Monthly Archives: July 2012

Pentachord White – Tauer

White from the Tauer Pentachord line left me speechless. I only tried it last week from a generous sample sent from a Basenoter (aren’t they lovely people?!), and it is the only one from the line I never gave a passing sniff.
No, White isn’t particularly complicated, but it strikes a chord with me that I absolutely adore.

The opening is an exquisite mix of iris and violet. The iris is powdery, slightly dated, paired in equal intensity with a delicate, sweet violet – yes it’s old-fashioned, and smells slightly like soiled parma violet candies, but it’s extremely familiar and comfortable on my skin.

The interesting aspect of White is when out of nowhere (within a couple of minutes), an unusual, extremely dry smoky wood that I initially mistook for cedar, seeps its way into the dusting of florals. The listed rosewood is similar in scent, with an equally dry, masculine edge – and is almost identical to the use of cedar in Profumi Del Forte’s Versilia Vintage Ambra Mediterranea. The Profumi Del Forte’s cedar wood was far too intense, and paired with the bitter herbal notes and creamy amber – turned into something of a monster on my skin and I hated it. However, Tauer’s use is a little more restrained, and whilst it introduces what I consider an extremely challenging element into a classical violet coloured floral composition, it gives White an instantly recognizable and complicated personality.

The rich vanilla which begins to envelop the florals with a sweet translucency, provides depth and support to the powder, pulling it into the base and never allowing the hot, dry rosewood to overpower their delicacy. A hint of Tauer’s signature ambergris (devoid of the amber and incense that make up the famous Tauer-ade), slips over the entire composition, adding a salty, musky element. The ambergris is potent, and helps to really throw this fragrance off the skin and around you – it’s enveloping, slightly overwhelming and addictive with wonderful lasting power and a linear drydown.

These 5 synthetic notes stand alone to make White, but in no way does the fragrance feel empty – it is minimalism done perfectly, and a hugely exciting change from Tauer’s genius Classics line, almost Comme Des Garcons-esque. In honesty, it’s salty ambergris, smoky wood and powdery sweet floral duo becomes such a distinctive and challenging quintuple that I currently don’t feel ready to wear it, but I hope to one day.
I really enjoy this, and it is one of the biggest surprises I have sniffed recently.  Highly recommended! :)

White Pentachord Tauer 50ml – £115 Les Senteurs

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More (Unsuccessful) London Shopping… Part 2

Part 1…

So, as I said, off to Ormonde Jayne. I have been reading into this brand quite a lot recently – I’ve heard wonderful things and some of the fragrances sound wonderful. My recent cravings have been tropical florals – so on walking into the absolutely beautiful boutique, I asked the lady for:

Frangipani. It opens with a strong lime on paper (I didn’t try this one on skin), and it took the length of my stay before I managed to detect the sweet, almost peachy floral, delicately plush – very pretty, but much more lime than I expected. I still haven’t lost hope, I think this would be wonderful in the summer and I’ll be sure to try it again properly.

Having recently fallen head of heels for gardenia notes, I eagerly tried Tiare which opened with a similar, sweet and tart lime note. Unfortunately, the tiare gardenia in the heart was very unrecognizable to me, it didn’t have that dense creamy, slightly soiled scent of a beautiful gardenia. Instead the flower was almost translucent, and almost powdered. I liked the scent, but it wasn’t what I wanted – and I tried this fragrance twice on skin in the one day because I SO wanted to love it.

The biggest suprise came from a rose which I didn’t initially plan on trying:

Ta’if has the most exquisite opening. The best rose note I have ever smelt is paired with a kick of pepper, spicy almost like frankincense. Whilst it sounds unoriginal, there is something utterly divine about it. However, on skin, within half an hour, a strange bitter tea leaf note with a papery texture became uncomfortable, and took away the richness of the opening for me. I will try it again though – as on initial sniff I instantly thought it was something very special. One of the best things I had sniffed so far…

I left Ormonde Jayne as having tried the 3 I came to try (along with a very brief sniff of some others in the line), my nose was getting a little tired so I needed some fresh air and a beer!

So after all that, I made my way to Selfridges (I figured I’d save Harrods until last as there was bound to be something I would buy there if I hadn’t found anything anywhere else!). You’re probably not but I’ll say it anyway: You may be wondering where the usual must-stop trip to Les Senteurs is? Well, I decided to be a little adventurous and not visit this time as I really wanted to discover something new for myself.
So anyway…

At Selfridges the first stop was the Dior counter again. I asked the dolled up sales assistant:
“Which is the fragrance that is strong with immortelle?”
“Yes it’s like, a flower that smells like maple syrup and curry. Someone told me there’s a great immortelle in the Prive line but I can’t remember what it’s called”
“Well… We have Ambre Nuit, which is a spicy fragrance”
“Yeh, no that’s not it. It smells like curry-ish”
“Erm, well Mitzvah is our other spicy scent… and there’s of course Leather Oud”
“Yeh no it’s none of them… Don’t worry I’ll try them”
Three scents later and I of course land on Eau Noire.
“Mmmmm this is it!” I said. She sniffed the strip.
“Oh yeh maple syrup” She gave the strip to the other sales assistant “Yes everyone says this smells like curry” Said the other sales lady…
“Holy shit” I thought.
“Yes, this is a lavender and liqourice” She said.
“………………… and immortelle”. She checked her little book.
“No it says here, just lavender, and maybe it’s the liqourice your smelling”
“Well… its immortelle, trust me :)” I said. She nodded and smiled almost sympathetically as if I was babbling absolute nonsense.
“Well, whatever it is, it is beautiful” She replied. URGH! I left quickly hahaha. This was 1 out of 2 stupid moments I was to encounter.

So anyway, Eau Noire was a lovely immortelle, and more wearable than Sables, I will have to give it a proper wearing some time.

I made my way to Jo Malone as I have always said I wanted to try a couple fragrances from the line.

I gave a quick sniff to Black Vetyver Cafe which was not at all what I expected – a bitter, but subtle coffee over spicy masculine notes with subtle earthy vetiver. I didn’t like it at all. I also tried Pomegranate Noir expecting something really wonderful, yet again, I didn’t enjoy it. Bright and juicy up top, but not with the richness of the pomegranate in Aziyade for example. The top notes didn’t catch me enough to give the heart any time to shine – maybe another time.

From here I headed over to Guerlain, just because here in Selfridges it is a much more relaxed environment to try out the exclusive Guerlain’s (as opposed to Harrods which I will mention later).

I saw the stunning bottles and scanned the titles, instantly picking up the mouth-wateringly named Iris Ganache.

I really enjoyed this iris. It’s powdery and floral, but with a woody, rooty orris aroma, paired with the sweetness of milky, white cocoa. Delicate, very sweet but not cloying, and such an unusual but delicious pairing, with the carroty iris created a savoury contrast with the gourmand notes. The price scared me a bit, but considering the divine bottle and the large volume of fragrance, I think this will be a future buy.

I tried a couple of others, but nothing which caught my attention. The sales assistant came over to hound me a bit so I scurried along (as my day was coming to an end).

Off to the glorious snobbery of Harrods where sales assistants’ nostrils flare at the sight of me, armed with my notebook, a laid back attitude and a bucket load of knowledge to which I will pound them to the ground with :’)

First stop was (weirdly) the Guerlain counter again. I don’t know why I kept ending up here – I’m not even a Guerlain fan. But anyway, those bottles caught my eye again. I noticed they had the iris (which I was again tempted to buy) and then remembered that the bullshit talking sales assistant at Selfridges told me they were the only stockists of that particular scent in London… Deary me…

The over-enthusiastic lady made up like a hag approached me with a huge grin – which I thought was lovely :) – and instantly threw Une Petit Robe Noire under my nose saying
“I use’ to always wear Dee-yoor before I smell dis, it is bee-yowtiful smell, I just splash myself wit it”
“Ok”….”Yeh, red fruit, anis, it’s alright”
“Yes we have it in 50ml – it very popular scent, the price is…”
“No I don’t want that thank you :)”

Running to the other side of the hall, I managed to stumble upon Dior again. This is repetitive I know… I’ll go on to something new soon.
Anyway, I saw New Look 1947. The sales lady told me it was her favourite of the line so I gave it a quick sniff.
“Mmmm, tuberose, and is it gardenia? I think? I’m not sure” She got out her trusty little book.
“It’s ermmm…. Rose, and vanilla” She says.
“…..Annnddddddd tuberose? Surely? It’s a white floral whatever it is?”
“No maybe it’s the vanilla you’re smelling” I wasn’t getting into that again!

Over to Lutens’! – and the super good looking sales guy that served me last time.
There’s the new one gleaming at me from afar… whispering “buyyyyyy meeeeee”

*sniff* “Oh…”
Santal Majascule opens with an almost identical sandalwood opening to Jeux De Peau. But where Jeux De Peau turns into a liquorice/apricot sandalwood, Santal Majascule allows a faint rose to provide some floral fragrance and support, and the cocoa is a mere dusting. It is absolutely nothing original in the Serge Lutens’ line up and I was really disappointed :( I hoped I would love this.

I also gave brief sniffs to Lutens’ that I haven’t paid that much attention to:

Fleurs D’Oranger which I really enjoy, the best orange blossom I had smelt all day – full, rich and indolic, heady and almost tropical – it’s a perfect summer scent.

A La Nuit is a great jasmine, but I struggle with jasmine. I never used to – happily drenching myself in Lust by Lush, an almost rancid jasmine. I wouldn’t want to wear this though.

Bas De Soie I have tried before and enjoyed, but I sprayed a little on my arm, and found it a little more “perfumey” than last time. I remember the last time I tried it I loved the cold, sharp iris with a heavy metallic note cutting through the core. It was cold and calculating and I hoped it would capture me again, but on this hot day, it didn’t quite have the same effect. I’ll have to try it another time – I neeeeeed an iris in my collection.

I also gave a quick sniff to some Annick Goutal’s. I am awaiting Songes in the mail, so I gave that a quick sniff again. Along with Gardenia Passion which although I found it to be mainly tuberose, I thoroughly enjoyed it and will have to explore this further. I would have bought it, but I found it in the same vein as Songes, and as I haven’t worn Songes thoroughly yet, I’m not sure whether I need both.

I also tried Vanille Exquise which added on to my vanilla failings of the day. It turned to its usual rancid self on my skin – not “equise” :(

Oh mannn… so what now?!?! I blushed my way into a goodbye with the sales guy and in desperation I carefully approached the Penhaligons stall… I looked at the nasty bottles and the dated lables with sorrow, but my pocket was burning!

I picked up Sartorial again – yes, I like the opening. Yes, I like the fact it’s masculine and I need something like a fougere in my collection. Yes, I love the modern almost Comme Des Garcons style opening with the aldehydes, metallic violet and lavender and ozonic notes. The drydown just turns generic on me though, but I do find the beeswax interesting. I have to get a good sample of this and wear it for a few days – if I get on with it, it’ll be a perfect addition to my collection.

I actually had read a bit about this fragrance a few months ago and spotting it, I remembered it was apparently an almost damp, green jungle like scent. So I picked up the bottle and gave a big sniff on paper to Amaranthine. The banana skin flew out straight away for me, along with the tropical ylang ylang, and a jasmine I think, along with some other green leafy notes and a kick of spice. I really enjoyed the opening, and it put a much-needed smile on my face. Unfortunately, it’s not something I’d want to wear – my grubby greenery comes from the divine Totem Eclipse by Smell Bent.

A last quick sniff before I had to literally run for my train:

Peoneve – the new fragrance. Spicy rose, green notes – relatively clean, with a peppery carnation accord. It was pleasant, natural smelling, but far too tame for me.

Gardenia – a nice enough fragrance, bright, floral, a recognizable creamy and thick gardenia which had a fresh green edge to it. I’d quite happily wear this – but I looked at the label *shuudddderrrrr*. I put it back down and quickly ran off. Penhaligon’s is not for me.

So there you have it. A ridiculously unsuccessful shopping trip to London – I left COMPLETELY empty-handed – how crap is that?!

Lesson of the day: Go to Les Senteurs.

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More (Unsuccessful) London Shopping… Part 1

This post is going to be longgggggggggggggggggggggggg…….

Ok so back to London (to attend the L’Artisan launch for Seville A L’Aube with Bertrand Duchaufour and Denyse Beaulieu – but there’s enough posts about that), and to have a shop! So here I am, armed with my lame-ass note book, my nose, and a wad of cash!! After my great success’ last time – leaving with the gorgeous Lonestar Memories and the repulsively addictive Musc Maori, I had high hopes!

So on arrival, I had about an hour to kill before it was off to L’Artisan in Covent Garden, so I made my way to Oxford Street and figured I’d hit Liberty’s – there were a few things I wanted to try (and were on my “I know I want this but I haven’t tried it yet” list).

Passing Byredo, I couldn’t help but have another quick sniff of Pulp. I put a bit on my hand this time, and didn’t realise that it was actually a fig fragrance – I hadn’t got that at all the last time I tried it on paper. But still, there it was, paired with the plump fig the hideously synthetic scent of berries and shower gel. Not the summer fruity fragrance I would like :(

Seven Veils smelt very interesting out of the lid… on my hand, oh my god the horror – words cannot describe. Haha, ok so it wounds overdramatic, but Seven Veils is without a doubt the worse fragrance I have ever had on my skin (don’t take it personally, this is only my opinion). A floral, clove spiced vanilla (in the same sort of veil as Musc Ravageur only far more intense), but the vanilla just turned absolutely rancid on me – in the same way that Mona Di Orio’s Vanille turns to egg on me, it was a very similar but worse reaction. I mistook the vanilla for myrrh initially – that rancid breath quality that it so oftens morphs into. After I smelt this, I had very bad experiences with vanilla for the rest of the day. I worked my way through a pack of wet wipes getting this hell beast off my skin before it burnt through to the bone! Hahaha.

Over to Parfum D’Empire (just becuase they’re such good value and such great fragrances), I sniffed Azemour Les Oranges again, I do love the bitter green but mouthwateringly juicy opening – but I had tried it before, and the thought of purchasing it there and then just wasn’t exciting enough for me!

Iskander had a great sour start, but the dirtiness of the grapefruit paired with the pungent oakmoss, turned it into a sweaty-cologne scent that I really didn’t enjoy. I really need to fall in love with a masculine citrus – but it’s hard work!

Heading back to more my sort of thing, I picked up 3 Fleurs which I hadn’t sniffed but read mixed reviews about. It sounds right up my alley on paper as a classical floral, but unfortunately, the beautifully indolic jasmine and sweet creamy tuberose, just didn’t work with the classical rose that wedged awkwardly in between them. The fragrance felt completely unbalanced (and overhwelming) for me, with a dated style that wasn’t the powerhouse of a floral bouquet that I had hoped for! :(

I made my way over to the fragrances I really wanted to try: Ineke.

The idea of a lilac soliflore really appealed to me (for some reason) – I think it was after sniffing En Passant and really enjoying it’s delicate shade. Unfortunately, the beautifully named After My Own Heart was a very faint, very soapy lilac that had little personality unlike the dewy freshness and slight melancholy of En Passant. I felt extremely uncomfortable in it for the few moments that it lasted.

Insistant on owning one of the absolutely beautiful bottles, I picked up the gorgeous looking Field Notes From Paris.

An unusual take on an orange blossom – but an unpleasant one for me. The narcotics were turned down, and instead the bitter medicinal aspects of orange blossom were enhanced by deep (but somehow flat) notes of tobacco and patchouli, all sitting underneath a bright citrus and cologne like opening. For some reason, I really disliked it – it seemed to amplify the ugly aspects of all the notes I normally enjoy, it didn’t work in harmony for me :( I will give it another shot some time though… dear god I need that bottle! :|

Evening Edged In Gold is another fragrance I tried by Ineke, it was actually the one I enjoyed the most, but not memorable enough for me to even remember what it smelt like (I didn’t take notes of it). I was really disappointed as I was certain I was walking out with an Ineke for my collection!

Anyway – off to the L’Artisan launch to come back to Liberty’s later – I hadn’t finished here just yet!

I purposely didn’t try Seville A L’Aube after reading the book until the launch as I wanted to sniff it for the first time when I was there – just to spice things up a little for myself :’)

Seville A L’Aube opens with a wonderful, sharp resinous lavender and the rich orange blossom, threaded through the top with a lighter touch than I expected. I enjoyed this part, it’s bright, sunshine filled with the tang of lavender adding an unexpected, very slightly masculine edge. I was sure there was a touch of rose in there too, the tiniest soapy edge (but from another floral other than the orange blossom) seemed to peep up.
Unfortunately (unliked other attendees who tried the fragrance on skin), the beeswax/incense combination came out on my skin too quickly, pushing aside the lovely orange blossom all to quick to reveal a quiet, waxy almost myrrh like scent on my skin. Unusual, enjoyable, but not for me :)

So, after a mingle and a chat with the lovely Denyse and brief, awkward, star-struck talk with Bertrand (oh and I introduced myself to the smiley Katie Puckrik – which whether she was freaked out by my big stretched ears or not, turned out to be even more short awkward than the chat with Bertrand… but there we go)…

Back to the sanity of Liberty’s where the sales staff always assist other customers assuming I won’t spend a penny –

I walk past the Frederic Malle stand – where the handsome French sales assistant greeted me wearily at first – I do look clueless – until I said “Mmmmm heliotrope” when he handed me a card with L’eau d’Hiver on it. It was the first time I’d tried, or even heard about this fragrance (I’m new to the full Malle line up). Although it was a lovely heliotrope with a powdery almond and slight anis spice – definitely my sort of thing – it was farrrr to delicate for me.

I told him what I had tried, and he started throwing more cards under my nose:

Geranium Pour Monsieur had a surprisingly good peppermint note and the geranium was unlike the watery green rose note that I am familiar with, instead it was green, slightly citric and peppery – really good, but not my sort of fragrance. I’ll be sure to revisit it though.

Angeliques Sous La Pluie was a peppery watery thing that was completely forgettable.

I also sniffed some things that I am already familiar with (yet again) Portrait Of A Lady, Bigarade Concentree, Une Fleur De Cassie etc etc. All lovely (and unaffordable at this moment in time) :’) None out do my love of Dans Tes Bras however.

I had another little wander round, sniffing Odeur 71 again amongst other Comme Des Garcons’. I decided that there was nothing else I really wanted to sniff here, and after my disappointment with the fragrances I hoped to love, I was sick of Liberty!

On to Ormonde Jayne…

Part 2…

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Patchouli 24 – Le Labo

Well, sorry it’s been so long guys – my updates have been extremely spaced out. But no more! I have returned with bunches of samples so lots more writing ahead.

I’ve tried Patchouli 24 a few times – never on my skin though. So was thrilled when a lovely Basenoter sent me a bunch of samples including this one. I LOVE smoky fragrances – Lonestar Memories has possibly the sexiest opening of any fragrance I know.
You’d think I’d adore Patchouli 24, but it is VERY different from the Tauer.

Patchouli 24 opens with a desperately sweet , almost floral smoke. The sweetness and the rose-y floral subside and the billowing smoke of lapsang souchong tea overwhelms the top notes into a thick, powdery and intense haze. The smoky tea is reminiscent of bonfires, barbeques, tar – a photo-realistic smoke, more literal than the more complicated menthol/smoke of Lonestar Memories.

Underneath this black smoke, is a slightly powdery, bitter vanilla. Although the vanilla has been burnt and stained by the tea, there is still a sweetness to it that I personally find a little cloying and overly diffusive on the skin.

The patchouli is practically non-existent until the late drydown. The two notes of smoke and vanilla play over each other for pretty much the entire duration of the fragrance, each taking it’s turn to dominate in a similar style to the honey/cedar wood play on skin with Miel De Bois.
Overwhelming at first, the vanilla manages to tame the radiant heat of Patchouli 24’s smoke and pull it downwards into a sticky, black smear of tar spiked vanilla. The patchouli adds an earthy, stuffiness that drags the overwhelming power of the opening into a similar density in the base.

Whilst Patchouli 24 never gets thin, it does soften into an unexpected powder, it shape-shifts from a modern powerhouse into a quite dated base, with a classical-but-rough feel in the style of Bandit (but very different). At this stage, the fragrance brings to mind even more mental images – stuffy old blankets, oily garages, worn leather gloves – all kinds of smoky/leathery/stuffy smells – I’m sure I’ve painted a good enough image for you!

I do love smoke in fragrance, but this is more photographic and less perfumey, and a little too much for me (which is weird considering my usual taste). I think the pairing with vanilla is far too much, and the patchouli almost seems unnecessary. I say pump the top with some sharp lavender, amp up the rose that makes a ghostly appearance in the opening, and hit hard with the tea smoke in the heart, giving in to an amber/labdanum/civet drydown and maybe keep the patchouli a little – beauty!

All in all, an unusual and one-of-a-kind fragrance, and a definite stand out in the Le Labo lineup. I much prefer Comme Des Garcons’ lapsang souchoung offering, the aptly named: Tea.

Le Labo Patchouli 24 100ml – £138 Liberty

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Voleur De Roses – L’Artisan Parfumeur

Voleur De Roses opens with a sharp hit of metallic, camphorous patchouli in the style of the recent Mon Parfum Cherie Par Camille. The metallic edge takes it away from the plush, cosy quality of Lutens’ camphorous opening in Borneo, and whilst the high pitch could be considered uncomfortable, the other leading notes help to take it down a level.

The rose is fresh and wet. Paired with the patchouli the freshness is pulled from the earth, adding a slightly dirty edge, whilst the “wet” I describe – is a literal translucent veil of water. There is a fresh rainwater note, gathering in a shallow puddle above the entire composition – it is not aquatic, salty, ozonic or marine, instead it is more reminiscent of the slightly soiled water in a vase of flowers.

A dusting a bright pollen, scatters across the now quieter patchouli, whilst the metallic edge dilutes under the rainwater. At this point, both the rose and patchouli are balanced enough for a purple, fruit note of plum to come into focus. The fruit appears as a facet of the rose, and that’s what I thought it was all along, until I read that the plum note is individual. Once I read this, I now see it almost as the centre point of the heart of Voleur De Roses. I smell it as though it is wedged in between the patchouli and the rose – three standalone notes, almost gothic when combined. They are brooding and intense, with the still present metallic note acting like the chains tying them together, but with a light-handed touch reminiscent of cold incense.

It remains translucent, the initial bracing dew of the fresh-out-the-earth rose drips from the top into the heart, it almost makes my mouth water! This water and pollen nectar create the naturalistic sweetness needed to calm the down the ugly aspects of the soil-filled rose and the mineral twang of metal running through the patchouli.

The simplistic but beautifully balanced composition becomes quiet on the skin, staying close but with an almost shadowed presence – it’s dark and mysterious, but with the fresh rainfall quality keeping it on the more summery side of seasonal wear. I do see Voleur De Roses as ideal for summer – it has a damp, crispness soaking your skin from the wet rose petals, the sodden patchouli and cool metallic edge, and the juiciness of a bright plum, all atmospherically composed to feel open and ethereal. An uncomplicated but elegant fragrance.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Voleur De Roses 100ml EDT – £78

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CB I Hate Perfume – Cumming, Greenbriar 1968

Before I start – I believe my sample is of the original Cumming fragrance (which is extremely hard to find now) – Christopher Brosius has re-released this scent in his own water format and oil absolute (which apparently is absolutely no different!) called 2nd Cumming.

Cumming is surprisingly – really lovely! It opens with Brosius’ isntantly recognizable “dirt accord”, followed by – smooth leather, a rich boozy note, tobacco, rubber, a delicate smoke, all piled in at once into a gorgeous, but slightly restrained opening. It is extremely unusual (especially for a celebrity scent), but really lovely on the skin. The leather is worn and rugged, yet smoothed out into an almost suede like texture from the synthetic rubbery notes and the smooth honeyed tobacco. The smoke is literally a whisper, and the boozy notes a sweetened whisky stain rather than astringent and sharp.
The dirt (like most CB scents) retreats into the background relatively quickly, it is always an accord that starts out with pungency and then disappears, but it’s earthiness seems to round out scents and add that distinctive green edge.

Cumming becomes seamless – it is velvet soft on the skin, and a little bit quiet. Considering the huge personality of each accord that CB has used to create this, he has somehow hushed them all into something very refined and well-behaved. Whilst in all honesty I’d rather than screeching at full volume – it is has a wonderful presence, mature and formal, but with a real playful edge.

The fragrance’s life isn’t particularly long – the leather remains throughout, with a vanillic sweetness that resembles the leather treatment in the drydown of Dzing!, the dirt accord of wet soil and mushrooms hides extremely quietly at the base, whilst the sweet booziness and smoke remain harmoniously quiet but always there. I also get a powerful, dusty saffron presence from start to finish although it isn’t listed – it adds a little more stinky warmth to the fragrance.
All in all, a really great scent, it’s just a shame that after an hour, it is barely detectable.

Dirt again, crushed leaves, the dampness of cedar wood shavings, and a dirty patchouli open Greenbriar 1968. There’s the scent of cut grass in here – but more like hay – farm like almost. I also pick up a weird “breath” aroma in here too, a little bit of an “off” note that reminds me of sweat and soiled skin.

Greenbriar begins to re-arrange itself and get confortable after a couple of minutes, where similarly to Cumming, Christopher Brosius’ honeyed tobacco rises up to the top, paired with the fresh-cut hay note. A worn leather appears and the wood shavings becomes a mere whisper.

The most fascinating part of Greenbriar for me is a very light, delicate floral note that smells extremely familiar but I feel like I haven’t smelt it before. Trying to hunt this down, I came across Fragrantica where it lists “cotton flower”… the perfumer also lists on his website that Greenbriar contains the faint scent of “grease covered cotton overalls”. I actually kind of get this, and the delicate flower smells nothing like laundry, but more the slightly dusty scent of cotton. So how the hell do I know that cotton has a scent? Well, my hobby used to be designing and making clothes – and buying rolls of fabric hold this unique scent, similarly to how a library smells of books. But, the perfumer is also correct when he describes this accord as “faint” – blink and you’ll miss it, but when you catch it, it is beautifully familiar and homely.

What remains up top for the rest of the fragrance’s life is the green, snapped-twig scent, a honeyed sweetness of tobacco, all overlaid with a translucent, slightly soiled leather. Unfortunately, yet again, it is extremely light on the skin, almost undetectable after a couple of hours, with no throw of the skin.
I’ve said it over and over again – the CB I Hate Perfume line needs to be stronger, and set in alcohol… putting these creations in small dilution in water is a complete waste of this guy’s talent. I adore so much of the line, but haven’t bought one for the reason mentioned above. It’s a real shame, if he dropped his watery nonsense, my wallet would be empty :)
Both beautiful perfumes, but with a tiny life-span.

Cumming available in 100ml water/15ml absolute – $69
Greenbriar 1968 100ml water – $80, 15ml absolute – $95

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Une Rose – Frederic Malle

A larger than life blast of pure, crisp rose (expectedly) opens Une Rose. It’s clean, crystal clear, and classically presented. This opening is the definition of a perfect soliflore – the rose’s complicated angles are all on full display: A traditional rose soap, a raspberry jam quality, a bright citrus freshness, a rich floral spice, a lightly fungal earthiness, and a languid translucency of floral waters. It’s all there, in a harmonious balance that evens Une Rose out into a singular accord.
The thing I find fascinating about this opening – is that it literally smells like its name “A rose” – it is a single rose, inhaled from a distance close enough for the petals to be spread around your nose. The scent of a bouquet of roses often captured in fragrances is more subdued, it is sniffed from afar, diluting it’s textures and it’s more ugly edges into something smoother and more delicate – even flat at times. Here the rose is completely up close and 3 dimensional, you can see into every corner of every petal and sniff out it’s more hidden elements.

So paired with the rose, is the green rose twang of geranium – probably contributed to the fresh citrus accords up-top. The geranium is blended to a point where it becomes part of the rose rather than a separate ingredient – the rose is the leading player start to finish.
An ever-so-slightly soiled honey comes forward, enhancing a little sweetness of the rose amongst the delicately bitter greenery. It’s a clever contribution, bringing forward a sweetness in Une Rose that is far more natural smelling than any other amber/vanilla/benzoin sweetener.

The unfortunate thing for me in the heart is that the rose begins to become lightly powdered, and therefore a little more “perfumey” – it starts with such fresh dew on the skin that it almost feels damp, the genuine scent of a rose after the rain (really lovely). It takes on a slight stuffiness at this point, where the rose begins to grow stronger, and seems to age with a “pot pourri” style dry, decay. Whilst it still smells like the same beautiful rose, it has really began to dry, gathering a little unwelcome dust.

The fruity facets of raspberry jam at the begin which impart a (very light) delicious syrup into Une Rose’s opening, age and mature into a slightly boozy note, with a stale wine aroma. It’s a really nice accord – but makes the already stuffy illusion of pot pourri a little more cloying than necessary – further folding the freshness of the opening into a heavily perfumed cloud of dust and honeyed pollen.

When I first tried this on paper I picked up an earthy fungal note of mushrooms (which obviously I was head-over-heels for), however this doesn’t seem to make an appearance on the skin for many hours, and even then it is far more subtle than I initially perceived it.
The earthy notes do push forward as the rose continues to age, not with a fresh green snap of stems and leaves, but instead the delicate scent of earth (which has now completely dried out), and yes, a tiny smidge of vegetal fungus.

In the late drydown (although I pick it up very lightly after an hour or so), I got a sharp dose of cedar wood to support the base. It compliments the multi-faced rose of Une Rose by taking it away from a more predictable musk/sandalwood territory into a wood with a much more abrasive scented texture. It holds a roughness that keeps Une Rose strong and powerful – it never succumbs to something delicate and predictable, blasting of your skin for hours on end.

Une Rose is a strong player in the Frederic Malle line, and amongst the other great roses in the house’s collection, it still holds its own unique identity as the most classical, and maybe even the most wearable in the highly praised rose trio (Une Rose, Lipstick Rose, Portrait Of A Lady).
On first sniff, I adored this fragrance – I instantly said “This is the best thing I’ve smelt in a long time” – after a true wearing I can’t stand by that statement as for me, the heart loses its way a little bit. That isn’t to say the heart is poor, it still paints a wonderful olfactory picture, it’s just not where I hoped the fragrance would lead me from the start.
However, I highly recommend this as one of the best rose soliflores I have tried, and is a must sniff for rose connoisseurs. A beautiful perfume.

Une Rose 50ml Frederic Malle – £130 Les Senteurs

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Un Crime Exotique – Parfumerie Generale

The start of Un Crime Exotique as with many of the best Parfumerie Generale fragrances, is a delicious gourmand explosion. Here, a huge spicy gingerbread leaps off the skin, reminiscent of both German christmas cakes, and cracking opening the heavy glass lid on a holiday candle. The opening is actually really similar to Hansel & Dreidel by Smell Bent – unfortunately I no longer have my bottle for a direct comparison, but the opening here is a little sweeter, but less edible (it avoids the strong honey note that Hansel & Dreidel pushes forward).

Up top to make up this gingerbread yumminess, is a sheen of spicy black clove, lots of cinnamon sprinkles, nutmeg, the scent of bitter stewed tea leaves adding some translucency, and of course some spicy ginger. Un Crime Exotique is a warm spice basket, less literal than Tauer’s brilliant Eau D’Epices, but more wearable and mouth-wateringly appealing.

The spices mellow a little later on, as a really rich vanilla warms up from the base. Although another sweet note, the vanilla doesn’t become sickly, and instead mellows out the spices onto a more controllable level. The vanilla acts similarly to its treatment in my new-found love – Musc Maori, where it brings a “warm milk” accord – turning Un Crime Exotique from intense Yankee candle to snug chai latte.
The unusual note of brown sugar, the clever lead in Pierre Guillaume’s Sucre d’Ebene, makes a little appearance – surprisingly powerful enough to maintain it’s presence amongst the remaining ginger and cinnamon.
The cloves soften relatively quickly, they blend into the other spices to create a balanced gingerbread accord rather than standing alone as in the opening.

The predictable honey inclusion which I didn’t detect in the opening begins to show up – with the same consistency and dosage as Hansel & Dreidel – the fragrances have a lot of similarities. The only main difference being where H&D takes a musky turn towards the end, here in Parfumerie Generale’s spicy offering, sandalwood provides a woody support – smeared with the vanilla and made lighter with the inclusion of tea – I prefer this.
In the late drydown, it is also reminiscent of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Tea For Two – which was too intense on the smoke and cloves for me (I love me some smoke, but the clove inclusion proved too much). The vanillic sandalwood, with the bitter tea and spice has the same comfort factor and seasonal familiarity.

Un Crime Exotique is not something I would buy and wear, but I do enjoy to sniff it. It is extremely familiar and delightfully joyous – a perfect Christmas fragrance for sitting inside in the warmth when it’s cold out – I’d love to use this as a room/fabric spray more so than on my skin. Still, a lovely offering in the gourmand sector of Parfumerie Generale – a house who is constantly impressing me with the sheer diversity of a very talented perfumer, currently my favourite niche brand.

Un Crime Exotique 50ml Parfumerie Generale – £81.50 Les Senteurs

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Dans Tes Bras – Frederic Malle

Dans Tes Bras opens with a powdery, almost candied violet with a driftwood note underneath. I get a brief flurry of aldehydes and sharp jasmine, followed by a potent musk balancing on the clean/dirty line surrounding the candy sweetness.

The driftwood note is there from the get-go and never leaves – it brings to mind seaweed, or the inside of a seashell. It smells slightly off or rotted, but clean from the ozonic saltiness that fizzes off the skin. It is as bizarre as it sounds and is fascinating paired with the classical powdery floral scent of violets. The jasmine recedes into the background before evaporating pretty quickly (and thankfully – I don’t feel like it belongs in Dans Tes Bras at all). The violet stays hovering in the heart for longer than expected, but is joined unwelcomingly by a piercing metallic incense – razor-sharp and jagged alongside the potent salt.
Now, I say unwelcomingly quite unfairly actually, I love the metallic incense – but up close it is unbearable (instant headache). As most fragrance notes do – it does begin to settle after the ten minute mark, and blends into a quieter and more complimentary volume.

So the violet de-sweetens, but retains its classic powder, the driftwood scent becomes fungal – deepening itself into a more earthy aroma of mushrooms (it’s convincing too – in a Christopher Brosius kind of way). The musk vanishes for a while, and allows a cedar to come forward. Yet again (along with the incense), the cedar is pretty sharp, it seems to absorb the salty ozonic notes to incorporate the cedar with the driftwood – dragging it’s instability into the base. A little glimpse of eugenol makes it’s appearance every now and again – cool and medicinal, reminiscent of its use in Iris Silver Mist with the same clove/earth feel.

If Dans Tes Bras reminds me of anything, it would be At The Beach 1966 by CB I Hate Perfume. Whilst this has the violet (which turns into a mineral accord), ATB1966 has suntan lotion. Also, the ozonic “beachy” smell in the Brosius’ work, is far subtler – here in Dans Tes Bras it is intense, and the leading combination of accords that make up this relatively linear fragrance.
I get a little patchouli, and the return of the synthetic musk in the start of the drydown – and Dans Tes Bras loses all of its floral notes. What remains is a salty musk with a hint of sharp woods to support – it is the scent of skin after a dip in the ocean, and it’s really lovely.

Dans Tes Bras is going to be difficult for many – the notes contrast greatly in texture, and make parts of the evolution extremely uncomfortable. It’s also the most unusual fragrance in the Malle lineup, it verges on the avant-garde experimental perfumery of Brosius, or even the house of Comme Des Garcons. It’s in no way unwearable, and is a complete surprise considering the name “In Your Arms”… the first time I sprayed this in store I expected a warm Musc Ravageur type of scent – but no. Infact I found it quite repulsive the first time I tried it, the second – I loved it.
It’s cosy and intimate in a way that no other fragrance designed to be cosy and intimate is: it’s raw, literal and intense – whilst being quiet on the skin. I find it completely fascinating and it may well be my first purchase from the Frederic Malle house :)

Dans Tes Bras 50ml Frederic Malle – £100 Liberty

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Boise Vanille – Montale

Thanks to a wonderfully generous Suzanne – I received my lovely decant of Boise Vanille the other day from Eiderdown Press.
Having only read Memory Of Scent’s Boise Vanille review as a reference as to what this may smell like – it took my by surprise!
So here it is…

Boise Vanille opens with a sharp, intense blast of bergamot, lemons at industrial chemical strength (the best way ;)!), and within minutes, a bizarre sour cloud edges its way up from the base.

Over the next thirty seconds, the cloud surrounds the citrus fruits, engulfing and incorporating them into a heated, sharp accord of screaming cedar wood and pepper. The pepper penetrates the bergamot skin which together create an uncomfortable high-pitched light up top, which I’m pretty sure is surrounded by a blast of aldehydes. The scorched cedar wood splinters through it’s aldehydic casing, and the sour/bitter accords radiate off the skin – taking on the persona of an extremely classical fragrance composition.

Citrus>>pepper>>cedar – a very modern composition blown up in intensity (as opposed to it’s more usual transparency – I’m thinking a larger-than-life Jean-Claude Ellena style piece of work here). The classical quality comes from the use of soapy aldehydes which scrub up this combination into something almost squeaky clean, but with a very slight sweetness coming up underneath – it’s very unusual.
Bizarrely in this stage, it reminds me slightly of the quick fragrance I made whilst on my perfumery course in London – an aldehydic animalic. The reason I compare it, is because somehow, the cedar wood almost takes on a sticky labdanum quality – maybe even a nutty castoreum. The first time I tested Boise Vanille, I’d have sworn these two ingredients hid in the base – but they only make a brief appearance in the heart (must be a mirage). There is definitely a fine, black fragrant sheet in the centre of this fragrance, it is almost translucent but holds this mirage of resinous labdanum and earthy aromas of castoreum. I also pick up faint whiffs of medicinal eugenol and even green cardamom. Yet again, these may be down to this shapeshifting whisper in the middle – still surrounded by the leading cedar and pepper (with the citrus slowly evaporating).

Vanilla’s dominant appearance is short and sweet, appearing after about an hour – a quick, creamy glimpse of sweet vanilla, intermingles in a harmony with the remnants of the almost barbershop opening. The vanilla in balance with the heated cedar, reminds me of the same relationship style as the honey and cedar in Miel De Bois – although these are entirely different fragrances.
The vanilla retreats again but now remains in sight; blended with the slightly almond-y aroma of subtle tonka, the base tames the high-intensity of the cedar whilst remaining completely de-sweetened.

I get a faint waft of myrrh in the base as well – although it may be the de-sweetened vanilla providing that dense “breathy” smell that I always pick up in myrrh notes. A scrubbed up patchouli ever so slightly fluffs up the base with a rich greenery, almost undetectable – and in the same style as Christopher Brosius’ unfamiliar patchouli in Patchouli Empire.

The sillage throughout Boise Vanille is much more pleasant than the fragrance is close up – the vanilla provides a sweet edge almost from the get-go, but I only detected this when testing the fragrance on someone else. The scented throw from Boise Vanille, and it’s close-up screech, almost come across as two entirely different fragrances – the start and finish are also almost unidentifiable as the same fragrance. It’s an everchanging, challenging composition that I would consider far more about the woods than the vanilla. The other complicated aspect of it is that whilst it’s “challenging”, it is almost classical in an extremely dated fashion – with the barbershop, aldehydic citrus up top and dry pepper and woods – a fougere even (there is a hint of lavender in the opening – soooo quiet that it wasn’t worth mentioning).

I can’t quite make my mind up on it just yet, but it’s been fascinating to explore – and unlike anything I normally wear. I’ll be sure to live with it for a little while longer and I’ll update if I find any changes :P This is also the first non-oud Montale I’ve tried which has definitely prompted me to try more of their offerings. If they are as surprising and unpredictable as this one, then I’ll have a great time working my way through them  – Thanks Suzanne! :)

Boise Vanille 50ml Montale $110 – Luckyscent
Decants available from Eiderdown Press (link above).

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