Tag Archives: Portia Turbo

Niki de Saint Phalle by Niki de Saint Phalle 

Unique green…

Top notes : artemisia, mint, green notes, peach and bergamot; Middle notes: carnation, patchouli, orris root, jasmine, ylang-ylang, cedar and rose; Base notes: leather, sandalwood, amber, musk and oakmoss.

The inimitable Portia of Australian Perfume Junkies brought this 1982 release to my attention and kindly sent me a sample when I expressed interest. I’m always on the lookout for interesting green fragrances which are more than simply light and fresh: Niki de Saint Phalle fits the bill.

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It’s funny, I can have trouble with powdery perfumes but the thin veil of green powder here feels just right. Truthfully, it doesn’t smell high-end but it does have an old-school vibe about it which I find appealing.

There is a tension between the tart greenness and the spring florals which works. It may have come out in the early 80s but it really belongs to the 70s – the era of the green chypre. This genre seems to be a thing of the past, though if the aquatic trend can make a comeback, anything is possible.

Niki de Saint Phalle does smell of another age and not as classy as No 19 say, but it does have an individual charm. There’s an uncompromising sour note in there that is refreshing and wakes up the senses. For someone so tired of the relentless sweetness in perfumery these days, I find it a welcome palate cleanser.

It will please those who are fond of galbanum; that chlorophyll-packed note found in Jacomo’s Silences, with which NdSP shares a kinship. The base is oakmoss-style chypre heaven and feels like a carpet of smooth moss under your bare feet. There’s also a very nice touch of ambery warmth. During this final stage, I inhale almost to the point of dizziness.

I found it really interesting and inspiring to read about the woman herself, while trying her fragrance. Niki de Saint Phalle was an artist who worked in a number of media. After suffering a nervous breakdown, she was encouraged to pursue her love of painting as a form of therapy. Her “Shooting Paintings”  of the early 1960s were bags of paint in human form covered in white plaster which she shot to create the image. She went on to make work which explored the female archetypes and women’s place in society.

In part inspired by Gaudi, she purchased some land in Tuscany to create a monumental sculpture park. This was 20 years in the making and The Tarot Park eventually opened in 1998. It looks like a surreal wonderland with her huge colourful works interspersed amongst the greenery of the trees and shrubs.

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It seems fitting that her fragrances is intense, uncompromising and striking, like de Saint Phalle and her art.

 

Do you have any interesting green fragrances to recommend? Have you tried Niki de Saint Phalle?

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A Bottled Rose on APJ

Please hop on over to Australian Perfume Junkies today for my write-up of Portia’s triumph at Perfume Lovers London in January.

She scented twelve “Great Women” from Cleopatra to Angela Merkel, with highly entertaining results.

I’ll see you there!

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Venice Photo Essay

First I should say that this post contains no perfume. I packed just one decant of Cuir de Russie for the trip but it felt like too much sensory overload first thing in the morning. We only walked into one perfumerie but I wasn’t in the mood for testing anything and I’m not sure Portia was either.

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I thought I’d love Venice but it totally surpassed even my high expectations. I totally fell over heels in love with the place. Looking at the buildings from the water buses was like staring back in time. I’ve never been anywhere with such a vivid sense of history.

 

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Of course I knew the city was on the water but it was seeing a police boat speeding along the waterways with its siren blaring that made it really hit home how these canals are its streets. It’s mainly backstreets, alleyways and squares apart from that. It’s like walking through a beautiful maze. Anywhere else I’d feel uneasy but even late at night I felt safe and it was surprisingly clean considering the number of visitors.

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We arrived on Monday afternoon and checked-in at the gorgeous and ideally located Hotel Boscolo Bellini. Soon we headed off to St. Mark’s Square which is something else in real life. Television and photographs just don’t do it justice. Even at night and/or in the rain, it is stunning. We went inside St. Mark’s Basilica at one end of the square which is a majestic Italo-Byzantine cathedral.

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St. Mark’s Basilica in the background and Anna Maria in St. Mark’s Square in the foreground

We then had tea at a place in the colonnades that Portia and Jin had been to before,. Caffe Florian dates back to 1720 and while rather steamy that night, was a great experience. The tea was fit for a (drag) queen as you can see.

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That’s how to serve tea the Caffe Florian way.

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My buddy Jin and I at Caffe Florian

On Day 2 poorly Jin needed some rest, so Portia, Anna Maria and I went back to St. Mark’s Square to visit the Doge’s Palace. This was fantastic and as usual the audio guide really helped get the most out of it. Anna Maria and I crossed the Bridge of Sighs into the prison where we promptly got lost, leading us to agree that even if you managed the impossible and escaped from your cell, you’d never find the exit.

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The Doge’s Palace

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The Bridge of Sighs where we tunefully sang Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”

One room that took our breath away was the Chamber of the Great Council which is apparently the longest room in Europe without pillars. They only managed to construct it because of their immense expertise at ship building.

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The Chamber of the Grand Council

Across the south side of St. Mark’s Square was the Museo Correr which was once the House of Hapsburg, so this was great to see after experiencing the Hofburg in Vienna last year. After viewing the state apartments, it was amazing to see the rooms crammed with artefacts up to the 16th century, very few of which were behind glass, roped off or with someone watching over them.  It was as if Venice has more treasures than it knows what to do with.

In the afternoon we went with Jin to the Rialto bridge, which I didn’t actually realise had shops on it. Just over one side was Rialto 79, a little shop selling Murano glass jewellery where I picked up a small black and silver pendant. Portia got some striking earrings made from 1950s green Murano glass, while Anna Maria got a bracelet made to her specification right there and then.

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Jin, Anna Maria and me on the Rialto Bridge

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The Rialto Bridge

Thanks to recommendations from Antonio Gardoni and Lady Jane Grey, after dinner we went to Harry’s Bar which opened in 1931. We timed it just right because there was no one at the counter when we arrived. The Bar was frequented by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin. It was where the Bellini was invented, so although I don’t normally drink wine, it had to be done.

The dapper barman gave us his spiel and we lapped it up. I love how everything has been kept the same, even down to where the bottles are positioned on the shelves. I must say, that Bellini was delicious and went down incredibly easily.  The whole experience had us buzzing.

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Lining up those Bellinis at Harry’s Bar

On our last full day we took the water bus out across the lagoon to the island of Murano. We eventually found the shop owned by the family of the hotel receptionist, Patrick. His borther  made a glass ladybird (ladybug in the US) while we watched and his mother showed us some of her own creations in their shop next door.

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Anna Maria bought a striking black glass ring while Portia picked up some earrings and a necklace. I settled on what Portia described as “The Bluebird of Happiness” which is exactly why I picked it .

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My Murano glass Bluebird of Happiness at home in London

In the afternoon we went to see the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and oh my goodness did this blow me away. So much fabulous art packed into one space, inside the beautiful palazzo and outside in the garden. You name a great modern artist and chances are they are represented at the Collection. From Picasso, Paul Klee, Kandinsky and Francis Bacon to Rothko, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock and Magritte.

Portia had said how she was told off for blowing on the Alexander Calder mobile during a previous visit so I was surprised to see her do it again AND get told off again. Undeterred she did it again when we found another one and I must say that seeing it swing into action really made it come alive. In the future, I need to think “What Would Portia Do?” and do it. That shouldn’t get me into too much trouble.

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Portia breathing life into an Alexander Calder mobile

We had our last supper at a place recommended to us by staff at the hotel and id didn’t disappoint. Anna Maria has Italian heritage so went for Baccala done three ways, Portia and I both had Lasagne and Jin went for Spaghetti Bolognese. We shared a tiramisu and cheesecake was a very good decision on our part. After some shopping for family and friends back home, we ended our day and our truly wonderful time in Venice.

Heartfelt thanks to the wonderful Portia, gentleman Jin and the awesome Anna Maria for letting me tag along on this leg of their European tour.

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It was a trip I will never forget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m In Venice!

As you read this I am in Venice pinching myself because I can’t believe my luck. It will be cold in February but hopefully that will reduce the “aroma” from the canals and keep the number of other tourists down to minimum.

Venice-(Italy)

I’ve always wanted to visit Venice and mentioned this to Portia during our Skype chat over Christmas. She generously invited me to join her, the lovely Jin and their fellow Aussie mate, during their time there. They are on a European trip comprising 11 cities in 7 countries over about 5 weeks. I had just been on an expensive transatlantic trip but I’ve learnt that when an opportunity comes up in life I need to grab it with both hands.

If you missed it, you can catch up on some photos from Portia’s triumph at Perfume Lovers London last month here.

Portia and me

I won’t be around to answer comments until the weekend but feel free to share a destination that’s on your bucket-list or your own experience of Venice.

Ciao!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Portia & Pals at Perfume Lovers London! – Photo Essay

Having so many dear friends in the perfume community living far away from my home is tough, but tonight most of them were in the same room as me and I couldn’t have been happier if I tried.

Portia of Australian Perfume Junkies was in town to host Perfume Lovers London and so many friends from far and wide turned out to celebrate the fact. It was quite the party 🙂

I’m writing the whole event up for APJ and will let you know when it’s posted, but in the meantime I wanted to share some photos from the evening. Even if you couldn’t be there, I hope you agree it’s nice to see people having fun and communing over a shared love of fragrance.

Oh and of course, Portia was a roaring success!

 

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The start of a stellar evening hosted by Portia Turbo!

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Portia, Val the Cookie Queen and Me having way too much fun.

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Organiser Lila with Portia in full swing.

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Portia and the wonderful Lady Jane Grey.

 

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My great mates, Sabine of Iridescents and Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume.

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The fabulous Nick “Spunk” Gilbert with Portia. 

 

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Antonio Gardoni of Bogue, Me and Portia.

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The beautiful Pia of Volatile Fiction with Portia.

 

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Val and Portia’s super cute partner, Jin.

 

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Val’s version of the trademark Portia Turbo pose!

 

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