So, on Wednesday I decided to make my way to London and have a sniffathon – and a little shop at the end of it.
I had a few things in mind I originally wanted to buy – and was completely open-minded as to what I wanted to sniff.
My shopping goals for fragrance were something smoky (I was thinking Lonestar Memories/Vierges et Toreros/ the-then-untested Les Nombres D’Or Cuir/ anything else that some sales staff want to throw under my nose), and something for summer.
After arriving in London – the first point of call was Selfridges.
There’s the main beauty department bang in the middle of the bottom floor – filled with all the designer brands, a little to the side in a small room (or two) are a few niche fragrances and generally, the more interesting bits.
Walking past Dior firstly, I was thrown a piece of paper with Oud Ispahan written on it – and this is one of the things I actually came in to try.
Oud Ispahan is the new release in the Dior Prive line, I haven’t got much experience with the line as although I love the bottles, they don’t really appeal to me However, I figured if I liked it enough it may be a buy, but it didn’t quite hit the spot.
That’s not to say Oud Ispahan is not nice – it is a really nice, safe rose/oud combination. It is rich, with a slightly soapy edge. The rose is crisp and clear as is the oud, they are both perfectly balanced and the fragrance was MUCH cleaner than I expected. A really good beginner oud scent, long-lasting, but delicate and refined enough to wear regularly (unlike most rose/oud combinations).
I also gave Leather Oud a quick sniff, but yet again, I just find it too perfectly balanced and not quite scary enough for me to really get attracted to it (I considered this in my smoky fragrance list also); it may be a daring composition for them, but it still feels like a Dior fragrance (if that makes sense).
The only other fragrances I gave a quick sniff too were a couple Lutens’ I have already tried, and two of the new Robert Piguet fragrances – Notes and Casbah.
Notes was unlike anything I normally try, very masculine in a “cologne” type of way, I really liked the strange opening clary sage and geranium, but it got very uncomfortable on me very quickly. It is very loud and powerful (a little nauseating) with such a strange combination of notes, I had to ditch my paper blotter pretty quickly.
Casbah I can’t even remember what this smelt like, I hated it straight away. It definitely had the Piguet signature in pretty strong (I don’t know much about the signature but so far I have not got on with his fragrances at all as they all have this weird component tying them together). All I remember was that it was spicy, but cool, and really musty and dated. Horrible.
That was me in done after that – scared away by the Piguets and remembering that Selfridges is actually not a very good fragrance shopping destination…
Next, around the corner to Marble Arch and a much-needed visit to Les Senteurs.
Welcomed as always by the lovely staff, my first sniff was at the central table where they were promoting the new Ruth Mastenbroek fragrance – Amorosa.
I wanted to try Amorosa after reading The Candy Perfume Boy’s write-up of it and hearing about the wonderfully unusual watermelon opening!
Yes the opening was quite unusual, a lovely juicy watermelon – non aquatic and instead sweet and almost fizzy. The white florals underneath were good also – that was pretty much all. A nice, safe summer fragrance with no “umph” to make it unique enough for me, but I like my weird shit It was also one of the very few occasions where I sniffed something feminine and thought “Nah I couldn’t get away with that” which was a shame.
After much snooping round in awkward silence, I made my way over the Frederic Malle counter, and asked for some advice. I have tried a couple of Malle’s - the gorgeous Dans Tes Bras, Musc Ravageur, Carnal Flower, Vetiver Extraordinaire, Bigarade Concentree.
I firstly had another quick sniff of Dans Tes Bras - a beautiful extremely salty combination of clean sweaty skin, seaweed-like salt, and the most unusual violets. I just adore it and was tempted by a bottle – but it wasn’t what I came for!
After asking what I had tried and liked from the line, I was directed to Une Rose. One sniff and I was overcome with “mmmm”‘s and “ahhhhh”‘s. I said “This is one of the best things I’ve tried in ages”.
It is a clean, almost soapy rose, but undercut with earthy mushroom type notes. It has that dirty/clean vibe that balances in perfect harmony, with delicate presence on the skin, but great surrounding throw. Whilst it sounds silly to say I enjoy the “refined” quality of this, and not the Dior’s, the complexity of the rose here is presented in all it’s glory and it’s far more fascinating than the more simple compositions of the Prive line I sampled. Whilst I do think that this is currently too mature for me (another thing I never say), I will own a bottle in time. I was going to add it to my basket in Les Senteurs but when I was told the price, I moved on!!
Sticking with the Malle’s for a minute, I also gave brief sniffs to -
French Lover - bitter greenery, galbanum, green pepper, raw cedar – all that jazz, I felt like I had smelt it before, not for me…
Noir Epices - surprised me and is something I will sample properly in time. I imagined something close to Tauer’s Eau D’Epices but it turned out to be far cleaner with a crisp clear display of spices, an aldehydic orange and floral accord up top brightens the opening and makes Noir Epices feel more classical than other spice-basket fragrances. Maybe not something I would wear, but very nice.
Une Fleur De Cassie - Reminded me instantly of Carillon Pour Une Ange, not sure why as lily of the valley isn’t listed but it’s what I got strongest. It was a pollen rich floral bouquet with a carnation spiciness. I didn’t like it.
Lys Mediteranee - I really like – an aquatic note of salty ocean, warm and beachy, with a gorgeous spicy lily (which I adore) floating throughout. It’s light and lovely – nearly bought this.
En Passant - I also thoroughly loved and didn’t expect to – water and lilacs, so unbelievably delicate with abysmal, poor longevity, but heavenly whilst it lasts.
So is that all I sniffed? Hellllll no, my nose was practically burning but I continue…
I went onto my smoky cravings, where I smelt a lot of stuff not worth writing about. A few caught my eye including Mona Di Orio’s Cuir which I hadn’t tried before. I do not like Mona’s creations as narrow-minded as that sounds, but I just can’t stand her base. However, Cuir was a lovely smoky leather, the kind of smoke that is delicate in its volume, but piercingly uncomfortable in its texture - it had the feel of stale cigarette smoke and it had this rich/trashy clash going on and it was a very near buy!
I went on to sample Lonestar Memories again for the millionth time which constantly makes me collapse in delight. I pretty much knew this is what I wanted to buy, but I had more smokiness to try later in the day in other shops…
At this point, my nose was knackered, so I needed a coffee and a change of scenery, and I promised I’d be back later!!
So after a an hour of chilling, I headed over to Liberty.
I mainly came to Liberty to sniff two fragrances. One was the intensely smoky Patchouli 24.
I hated this when I first tried it, and I didn’t have much luck again. Patchouli 24‘s smoke is extremely dense, loud and uncomfortable. It is literally bonfire smoke, with that hit-the-back-of-your-throat pitch. Underneath is a sickly sweet vanilla, and the whole composition is completely unbalanced and immature, I hate it (but wanted to love it)
I also came to try Pulp by Byredo as I heard of its rotten fruit accords which I was craving for summer. Unfortunately it reminded me a lot of Multiple Rouge by Humiecki and Graef – more the combination of every cheap shower gel scent exploded into one opening. It wasn’t richly fruity and natural smelling as I hoped, and instead was an extremely synthetic combination of overpowering, unappetizing fruit notes. Not at all what I was after.
I was hoping the Blood Concept line was still on sale but they were no where in site (I had my eyes on AB!).
I was in and out of Liberty very quickly, taking a quick sniff of Goutal’s Mon Parfum Cheri Par Camille, which was a huge, stuffy dated patchouli with some high-pitched metallic notes scattered throughout – I liked it! But I don’t need another patchouli.
I quickly stopped by L’Artisan Parfumeur in Covent Garden to pick up a bottle of Dzongkha on sale for my mum (who loves it) – so that was my first purchase of the day, but not for myself!
So, from here it was off to Harrods.
In Harrods I instantly walked to the Perfume Hall, which was buzzing with people and sale signs. I entered the room by Boadicea The Victorious I noticed a sale on – I hoped Complex was on sale but, it wasn’t…
Instead a little bottle of Reviving was on sale for £35 – bargain considering RRP is £90. I sprayed it on my hand (the first skin test of the day), and it was a nice enough masculine composition of vetiver, oakmoss, a light floral opening and a saltiness throughout, I enjoyed it and was going to buy a bottle but, it was only because it was on sale, that £35 could be put to much better use…
I continued around the hall, nothing taking my fancy, so up I went to Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie.
Greeted initially by a hugely enthusiastic lady with the most forcefully upper class accent I have ever encountered, I quickly shunned her off and headed over to the Vero Profumo just to glare at the bottles with serious wanting.
I sniffed the glorious Onda and Rubj EDP once more when another sales assistant came over.
He began talking to me about how the Onda EDP is “a wonderful lavender and leather”, I held back my chuckle through watery eyes and just smiled and nodded… I said, “Yeh… and of course the vetiver, ginger, citrus and honey – I mean, they make up the most of it” :’) He smiled, nodded, and then proceeded to say “The perfumer was inspired by Tabac Blond… would you like to smell it?”
So why not. He brought of a paper blotter with Caron’s Tabac Blond extrait on it – it was undoubtably beautiful and I said so.
I heard the posh lady in the background “sharing a larrrff” with some ladies out back and I heard both the words “fabulous darling” and “so drôle!” before I had to make my way out this hell hole! Not my scene!
Back to the sanity of Les Senteurs…
I’m back at Marble Arch now after a beer in Knightsbridge, and I’m ready for my spending
Greeted again, I say I want to find something for summer – no citrus (I was considering Azemour Les Oranges by Parfum D’Empire but they didn’t have it in stock), no vetiver soliflores and no white florals (although I do love them). So, I asked to try some iris fragrances
I was shown me the new W1X (iris, violet, rose…) by new London based niche line BEX. Infact, I gave a brief sniff to the whole line (4 fragrances) – which I will go into detail about in later.
I also tried Naiviris by Huitieme Art (I really want one of these fragrances – I love the bottles!), which I actually really liked. It is a relatively straightforward iris with a lovely warmth and spice to it. Nothing complicated, but delicate and easy to wear with a nice doughy texture to it. However, after trying these two I figured iris wasn’t my summer craving.
I went to the Parfumerie Generale display – convinced this was my last resort (and I LOVE the line). I sniffed almost everything:
Cedre Sandaraque - is a very unusual resinous, woodsy fragrance, with a warmth and spice to it that reminded me in the heart of Dior’s Fahrenheit, with it’s slightly petrol undertone. I loved the almost cotton candy sweetness up top. It’s nice – but not quite my thing.
Felanilla - another iris that is very very similar to Dior Homme, only warmer, spicier and a little richer, this would be my choice over and above Homme, although I wouldn’t want to wear either.
Psychotrope - was a very unusual dense watery, floral fragrance that Nick described as “the smell of drowning!” which is very true, it reminds me of Skarb, with its watery/chlorine type scent and a Calone/melon thickness. Uncomfortable to wear, but bizarrely intriguing.
Iilang Ivohibe - was a divine ylang ylang, narcotic floral, that somehow came across as the scent of men’s calogne/shaving cream. I loved it, but it wasn’t what I wanted – I’ll probably end up with a bottle in the near future, it’s very unusual.
Louanges Profanes - also really really good - a lily/soapy orange blossom opening becomes a rich, narcotic floral bouquet and rich vanillic benzoin drydown. I haven’t got anything like it and it was a contender for a full bottle as well. Damn I love this line so much!!
L’Oiseau De Nuit - I loved the opening of this, boozy rum and cake! I was instantly craving some more yummy goods after smelling this – and the only thing that put me off was the warm spicy amber dry-down which reminded me of my L’Artisan, I don’t need another amber soliflore…
“More yummy things!” I said…
Musc Maori - MMMMMMMM! YUM! Musc Maori is a chocolate milkshake. Slightly warmed frothy milk, and the scent of creamy milk chocolate. There’s this slightly animalic musk underneath which just turns the fragrance from being too edible into something that almost smells ever-so-slightly off. I loved it. It’s gourmand (I don’t own a gourmand), and is light enough for summer.
“Does it last like this though or is the drydown boring… HONESTLY?”
The gourmand factor of Musc Maori is so strange it had me going from “Mmmmm” to “Ewww :’)” in seconds. It’s almost grossly gourmand, in the same sense as the unedible 100% Love by S-Perfume with its “sweaty foot” note.
I was pretty much sold. But asked for more anyway
Une Crime Exotique - holy moly lovely opening! Gingerbread with extra spice. Gorgeously gourmand, I wouldn’t wear it myself but asked for a sample for my mum (who loved the ginger notes in Etat Libre D’Oranges’ Like This). It goes through a lot of stages in its development but somehow gets more and more lovely – but diverting slightly from the spicy, super-gourmand opening into more “perfumey” territory.
I have already tried other wonderful gourmands in the line – Aomassai, Tonkamande, Cadjmere, Praline De Santal, Indochine…
I pondered around the shop for a while, staring at everything I had sniffed that day…
What “smoky” do I want…
“You know what” I said “I’ll get Lonestar Memories. I just love it so much, nothing will beat it I don’t think “
And for the summer scent?
“And it’s going to have to be Musc Maori, I think I’ll be able to pull it off in the summer!” I kept sniffing the Musc Maori which I put on my skin straight after trying the carded sample – it was just so so so good. At times it is gorgeously edible, at other’s – sickeningly grotesque, so much so it makes me laugh :’)
So that’s what I walked out with, and a huge bag of samples A successful day! (And more thorough reviews of some of these scents to come).
What was your most recent purchase? and because I’m rubbish with summer scents – What will you be wearing regularly this summer?
I do not own the pictures of the shop exteriors