Myself and Val the Cookie Queen, guest blogger at Australian Perfume Junkies had been chatting recently on Facebook. She told me about an upcoming “meetup” where Portia (APJ) and other guest blogger Michael Borg were traveling from Australia, through Europe, and landing in the UK. After an invite, along with many other bloggers, February the 8th came and we were all stupidly excited about the day
photo stolen from about.com
I arrived at Bloom Perfume in Shoreditch, our meeting point, nearly an hour lot – flustered as hell having trekked my way across town at record speed after my original train was cancelled.
Everyone was in full swing already, the tiny store was crowded with the blur of people sniffing blotters and chatting with each other. I tried my best to slip in as calmly as possible but ended up looking a bit erratic and out of breath.
The group was made up of the lovely Val who has an incredible larger than life personality along with killer taste. She left Bloom with Rubj and Mito Voile D’Extrait’s by Vero Profumo (see?!) <3 The glamorous Portia of course who helped to chill me out by pretty much… well, talking. He gleams non stop positivity and is absolutely hilarious to boot. Michael was charming, has wonderful taste and was keen to sniff various things with me – we share some very similar fragrance tastes. The lovely little Vanessa (Bonkers About Perfume) who I have met up with twice before here in Birmingham, Thomas the Candy Perfume Boy who I had met once before, and his partner Nigel, the lovely Nick Gilbert, Joshua (The Smelly Vagabond) and the gorgeous Tara of Olfactoria’s Travels… were the other bloggers who had managed to show up! Quite a list!
I actually can’t remember much of my time at Bloom with everyone :’) It was a bit of a blur trying to settle in and say hi to everyone… We tried the new Isparta by Parfumerie General and all agreed it smelt a little like Portrait of a Lady, only sweeter, without the patchouli, and not as superior… easily dismissed. Dzhari by Phaedon which to me smelt like prune juice… And at that point, I was pretty much done… I was much more keen to hear everyone elses thoughts than try things myself!
I swapped some samples with a few people, and got to try a sneaky spritz of Dark Passage by Tauer for Tableau de Parfums which was a limited release… a big dark camphorous patchouli, very nice, a little straightforward… but almost “oudy” in its rawness up top… quite cool.
Back Row: Myself, Michael, Portia, Nick
Middle: Tara, Nigel, Val, Thomas
Front: Joshua, Vanessa
After this quick sniff around, we popped next door to Poppies – for “The best fish and chips in the UK”… or something like that, an award-winning place anyway! I unfortunately was pretty much puking up my dinner the night before (nice!) having been ill for a few days and near overdosing trying to cure it by the morning on tramadol, codeine and paracetamol ha! So I settled on a drink only… regretting it slightly seeing everyone’s delicious looking food arriving!
We had a bit of a sniff around at the table, everyone had brought bags of samples and I felt a bit stupid not bringing more with me. Still… one of the biggest hits to be handed round was Envoyage’s gorgeous Zelda which Portia hadn’t smelt. One spritz down his top and he was constantly screaming “OH MY GOD THIS IS HUGE! IT’S GORGEOUS!”. Another hit was 1996 by Byredo that Thomas brought, it was a very nice dough-y iris that I didn’t try on myself so can’t remember perfectly… but it’s something I may revisit. Other things worked their way around but I was just kind of sitting to the side having a big natter with Portia about his travels… I was riddled with envy! The amount himself and Michael had done around Europe, in Paris and Austria, blew my mind. Two very passionate bloggers with a heck of a lot more knowledge than they let on!
Myself and Portia in Poppies
After all this we trekked to Les Senteurs. Most of the bloggers including Val and Portia parched themselves on the sofas at the back, knackered from all the walking and talking (they had been travelling a hell of a lot over the last few days!). I had a sniff around with Michael and the others, tackling the likes of Eau D’Italie, and sharing my love for Sienne L’Hiver. I explored a little more of the Frederic Malle line again, resniffing Musc Ravageur as I have recently bought a bottle off a member of one of the Facebook fragrance groups and have been super excited for it to arrive! I had saved some money up so knew I was going to buy something, and knew pretty much 100% that it would be Mona Di Orio’s Eau Absolue. I got everyone else to sniff it, knowing full well that it is not something to make you go “WOW” on first spray… it’s a grower, with a wonderful development that captivated me totally on repeated sampling… and yes, I ended up buying a bottle!
I also tried more of Mona’s line, spraying her Ambre on one hand (which was gorgeous musky and raunchy on me to begin with) – Portia said I smelt “filthy!” in a good way I’m sure ;). It settled to something a little more tame and powdery, but still, a very nice accord. Tubereuse went on the other, which was also a win! The drydown was a little bit too tame for me, but the opening was gorgeous… something I’ll have to revisit… in fact, I think I’ll be revisiting all of Mona’s line again, I seem to be having a lot of success with them now. Thomas ended up buying Portrait Of A Lady after being on the hunt for a good rose all day… I adore the smell of POAL, but it doesn’t work on my skin, I picked up a sample for my mum as she adored it the last time she tried it (along with lots of other samples from Malle along with my purchase).
We also sat and devoured Val’s box of peanut butter cookies she brought with her, which everyone agreed, were “AMAZING!” – the box had a remaining couple left so I stashed them in my bag to take home for the evening… no chance in hell were they going to waste <3 After further sniffings of the Parfumerie Generale line (I still need a bottle of Cuir Venenum), and smelling the fabulous Narcisse Noire parfum on Portia (hairspray and nail varnish as he describes), we said farewell to Vanessa, Thomas, Nigel and Nick… whilst myself, Portia, Michael, Val and Tara headed to Selfridges (to go and meet Val’s daughter).
Selfridges to me is full of shit I don’t really want to smell, not that everything is bad there, but there is a lot of crappy niche brands at high prices targeting the Arabian market, a lot like Roja Dove’s. Still, Portia had a good sniff around, and came back reeking of some bonfire atrocity by Union, Celtic Fire… which every agreed, smelt like barbecued sausage with tomato ketchup – a less refined, more savoury gourmand version of things like Cologne Reloaded, Lonestar Memories, and Patchouli 24… He also tried the new Hermessence Epice Marine which was a weirdly spicey marine fragrance (who’d have guessed) – that wasn’t my sort of thing, but it seemed to radiate of Portia nicely! Along with a slathering of No.22 Parfum by Chanel, which we all agreed was a little soapier and less plush in its more concentrated form… weirdly.
Tara sprayed on some Coromandel which was gorgeous on her… the only question I always find with things like Coromandel, is how much different is it really from many other patchouli soliflores? I have a difficult time, or maybe struggle to bother, differentiating between them all… still – it was very pretty! I remember trying Mitzah by Dior Privee on Michael who had bought a massive bottle in Paris I believe… it smelt nice enough to me… although a pretty generic amber accord – nice enough, with a subtle rose in the heart… I haven’t found a Dior Privee that’s truly wow-ed me yet.
Anyway, after Selfridges, myself, Portia and Michael parted with Val and Tara to head back to Portia’s hotel. Unfortunately the finale isn’t as exciting as it sounds… Portia had simply forgot to bring with him the bottle of Blask that I had asked him to pick up in Austria! Humiecki & Graef isn’t available in the UK, so I thought I’d snatch my chance to grab a bottle of this gorgeous juice, that I first tried in Berlin. So after getting my bottle of Blask from them, and some requested samples, I gave a hug and said my farewells and headed off home. The day was a huge success and everyone was a joy to be around, Portia and Val made me feel very special, despite them being the honoured guests of the daytrip!
I’m sure everyone else had fun, having read the other folks’ write-ups of the day (which I’ll link to below). Hope to see you all again soon <3<3
The Candy Perfume Boy: Australian Invasion
Bonkers About Perfume: A Fishy Fumehead Encounter
Olfactoria’s Travels: Portia Fest 2014