Monthly Archives: February 2012

Serge Lutens – Muscs Koublai Khan & Etat Libre D’Orange – Secretions Magnifiques

sTwo fragrances, and two completely different expressions of sexuality through perfume.

Many people consider Muscs Koublai Khan a deeply sexual and “skanky” fragrance through the animalic musks and soft flowers. Secretions Magnifique’s approach is far more aggressive, with notes of sperm, blood, saliva and sweat, ELdO seems to go for the… S&M approach we’ll say.

These two are complete opposites yet drawn together by the same ideas and concepts, and that’s why I find them fascinating. I doubt Serge Lutens realised that this fragrance would be so unbelievably influential, and a prime reference in the category for animalic fragrances; the two different approaches in marketing from both brands have led to these being mini fragrance celebrities in the perfume world. Comparing the two? Kind of impossible – but they share blood, maybe evil twins or something. Anyway, here’s my brief lowdown of possibly the two most talked about perfumes of all time.

Muscs Koublai Khan opens with a beautiful, unidentifiable sweetness, and quickly, up rise the stunning mix of animalics, with civet and musk dominating. It is absolutely breathtaking, and one of the most comforting openings I have ever experienced in a fragrance.
It is so comfortable and easy to wear instantly, and I feel like I need to throw my head back with wrists to my nose and just roll around for a while!

After about 3 minutes or so, the famous “poopy” note comes in. Now, I didn’t pick this up, for my first 10 wearings or so, so don’t be scared by it. The only way I managed to identify this very, very slightly, fecal musk, was after sniffing Brent Leonesio’s Untitled No.8 as that was the moment I understood what the word animalic means and how musk can smell fecal. The fecal note in Muscs Koublai Khan is completely welcoming, it is bizarrely cozy and in-offensive. It feels so natural, and it “becomes you” so quickly, that it seems to change your mood, thought patterns, and movement.

The gentle fecal notes gradually disappear over the next ten minutes, although if you can clock onto them, you may faintly smell them in the rest of the fragrance’s life, but it is more of a memory than it actually being there. The musk goes on, and on, and on, with some baby soft rose petals floating in it also. There is the most subtle of spices which are practically unidentifiable… maybe the most miniscule bit of cumin? I’m not sure, basically this is musk musk musk, and the most beautiful I have ever smelt that’s for sure.

Hours down the line, this is a wonderful skin smell. I keep using all these words “beautiful” and “wonderful” and such, but this fragrance just clicks, and it really does make you feel sexy. Muscs Koublai Khan is not aggressive, it is not rude or skanky, it is mysterious and dazzling, whilst feeling like an arm wrapped round you.

I will have to own a bottle of this one day, but for now, my sample has lasted and lasted. I’m sure a bottle will last me a lifetime.
It seems cliché of me to write such a gleaming review of this, but it is a fragrance that actually lives up to its hype.

A complete masterpiece.


Maybe it’s just because I’m used to it after so many sniffs, but I actually really enjoy the opening of Secretions Magnifiques. It is almost unbearably metallic and sharp. It is the kind of effect you get (if you ever did this when you were a kid) where you rub two spoons together really hard and then sniff them – It’s harsh, almost dizzying. I’m not sure what chemical makes this metallic note, but there is definitely a ton of aldehydes which make it sparkle of your skin, similar to Rien though, they don’t particularly smell aldehydic.

There’s a sour note which creeps in after a couple of minutes, but it still feels metallic. I don’t like this sour note as it kind of triggers my gag reflex – it smells like a small chemical explosion.  The fragrance starts to become extremely salted, and bizarrely aquatic, but with a strong metallic note dominating.

A creamy note appears from underneath, along with a touch of sandalwood I believe, but it doesn’t calm the scent down at all, instead it creates a complete contrast with the metallic note. The combination of an unidentifiable cream and super sharp  metal is probably what turns most people’s stomach.

Some slight iris provides a tiny floral edge, although it is a computer generated flower and is completely overpowered by everything else going on. To be honest, there’s not much more to Secretions Magnifiques after that – the metallic sharp/sourness does begin to settle down and the scent becomes a lot more wearable later down the line. If I’m honest, I think if the name was different, along with the marketing image of an ejaculating penis being changed, this fragrance wouldn’t have any sexual connotations, but there is something human about it. Although the fragrance doesn’t resemble anything we smell on ourselves or with our partners, there is something oddly attractive about it. If I bury my nose right into my wrist, it’ll pull back in disgust, but hovered from a few centimetres away, it is bizarrely attractive.

Every now and again, I will open my sample packet containing Secretions Magnifique, just to give it a sniff. At these moments, I don’t find it repulsive, uncomfortable or unwelcome, instead I feel slightly calmer after it. On my skin is another story, whilst I do get this effect to an extent, it is just all too powerful. I think if this fragrance was just cranked down a few notches, it would actually be much more effective. I would want Secretions Magnifique to open with the same nose burning metallic edge, but drying down much quicker to the iris/coconut and metallic marine notes softly scenting the skin. If it were like this, I think it would have a completely different reputation and may actually succeed in what it attempts even more. But maybe I’m wrong, I think ELdO know how generally unappealing this fragrance is, and don’t believe it needs to be altered, I’m just seeing it from a consumer point of view.

Anyway, I’m going slightly off topic here and am not taking this fragrance as it is.
Secretions Magnifique is an experience. Similar to MKK, SM lives up to its reputation. But take it for as it is and pay attention to what you are actually smelling, not what the marketing is telling you to.
There is something bizarrely human to Secretions Magnifique, and I think that’s why so many people are scared of it.

Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan 75ml bell jar – 130 Euros sergelutens.com
Etat Libre D’Orange Secretions Magnifique 50ml – £52.50 lessenteurs.com

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Samples Galore

Well, I have just dished out on 22 samples I have really wanted to try but kept delaying. Actually, that’s a lie, some I have just discovered and have been recommended. Some are brand new to me whereas others I have known about but pushed aside in previous sample orders; others I have felt I’d never buy a bottle of so haven’t ordered a sample – ridiculous as in this mindset I am both limiting myself and missing out on experiencing true gems of my hobby.
All being sent from the USA, these things are going to take ages to get here, so here comes the long patient wait.

I have really began to notice how much my tastes are changing, well, not changing but more expanding. I used to always avoid green scents and have always said I don’t like vetiver, without actually ever knowing what vetiver smells like.
Having selected my samples, I have chosen at least 3 vetiver dominated fragrances, earthy scents, beachy aquatics (all nostalgic type scents, none of your light sports cologne crap obviously)… I love broadening horizons and discovering new things. I’m excited to be inspired again, it’s been a while since I have been.

Thanks to the scent obsessed folks over at Basenotes - I say that as though I’m not one of them – I have completely matured in my olfactory exposure, understanding and knowledge of the fragrance world. Even if no one in my immediate circle of friends and family can truly understand the appeal (which I under-hype and keep semi-reserved), besides my hugely supportive partner, I’m having great fun. I love  having my creativity back, along with a boatload of passion for something again. I feel secretly joyous with my expanding ability in noted expression and olfactory exploration, examination even; and I’ve only just started :)

Gypsy Water – Byredo

I got this sample free with a purchase so I thought, why not review it…
I could just spray this and dismiss it and forget about it with great ease but, I’m writing this blog to expand my knowledge and appreciation for fragrances. That won’t happen if I dismiss lots, so maybe some of my next fragrance reviews may not be very “me”, but they are for others and I’ve got to understand and remember that.
So here it goes…

Gypsy Water opens quite sparse, the alcohol is more prominent for a few seconds than anything else. A pale familiar floral creeps in and then a tart lemon-curd pudding type of note dominates. I actually like the lemon, it’s not used as fresh-aquatic, but is instead quite dense and creamy. At this point, it smells quite edible, gourmand even, like a lemon meringue pie – mmmm!

Some white musk hovers underneath, pleasant, easy to enjoy, nothing revolutionary. There’s a nice pine needle smell which I couldn’t initially put my finger on (had to look up that one), that thankfully stays away from floor cleaner territory. I like pine, and it adds a really nice green-ness to the lemon pie.

There’s lots of vanilla in the base, which is most likely providing the creaminess, along with some amber. There’s a little sandalwood in there too, just solidifying that base a tad more.

Gypsy Water remains relatively linear, the lemon pie notes go a little flat, as does the pine needles. What remains after a short while is a slightly musky, vanilla/amber base. Pleasant enough. Some very pale incense creeps in after about 15 minutes which also takes this away from gourmand territory, along with a handful of pepper who’s spiciness doesn’t really match with the rest of the fragrance.
This is the first Byredo I’ve worn on skin (had some quick sniffs in store recently and I will try to sample more of the line) and I know they don’t really have the best reputation in consistency. I will need to try M/Mink as that seems to be the only one that might captivate me enough.

Sorry I’m going off topic there. So yes, Gypsy Water… a pleasant lemon pie and vanilla pudding fragrance, slightly boosted by some green pine and pale, creamy woods. It’s ok, and that’s about all. I wouldn’t recommend it… but it’s a safe, easy to wear fragrance that is just “nice” and not much else.

Byredo Gypsy Water 50ml EDP – £88 from byredo.com

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Skai – Comme Des Garcons

Skai is part of the discontinued 6th series by Comme des Garcons – The Synthetic Series. The only 3 that I’ve managed to sniff are Skai, Tar and Garage. To be honest, they all disappointed me, I expected very great things. Garage to me had the most interesting opening, but the drydown was a mediocre, minty cologne. Tar was very mild on me (only used one spray though), and Skai I had heard rave things about, and although it didn’t captivate me straight away, I bought it in store.

So, really this is my most recent purchase (along with the 2011 Eau De Parfum by Comme des Garcons which I reviewed earlier this year. I fell in love with it completely since then and NEEDED a bottle), and I hope to love it as much as many do, but it may take some time.


Skai is designed to smell like fresh PVC and plastic. I’ve read it being compared to plastic blow up swimming pools, magazines – all sorts really. The thing is with a lot of these synthetic compounds used in mass in lots of the Comme des Garcons fragrances is that they are so unidentifiable everyone can come up with their own crazy interpretations of what they smell like, and I like that.

For me, Skai opens with a very synthetic citrus, not all too different from the type of industrial citrus used in Askew by Humiecki & Graef, but they smell completely different of course. Instantly, the PVC notes do come through, but they’re not like I initially imaged. Instead they smell slightly sweaty and actually a little bit more natural than I thought. The inital feel for me is quite herbal, and this persists for the rest of the fragrance.

Skai isn’t a projection monster, even from the first spray, you do catch whiffs of it for a few hours but it gets more and more subtle as time goes on. Obviously it’s really hard to describe this fragrance as it is pretty much made up entirely of synthetic notes and compounds, which I have very limited experience in. So I’ll have to do this a bit visually – use your imagination here.

Skai does smell like PVC plastic, but it’s not sharp or harsh (like I kind of wanted it to be), instead it’s relatively muted, and if you have smelt Odeur 71 you will see the resemblance. It does have that kind of electronical equiptment fuzzy feel to it, if that makes sense, however underneath these notes, it’s a sweaty/herbal men’s cologne. I have used the word sweaty twice, as to me, this fragrance doesn’t smell clean at all like it is supposed to, instead it’s quite grubby and oily – similar to the oily notes in Garage. I can’t define the herbal thing I get at all, but it’s just… herbal, in a kind of Chinese medicine shop way. There’s also a little bit of tar in here, just making the whole thing feel slightly smoked and warm.

Underneath all this is a slightly leathery, musty/plastic-y smell which is pretty masculine. It’s ok. It’s not as strange and as adventurous as I wanted it to be, and I hope I will learn to appreciate it more the more I wear it. I’ll revist the others in the line and may end up with some more of them (becuase if you can find them, they’re so darn cheap!).

For now, my favourite synthetic and favourite CdG, remains to be the new 2011 EDP. However, whilst in Dover Street Market, I tried Tea from the Leaves Series 1… I think this will be my next CdG purchase, it’s fantastic (and smells like bandages).

Anyway, enough rambling. All in all… interesting enough to make me write a review.

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Serge Lutens – Miel De Bois & Smell Bent – Hansel & Dreidel

Honey.
This is the theme of this post. I’d include Indochine in here… but I already reviewed it.

I chose this as a topic for two reasons: No.1 – I realised I hadn’t reviewed Miel De Bois on here! Which was my first Lutens’ purchase and my first introduction to honey dominated fragrances. No.2 – Hansel & Dreidel was my blind choice for my Smell Bent voucher… but I’ll go into that mistake later.

I love the smell of honey, it’s rich, sickly sweet (generally) and very human. I have only recently understood the relationship to urine with honey fragrances, but I don’t always find it off putting. I find honey to be more sweaty sometimes, it has a breathy like quality to it that’s kind of off-putting, but really sexy at the same time (myrrh does the same thing for me).
I’d love to include Maison Francis Kurkdijan’s Absolue Pour Le Soir in here, but, I don’t have a sample to refresh my memory.

Anyway, onto my little reviews:

Miel De Bois‘s sharp, hot honey flies off the skin and stings your nose as soon as it exits the bottle. Just as you recover from this a barrage of wood splinters attack you on top. It’s intensity is extreme, almost so sweet it becomes bitter? It hits the back of your throat and your nose with a rugged and masculine texture.

The volume turns down just a couple notches, as a musty “old-book” smell creeps in (maybe dry sandalwood?). It is here, that the pissy notes come forth…
So, I have owned this fragrance now for 8/9 months (updating this post 08/07/12), and only have I in the last few weeks began to pick up the intense, infamous urine of this fragrance. I never understood it or detected it before – I expected it to smell like fresh pee and I never got the association. However, as dreadful as this sounds, I passed a homeless man in a subway on my way back from the gym the other week, and he smelt exactly like the intense honey in Miel De Bois… it is the scent of hot, dried, old urine – yes, it’s ugly, but in a fragrance’s orchestrated composition? - it’s hilariously fascinating (and wearable).
The urinous honey is hot, and sweet, but counterbalanced by the bitterest of cedar splinters. Miel De Bois is a challenging fragrance of dramatic textures.

The honey in Miel De Bois isn’t the thick, creamy set honey like in Indochine, it is sheer but sharp. I always get the visual image in my head of wood smeared in honey and left in the sun, until it is radiant and amber in colour. The piercing scent is that of Miel De Bois – it’s raw and animal, still with a screeching volume.

The fragrance is relatively linear, but constantly morphs between the dominating honey and cedar on the skin. The play between the notes is fascinating to wear, and it never full becomes comfortable. The late dry-down sees the sharp edges of the woods, sanded off into a smoother tone, and the honey cooling slightly, gaining a bit of opacity and taking on the breathy quality I described earlier. I also find that Miel De Bois feels damp on my skin, maybe a continuation of the mildew like musty notes I get during the opening.

I hope I haven’t put you off with my reference to homeless men and pissypants… I love this scent - it was my first ever blind buy and I got it for an amazing deal on eBay. My vintage 50ml spray bottle is treasured and I feel very lucky to have it in my small collection. It is without a doubt a must-try for honey lovers, and a one of a kind scent for the brave.

After my thrill of trying out my sample pack by Smell Bent, I did something really stupid. If you’ve read my post, you’ll know that I absolutely adored a couple of the scents, and was insistent that I absolutely loved Totem Eclipse, and I still do – an outstanding earthy, wet wood that verges on unwearable (fantastic!). I also thoroughly enjoyed Mountain High.
However, in a burst of spontaneity and excitement I came up with the crazy idea that “Well, I have a voucher for a full bottle, I might as well blind buy one so I can enjoy more of the line and buy one of these ones I’ve tried when the samples run out!”. God knows why and I desperately wish I just bought my Totem Eclipse…

Anyway, my choice was Hansel & Dreidel. With notes of honey, wheat, baking spices and musk, I thought it would be a great honey fragrance that I would reach for more and use on a regular basis. The baking spices – I imagined a nice sprinkling of cinnamon, but it would be dominated more by a savoury wheat note with Brent’s signature filthy musk in the base. That’s the thing with blind buying, you just imagine what it will be like – it’s impossible to do.

Hansel & Dreidel opens with a pleasant, oriental mix of spices and sweet, clear honey. The bucket loads of spices are gourmand “Christmas-y” notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger etc. It brings to mind spiced cakes, eggnog, and candles. There’s a thick kind of cocoa note going on in there too but I think that’s more of an impression of the sweetness and the wheat. The wheat in there is really delicate and gives it a very nice bread-y texture, with a slight powdery edge.

Unfortunately, I completely forgot that one of the most popular baking spices, is clove. Yes I go on about clove all the time as though it’s in everything! But it does seem to spring up on me on everything in even the smallest doses. I hate cloves and of course, this is the baking variety of cloves, not the medicinal dentist office clove like in Stephen Jones which I can just about put up with. The cloves come on pretty strong within the first few minutes, and once I detect them I struggle to let it go. However, they do begin to disappear from a distance, and become more subtle the more you search for the notes surrounded the shiny black spice.

Hansel & Dreidel has a lovely distant sillage from the first spritz where the honey appears thicker and very tame – it is up close that the spices and the cloves dominate.  The spice basket is all too much for me – but the wheat helps to keep the fragrance wearable, bringing to mind Bois Farine given a Starbucks makeover.

However, the more I wear Hansel & Dreidel, the more I enjoy it. I began to notice the sillage throughout the day reminded me of a German Christmas cake and I slowly began to appreciate the fragrance as a whole – rather than the notes I don’t enjoy. The honey treatment here is completely different from Miel De Bois. Whilst the late drydown of H&D has a dense, mild honey (more reminiscent of Indochine’s), the opening is as equally sheer as the Lutens’ work, but without the urinous intensity and given a more gourmand/spiced angle. They are both lovely honey’s, but I prefer the upfront scream of the Lutens’.

The drydown brings in a little musk, and a thick, heavy sandalwood – paired with the honey, it also brings to mind a more heavily spiced Jeux De Peau, without the apricot.
The fragrance is lovely if spice dominated scents are your cup of tea (I ended up selling this bottle as it wasn’t mine!), and the honey is used to perfection – not too sweet, not too thick, not too animalic etc. I have a great deal of respect for the Smell Bent line and this is just another example of Brent Leonesio’s wonderfully creativity.
For now I’m happy with my Miel De Bois, and whilst I don’t reach for it so often – maybe I’ll soon discover another lovely honey that’s a little more wearable and won’t scare anyone on my train to work.

Serge Lutens Miel De Bois 75ml Bell Jar – 125 Euros from sergelutens.com
Smell Bent Hansel & Dreidel 50ml EDT – $45 smellbent.com (only available until the end of February)

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Parfumerie Generale – Intrigant Patchouli

Having tried a few Parfumerie Generale scents recently, I am now beginning to see what an incredible line this is, and I have dismissed it for so long :(

I have a love/hate kind of thing going on with patchouli. My mum loves patchouli, and I guess because of that, I’ve grown to really like it. Sometimes though I see it as too stuffy, or maybe sometimes too boring. I find it hard to find a patchouli dominated scent which I think “Yes I’d love to wear that” and instead am more often saying “Ooh I like that, I wouldn’t wear it though”.

This fragrance however falls between both categories, I guess I’m not used to wearing a patchouli which is why I would be hesitant, however, it is without a doubt the best patchouli dominated perfume I have smelt to date.

A blinding, tart floral and citrus blast opens Intrigant Patchouli but then instantly up shoots a dark… very dark patchouli and intense animalic civet… WOW. It’s an amazing opening. It smells like the richest oriental composition imaginable, almost to a point of being completely unwearable.

Some ginger spices up the patchouli, but the general feel is a dark, leafy, completely un-hippyish patchouli with amazingly rich animal tones merged with it. The animalic sweetness reminds me of Absolue Pour Le Soir by Maison Francis Kurkdijan, but this is very different (much better!). Castoreum adds a nutty and earthy sweetness to it – I keep mentioning the sweetness, but trust me it is completely counter balanced by the bitter green.

I really love this. The underlying woody/resinous support appears to be a deep, crumbly amber and musk, along with a wood that I can’t be specific on. Intrigant Patchouli remains relatively linear throughout its life, staying rich, full and unbelievably luxurious throughout. It does however (and thankfully) slightly mellow out to a level of less projection and more comfort – if it stayed like the opening, I think no matter how divine, it would be almost unwearable. An hour on, the fragrance has a slight translucency to it and it seems to just radiate off the skin: a musty patchouli, rich animalics and heady florals (mainly jasmine I think).

The overall effect is a classic yet completely modern oriental, with every aspect of the drydown boosted up x100. A sophisticated, daring and completely captivating fragrance which I will definitely own in the near future.

Parfumerie Generale Intrigant Patchouli 50ml EDP – £81.50 Les Senteurs

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Etat Libre D’Orange – Fils De Dieu / Philippine Houseboy

EXCITING STUFF!

I managed to get myself a sneaky sample, from the very generous Nick Gilbert, of Etat Libre D’Orange’s new release Fils De Dieu.

Now as for the name, it was originally published that this scent would be called Philippine Houseboy… Awesome name! Then most likely due to all the moaning from over-sensitive perfumsita folk, the scent was renamed Fils De Dieu, or, Son of God, which is pretty much just as offensive. Anyway, I was told by Nick that the bottles would be available with both names, which hopefully is true as his official sample bottle was titled Philippine Houseboy… I need a bottle of that!

Anyway, on to the scent: I don’t want to read a list of notes, but it basically reads like a Thai curry, ginger, citrus fruits, rice, coconut and the like. But I’m not gonna let that sway me too much and will just tell you what it smells like!

Fils De Dieu du riz et des agrumes opens with bright tangy citrus fruits of limes, oranges and lemons. Pretty quickly a creamy pudding type of note creeps up underneath it. It doesn’t smell curry-ish at all, and instead is rather dessert like, but not foody enough to be considered edible.

There’s something slightly green to it, which smells like lemongrass? Or maybe some type of green herb, it’s not all that savoury though. Underneath these much paler citrus fruits, creamy – what is now- rice notes, is a musky leather which helps to take this out of green curry territory.
There is ginger in this, which isn’t as prominent as in Like This by ELdO, but it provides a spicy, unusual kick to it.

A slightly metallic note joins in after about 10-15 minutes, and is slightly reminiscent to that found in Secretions Magnifique only without the sour milk and nowhere near as intense. The two scents do share similarities, but Fils De Dieu is not difficult to wear and instead, instantly comforting and unusual.

The coconut and rice notes get more prominent in the drydown, with the metallic edge keeping the whole thing not too foody; any citrus notes have now turned into a definite lemongrass type accord – delicate and subtle.
The scent isn’t particularly sweet, and I wouldn’t consider it a gourmand, but I guess in sorts it is a kind of “savoury gourmand” which is really well executed.

I really enjoy this, it would be fantastic in the summer if you want something refreshing, without being aquatic or sporty, it is instead refreshing yet somehow creamy and warm at the same time. 

The late drydown of this isn’t quite as captivating as the opening or the heart of the fragrance, but it’s still unusual enough to catch a compliment or two.
I’m pretty sure I’ll buy a bottle of this, I love the brand, I love the name, and Fils De Dieu is like nothing I own (or would generally consider owning), but it is an extremely easy to wear scent that I think particularly in the warmer months I would reach for regularly.

On a side note, I also got a quick sniff of Bijou Romantique, the other new release by Etat Libre D’Orange, but it wasn’t instantly catchy enough for me to ask for a sample. As I remember though it’s a lovely floral bouquet in a classical style of perfumery, quite safe for ELdO, but an interesting addition to their line which I’m sure will be a very good seller for them. I’ll try it out properly in time.

Etat Libre D’Orange Fils De Dieu 50ml - 65 Euros from etatlibredorange.com, will be available at Les Senteurs soon!

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Parfum D’Empire – Cuir Ottoman

When I first joined Basenotes, I asked the strangers at the time to form their opinion on my scent tastes from the many designer and few niche fragrances I had explored, including my beloved Boudoir by Vivienne Westwood, and my taste of animalics, leathers, and powdery florals.

One of the first suggestions, and one repeated over and over, was Cuir Ottoman…
I ignored this numerous times, even when given the opportunity to sniff it at Les Senteurs, I thought “I don’t like the bottle… It’ll smell old-fashioned”. Obviously this is when I was much more immature (not that long ago :’)).

Only in December 2011 did I pick this up and give it a spray. It blew me away, it was perfect.

Cuir Ottoman blasts open with a beautiful, creamy and slightly barnyard-y leather. Rough, slightly animalic and potent yet soft as suede. A leather opening full of textures, dusted with a vanillic sweetness to make it comfortable.

The leather in Cuir Ottoman is absolutely exquisite, it is so luxurious and soft that it becomes almost gourmand and edible. 
The vanilla retreats to come out later, and the leather is joined with a powdery iris, subtle in comparison to the leather, I hardly perceive it as “iris and leather”, it is impeccably blended to a point where even I struggle to find the iris’ scent. The textured combination is beautiful, the orris “perfuming” the leather, enhancing it’s suede quality and pushing the harsher elements of the opening out of the composition from here on.

Almost caramelized but not sugary, the leather is soaked in resins with some vanilla and tonka providing that creamy backdrop which provides the base to this fragrance, you’ll find it gleaming strong over 12 hours later. Some delicate, sweet incense floats around in the foreground too, a subtle trail of smoke throughout. A drop of jasmine sambac sits in the heart – adding to Cuir Ottoman’s rich opulence.

As I said earlier, this lasts forever – and I find that personally, after numerous hours this just becomes the most beautiful skin scent imaginable. It is smooth, suede like, and ridiculously soft – the sweet benzoin and leather on the skin makes it sweet and a little dirty. Great value, exceptional quality, and perfect from start to finish.

The most expensive smelling, and one of the best, leather scents available – hugely recommended.

Parfum D’Empire Cuir Ottoman 100ml - £84.50 Les Senteurs

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Etat Libre D’Orange – Charogne & Jasmin et Cigarette

Two Etat Libre D’Orange reviews here.

I love this brand, I’m desperate to own more from this brand and can’t wait to try the two new scents released this year – Bijou Romantique and Fils de Dieu (I wish for that last one they kept the original name Phillipine Houseboy – :’) genius).

Anyway, onto these ones:

Charogne or Carrion isn’t quite as horrific as the name would imply :’)  It has its crude elements though…

Charogne opens with a bright bubblegum note with some hugely synthetic candied florals which decay instantly before your nose. These bitter petals are riddled with an intense indolic accord that smells slightly soiled, but not repulsive.

After a minute or two when you get your head around the decayed flowers and bubblegum, a creamy vanilla comes in to add even more sweetness to Charogne. This is quickly joined by some musk that is slightly animalic and dusty. As you can tell, there’s quite a lot going on in this, but it’s all in order and doesn’t feel messy.

The white flowers (mainly jasmine) remain indolic and decayed which you have to appreciate when wearing this because it’s the only thing de-sweetening the composition. The vanilla is lovely and cosy, as is the musk, and bizarrely the whole fragrance comes across as delicious! Not quite a corpse as the name would leave us to believe, but still not your average musky floral.

As this begins to settle down even more, I smell slight similarities to both Kenzo Amour and Hypnotic Poison, just because of the comforting vanilla/musty-ness that they both have. If you like either of those fragrances I’d definitely recommend giving this one a try!

Yet another great fragrance from Etat Libre D’Orange :)

Jasmin et Cigarette literally opens with a huge, tacky blast of jasmine. I love jasmine, but I prefer it gleamingly over-the-top luxurious like in Lust by Gorilla Perfumes. The little white florals in Jasmin et Cigarette remind me of the lightly fragranced petals in jasmine green tea. It’s much more green and… dull.

These flowers get a little stronger, verging on bathroom air freshener point. If you thought it couldn’t get any worse, just as you get used to the jasmine, in comes the cigarette note. It’s not beautiful rich tobacco, or even mellow cigar smoke; instead it is fag ash and breath, or at least that’s what image it puts in my mind. The cigarette note is dirty, unappealing, and makes that jasmine note that little bit tackier.

The reason I use the description “breath” is because this scent reminds me of really bad breath. Working as a body piercer and being in close proximity with people’s mouths (and other bits) on a regular basis, I get my fair share of horrendous breath. People getting their tongue pierced right after devouring their breakfast, coffee and a cigarette is a day-to-day thing, and it’s probably the worst smell in the world :’)
Jasmin et Cigarette reminds me of this. It doesn’t smell of food or whatever, it’s just unpleasant; I find it just as uncomfortable to wear as Secretions Magnifique and for me, unwearable.

The florals tone down slightly as does the dirty smokiness, what remains is a boring but ugly jasmin soliflore fragrance.
Re-reading what I have written makes it sound extremely challenging or complex, but Jasmin et Cigarette is for many, very easy to wear. The cigarette note isn’t overpowering and a lot of people don’t even detect it, but to me, the images it brings to mind are grimmer than the actual fragrance. If you’re a jasmine lover however, it’s worth a try.

Etat Libre D’Orange Charogne & Jasmin et Cigarette 50ml available from Les Senteurs – £52.50

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Le Labo – Oud 27

This sample was part of my minor oud exploration, I will do a much more in depth one shortly, I need an oud!
This is also the first Le Labo sample I’ve ordered, I took a brief sniff over at the counter in Liberty on my last visit to London, relatively impressed, but Le Labo wasn’t my mission for the day then :P

I’ve heard very mixed things about Le Labo, I don’t personally see the appeal in the labels printed when you go and buy your juice, and it filled infront of you, not really even a novelty for me unfortunately.
I do however quite like the bottles, very formal, like science equiptment, that’s more novel.

Oud 27 opens with a sour, medicinal oud and a bunch of lovely animalic notes. I say lovely becuase they are filthy and grubby, not really because they smell lovely. It is musty, dirty and intense, with some beautiful saffron glowing upfront. I love this opening becuase I love oud, animalics - and saffron is an awesomely under used spice in perfumery.
These notes slop around each other messily for a short while before settling into a neat order. The oud is still barnyard-y and some dark woods creep in from underneath. It smells somewhat familiar, and kind of reminds me of a dirtier/oud-y version of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Dzing – without the vanilla.

I find it a really easy wear, even though it is described by pretty much everyone as challenging. I’ve heard “unwashed hair” and “fecal” just as some of the descriptions – to be honest, they’re kind of true, but not as unpleasant as the literal smell. Also Turin describes Oud 27 as “inky” which I kind of understand, but there’s some much else going on, ink is the last thing I think of.

Once the sour aspects die down significantly, what’s left is a very pleasant, dirty oud wood (not that designer band-aid style) along with a group of other murky woods, still the faintest whisp of saffron or at least the feel of it from the start, and some much more subtle animalics. It retains the original shocking skank of the beginning but now more wearable and woodsy. It’s a fun fragrance, and I would like to try out some more Le Labo’s. There’s just something about the brand that I don’t find appealing, then again, I made that mistake with Parfum D’Empire, and now have discovered some utterly wonderful fragrances and some of my favourites.

All in all, worth a sniff! A really “cool” take on an oud fragrance in a time where a standout is much needed within it’s category – not “my” oud though unfortunately. The hunt continues…

Le Labo Oud 27 - 50 ml – £90 RRP available from lelabofragrances.com

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