Tag Archives: Vetiver

Encre Noire and Encre Noire A L’Extreme by Lalique

Notes: Cypress, Vetiver Bourbon, Vetiver Haiti, Woods and Musk.

I’ve never been one to wear ‘masculine fragrances’ or perfumes centred around veitver. However Encre Noire – black ink – has always held a certain fascination for me. I know  a lot of women love it and I like the way the bottle resembles a bottle of ink.

 

encre bottle

 

A little while ago I got samples of the original EdT (released in 2006) and one of the flankers, Encre Noire à l‘Extrême EdP (released last year).

 

Encre Noire EdT

 

The first half of Encre Noire is focused on cypress which is like being dropped into the midst of a dense, dark green grove. It has the feel of an aromatic incense perfume, like Armani’s Bois d’ Encens.  The veitver gently wafts up from underneath, like earth permeating a layer of pine needles lying on the forest floor. What’s great is that the cypress lasts right through to the base.

Swampy vetiver accords turn my stomach; a kind of grassy ditch water aroma that I can’t abide. Encre Noire thankfully doesn’t have that, even when the cypress eventually fades and the vetiver comes into full effect. It has more of the smoky kind of veitver, which is probably down to the inclusion of vetiver bourbon.

What I do like about vetiver is its strength.  Wearing Encre Noire, you can feel that characteristic certainty – an unshakeable self belief that will get you where you want to go. At the same time, it has a head-clearing quality which would indeed make it ideal to wear while writing or whenever you need to focus.

 

encre charcaol

 

Encre Noire à l’Extrême EdP

 

Encre Noire à l‘Extrême opens up at a much lower pitch without the deep green waft of cypress. It’s dark and dusty from the start, like an unexplored attic in a crumbling mansion.

While the original Encre Noire is centring yet expansive, Encre Noire à l‘Extrême is more intense. It’s also more intimate and rather seductive with its light veil of powdered musk. The hazy, dry woods present are just as soft and malleable.

The two iterations converge in the base where they are reduced to tones of grey, like a charcoal drawing.

Encre Noire à l’Extrême conjures up darkness in a way that is soothing and mysterious rather than alienating. Imagine being relieved when night falls because you can take off your mask and finally be your true self.  It’s a sophisticated vetiver which has been polished and stripped of its vegetal harshness. More than ink, it makes me think of grey mist; the outline of a stranger in the gloom.

 

encre image

 

Both incarnations of the fragrance have bucketfuls of atmosphere, especially for mainstream offerings. I’d recommend giving it a try if you like intriguing, dry scents which feel grounding. It’d make a good choice for those who want an alternative to the sugary confections filling up the shelves in the high street.

 

How you get along with vetiver? Have you tried any version of Encre Noire?

 

 

 

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Superstitious by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Notes: Jasmine, Rose, Peach, Amber, Incense, Vetiver, Patchouli and Aldehydes.

 

I should know better by now than to buy even a travel sized bottle of perfume on the first sniff, but rules are made to be broken. Buying the recent Malle release, Superstitious, on the spot was a calculated risk though. Val the Cookie Queen already owned the 10ml bottle and I know if she says something is good, it’s good.

Superstitious was created in association with fashion designer Alber Elbaz and the perfumer is the great Dominique Ropion. It’s the second in the ‘par Frederic Malle’ collection; the first being Dries Van Noten.

 

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Superstitious with its evil eye

 

The main body of Superstitious is all about jasmine and aldehydes. Please don’t be put off (like me) by ‘The A Word’.  These aldehydes are of the fatty, waxy variety, not the fizzy, forceful kind. The effect feels like a glistening sheen on the skin.

I’ve long had a yearning for a jasmine perfume but until now I’ve always found them either too heady or too indolic. Here, the jasmine isn’t high-pitched or overly animalic. The combination of jasmine, aldehydes and a touch of almost creamy peach gives Superstitious an unfussy opulence; like a frothy mountain of tulle. Although superficially it appears spotless, there is a pinch of smutty spice just underneath those gauzy layers, which hints at things come…

The drydown of Superstitious is sensual in a lived-in, mussed up kind of way. The sales assistant told us that people are calling the scent “posh sex”, which is actually not a bad way of describing it – it’s pure refinement that’s been tempted to engage in pure debauchery.

The base is an incense-y, woody, vetiver that is attractive in an unconventional, broken down way. It’s as if you’ve been rolling around on the floor of an abandoned building, albeit in a ball gown.

For me, discovering a hidden filth scene can be much more exhilarating then a blatant show of carnality. Someone would have to wait until the end of the night to experience that unseemly side. Anything that is not quite what it seems at first look always intrigues me.

It’s a cleverly constructed composition, going from radiant and gleaming to earthy and deeply sensual. Be aware that it is a BIG perfume with day-into-night longevity.

Its floral aldehyde style may hark back to the grand perfumes of the first half of the twentieth century but Superstitious doesn’t read as vintage or even retro.  There’s an edge to this fragrance that makes it completely contemporary.

I’m normally not attracted to the large-scale perfumes like Carnal Flower for which Ropion is known for. However, I don’t find Superstitious overwhelming. It makes a statement but I apply it judiciously and it seems to meld with my skin. In fact, it possesses everything that draws me to a perfume: contrast, tension, mystery, sensuality, originality and unmistakable quality.

Superstitious is impossibly glamorous in the most undone, sexy way imaginable.

 

 

kate

 

I understand Superstitious has been polarising people. What’s your take on it?

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New Year, New You! – Perfume Lovers London, 17th January 2017

I am a self-improvement junkie so the idea of exploring the various ways scents have promised to enhance our lives over the centuries was right up my street. PLL has switched nights from Thursdays to Tuesdays so I had to miss yoga which might have made it counter-productive but it was well worth it.

 

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Callum introduced the topic by saying that perfume ads have become more and more infamous with increasingly outrageous claims. Therefore he and Laurin decided to look at the aromatic ingredients which were historically supposed to provide you with certain positive results and then match those notes to modern day perfumes for us to try.

 

Relax!

As Laurin pointed out, 2016 was a difficult year for many so what we needed first of all was to relax. She had looked into how laudanum had been drunk by the Victorians. Apparently Lord Byron was a laudanum addict and because it was opium based, it was associated with opium dens. However it was taken by respected authors to help them sleep and there was even a recipe for home use in Culpeper’s Complete Herbal (1653) which went as follows:

“Take of Thebane Opium extracted in spirit of Wine, one ounce, Saffron alike extracted, a dram and an half, Castorium one dram: let them be taken in tincture of half an ounce of species Diambræ newly made in spirit of Wine, add to them Ambergris, Musk, of each six grains, oil of Nutmegs ten drops, evaporate the moisture away in a bath, and leave the mass.”

Callum picked Musc Tonkin by Parfum d’Empire to represent the relaxing properties of laudanum because of all the animal ingredients mentioned in the recipe.  It’s as close to real musk as he’s experienced in a perfume. For Laurin “It smells a bit disreputable. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but it has a slightly dirty, soiled smell.”

musc_tonkin

 

 

The Ancient Greeks believed that illness was a result of an imbalance in The Four Humors; black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood.

An imbalance in black bile was thought to cause conditions such as melancholia and nervousness: basically anything we’d treat with antidepressants today. The element of earth was associated with black bile. Vetiver being earthy and supposedly very grounding, we tried Lune de Givre by Cloon Keen Atelier. Callum described it as “a very easy, relaxing vetiver” which it was and I’m not usually vetiver fan.

 

Thwart Your Enemies!

 

Laurin had trouble finding revenge spells on the internet because those that practice magic don’t want you harming others. Although unsurprisingly, you can pay someone to cast a revenge spell for you.  Ingredients that did come up were often woods (particularly cedar) and hemlock. Hemlock paralyses the body and leads to a very unpleasant death.

Forest Walk by Sonoma Scent Studio features a hemlock note (though entirely safe!) and Callum called it “Weirdly witchy” with “a smoky base to represent the burning bodies of your enemies.” Unfortunately samples of this one weren’t available on the night but it’s the perfume I enjoyed the most.

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Achieve Great Wealth!

 

Laurin found that patchouli and cinnamon featured heavily in spells for attracting wealth although with patchouli you also run the risk of attracting unsavoury types.

As Callum pointed out, Behind the Rain by Paul Schutze is a cold, incensy, peppery fragrance with a very smooth patchouli note.

Laurin found a recipe for Money Oil which she made up and added a few drops to some green candles for us to take home. We’ll be millionaires!

“7 drops Patchouli oil, 5 drops Cedarwood oil, 1 drop Basil oil, 1 drop Clove oil, 10ml base oil, small piece of cinnamon stick- Blend all the oil’s together & bottle. Add the small piece of cinnamon stick to the bottle. Use to anoint candles in money / prosperity spells.”

 

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Callum had really wanted Robert Piguet’s Knightsbridge (a leather fragrance exclusive to Harrods) to represent wealth for obvious reasons.

Live Forever. Sort Of!

 

“If you can’t live forever you want to at least live forever in people’s minds.” Laurin told us that peppermint had been shown in tests to improve memory so the chosen perfume featuring this note was Memoir Man by Amouage.

Callum had a wonderfully specific picture of this scent. “I’m at a kitchen in the countryside where it’s raining outside and there are potatoes on the boil.” The spuds mirroring the earthy facet of Memoir Man.

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Laurin found there are many spells designed to keep you looking eternally youthful. They largely used rose which makes sense as it’s associated with feeling beautiful in aromatherapy. We tried Eau Rose by Diptyque which is a very nice, fresh rose with notes of bergamot and lychee.

 

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Find True Love!

 

Laurin told us that Sex Appeal by Jovan came out in 1975 and the advert featured a He-Man type. Callum read a little of the ad copy which included lines such as “Sex Appeal – Now you don’t have to be born with it” and “Attract women, at will”.

 

jovan

 

It was very medicinal and I could almost taste it at the back of my throat. As Laurin confirmed, it’s very camphor-like but apparently does soften down. Marginally better was Apollo by Lynx (Axe in the States) which Callum told us was done by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. As you may know, “The Lynx Effect” is supposed to send hoards of women chasing men down the street. No one in the room found Apollo sexy but it was nostalgic for one guy.

A higher end version for women is Scent of a Dream by make-up brand Charlotte Tilbury which was released last year. Laurin was pleasantly surprised by it and Callum thought it was “a perfectly nice scent”. However, it would be quite difficult for anything to live up to the advertising copy which Laurin perfectly described as “word salad” –

“SCENT OF A DREAM is a first-of-its-kind ‘floral chypre’ perfume harmony – featuring a blend of confidence-boosting JOY top notes, intoxicating FLEUROTIC heart notes, plus ‘pheromone’ base notes… It’s mind-altering ‘fleurotic frequency’ creates an emotional pathway to the body’s ENERGY CENTRES igniting and attracting LOVE, LIGHT, POWER, POSITIVITY and SEX to the wearer. IT‘S THE KEY TO ATTRACTION”

At the bargain price of £7 a bottle you can also buy Attract Men or Attract Women by Mojo Pro. Their scents are supposed to contain pheromones and despite there being no scientific evidence for them acting on humans,  Callum’s mate told him that a friend of his swore after he started wearing it, the most attractive girl in his year at uni wouldn’t leave him alone.

Two audience members (one male and one female) had been sprayed with the perfumes and we had to try and sniff them out from a group of six. We pretty much failed so make of that what you will.

Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules  is another supposed pheromone perfume which is meant to smell different on everyone, although Laurin said she regularly recognises it on people. An audience member owns it but never had any man chase after her in the street to ask what she was wearing. Callum said pheromones are a load of nonsense and Laurin felt we were ending the evening on rather a sad note as a result, but we now had the scent solutions to relaxation, thwarting our enemies, great wealth and eternal youth. What more could you ask for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alter, Vitrum, Bond-T and Ariel by Sammarco 

 

I’ve read some very positive reports about the fragrances from artisan perfume house Sammarco.

The Switzerland-based perfumer, Giovanni Sammarco, uses a high percentage of natural raw materials in his fragrances which are pure parfum strength. The collection currently numbers four: Alter, Vitrum and Bond-T which were launched in 2012 and Ariel which was released last year.

 

Alter

Notes: Jasmine Sambac, rose, frankincense, mimosa, animal accord, incense and opoponax.

Alter is one of those head-swimming white florals which is heavy on indolic jasmine and overlaid with a gauze of civet-like musk. It’s the kind of perfume that would make a gentlewoman come over all unnecessary with just one sniff.

I have a low tolerance for the type of musk used here but Alter is lush, billowy and seductive. If you love heady white florals with a soupçon of sex, it’s more than likely to make you swoon.

 

Vitrum

Notes: Vetiver, rose, bergamot, black pepper, incense and oakmoss.

This is a very clever composition, not least because it is a vetiver I can appreciate. To my nose, most have an odour of stagnant swamp water which turns my stomach.

Vitrum is a softly spoken vetiver, reduced down to its smoky soul. Augmenting it with rose is a lovely touch.

For once, this is a vetiver fragrance which embodies both strength and beauty. I’m not surprised when I read it was created as a bespoke fragrance for a female journalist. Vitrum is a refreshing detour from the well trodden vetiver path.

 

Bond-T

Notes: Cocoa, patchouli, osmanthus, castoreum, tonka and vanilla.

Bond-T was inspired by a visit to a chocolate factory in Pisa, it oozes thick dark chocolate with a high cocoa content; dry and slightly powdery. Patchouli’s chocolate facet makes it a natural partner for cocoa, but I’m very pleased to find the patch here doesn’t overwhelm it.

Bond-T is a chocolate perfume accentuated by patchouli, not a patchouli perfume accentuated by chocolate. The base features a sweet, honeyed amber which takes the decadence to another level.

I find something very chic about dark chocolate fragrances . To be chic, you have to have a little quirkiness thrown in with your elegance and that’s Bond-T to a, er, T.

 

Ariel

Notes: Mandarin, ginger, angelica, tuberose, jasmine, osmanthus, violet, rose, sandalwood, tobacco, davana and orris concrete.

You can tell an awful lot of time and thought went into the creation of Ariel. Going by the website, it seems to have been a labour of love for Giovanni: an homage to the flame-haired object of his affection. It’s the most complex and captivating scent in the collection.

Ariel contrasts sweet, cosmetic powdered florals against crisp, bright greens.  The overall effect is sophisticated and retro, yet metallic and musky accents in the early stages give it a contemporary twist. The drydown is nothing short of gorgeous.  

Ariel is an idealised image of female beauty and feminine attributes. A woman seen through the eyes of love.

rita-hayworth

Do any of the four Sammarco fragrances call to you? 

 

 

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