Tag Archives: Retro

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.


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. 


iris poudre.png


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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Une Robe de Zibeline by DSH Perfumes

Notes: aldehydes, bergamot, black pepper, lemon, spice notes; ylang ylang, Bulgarian rose absolute, carnation,  jasmine, orris, rosewood, tobacco absolute, coumarin, sable fur accord; ambergris, beeswax, brown oakmoss, castoreum, civet, patchouli, benzoin, labdanum, tolu balsam, leather


There are a number of fabulous American indie perfumes but thanks to the vagaries of the postal system, it’s usually not easy to get your hands on their fragrances outside the States. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is one such perfumer based in Boulder, Colorado. The good news is that her perfumes can now be shipped internationally via the website.

I was fortunate enough to receive a package of samples showcasing the 2017 releases from DSH Perfumes. I will do a post with mini reviews of some of the highlights but I did want to single one out for special mention.

Une Robe de Zibeline was released in September as another instalment of the ‘Retrograde Files’ series.  These perfumes were discontinued because of the limited availability of ingredients. However, thanks to renewed interest in Retro-Nouveau/Animalic perfumes, Une Robe de Zibeline has been re-worked as a grand, vintage-style scent.

Dawn describes it as a smouldering fragrance and it is exactly that. The sensuality is on a low burn rather than full blast. It’s relatively quiet on me and lasts about half a day but results from spraying are likely to vary from applying using the roller-ball sample.


Une Robe de Zibeline is French for sable coat and the fur subgenre of fragrances is quickly becoming a favourite of mine. This vintage sable scent satisfies my love of subtle, old-school animalic style fragrances where the musk is close to the skin and under the radar.

The opening is full of aldehydes which are silky soft and give the perfume a milky glow.  They immediately put it in the vintage inspired category but also give it some lift. They feel like gossamer and momentarily conceal what is to come with their silvery, glistening web.

For some reason you don’t get a lot of ylang-ylang dominant perfumes which aren’t tropical and indeed Une Robe de Zieline is actually Dawn’s only perfume with this flower at its heart. The ylang-ylang may be prominent but it doesn’t dominate the other accords  but gives them a focal point and creates a beautiful contrast with the dry musk base. When the aldehydes melt away you can breathe in these gorgeously soft, creamy yellow blooms

The ylang-ylang flowers are of course, pinned to an antique fur, making this oriental fragrance more multi-faceted and floral than most in this genre. Some fur coat perfumes are all about the musk, which is fine but what I like about Une Robe de Zibeline, is that is so nicely balanced. The beauty of the flowers tames the beast just enough so it’s soft and pretty as well sophisticated and seductive. Here we have a floral animalic perfume with complexity and that’s what clinches it for me.





Do you like retro-inspired fragrances?



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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…




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.





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






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Civet, Nightingale and Macaque by Zoologist Perfumes

I’m a great admirer of Zoologist Perfumes and am extremely happy to hear they are now being stocked in the UK by Bloom. It’s great to see an independent brand that is brim full of originality and making the most of artisan perfumers.

After writing about the first three fragrances (Rhinoceros, Beaver and Panda)  I was excited to try samples of some of the subsequent releases.

It’s worth noting that none of these – of any of their Eau de Parfums – contains animal products.



Top Notes: Bergamot, Black Pepper, Lemon, Orange, Spices, Tarragon
Heart Notes: Carnation, Frangipani, Heliotrope, Hyacinth, Linden-blossom, Tuberose, Ylang
Base Notes: Balsams, Civet, Coffee, Incense, Labdanum, Musks, Oakmoss, Resins, Russian Leather, Vanilla, Vetiver, Woods

Perfumer: Shelley Waddington (En Voyage Perfumes)

I thought Civet was bound to be too much for this fragile flower but not so. Shelley Waddington was aiming for the effect of a fur coat over naked skin and that’s exactly what she’s achieved.  After a glittering citrus start, the warm vintage fur is draped around your shoulders. It’s a real stunner with facets of cosmetic powder, flower petals and body warmth. I find it sensual and a little heady rather than intimidatingly animalic. I particularly love its glamorously retro aura and the way it makes me feel cocooned.

The use of coffee in Civet is an inspired modern twist. You wouldn’t necessarily know it was there without the notes list but it adds a roasted depth which is subtle and – like the touch of vanilla – is blended nicely into the whole. The spices are also handled with a light touch. It doesn’t hit you over the head with its sex appeal but entices you to close your eyes and nuzzle it like a blissed-out feline.


Top Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Saffron
Heart Notes: Japanese Plum Blossom, Red Rose, Violet
Base Notes: Oud, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Moss, Frankincense, White Musk, Labdanum, Ambergris

Perfumer: Tomoo Inaba



Nightingale immediately showers you with plum blossom as if caught in a snowstorm of deep pink petals. It’s sweet and powdery, the way a combination of rose and violet often is. This cosmetic-style accord is underlined with a full-bodied opacity that comes from the patchouli and moss. It’s a vivid, striking opening to a perfume that has a unique character.  It’s fully embellished but doesn’t take itself too seriously.

A complex yet playful composition, Nightingale mellows out beautifully, developing that recognisable vintage chypre signature so many of us covet. I can imagine it successfully captures the feeling of celebration and optimism that comes with the onset of spring in Japan.  The tendrils of musk rising up from under its blush coloured skirts prevent it from coming across too innocent. Nightingale is ideal for lovers of classic chypres and the woman or man who is not afraid to indulge in a swathe of pink when the mood takes them.


Top Notes: Cedar, Green Apple, Red Mandarin
Heart Notes: Frankincense, Galbanum, Honey, Rosewood, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine Tea
Base Notes: Cedarmoss, Green Tea, White Oud, Musk

Perfumer: Sarah McCartney (4160 Tuesdays)

I imagined a perfume named after a monkey would be about base instincts and therefore rather confrontational and even skanky. It’s actually the exact opposite. On spraying, I’m pleasantly surprised to find myself surrounded by clean air, the head-clearing scent of evergreens and a cascading waterfall. The aroma of lush vegetation and mossy undergrowth is cut nicely by tart citrus fruit.

Macaque is more about the mountain habitat than the mammal itself. It represents not only the forested slopes but the temple that overlooks it. There are the slimmest scented strands of frankincense, flower petal offerings and fragrant teas which drift across the canopy. It’s much more spiritual than beastly and extremely atmospheric. Macaque is a refreshing bright green fragrance which creates a sense of place, far away from our material world and its humdrum concerns.


Do any of these fragrant creatures appeal to you? Do you have a favourite from the line?  



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Ma Bête, Night Flower and Belle de Jour By Eris Parfums

Bringing sexy back…


If you’re seriously into perfume, chances are you’ve visited Barbara Herman’s treasure trove of a blog, Yesterday’s Perfumes. It contains a wealth of information about vintage fragrances and was a great help to me when I was researching an eventual purchase of vintage Vol de Nuit extrait.

In 2013 Barbara released a book “Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume“. Earlier this year she launched Eris Parfums.  Working with perfumer Antonie Lie, the intention was to create luxury fragrances that would “celebrate unconventional beauty and subversive glamour” The first collection of three EdPs, La Belle Et La Bête (Beauty and the Beast) is a contemporary re-imagining of the striking and seductive floral animalic perfumes of the past.


Ma te

Neroli, Aldehydes, Nutmeg, Cypriol, Stypras, Jasmin Sambac, Cedarwood, Patchouli and Animalic Accord

As you would expect from a perfume entitled “My Beast”, Ma Bête is an animalic. Although to start with, it’s not that variety of uncomfortably intimate skank. In the opening stage, it consists of a very sexy yet supple musk accented with neroli and a touch of spice. It has the soft texture of a vintage fur stole, wearing close to the body and giving it that second skin feel. There’s nothing invasive or TMI about it for now.  It’s sexual in the way an old Hollywood movie star could be sexual, with a certain look accompanied by the arch of an eyebrow.

Ma te has one aim and one aim only – to seduce. In the base the beast’s growl turns to a roar and you appreciate the fact that Lie used a 50% overdose of his own animalic cocktail. You could argue that it’s not very complex but I guess when you are in the mood for musk, you want it front and centre (as it were).


Night Flower

Bergamot, Cardamom, Leather, Suede, Indian Tuberose, Birch Tar, Patchouli, Cinnamon, Musk and Tonka

I approached Night Flower with some trepidation because I am not generally a tuberose perfume fan, to put it mildly. However, it actually turned out to be the one I enjoyed the most. The opening is a combination of bergamot, suede, cardamom and incredibly smooth tuberose. Instead of being the man-eater it usually is, here the de-fanged flower adds a layer of pink bubblegum sweetness. There’s nothing overblown or headache inducing about it.

Over time the suede turns to birch tar and Night Flower now resembles a pair of long leather gloves that hold just a trace of Fracas. It’s dark, warm and slightly powdery. I hope Lie and Herman won’t mind me saying this, but there’s an ambery muskiness present in the base that takes me back to the bottle of Obsession I owned and loved in my youth.

Belle de Jour

Orange Flower, Jasmine, Coriander, Pink Peppercorn, Ciste, Jasmine, Pimento Berries, Cedarwood Incense, Musks and Seaweed Absolute.

Compared to her two counterparts, Belle de Jour opens up surprisingly fresh, with orange and jasmine blossom petals twisting in a salty sea breeze. Here the requisite musk is white and buoyant. It stays at this elevated pitch for a couple of hours. Thereafter it smooths out, becoming floral scented, cashmere-like, clean musk. The texture is raw silk on clean skin.

Antoine Lie says “Belle de Jour is a study in contrasts: a very luminous floral that is salty, sexy and dirty.”  However, it never becomes dirty, or even naughty, on me which is a shame. I’m sure this is because I’m not picking up the type of musk used in the base, as regularly happens with me.




Do you like this retro style? Have you tried any of these three?


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