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Iris Poudre by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

 

Notes: Bergamot, Orange, Palisander, Rosewood, Magnolia, Ylang-Ylang, Jasmine, Violet, Rose, Carnation, Lily, Aldehydes, Iris, Musk, Vanilla, Tonka Bean, Amber, Ebony Tree, Sandalwood and Vetiver

 

I don’t think there is a niche fragrance line I admire more than Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle and the perfume among them I love the most is Iris Poudre. I have sunk into it over this autumn/winter: there was a desire in me to take on its character as my own. It’s one of those rare fragrances that has become a part of me, managing to get under my skin as well as on top of it.

Iris Poudre was created by Pierre Bourdon and released in 2000. I can safely say it has pushed Hiris off the top spot as my favourite iris scent.

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When I’ve read reviews of Iris Poudre over the years they have tended to focus on the perfume’s old-school glamour.  This is because it eschews the more familiar metallic and vegetal facets of iris root in favour of something infinitely more refined and alluring. It highlights the pure luxury of orris butter which is prettied-up by the accompanying florals and given sparkle by a sheer veil of aldehydes.

Despite its name, Iris Poudre is not a powder-bomb but has just enough to make the link with the golden age of Hollywood; all red lips and glittering jewels. It strikes the perfect balance between classic and modern. It has a retro flavour but doesn’t read as vintage.

It starts out cool with gentle aldehydes tickling the senses like an icy chill. These aren’t the overly soapy or intense kind that can be off-putting, but silky and shimmering.

This is not a challenging perfume to wear – file under “effortless chic”. It’s curvaceous and figure-hugging but never restrictive.  It’s rare to find a fragrance that has an aura of sensuality and glamour but still feels comfortable. Iris Poudre is satisfyingly complex and the kind of perfume you can still get a thrill from time and time again.

The fragrance possesses style without being aloof or prim. It’s a boudoir scent extraordinaire, reminiscent of make-up, silk stockings, fur and supple powdered skin.

However, there is even more going on in Iris Poudre than that. There is greater depth and substance than the soft-focus image of a movie star would suggest. I’ve found there is strength behind the feather boa and a wilfulness beneath the come-hither eyes.

I suspect it’s the ambrette seed that does it. That vegetal musky essence which imbues fragrances with a subtle sexuality. It has a very distinct character which warms on skin over time and the pairing with slick musk amplifies the effect.

When I first owned Iris Poudre the ambrette eventually put me off enough to sell my bottle. I’m not sure if in the intervening years whether Iris Poudre has changed, or I have (probably both) but in any case, we are now a perfect match. 

 

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If you’ve missed it, be sure to check out Undina’s Entertaining Statistics post covering February’s Month of Iris.

 

 

 

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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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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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