Monthly Archives: December 2012

En Passant – Frederic Malle

En Passant

En Passant is a lilac – instantly a sweet, almost violet tinged lilac: delicately aquatic and pollen heavy. It’s a true to life representation of a bush of flowers, just a subtle tinge of greenery and a light but heady aroma. I love the literal “pollen” notes, its texture is damp and dewy and it’s emotion completely innocent and joyful – I really like it!

The thing that concerns me about En Passant is that at times I think it merely smells like a good body wash or a hand soap – only when I stop and think about what I’m sniffing do I find it interesting. This becomes more apparent as a cucumber aquatic note and a hint of melon come in, drenching the lilacs in a densely synthetic blob with a slight sunscreen vibe. I hunt for the infamous “wheat” notes, and whilst I do get it, I find it to be almost a mirage, easy to go unnoticed.

The lilac accord seems to be a combination of lilac, rose and lily, with maybe a very subtle orange blossom too? It sounds like a bouquet but it’s blended into a pretty blunt soliflore – and whilst I really like the outcome, it’s partnering notes unfortunately make it a little too simplistic to keep me keen.

The aquatic overload does settle down thankfully – but still: the minimalistic combination, the delicate quality of the almost laundry-esque lilac accord and the awkward calone style “filler”, keeps En Passant uncomfortably balancing on the line of “very lovely” and “smells like hand wash”.
I have a little 10ml bottle of this and I will never need more – at times it does exactly what I want: practically not exist or project on my skin so that I can enjoy wearing perfume without really having to smell it – a very very rare occasion but one that pops up once in a blue moon.

A very lovely, naturally heady aroma of a lilac bush meets a loud fabric softener… an unusual combination of lilac, wheat and cucumber meets a slightly soapy, synthetic creamy scent almost unidentifiably “floral”… the pros balance out the cons so I shall define it as “nice”.

En Passant 50ml Frederic Malle – £90 http://www.liberty.co.uk

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SMELLYTHOUGHTS What I Bought Giveaway WINNER!

New Bottles

Selected via Random.org:

The winner of the 8 x 1ml samples is:

!!! poodle !!!

Please email me (email address on the “About Me” section) with your postage details and I’ll get the samples shipped out to you asap!
Congratulations! :D

Thanks to everyone who entered, keep your eyes peeled more giveaways to come soon.

Merry Christmas and congrats on surviving the apocalypse

xxx

M/Mink – Byredo

M/Mink

M/Mink starts with an absolute, horrific overload of aldehydes – no, not the gorgeously rich, floral/citrus Chanel style aldehydes; Adoxal - a material I haven’t smelt in its raw form, but I believe it practically is here. Adoxal smells waxy, intense, sour, heavily marine (almost verging on fishy). It has a balmy/lemony quality which soon reveals an overtly intense incense, not at all comfortable in volume, texture, or scent. It’s texture turns to liquid: black, murky and pungent – the perfect ink representation.

But, it’s settling… it morphs and changes, floating around on your skin as the discomfort and intensity begins to disperse and evaporate, leaving behind something difficult, but much more approachable… just. The incense is potent, as described before – balmy with a true “lemony” quality. It’s not the normal incense variety I’m fond of, it reminds me of the note in Comme Des Garcons 2 Man – only I don’t particularly like that fragrance. The salty, literal marine notes still sit underneath, crystallizing into a more solid form that almost “crackle” on the skin.

Patchouli plays a leading role, but it’s crisp, clear, stuffy yet almost translucent. There’s nothing “headshop-y” about it whatsoever. It has a leafy quality to it like a freshly picked handful of the plant, roots and all, with maybe a hint of vetiver adding to the earthy/saltiness.
But the texture isn’t right, there’s something morphing it into something bizarre: beeswax. A completely de-sweetened honey note adds a pungent aroma that swallows the entire composition of M/Mink in a thick, greasy layer of cloying warmth and an unwelcome bitterness. The honey’s use is hugely animalic, yet not at all “pissy” as in my favourites Miel De Bois and Delivre Moi (yet to review): paired with a warm amber underneath it has this soiled, “breathy” quality that smells unclean and literally “sticky”.

M/Mink Advertisement

There is something floral going on underneath though – the only trace of anything “perfume-y” desperate for attention whilst buried neck-deep in the “ink”. Is it rose? Jasmine? Maybe it’s hyacinth? It’s something… made a mere sparkle by the crisp patchouli that helps to bring it out. But it’s completely blurred, unnoticeable and unimportant – it hardly has a contribution but it’s nice to know it’s there.
The sourness still rises to the surface every now and again, along with marine/driftwood notes, metallic elements, waxy textures and animalic musk. It sounds like hell in a bottle right? It sort of is… but it’s undeniably compelling. The thing is, yes, the first spray of M/Mink is almost unbearable-y difficult, but it’s drydown whilst extremely impossible to wear when broken down – combines into a relatively harmonious blend that is somehow mysterious, soulless, and utterly fascinating.

It’s mystery is what keeps me hugely interested, because even from afar it’s complicated personality is evident and I find that almost meditative. But M/Mink isn’t all a challenge, within half an hour to an hour, your nose has got through the worst, and what is on the end is more approachable, even enjoyable. Enjoyable sounds boring, it sounds like it is merely “good” – but if you’ve made it this far, M/Mink is “great”! And by “great” I mean it’s actually a lovely smell. The patchouli/incense/amber leads – which makes it sound like a thousand other fragrances out there, but with the still-potent residue of marine notes and the muted, unsettling beeswax, what it manages to create is something completely original and perplexing. At this point it’s not at all difficult, yet it remains avant-garde and completely unfamiliar – fascinating to wear with an aura of abstract beauty. A brilliant fragrance.

M/Mink 50ml EDP Byredo – £88 www.liberty.co.uk

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Bosque – Humiecki & Graef: The Essay

Bosque

Bosque constantly has my mind rattling. Ever since I wrote my first impressions of it, I have never forgotten it – but then I have bought bottles and bottles of other fragrances since then and never Bosque. I’ve always tried to wonder what it is in there that I truly love, why does it have the effect of pure joy as it advertises…

Everyone says Bosque is the easiest to wear of the Humiecki & Graef line… the most generic, the least risqué in a line-up of fragrances with complicated personalities that take unexpected directions. Bosque is the most complicated to me, emotionally at least.

What opens Bosque is a bright, dewy, pastel yellow shade of dried grass, hay – a handful of saffron and an indescribable floral accord listed as “primrose and daffodil” – it’s perfect, it brings to mind exactly that: natural weeds, common flowers – things with a subtle beauty that go unnoticed amongst grander florals. There is citrus, a slightly bitter grapefruit that acts as a “lift” rather than a scent – and I love that. Since when has “joy and contentment” (the emotional concept of this fragrance) been about tangy citrus’ and fluorescent roses and indolic jasmine – these notes are so often used to create this “mood lifting” scent. Here, the opening is joyous – but in a way like no other. It’s a memory scent – the almost mundane smell of weeds and subtle florals, subtle not in the sense of their volume on the skin but rather the lack of power (scent) these flowers actually produce. The saffron a surreal spice inclusion – it’s always a mysterious ingredient and tints the fragrance in an olfactory shade, similarly to how it literally tints food in its culinary uses.

The grass? It’s not the “I love the smell of fresh-cut grass” effect, because it’s not like that at all – it’s dried, yet again a subtle aura of an almost unnoticed natural aroma given a limelight. It’s bathed in dew and sunlight but with such little lift and lack of “sparkle”. It is instantly muted – a relaxed, meditative joy. But this totally isn’t my sort of thing is it? Since when do I like such a relaxed, “happy” perfume? Maybe that’s one of the reasons I find Bosque more challenging than others – I’m not used to this emotion in the opening, and because of that, it almost unsettles me on first spray. How can it do this? Well – it can easily because so many people experience these “happy” perfumes, maybe I just choose not to hunt for them. But happy for me isn’t the imaginary flower garden and tart “fresh” citrus, and Bosque isn’t at all fresh, even from the get go – but then it’s not exactly soiled or dirty either. There is a subtly animalic/human element from afar from the initial blast… maybe it’s a mirage… the saffron? Something more sinister underneath?

Daffodils

What comes next is where it all gets confusing – a Secretions Magnifique metallic/salty/lactonic element. I’ve always loved the heart of Secretions Magnifique – and not its heart in terms of the construction, but more what it’s trying to achieve with its contrasting textures and elements. However, as I stated in my Secretions Magnifique review – it’s all too much. The idea is blown overboard by making it excessively loud and amping up the unsettling notes to an uncomfortable pitch. Here – the metallic element is subtle but undoubtedly evident, the lactones come in and join the florals and the grass – turning them into a “meadow juice”, like an earthy elixir – whilst the salt combines to make Bosque that touch more savoury and the lactonic note “spermy”. It’s undoubtedly familiar for those who have tried Secretions Magnifique – and it captures everything about the fragrance I love at a level that is far more accessible.

But… how perfect is that! Ironic? No, it has to be intentional: The “joy”, of course – the release! The sexual release, a burst of salty, milky, sperm – it’s not literal of course, it’s the concept through a magnifying glass – broken down into accords that give the effect perfectly. You start with the most innocent of joys, the natural meadow grass, the delicate wild flowers and the warmth of the sun (saffron/grapefruit) – followed with a more sinister but perfectly fitting blast of sperm. It congeals and morphs without ever being uncomfortable, the glory of the opening slowly blurring and disappearing into the ugly, and human aromas enveloping it. A musk just enhances this even more – a musk that isn’t glowing and white, there may be that subtle hint of laundry and clothes – and sheets, but more so the subtle hint of skin that appeared at the beginning and vanished.
Now, I said ugly… Bosque isn’t ugly, there’s not an ugly thing in here – but it’s like a dirty, unexpected stain across something so harmonious and innocent, but it wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t there. Is it joy now? Most definitely, it always has been – but now I understand it more, it was there at the beginning but I couldn’t see it properly.

The vetiver drags the earth-bound opening into the base, along with the saltiness of the heart. The vetiver is bone dry, gradually soaking up the lactonic/milky notes into a crusty residue – still hinting at the moisture that was once there. It’s overlaid with a signature Humiecki & Graef “weirdness” – an almost chemical blur that verges on Iso E Super. It seems to smell more processed than that – if that’s possible: a cross between the laundry detergent previously mentioned and a more intense cleaning product – an antibacterial cream that merely attempts to scrub up the sexual crust that remains on the skin. Constantly: the memory of the innocence at the start, the true contentment of pure, unnoticed beauty, flickers to the surface of the skin – an almost tear-jerking reminder of what once was and what is now. It’s almost embarrassing. Is that ridiculous? Probably, but Bosque matures as you do – the life of the fragrance is literal, and it tells a story more so than any other fragrance I’ve tried. “A fragrance about contentment” – that’s perfectly true, at the start and at the end at least – once you’ve come to terms with everything in between. Sound familiar? Of course – it is a fragrance so accurately expressing life and emotions it’s overwhelming. Love, contentment, peace, selfishness, joy, guilt – it’s all there, in a harmonious and perfect order.

Bosque

Am I alone here? It seems not – I read one small write up on Katie Puckrick’s blog by a reader who wrote to her regarding Bosque. I’ll quote what he wrote:

“I gather Bosque is H&G’s crowd-pleaser, not only because of all the musk and its accompanying sinus-clearing, steam-cleaned, bracingly fresh freshness (crowds love to be fresh), but because it’s marketed as “a fragrance about contentment”.

I’m not the target for contentment. I’m more content with apprehension, which means Bosque is perfect for me because my fondness for its fresh contentment makes me apprehensive.

In its defence, Bosque isn’t all clean. It also features buffalo grass and vetiver and supposedly some florals that are so pale and quiet, they smell like they’re coming from the perfume on the person across the room from you.

But mostly, Bosque smells clean, like emerging from the chlorinated swimming pool of a desert resort, surrounded by miles of dry grass and nothing else. It’s chlorine and dead grass and while I can’t defend such a thing, I’m hooked on it like its heroin.”

I was relieved to read this – it fits my thoughts perfectly, and I think me and this guy would get along just fine! Although I’m sure we’d drive each other literally insane talking about this fragrance. So what is it about it that is so unsettling? Or is it as this Bosque-fan so cleverly put it “I’m more content with apprehension, which means Bosque… makes me apprehensive”. Ok, so I wouldn’t go as far to say I’m more content with apprehension, but maybe I am in perfume?

This could go on and on and on, and I probably wouldn’t get anywhere. All I can say is – when you smell Bosque (if you haven’t already), don’t expect something extraordinary; maybe in writing this I have destroyed the fragrance due to exceedingly high expectations (for others of course not myself). At the end of the day – it is a perfume, and everyone connects with fragrance differently. It is what it is – a combination of materials, it’s how we interpret them and how we enjoy them that makes a fragrance so special, and personal. For me, Bosque is extraordinary – and it’s a relief to finally own it, I can’t imagine my collection without it already.

I don’t think I will ever figure out Bosque, me and the other quiet ones out there who are struggling to come to terms with it. The most I can do is spray it and enjoy it – personally enjoying the journey and the struggles that go along with it: re-living innocence and the loss of it, finishing in absolute contentment right before it dies peacefully on my skin.

Bosque

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SMELLYTHOUGHTS Back Home… What Did I Get? + A Giveaway!

The REVEAL!
So after my two-week fragrant tour around Europe (which went swimmingly!) – I managed to pick up some goodies on the way (of course).
Here are my somewhat unusual choices if I do say so myself…

New Bottles

Bosque by Humiecki & Graef

I love Bosque. I always have. I got thinking about how people say it is the easiest to wear and the most “generic” of the H&G line – I completely disagree, but maybe that’s my mindset. I’ve planned this big friggin’ essay on Bosque that I’ve been working on and am looking forward to posting, it might be a bit ridiculous for most people to read but it’ll be there anyway :P
Bosque is a dried grassy/floral with really bizarre floral notes I might add… it dries down to this bizarrely salty/milky/spermy? accord undercut with vetiver, it’s extremely unusual, absolutely beautiful and I’m thrilled to finally have it.

M/Mink by Byredo

I had tried this one before but only on paper. I thought it was absolutely disgusting. However, as soon as it hit my skin in the store in Germany, I got this blast of animalic musk and an intensely synthetic aldehyde combo that still, turned my stomach a bit. But as it dried down and the bitter, set honey, dark incense and unsettling inky notes came in, I found it completely captivating. I’m not sure whether I’ll wear M/Mink much, but I knew it had to be in my collection – it fits an empty spot. It’s both intimate and completely soul-less – brilliant!

Miriam by Tableau de Parfums

Miriam is an incredible fragrance, a modern vintage classic that carries a true Andy Tauer signature. It’s such an emotional fragrance, beautiful, elegant and timeless – full of interesting twists and turns that take it in unexpected directions. It evokes such strong memories and emotions with me and is a real “homely” fragrance – it is pure bliss. I have written my big review on this so I don’t need to write much more, but I feel like I can sigh relief with a smile now I have it.

Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens

I knew I was going to get this one – it’s the most perfect iris (soliflore?) fragrance I’ve smelt. Full of carrots, powder, clove, earth and blahhhhhh it’s just great. A cold, calming, haunting perfume that has been on “the list” for far too long now. I needed it!

Rahat Loukhoum by Serge Lutens

Now here’s a weird one ey? Well… after my deep exploration of the exclusives line both outside of the Palais Royal and during my visit, I decided to pick up this one again for a quick sniff – having reviewed it many months ago after I had a slight obsession with it before smelling it. I loved it all over again – cherry, marzipan cakey goodness. But before, I was disappointed with the drydown – it lost the cherries, it lost the sweetness – it became a subtle skin scent that just hovered on my skin in a light, slightly powdered layer of vanilla, rose, musk and almond. The thing is, right now – this part appeals to me just as much. It is the ultimate comfort scent and I’d love to fall asleep to it. But also, It is the perfect fragrance to wear when you don’t know what to wear – something that will just within an hour or two melt into your skin in a delicate sweet layer that smells like a part of you – just a little more yummy. Thoughtless, elegant, edible? but necessary! I had to buy it. It alters my mind completely on first sniff – a complete joy.

Rubj by Vero Profumo

Rubj is one of the greatest florals created… in my opinion of course. As Judas as it is to say, I love the EDP more than the extrait… now, I adore the extrait, it’s beautiful – but the crisp green quality and the tart passionfruit in the EDP just tips the scale for me and could literally make me faint in adoration of this fragrance. An overwhelmingly gorgeous perfume that I almost feel is too good for me to wear, but when I wear it I feel incredible – and that’s what a real perfume should do! A necessity.

Leva by O’Driu

I have always wanted an O’Driu - but thought I didn’t like any of them enough to own – and the price is indeed terrifying. Leva always gets put down a bit in the lineup as being too sweet, too light, and too unlike the other O’Driu’s - I can’t disagree with that enough. Leva is a powerhouse on me, holding a typical O’Driu signature up top with THE MOST intense lemongrass and green olive combo which smells like a dense, pungent almost vinegar-laden oil on the skin. But the thing that captivates me the most is its perfect development (using only naturals I believe). The olives burn off after half an hour or so, the pungent lemongrass undercut by the greatest vanilla I have smelt. I struggle with vanilla so this is a big deal for me. Difficult to wear, but a real piece of art work.

Fracas by Robert Piguet

Ok I’m lying a bit here, this was a gift from the Robert Piguet house, but I came back to it from my holiday so I’m including it :P After all, it is a new bottle. I do love Fracas – a playful ditsy tuberose that I can splash on in abandon and roll around smelling of candies and cream – all buttered up in creamy white florals! Of course, there’s more to it than that, but I’ll be sure to write something a little more mature about it soon :)

So yes! There you have it. What do you guys think? Did I do good? :D

THE GIVEAWAY – NOW CLOSED!!!
(the real reason you’re reading this)

So one lucky reader can win a 1ml sample of each of my new goodies!
All you have to do is subscribe/follow (if you haven’t already!), let me know which one takes your fancy the most, AND – LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK OF THEM!!
I love feedback, negative and all, don’t be afraid to tell me you hate something that’s part of the fun :P But it sucks to send people stuff and never hear from them again – just saying ;)
I’ll announce the winner next Sunday: 23/12/2012 so make sure you come back and check because people keep forgetting to collect their goodies :(

Winner announced here!

Thanks for the support everyone

Freddie <3

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SMELLYTHOUGHTS’ In Rome… Day 14

Hello :)

Ok so I had a really short stay in Rome and it’s almost over now (I leave early tomorrow morning). Perfume wise, there’s only one place I’m gonna be talking about really and that’s CampoMarzio70.
CampoMarzio70 helped me out a lot on my blog I think, sending samples of the O’Driu line and the Vero Profumo line to me when I was just a few months into my blog – it introduced me to a whole new world of perfumery and their help, support, and friendly contact was hugely appreciated.
Vero gave me some names to get in touch with when I got to Rome so my experience at CampoMarzio70 on Via Vittoria was awesome :D
(P.s I don’t know why there’s a black blob on all my photos, something on my lens :( Ow)

CampoMarzio70

So the Via Vittoria store is spacious, every brand has its own column and you can work around and try everything you want without an ounce of pressure for a sale. It’s a perfect environment to sniff – with brands such as Mona Di Orio, April Aromatics, O’Driu, Kilian, Grossmith, Caron, Agonist, YOSH, Vero Profumo, Xerjoff… the list is endless. They have 3 stores (the Via Vittoria was my favourite). The Via Vittoria store specialises in more obscure, higher end niche and hard to find fragrances (or shall we say most expensive!), the other two stores Campo Marzio and the Pantheon store are a little smaller and more traditional with many more brands encompassing Byredo, L’Artisan etc. etc. Tons too many to mention.

The staff at Via Vittoria where I spent most of my time were extremely helpful (unfortunately I can’t remember everyone’s names but they all had their knowledge to impart!) but Serena Bonfatti showed me around the shop, introduced me to all the lines and arranged that the owner’s son Valentino Di Liello and us all had a little chat about the store and the concept etc. There doesn’t seem to be any other stores in Italy specialising in such a display and collection of such outstanding fragrances – the concept of course being a collection of artworks that are there to be sniffed and experienced, and not for quick sale (there are tons of perfumeries in Italy – being like the general pharmacy stores in Britain).

Pantheon

Upstairs is some more exclusive fragrances that I got to go and have a look at, a selection of O’Driu’s, numerous classical extraits I hadn’t really heard of, the Grossmith and Xerjoff collections… it was beautiful. The shop is similar to Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie in Harrods, only a little less clostraphobic and just as interested in modern, avant-garde perfumery as it is classic.

The staff are highly knowledgeable about each line and I learnt the concepts behind YOSH (I quite liked the heavy geranium/white floral combo of Omniscient), the back story of individual brands I knew nothing about, the April Aromatics line was also interesting (you know I love a bit of natural perfumery here and there). So it was awesome to be able to walk around and discover some new things – and of course make a little purchase at the end of it all :P

I didn’t really introduce myself at the other two Campomarzio70 stores so I just kind of had a little stroll around and a quick sniff here and there but kept getting drawn back to the lavish escape of Via Vittoria. In the other stores, whilst the stock is hugely impressive, of course the brands are widely available over Europe (some of them anyway… L’Artisan, Byredo, Penhaligons, MFK) but in Italy, these stores are some of the only ones stocking them so each one is a big deal if Rome is your fragrance shopping destination.

So yep – I know there’s not that much for me to talk about in Rome other than the one shop, but it encompasses pretty much everything that a perfume lover needs in one place so – hugely recommended, and a big thank you to them for being so welcoming and generous :)

Colosseum

One other shop I passed on the way back to my hotel one night (and for the life of me I don’t remember the name of it) had a big selection of ladies clothes, and randomly, a little perfume counter. They had all the Histoires De Parfums line along with their two other lines The Scent of Departure and Alice & Peter. They also had some Ineke’s and other random bits. I got to give quick sniffs to the three new HdP fragrances from their new Edition Rare trio: Veni, Vidi and Vici - but unfortunately none of them were to my taste! :( Also I loved the cute cupcake bottles of Alice & Peter but the scents (I only tried the two I was interested in) were much lighter, more translucent, and much more simplistic than I thought they would be – another disappointment. Ah well! I got some lovely goodies in Italy so, stick to the good stuff ;)

So tomorrow I leave, and my holiday is all over :( Owwww. Quite looking forward to getting back home though – regular company, good food, and conversations!! It’s been extremely overwhelming all this travelling and I’m exhausted – but a crazy experience! :D Thanks to all you readers for your support it’s been fun :)

Oh and this is Post No.200!!! YAY :D I’ll do a lovely little giveaway when I get back so keep your eyes peeled!

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SMELLYTHOUGHTS In Paris… Day 11

Hello everyone!
Thanks for all the support so far and the nice words about my vacation and the happy birthdays and all that, it’s been much appreciated :D

So, It’s my last day in Paris today, and it’s more of a “perfume shop visiting” diary than anything as exciting as what went down in Zurich :P But there we go.

The first stop when I got to Paris was Galeries Lafayette, it was hideously overcrowded with a stock I’d seen everywhere and I think I stayed about ten minutes…

Onto something more interesting :D The Serge Lutens Palais Royal!
Ok so the shop is gorgeous, the bell jars all laid out exquisitely with tester strips below them so you can smell the drydown and then fresh ones to smell the top notes. The sales assistants were surprisingly helpful, not the most welcoming in the world but as soon as they saw I actually had an interest they warmed up a bit (expectedly!).

Serge Lutens Palais Royale

There were a few things I’ve been really meaning to try properly. Sarrasins was one (and a lovely BN’er is sending me a sample to live with for a while of this one so I didn’t explore it too much) – but it’s a gorgeous, over-the-top indole heavy jasmine, I didn’t try it on skin, but I know I’ll like it :D
Mandarine-Mandarin is one that I keep getting drawn too although I had never smelt it before, and when I put it on my skin I thought it was love at first sniff. It’s a beautiful, dense, jammy orange – laden with spices and a rich, warm base – it’s loud, lasts forever, and I instantly considered it an ultimate comfort scent - unfortunately it got pretty tiring on my skin after a couple of hours of walking around and I managed to put myself off it :( Still, it’s a beautiful scent and one that seems to get overlooked a lot in the Lutens’ line up of exclusives.
I gave quick sniffs to tons of stuff: Rose De Nuit, Encens et Lavande, Fourreau Noir…
One worth talking about is the new release, Une Voix Noire (which I’ll have to find a sample of and write about soon). It really really impressed me, although it completely turned my stomach! The gardenia in it, isn’t really a gardenia, it’s not particularly accurate but it’s interesting. There isn’t a mushroom in sight, but it is without a doubt the cheesiest gardenia I’ve smelt. It’s not rich and pungent, but it reminded me a soft cream cheese like Philadelphia – that underneath all the sweetness and boozy notes was fascinating, and absolutely sicknening! I almost wanted to buy it, but with it sitting on my skin for a few hours, the drydown just smelt filthy to me! – and in a way I’d never experienced before. I would love to explore this one more as it was so unexpected. It’s a great release, a brilliant perfume, but totally unwearable for me.
Anyway, I won’t tell you what I bought just yet… I’ll leave that for my last post on my holiday!

Next I went to Jovoy which I visited today as well (this post isn’t all about one day!) – Jovoy has a beautiful collection, all the Tauer’s, Vero Profumo, Puredistance, Xerjoff, Parfum D’Empire – it’s huge, beautifully presented and the manager? I think he was anyway – was extremely helpful and took me around the whole shop explaining everything. I highly recommend this place to visit!
I tried a few things that I had wanted too, like Cuir de Nacre (very iris heavy but nice enough), Chypre Palatin (which I was really impressed by on first sniff but found the drydown a little boring for me – it reminded me of a modern Bandit meets Mitsouko? Although they’re very different).
I tried Mona’s Cuir again as I’m always fascinated by it (and have a sample now) – I love that cigarette smoke leather that on my skin turns almost peanut-y, but I don’t think I need another heavy leather. I tried the new Musc Tonkin by Parfum D’Empire which was much more potent and “extreme” than I imagined it would be – a heavy heavy goat leather with a lot of other crazy stuff going on in there, I didn’t give it much time because yet again – I don’t need a leather, and it was a little bit unsettling for me :(
So yes, I could go on and on but this post is long enough already and I have lots more to write about!

Eiffel Tower

Nose is the new concept fragrance store whose idea is that you have an “assessment” where you try lots of ingredients and blah blah, then they recommend you 5 perfumes to try based on your tastes. It’s a great idea, but I walked around the shop and the brands I’d either tried or wasn’t particularly interested in at the time, so I thought I shalln’t waste my time on an assessment becuase I’m not buying anything :)

Sens Unique had a great little range including all the Parfumerie Generale’s, Nasomatto… the usual, on top of Technique Indiscrete which I’d wanted to try for ages! Their Delivre Moi which I assumed I would love (and did!) was a gorgeously rich, piss-y honey scent that was a little too similar to my bottle of Miel De Bois for me to purchase. But I would highly recommend it as a more affordable alternative! A lovely little shop and the sales girl was hugely knowledgeable, telling me the stories behind a lot of the fragrances I randomly picked out.

Marie Antoinette is a tiny boutique perfumery that Andy Tauer had told me I must visit. It was gorgeous, like a little crooked wooden house stocked with a carefully chosen, refined selection. The lovely gent who runs the place was extremely helpful and passionate, and Marie Antoinette is also the only shop in Paris to stock the Tableau De Parfums line. He sprayed me with something amazing but I can’t remember its name :( the language barrier was a little tricky and I’m sure we both nodded along to things when not knowing what to say or not understanding each other. Still – he had some highly unusual things I’d never heard of and it is a real little gem of a perfume shop.

Guerlain Champs Elysees

The Guerlain boutique on the Champs Elysees was stunning. I was a bit apprehensive about going in – and to be honest, Guerlain really isn’t my scene. But still, it was lovely to see all the bee bottles and the wonderful displays throughout the shop and try all the pure parfum’s, some exclusives etc. etc.

I also visited a Frederic Malle store (to buy my Mum’s xmas prezzie), and yet again, the sales man was fascinating to talk to. He told me I must visit Printemps department store which had a much better selection of fragrances than Galeries Lafayette and he was right – although it was yet again, a little overcrowded – it had a very nice selection. But, yet again, nothing I hadn’t seen all over Paris. But the manager of the Frederic Malle store in Printemps got in touch with me having discovered my blog just a day ago, so I’m going back there tonight to have a little chat :)

Printemps

Ermmmmmm, so yeh! Perfume wise, I think that’s pretty much it. I passed Parfums de Nicolai, Etat Libre D’Orange, Annick Goutal, L’Artisan Parfumeur etc. but, aside from PdN, I know these lines so well I didn’t feel the need to pop into the stores.
So on top of a ton of typically tourist-y sightseeing, that’s what I’ve been up to here :) All lovely stuff!
And tomorrow? Off to Rome! :D

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Serge Noire – Serge Lutens

So I got my hands on a sample yesterday of Serge Noire… any guess where I was shopping? ;)

Serge Noire

Serge Noire opens with a bomb of cold incense, a hint of cinnamon and a big ole’ handful of medicinal cloves. It’s a cold aroma with a bizarre “heat” behind it – the spices a complete contrast to what it should be smelling like. There’s a fruity note up top too, maybe some pink & black pepper? – and a growing presence of cumin.

I surprisingly quite like the spice combo – it’s a big oriental on an unexpected base, but the cloves are far too dominant - thankfully I have begun to tolerate and enjoy certain clove notes but the use here is unsettling with the crisp, almost metallic incense underneath. The incense does have a smokiness to it, which is enhanced with a typical Lutens’ cedarwood underneath that smells raw and almost burnt. All together it creates an uncomfortable medicinal smell that whilst would normally to me be charming, is too overloaded on the cloves and cinnamon to be appealing.

The clove does seem to have a floral, carnation effect underneath which softens the edges a little, but in no way enough to consider Serge Noire floral. The pepper from the opening manages to persist far longer than expected, and over time Serge Noire gains this unexpected waxy texture – the incense still providing a cold smoke and the cloves refusing to leave.

A minty note pops up – or maybe it just takes me a long time to want to hunt for something else in here – and continues the cool feel of the opening all the way through the fragrance – the out-of-place heat from cinnamon and maybe nutmeg sitting on the skin in a dry, piercing dust.
What leads into the drydown is mainly an incense/cedar combo with the remains of the heart’s spice basket clinging on, a subtle resinous amber and maybe even a touch of vanilla sweetening what’s left.

It’s hideous :)

Serge Noire 50ml Serge Lutens – 99 Euros sergelutens.com

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SMELLYTHOUGHTS In Zurich… Day 7 continued (@ Vero Kern’s)

Hello guys. Well, my title is a bit of a lie, because it’s actually day 9 and I’m in Paris… (I’ll write about my adventures here so far over the next couple days).
But when I wrote my last post (titled Day 7 but about Day 6), I mentioned how I was off to meet the lovely lady that is Vero Kern (again) so we could have a little chat about her faultless line. I will say, considering she invited me into her house and let me see her workstation, I felt it’d be rude to take pictures – so I’ll break this post up with some pictures I took when in Zurich as I missed them out of my last post :)

Winter in Zurich
(Yes it was absolutely f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g!)

So arriving at Vero’s, we grabbed a seat in her little studio underneath her apartment where the whole “creative process” takes place. Instantly she grabbed a ton of raw materials and synthetics, vintage Guerlain’s and her own fragrances.
The first thing we sniffed, was vintage Mitsouko Parfum de Toilette – to compare it to her own Mito, along with Mitsouko Parfum. She took her inspiration from both it’s use as a classic chypre, and the famous peach note that was added to the chypre base of Mitsouko.
For Mito, Vero used peach instead of passionfruit (her usual signature that ties her line up of EDP’s together) – I’d never really clicked with the association before as Mito’s high dosage of lemongrass and a different floral arrangement (magnolia/jasmine) makes them extremely different – but as she explained her appreciation of Mitsouko and how it inspired her… it all falls into place when you think about it.

The floral arrangements that go into Mito were really interesting – we smelt a synthetic magnolia which she had put together which had an almost phenyl ethyl acetate thing going on (if anyone remembers my little explanation of this aromachemical in my Aftelier Lumiere review…). It was sweet and fruity, with a honeyed-pear vibe going on and just a touch of spice. Also the raw material magnolia champaca was beautiful to try – an astringent, bitter tea like scent - it’s spicy and vegetal with a hint of leather in there. A fascinating floral note. When these are sniffed together, it begins to make the floral arrangement in the heart of Mito - a complex exploration into every aspect of mangolia - it’s more “lemony” aspects enhanced by the herbal lemongrass (which we also sniffed… and spilled!).

More raw materials we tried were some concretes that she’d recently got her hands on, geranium, rose and a jasmine sambac which were interesting not only to see in their raw form, but to smell – they have an extremely dense quality to them that almost takes them away from being floral and enhances more resinous/bitter aspects – I look forward to sniffing how she puts these to use in the future!

On to Kiki and her inspiration – Jicky. Now, I’ve never been a real fan of Jicky, and in my opinion Kiki is undoubtably superior, but I can appreciate the classic composition. The lavender usage of Kiki (as Andy Tauer said to me), is so brilliant and unusual because it pairs the almost medicinal, herbal side of lavender with a more sweetened, caramlized glaze – it’s contrasts are what makes it so lovely. We broke down Jicky and on came more explanations as to it’s influences and comparisons with Kiki - it’s obvious that Vero’s knowledge of the Guerlain’s is great and she takes a lot of inspiration from such classical perfumery – she manages to hold this true in her fragrances whilst allowing them to smell completely modern.

Zurich at Night

Rubj is my favourite of the four I must admit – and similarly to Mito, we broke down the floral arrangements, smelling synthetic orange flower and the raw material – pairing them together to make that mouth wateringly rich floral heart in Rubj. We talked about the cumin and how every suggested she should get rid of it for the EDP – we both agreed it would not have been the same. That warm, human spicy note is what melts it into the skin and makes Rubj so damn sexy. She similarly has no idea why people get so up in arms about cumin, it doesn’t smell like sweat…

As for Vero’s future projects? Well, my mouth is of course zipped – but I hope you’re all looking forward to the Mito extrait…

After a good sniff of her line and understanding the inspirations and the materials, we took her gorgeous dog Isi for a stroll through the snow to listen to Andy Tauer’s talk on white florals at a gathering in Zurich. Unfortunately, I looked a fool not being able to understand any of it so I just nodded along and smiled (it was in German!) - looking forward to another sniff of Loretta at the end.

After the talk I met up with a guy Andy introduced my to called Christof - he told me tons of fascinating stuff – he works for a fragrance company that create scents for brands. His collection (he invited me back to his place to see it) was insaneeeeeeee. All the Byredo’s, all the Etat Libre D’Oranges… just, tons and tons and tons. He also had some rare gems amongst his collection, including a REAL bottle of Lisa Kirk’s Revolution (picture below) – not the little 15ml screw caps you get now. Being extremely generous, he made me numerous samples and gave me 10ml bottles of numerous Frederic Malle’s, so as you can imagine I was in my element.
So yes, Zurich was a huge success, and I was quite sad to leave having met such lovely people! But I’ve been spoiled with goodies on my Birthday and had a wonderful time :D

Lisa Kirk Revolution

I’m in Paris now and have spent two days exploring which has been awesome, I’ve already spent far too much money, thankfully as Christmas presents for my mum and dad (all perfume of course!) – and I think tomorrow I may just treat myself. But, my money is saved for Campomarzio70 in Rome – I think I need an O’Driu in my collection… we’ll see…
Until next time! :D

SMELLYTHOUGHTS In Zurich… Day 7 (Dinner at Andy Tauer’s with Vero Kern)

Hi guys!!!

Today is my final day in Zurich (and also my birthday!) and I’ve loved it here so far.
On the first day, I visited Osswalds – a perfume shop in the city centre which has one of the most impressive selections I’ve seen, they have EVERYTHING.
So after a bit of walking around sniffing, I realized I wouldn’t be shopping in Zurich because the prices are soooo expensive! Lutens’ and Parfum D’Empire? You’re looking at about £110+ a bottle. So, quite scary – but I’ve found that almost everywhere in Zurich. It’s such an expensive city I’ve been on the biggest budget ever here. The little bar under my hotel wants the equivalent of £18 for a burger…. it’s insane. But I guess that’s been a good thing really, more money to spend in Paris and Rome!

Ok so, last night… where do I begin? Well, last night was my arranged dinner with Andy Tauer and Vero Kern, all very exciting stuff. So after having some preliminary “nerve calming” red wines back in my hotel, I hopped on the tram and amazingly, managed to not get lost.
I could smell Andy’s house literally before I walked through his front door – a light Tauerade pretty much filled each room.

Tauer Vero Freddie

So, Andy is lovely – he made me feel right at home, which I was hugely appreciative of considering I hadn’t had a proper conversation with anyone for nearly a week! We chilled, drank some beer, and chopped vegetables, shortly followed by a tour of his pad.
So Andy and Werner (his partner) showed me where all the backstage stuff happens for the Tauer brand, and it’s totally true when Andy says he runs everything from home. His little studio in the backroom behind the kitchen is overloaded with a big bottles of aroma chemicals, samples galore, there’s fridges full of raw materials, there’s vintage bottles of his own fragrances and other brands’ perfumes scattered around the cupboards… overwhelming, but a bit of a paradise really! I just wanted to dig my nose into everything. I also got a little tour of their office and library; Andy and Werner seem to have an absolutely perfect set up, having your own studio in your house seems like a dream environment to work in. What’s amazing is the solid relationship Andy and Werner can have when also working in such close proximity all the time (Werner is also the book keeper and Andy’s right hand man when it comes to large orders and all the complicated stuff with the Tauer brand) – they were both charming company. It was fascinating chatting with Werner too, considering he had no real passion or interest in fragrance until Andy started creating, and suddenly in a matter of years has found himself immersed in a world of perfume. I have to admit I felt a little guilty constantly keeping the conversation on fragrance around Werner as I could only imagine it must drive him crazy with everyone wanting to ask Andy questions, but he’s embraced Andy’s work so thoroughly and his insights and knowledge was fascinating.

Vero arrived a little while later with pretty much the most adorable dog I’d ever seen – a little black brussels griffon (I think) called Izi(sp?). At this point the fizzy was cracked out (wine…beer…fizzy, I hope you’re keeping track too) and we pretty much had a big natter about everything – upcoming brands, Basenotes members, favourite frags, perfume construction, particular bloggers, what brands are doing it right, and which ones aren’t, upcoming releases – endless conversations covering every aspect of life as a perfumer. Oh and during all this, gradually getting more and more pissed as two bottles of red wine vanished in a matter of hours and the cherry schnapps to go with the cherry-schnapps-soaked cake seemed to keep refilling in my glass.

Andy Vero

Vero spoke about her upcoming work which I’m extremely excited to sniff – it sounds wonderful. We also spoke about her previous ideas for her line and what direction Mito was originally going to go in, it was fascinating hearing all these ideas that could have come to light but didn’t – but new paths mean new things and it sounds like she has some great new things for us up her sleeve.
We spoke briefly about the construction of some of her work and the differences between creating the parfums and eau de parfums, how the formula’s needed to be altered and why her passion fruit signature from the first three fragrances didn’t work in Mito (it was changed to peach).

Andy and I spoke about Lys Du Desert for a bit and how it’s so “old school Tauer” – I’d been wondering since sniffing it why he hadn’t taken a drastic new direction for the Decennial scent. He said though that he knew he wanted to create this fragrance for a long time after visiting the Joshua Tree each time he was in LA – he didn’t really give a true answer other than saying “That’s just how it turned out!” which is actually, completely fair! I really love the smell of Lys Du Desert – and I think when you try the newer work of Andy, you forget just how awesome his Classics line really is – and Lys Du Desert is like a new, classic Tauer – I have a bit more of an appreciation for it now!
But on the topic of new directions for Tauer’s line… well, my mouth is zipped, but my nose is d-e-s-p-e-r-a-t-e for more! Trust me – keep your noses peeled, something awesome comes! ;)

Werner Andy Vero

So originally I planned to ask particular questions, and I took my laptop to jot down answers and stuff so I could make this post be an interview – but I’m so glad it didn’t work out like that. It just… wasn’t right. The company of Andy, Werner and Vero was nowhere near as formal as I thought it would be (no need for those pre-drinks after all), it was so relaxed and laid back that I didn’t crack out the laptop or the notepad once (apart from to show them my itinerary and what shops I’m visiting in Paris and Rome – they gave me some more “must visit” places).  So I left just after midnight, I can’t quite say I remember my tram ride back to the hotel… but a lovely birthday-celebration night it was!

Vero has invited me to her pad this afternoon, and Andy is doing a talk later on white florals which we’ll both be attending (although I won’t understand any of it, I said I’d just nod along and smile!). So more posts to come! :) Yay Zurich! And tomorrow… off to Paris :D

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