Tag Archives: Narcissus

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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Tabac Tabou by Parfum d’Empire

A roll in the hay

 

Notes: Immortelle, Tobacco, Narcissus, Honey, Grass and Musk

 

Most tobacco perfumes take a “smoking jacket and gentlemen’s club” approach. However, last year’s Tabac Tabou sought to take tobacco right back to a time when it was used in primitive spiritual practices.

When reading this, I got visions of the Carlos Castaneda books I consumed as a teen. I don’t get a mystical vibe from Tabac Tabou, although it’s none the worse for that. It’s more about golden fields and horses’ manes than Native American pipe ceremonies and Shamanic rituals.

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A few sprays on skin and I’m surrounded by giant heaps of hay. Not bone dry, neatly stacked bales of straw but moist, messy mounds of freshly cut hay with bits of green grass, wildflowers, clumps of earth and a touch of the barnyard hidden within.

I get lots of gorgeous narcissus, the proper stuff, which is more earthy than floral and redolent of cow pats.

In this initial stage, Tabac Tabou tips over into animalic but not quite enough to scare me off.  I’m easily spooked but even I am more than comfortable with this feral aspect, which feels right at home here in the countryside.

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This fragrance is much more about narcissus and hay than pipes and tobacco. It’s the Great Outdoors rather than an air-sealed smoking den.

The immortelle is there but it’s not nearly as prominent as it usually is. It’s a difficult note for me because I usually find Its spiced maple syrup character too gelatinous and overwhelming. To start with, it’s surprisingly sheer and restrained, adding a slight honeyed sweetness but without any weight.

After the opening half an hour Tabac Tabou becomes less green and more honeyed as the animalic note fades away. It warms up and becomes a little humid, as if we’ve moved from the field into the barn.  It is Extrait de Parfum strength and though it doesn’t project far on me, it does feel like an extrait in terms of longevity.

I may not find it smoky or remisicent of tobacco leaves, but I love narcissus as a material and am happy to see it highlighted here by perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato. It’s so deep, complex and full of nature wild and free, I can see this one appealing to horse lovers as much as tobacco lovers.

I’ve been on the look-out for the perfect narcissus perfume since forever. However, on balance, even if the honeyed sweetness is low-key and slow to develop, I’d still need it to be drier in order to invest in a bottle.

All the same, Tabac Tabou is a fabulous fragrance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ostara by Penhaligon’s

The scent of spring…

 

Top notes: Clementine, Bergamot, Red Berries, Juniper, Spearmint, Blackcurrant Bud, Violet Leaf Absolute, Leafy Effects, Aldehydes

Middle notes: Hyacinth, Narcissus , Beeswax, Cyclamen, Ylang-Ylang, Hawthorn, Wisteria

Base notes: Vanilla, Benzoin, Musk, Amber, White Wood Effects

 

Ostara is the Goddess of spring and in Britain this season is synonymous with daffodils. Bright yellow, open-faced and standing tall, daffodils are the ultimate “happy flower”. They embody the qualities of joy, hope and optimism. For a long time I had a field of daffodils as my screensaver.

Superstar perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour was inspired to create Ostara by his childhood memories of the narcissus fields in Auvergne, France. I’d describe it as a green floral.

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Ostara wakes up cool and crisp with bight greens and just a touch of citrus. It echoes the fresh feeling of those early spring mornings, when the sun is shining but there’s still a bite in the air. In accordance with this, the fragrance has a touch of galbanum bitterness.

I know the scent of daffodils well and I must say Duchaufour has done a skilful job of capturing the aroma. To sniff Ostara is really to hold a big bunch of daffodils in your arms. The flowers mostly smell green and pollen-y and in Ostara you get that green, plant stem aroma along with stamens and dusty pollen.

You could break it down further but you just have to inhale it and you immediately think “daffodils” and “springtime”.

A montage starts rolling in my mind’s eye involving scampering bunny rabbits, birds nesting in budding trees and of course, rolling hills covered with a host of golden daffodils.

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As with many of Dauchaufour’s fragrances, it is a transparent composition with lots of light and air. More than likely as a result of the use aldehydes, Ostara has tremendous radiance.

The fact that it is photorealistic is perhaps what will attract some people and disappoint others.  I had hoped that Ostara would contain some of the earthy, cow pat richness of narcissus absolute, but that’s not the story here.  This is a fragrant ode to green shoots, brilliant sunshine and the buoyant feeling that comes with renewal.

If the scent of daffodils brings back happy childhood memories for you, then Ostara would make a great “emotional button” for whenever you want to recall those carefree days and the feelings connected with them.

 

Do you have a fragrance that sums up spring for you? 

 

 

 

 

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