Tag Archives: Vintage

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.

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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.

 

 

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Do you like retro-inspired fragrances?

 

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Miss Dior Vintage Parfum by Dior

Top: Aldehydes, Gardenia, Galbanum, Clary Sage, Bergamot
Heart: Carnation, Iris, Jasmine, Neroli, Lily-of-the-Valley, Rose, Narcissus
Base: Labdanum, Leather, Sandalwood, Amber, Patchouli, Oakmoss, Vetiver

 

I feel foolish because for years old-school Miss Dior never appealed to me enough to try it. It wasn’t just that there have been countless reformulations over the years or the risk of falling for a vintage gem. To be honest, I think it was the word ‘Miss’ in its name and the association with the ultra-feminine full skirts of Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’ of 1947 – the year of its release.  I assumed Miss Dior wasn’t for me, that it would be too prim and proper.

Now I’ve experienced the wonder that is vintage Miss Dior Parfum (thanks to Miss Portia) I couldn’t have been more wrong. I can see there is a kind of houndstooth smartness to classic Miss Dior but oh, there is so much more to this iconic chypre under its pristine surface.

It’s one of those perfumes that is incredibly cohesive, so tightly woven, that it has a distinct character and persona all its own. This makes it rather tricky to unpick and separate into its constituent parts, but we shall see…

 

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Vintage Miss Dior is glorious from the start. It’s all there; the green-veiled florals with that unmistakable backing of real-deal oakmoss which, along with labdanum and patchouli, give it that addictive chypre tang.

The aldehydes are whisper soft, no doubt because the juice is several decades old. Copious galbanum can make a fragrance come across as steely, but here the austere queen of green is softened by waxy garlands of gardenia flowers.

Perhaps what strikes me most is the fragrance’s texture.  The floral heart is set against a backdrop which Neil of The Black Narcissus described perfectly as “tweedy”. The weave and waft of the original Miss Dior has a cross-hatched grain that I see in shades of dark brown, slate grey and forest green, relieved by flecks of white.

It doesn’t take long – about an hour – for a thread of castoreum-style musk to unravel from the whole and make its presence known. There is a hidden filth scene behind the façade of respectability.  I covet this kind of contrast because it creates intrigue and true allure. This only deepens through its development.

Down in the base, a leather of the super strict variety is revealed. The provocative mixture of cool oakmoss, animalic musk and hard leather is the last thing you’d expect under that crisp, buttoned-up exterior.

Miss Dior never has to take her gloves off in order to put others in their place: just being around her makes everyone mind their manners and sit up a little straighter. It’s an irresistible combination of seductiveness and no-nonsense.

What may at first look appear to be schoolmarmish frigidity is actually leather-bound suggestiveness masked by a show of propriety.

Miss Dior is fragrant subversion of the most elegant kind.

 

 

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Do you adore vintage Miss Dior? How does the current Miss Dior Originale compare?

 

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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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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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February: A Month of Roses

At the start of February I joined Undina’s giveaway challenge (inspired by Chemist in the Bottle) to wear nothing but rose perfumes for the whole month. Being her usual fastidious self, Undina compiled a calendar with a different rose fragrance scheduled for each day. Me being me, I took a more scatter-bomb approach, grabbing whatever appealed on the day.

One of the positive side effects of the project, was that it made me go through my samples and decants to dig up the roses. I love rose perfumes anyway (obviously) but it was good to have the motivation to try – and use up – the samples and decants languishing around my house.

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Here’s what I wore over the course of the month –

Tobacco Rose by Papillon Perfumes (Full Bottle)

This is a  rose bush in a bottle with leaves, earth and hay. A rose found in early autumn to hold on to as nature reclaims summer’s florid show. You can take comfort from it in the same way you might from a walk in the woods. It’s a womanly, over-blown rose with depth and throw to spare. One spray will last all day and it’s one of the few perfumes I’ve been complimented on.

Rose Oud, By Kilian (Decant)

This was the first western oud fragrance I came across and it’s still my favourite. The quality of the velvety rose is outstanding and the combination of saffron and oud complement it beautifully. It really is a deep red rose in the middle of an arid desert.

Wild Roses by Aftelier Perfumes (Sample)

Mandy Aftel’s intention was to capture the rose in situ within the garden. It’s easy to forget that these flowers have such varied scents. At its heart we have a balsamic, honeyed rose but there are also subtle fruity and animalic facets. Taragon absolute represents the herb garden and the leaves of the rose bush, while patchouli roots it in the earth. It’s incredibly complex and potent, especially for an all-natural fragrance.

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Le Fille de Berlin by Serge Lutens (Full Bottle)

I love the vintage pin-up look but while the clothes and make-up don’t suit me, I can wear a beautiful retro rose/violet scent like this one. The softly musky amber base makes for a perfect finish. Unlike a lot of fragrance by Serge Lutens, La Fille de Berlin has a transparency that makes it extremely wearable. I wear this from spring through autumn.

Rozy Voile d’Extrait, Vero Profumo (Sample)

Rose may be the most recognisable facet of this oriental tour de force but there is so much more going on here. Smoked honey, amber and fruit swirl and buzz on the skin with a vital intensity. When I first encountered it, Rozy represented to me the complexity and power of untamed feminine energy – and it still does. Perfumer Vero Kern is someone l hugely admire and I can’t imagine anyone else making a rose-centred perfume remotely like this one.

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Rose de Nuit, Serge Lutens (Full Bottle)

It was nice to give my bell jar an airing. Rose de Nuit is a rosy musk more than it is a pure rose fragrance. It’s not skanky or headache-y but oily and unctuous. It’s a nocturnal harlot in perfume form who doesn’t believe in any such thing as the walk of shame. She’s brazen but sophisticated and oh-so-enticing.

Mille et Une Rose, Lancome (Decant)

Appropriately enough I won this decant on Undina’s Looking Glass. Mille et Une Rose is a soft yet deep, somewhat sweet rose with an amber base and a trail of musk. It makes me think of one of those pretty peach coloured roses with a multitude of petals, circling around and around, layer after layer. It’s velvety, easy to wear and rather romantic.

Velvet Rose, Senoma Scent Studio (Sample)

Again from Undina’s prize package, Velvet Rose is a sparkling, dewy rose. It’s a frothy cascade of pale pink tea roses with a touch of greenery. Delicate but long-lasting, it has that vintage cosmetic association that I really love. The more I inhale it, the more I enjoy it. It’s incredibly pretty and joyful.

The Coveted Duchess Rose by Penhaligon’s (Sample)

This recent release is part of the Portraits collection.  At first I’m thrown by a metallic green note but this does fade in the heart which is a fresh and fruity rose soliflore with a swirl of powdery sweetness. The base is a rosy woody musk. Green and/or fruity roses aren’t really my style but it’s nicely done and will no doubt be popular.

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Vaara, Penhaligon’s (Full Bottle)

Vaara has such an original and vivid start that the first time I tried it I was a tad disappointed that it ended up being a light and linear rose perfume. Now I just enjoy it for what it is – a refreshing rose perfume to wear in the summer with its striking opening of tart quince, creamy saffron and a splash of rosewater.

 

Did you take part in the Month of Roses? How did you get on? Could you wear roses day after day?

 

 

 

 

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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.

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Civet

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.

Nightingale

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

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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.

Macaque

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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

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