I have been away for a few days again seeing a client down in Bournemouth. For those of you not familiar with the UK, Bournemouth is a previously genteel seaside resort in Dorset, which is a county sandwiched between Hampshire to the east and Devon to the west. Probably not the information you were anxious to read, but there you have it. I usually travel there by train, which necessitates a change in London. It's a long journey from where I live, but it does mean I can, if I wish, stop in London on the return trip and visit some perfume haunts. You may recall a post last month where I visited Liberty, the department store just off Oxford Circus, and pictured above left. It's a lovely building, but don't be fooled: as quaint as it looks, it isn't a period Tudor building at all, but was actually built in 1924 using the timber of ships. Nevertheless, it is a quirky store full of little rooms and antiquated chambers, a gorgeous wooden staircase and a lovely gallery at the top. It's worth a visit just for the architecture and curiously old-fashioned feel of it. One thing that is certain is that its merchandise is not out of date or old-fashioned; and the perfume selection is excellent. What I also like about Liberty is that its sales staff do not hassle you. They are quite content to leave you to browse, but if you require assistance they are more than willing to help. I can't say that it is very easy to come by samples though; I've only ever had success at the Diptyque counter.
I tried quite a few perfumes this past Friday, almost all on paper, so any opinion I've formed is very much a first impression. I'll list them briefly.
Diptyque Vetyverio - this is ok, but has that typically light and understated feel that I find very common in the line. There is vetiver in this, but it is quite subdued and a little nutty/sweet. If you are looking for hard-core vetiver I would suggest moving on to the Frederic Malle counter to try Vetiver Extraordinaire.
L'Artisan Dzhongha - I tried this one on skin. Many of the line have less-than-impressive longevity, but Dzhongha lasted through two showers on my skin and was rather tenacious. It is an incense and tea fragrance, a little smoky and even floral. I was surprised by how sweet it wore on my skin too. In a way I kind of prefer it to Timbuktu but that sweetness does leave me feeling a little unsure.
Escentric 01 by Escentric Molecules - I'm sorry, I can't believe this is actually a perfume. Are they really selling water instead? I don't often say this, but this is a waste of shelf space. I think I have a relatively decent nose but I could not smell this one at all. It was literally fresh air on my skin. Honestly. If any of you have tried this, I'd love to get your take on it. Astounding, not in a good way.
Etro Shaal Nur - I quite liked this. A fairly approachable incense fragrance, perhaps a little sweeter than I would have liked but much easy to cope with than the gothic rising-damp monster that is Messe de Minuit, by the same line.
Comme de Garcon Ouarzazate - another incense, which I'm sure is no stranger to some of you, being one of the five in the incense series. It's not as severe and churchy as Avignon, and again, I quite liked this. It wasn't too sweet, and had a bit of a spice and tea accord which with the incense is contemplative and calming.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Cologne Pour le Soir - I haven't been a huge fan of Kurkdjian in the past, even though I do acknowledge his brilliance, but this is the second in this line that I've tried and it is good. It's a sort of rose-and-light-spice-with-amber/vanilla cologne, not too light but at the same time not at all heavy. It's been composed with a deft touch and is quite interesting for a cologne.
Parfums D'Empire Iskander - it's been quite a while since I tried one from this line, having sampled Ambre Russe and Cuit Ottoman in the past. Iskander is pretty much a slightly aromatic fougere, with predominantly citrus and moss and musk. It's very much in the style of De Nicolai's New York, I think, without the lavender.
Parfumes D'Empire Equistrius - this is apparently an iris-based fragrance, which it may well be, but iris wasn't particularly evident on a scent strip. The opening was very similar to Ambre Russe I thought, with an alcoholic vodka-like note. Later on it smelled quite ambery to me. It is different and I wouldn't mind trying this on skin next time.
Well, that's about it, I think. Not proper reviews I suppose, and like I said, most of these were only sprayed on paper, so perhaps development on skin would be quite different. I think one thing this blog post hopefully shows is how good a range of perfumes Liberty stocks. I have listed the main players in my previous Liberty post, which can be read here.