainly go for Cuir Sacré.

 

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Have you tried any of the fragrances from Atelier des Ors? What are your thoughts and favourites?

 

Photo credit: zastavki.com

 

 

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Jovoy Comes to London – Photo Essay

 

I’ve long heard of French perfume store, Jovoy. Their house fragrances have been available in London for some time but now they’ve opened a shop here stocking a range of mostly high-end and luxury brands.

Located on Conduit Street, off Regent Street, the space is stylishly designed and a lot bigger than you might think on first look. Last Saturday my pal Sabine and I had a good nose around.

 

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Until fairly recently it wasn’t easy to access the exquisite perfumes from Neela Vermeire Creations north of the river, so it’s nice to see them stocked here. Pichola is one of the few tuberose perfumes I can wear, but the meditative osmanthus of Rahele is still my favourite.

 

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I really wanted to explore the range from The Different Company because I haven’t come across it before in the capital. The one I liked the most was After Midnight, probably not surprising because it has a prominent iris note.

 

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It’s hard to find a brand that does luxury better than Puredistance.

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Val the Cookie Queen suggested I try Cuir Andalou by Rania J which was a wearable, not very tarry, leather, smoothed out by a undercurrent of velvety oud.

 

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We were surprised when one of the staff told us there was more downstairs. Here we found Adedes de Venustas and Masque Milano. The latter is a niche brand that – unlike many – I think are doing something distinctive. Sabine tried Russian Tea with its mint opening and raspberry flavoured tea base.

I made a beeline for Romanza as I’ve wanted a narcissus fragrance for years and I know it’s a favourite of Claire’s, who writes the wonderful Take One Thing Off. At first the narcissus and galbanum had me getting ready to request a sample but then a forceful musk elbowed its way to the front and my high hopes were dashed. If you’ve been looking for a narcissus fragrance and you’re not sensitive to musk, you should still check it out.

I also tried L’Attesa which is a very softly spoken iris with a refined air. Extremely nice but a bit too mannered now that I’ve fallen for Iris Poudré.

 

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The full list of brands available is as follows: –
Aedes de Venustas – Alexander J – Arty Fragrance –  Atelier Flou – Begim – Berry – Berdoues – Chabaud – Dauphine – Eight & Bob – E.Coudray – Evody – Eternal Gentleman – House of Oud – Isabey Jacques Fath – Jeroboam – John Paul Welton – Jovoy – Fragance du Bois – Grossmith London – Indult – Institut très Bien – Jul et Mad – La Parfumerie Moderne – M.Miccalef – MDCI – Nejma – Neela Vermeire Créations – Olfactive Studio –  Parfumeur du Monde –  Prudence – Puredistance – Rania J – The Different Company – Volnay – Widian

 

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After the official opening on 28th September, the self-service perfume dispenser will be in operation. You’ll be able to purchase a 10ml bottle at a flat rate and fill it with one of the eight perfumes on offer.  Four will be Jovoy perfumes while the other four will include one from Neela Vermeire Creations, one from The Different Company and a new, as yet unnamed British brand.

 

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Real chunks of ambergris are locked away in a glass cabinet downstairs but the sales  assistant opened it up for us to a have sniff.  The largest piece had a strong whiff of the animalic but didn’t smell salty or sea-like the way I expected it to.

 

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The small piece on the right of picture below is the oldest and whitest, having been bleached by the sun on the sea’s surface for so long. Now this stuff nearly blew my head off. To say it was skanky in the extreme is an understatement and that was just sniffing the glass cloche!

 

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I asked if I could possibly have a sample of the fragrance that captured me the most (After Midnight) and was happy to be greeted with a positive reaction. It’s ridiculously hard to get free samples these days. Not only did they make up samples for both of us at no charge, they packaged them beautifully too.

Sabine picked up a copy of perfume magazine Nez to practice her French and we repaired to Fortnum and Mason for cake.

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon in London.

 

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Have you visited Jovoy in France? Do you think you’d like to visit the London store? Which brand/s would you be most interested in?

 

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Rahele by Neela Vermeire Creations

Notes of green mandarin, cardamom, cinnamon, violet leaf, osmanthus, rose, magnolia, jasmine, iris, violet, cedar, sandalwood, oakmoss, patchouli and leather.

Neela Vermeire Creations produce fabulously opulent scents that interpret India through French perfumery.  Their latest fragrance, Rahele (“Traveller”) was – as usual – composed by superstar perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour. It was inspired by three 17th Century French travellers to India whose books about the country left a lasting impression on many Europeans.

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Rahele sets off with a beautiful, perfectly rounded, green mandarin note. It’s like sniffing the whole fruit with its zesty peel and green leaves intact. It’s supported by that classic rose/iris accord which fondly reminds of old-fashioned cosmetics.

This is a perfume which is primarily focused on osmanthus and I soon pick up on its softly sweet, apricot-tinged, floral aroma. The effect gradually becomes riper and more vivid as we move into the heart of the fragrance. Although we are travelling, it’s at a leisurely pace.

Perhaps we are aboard The Palace on Wheels, the former Maharaja’s luxury train. I feel a real sense of calm, as if gently rocked by the carriage, gazing out entranced at the countryside passing by. It is indeed India several steps removed – viewed from someone who is only passing through, rather than up close and personal.

The florals are like watercolour smudges while the spices are treated with an incredibly light touch and only give the faintest sense of place. The apricot facet of osmanthus is emphasised in the opening and heart, while its suede-like facet is emphasised in the base. I love how the dry leather is backed by deep green oakmoss. It gives the drydown depth, contrast and sophistication. This is when the fragrance goes from being lovely to downright gorgeous.

Rahele is a thing of beauty; a soothing daydream of a faraway place overflowing with fruit and flora, but with a shadier side. It’s by far my favourite fragrance from NVC which seem to improve with every release. Their last creation, Pichola, was the first tuberose perfume I’ve fallen for, which is no small feat considering my usual aversion to the note.

The other perfumes in the line-up all have a lot of throw but Rahele takes a different path. It’s much more intimate and I find it all the more alluring for it. It entices you to come and explore just beyond the boundary. It whispers of untold lusciousness; a sheltered sanctuary where everything is unfurling for your eyes – and nose – only.

Although it may not be a heavy-hitter it is no will-0′-the-wisp. It’s incredibly tenacious, staying with me for most of the day.

This dream-like scent takes me out of my surroundings and out of myself.  It’s rare that a perfume can transport and soothe me to such a degree, but Rahele does just that.

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Have you tried Rahele? Do you like any osmanthus perfumes?

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Opus X by Amouage

Passion and pain

 

Notes: Rose Centifolia, Bloody Rose Accord, Rosebud, Rose Oxide, Geranium, Varnish Accord, Leather, Ambrarome, Ylang-Ylang, Laotian Oud, Metallic Accord

 

I recently went with my pal Kirk to the elegant Amouage stand-alone store in Knightsbridge, London. He purchased the excellent amber, Opus VI which I  think is particularly great on the fellas. It’s fun to see “a civilian” sucked into our fragrant little world.

While there I tried the brand new Opus X from The Library Collection. The mainstream line is full of well constructed, full-bodied perfumes with a capital P. The Library Collection is more exclusive with scents which are often more challenging.

Opus X is a rose-centred fragrance so I was initially disappointed when I inhaled it on a paper strip and it came across as rather jarring. The Sales Assistant suggested trying it on skin because the high percentage of natural oils means there can be quite a difference.

Sure enough, a spray on the back of my hand and it was a different story.  The sour aspect was dialled right down and even the friendly SA was surprised at the dramatic change it took on me.

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I’m always complaining about perfumes being too sweet but the beginning of Opus X has sharp, slightly metallic greens surrounding the central, multi-layered rose. I picture a dark fairy-tale scene of long, malevolent creepers twisting around and almost strangling a partly-opened rose of the deepest crimson.

 

Creative Director, Christopher Chong found his inspiration for Opus X in the 1998 film, The Red Violin. In it, a violin is crafted in 1681 by a grief-stricken Master Violin Maker who infuses the varnish with a little of the blood from his recently deceased wife.  The movie then follows it over the next four centuries to Austria, the UK, China and Canada; telling the stories of the people who own it.

I really want to see this film

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Fittingly the mood of the fragrance is a mix of harsh bitterness, mysterious darkness and deep passion. The varnish on the violin is present, providing a sheer overlay to the many-petalled rose. The lacquer creates a disturbance, but knowing why helps me appreciate Opus X, even if I can’t love it. The widow’s loss means everything can’t be rosy.

This artistic response to another’s creative work has been composed by perfumers Pierre Negrin and Annick Menardo.

The base is distinctly Amouage, as all traces of greenery, metal and varnish disappear. The texture becomes reassuringly velvety thanks to a low whisper of the smoothest oud snaking through a gorgeous amber accord.  Here at last, the sensual side of love and life is exposed and quietly celebrated.

As we’ve come to expect from this luxury house, the longevity is outstanding. Opus X isn’t as voluminous on me as their other perfumes, but that seems to fit: it’s not a showy, outward-looking scent, but a very personal tale.

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Still from The Red Violin

What do you think of The Library Collection? Have you seen The Red Violin?

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