Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Puredistance M

It has taken me a while to get round to writing about Puredistance M, partly because I wanted to wear it a number of times to get a better-balanced view and also due to some personal circumstances, for example a strained back, which, I am happy to report, is on the mend!

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Puredistance and then sent a sample of M to try. This is the first time that such a thing has happened to me, so I am very pleased to write about this perfume. I was a little worried when I first received the package, as I thought "what if I don't like it? Do I just not write about it?" I think in all honesty that if I hadn't liked it, I would have still written a frank review of it, hopefully.

M was created by Roja Dove, who is based in London and is one of the world's most renowned perfume historians, nose and specialist. Ostensibly M is a leather chypre. The notes include bergamot, lemon, rose, jasmine, cinnamon, patchouli, moss, cistus, vetiver, vanilla, leather and musk.

On my skin M opens quite spicy, with a generous kick of bergamot. There are florals in the background, which to me smell a bit like lavender, although this isn't listed in the notes. The spices are earthy rather than like a culinary spice box. Once the top faded, I was surprised by the strength of a very smoky leather that emerged. It's well balanced though and at no time do I feel like the leather is going to overwhelm and become too rough. I wrote at the time that the leather smelled a bit like Mona di Orio's Cuir, but not as severe or dry. As M progresses, the leather softens to reveal a gradual emergence of amber, with a light woodiness which feels a little green around the edges, no doubt helped by the presence of vetiver. By the time M reaches the far dry down the leather has faded considerably to leave a slightly sweet balsamic amber and labdanum combination, a lot richer in feel than earlier on. 

I know the above description sounds a bit formulaic, but the progression here is very subtle and yet complex at the same time. I love how M moves from spice to leather to resins, starting quite dry and evolving to a sweeter oriental. I'm not an expert by any means, but I don't really get the feel of a chypre. Leather yes. Roja Dove has created a very good, refined perfume. It doesn't really have any jagged edges, save perhaps for the early heart when the leather first emerges shrouded in a smoky cloak. 

With each subsequent wearing my interpretation of the above still holds good. I kept on thinking to myself how the best thing about M is that transformation from spice to fierce leather, like a mist lifting, then the retreat of the leather to leave an amber dry down. I did start to notice more of a musk note with later wearings. 

If I have a criticism of M (and I'm struggling to find one, believe me) it might be that it is too smooth and suave. Except for that leather note I mentioned, the rest is quite restrained. However even as I write this I think I am wrong. It strikes me that this very restraint and subtlety could be the genius of this perfume. 

So finally, is M suitable for all of us? Well, while the top and heart notes are quite masculine, with the spices and leather, the base is essentially an amber/resin oriental, slightly sweet and with a hint of smoke, but definitely not cloying. I honestly do not see why a woman could not wear this quite comfortably. M comes highly recommended and honestly, my opinion is not biased as a result of having being sent a free sample of the perfume. I think Roja Dove has created an exceptionally good perfume.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Perfume adventures in department store land

I know I've mentioned it quite a lot this year, but in my neck of the woods - west Kent to those of you who care - new perfume releases have been quite scarce. I know everyone is moaning about the sheer glut of new releases and to a large extent I share that sentiment, but still, I do get excited when new perfume releases are planned, particularly if they are from my favourite perfumers or perfume houses.

So far this year only designer or celebrity perfumes have fallen within my radar. There was a big fanfare at the release of Jimmy Choo (puke), while I also felt distinctly underwhelmed by Daisy Oh so Fresh. Having said that, my wife really likes it and to be honest, she is better able to wear it than I am anyway. I also obtained a sample of Cartier's de Lune and again, it smelled ok but not something that made me want to shout with glee from the rooftops. 

One recent release that I overlooked and then eventually convinced myself to try is Prada's Amber Pour Homme Intense. I was pleasantly surprised. For some reason the Prada perfumes have generally left me quite cold. I can't even explain why. They just do. This one however, while not that different to the original by the time it reaches the dry down, smells a bit more sensual, smoky and well, intense! I really like it.

So this leads me to the two new fragrances (at least for me) that I encountered yesterday - Aura by Swarovski and Annick Goutal's Le Mimosa. I didn't know Swarovski has ventured into perfumes and while I haven't tried it, the packaging for some reason looks like it is going to be a sheer, fruity floral. I might be wrong - I'll let you know. I tried Le Mimosa on a scent strip and the opening smelled quite fruity, of peaches, but in a nice way. The rest of it smelled like mimosa then dried down to what is described as powdery notes of Florentine iris and aniseed. I'd have to try it on skin, but it struck me as typically Goutal, which is not to say that it is bad.

I know men's mainstream perfume is often derided for being unimaginative and reeking of bog-standard sports colognes and of freshness. It strikes me that women's mainstream perfume is generally not much better. Instead of sports colognes we've got fruity florals, fruitchoulis, whatever you want to call them. They smell generic and same-y as well. Which is worse?

Monday, 28 March 2011

My blog is one year old today

I was debating whether to publicise this fact or not. After all, I've noticed quite a few of my blogomates have recently celebrated their first blog anniversary.

In any event, here it is. A year ago today I published my first post, here, in which I chattered randomly about how I became interested in perfume. At the time I wasn't sure how long I would keep this up for but I am truly glad that I did, because along the way I have met some very interesting perfumistas, learnt a lot more about perfume and appreciating perfume, and about blogging too.

Thanks to all of you that read my blog, especially those who are kind enough to take the time to stop by and post a friendly comment or two. You know who you are.

Here's to another year of perfume friendship and enjoyment. Cheers!!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Etat Libre D'Orange - Vierges et Toreros

In a line known for its risque marketing and in many cases, quite challenging perfumes, Vierges et Toreros is another that pushes the envelope. Depending on one's point of view, this one could either be very attractive or repulsive.

Vierges et Toreros is ostensibly a leather fragrance, mixed with tuberose, for men. However, if you are looking for the more recognisable facet of tuberose, I don't think you will find it here. This perfume opens with a very strange smell of what to me is like a plasticky vinyl, on the verge of melting and burning. Some have mentioned a smell of metallic blood. While it doesn't smell quite like that to me, I can see why this could be perceived as such. As this note develops, I detect a slightly charred, smoky note, like birch tar. At no point do I detect any of the florals, and while I'm sure they are there, the smoky leather note is so strong that it overpowers everything else with one big hammer blow.

This leathery, tarry note only gets stronger, to the point that it becomes overwhelming and I can't get rid of that plastic/vinyl note. It smells incredibly artificial and I'm not sure I like it very much. Three words come to mind - cloying, heady and potent.

After trying Vierges et Toreros, I later encountered two other perfumes that have a similar feel and some notes in common, namely Mona di Orio's Cuir and Boudiccea's Complex. Of the three, Cuir is the most wearable, but I still find it challenging. Vierges et Toreros is just downright bizarre and offputting, at least in my opinion.

The notes, from Luckyscent, include bergamot, pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, ylang-ylang, tuberose, leather, animalic base, costus, patchouli and vetiver.

Image credit -

Friday, 25 March 2011

Freaky Friday

I haven't had much of a chance to immerse myself in perfume land this week, much as I would have liked to. I've been very busy at work and also took off three days as leave, spending some much-needed springtime time with my children. The weather has been glorious here and it feels as if spring has finally arrived and is here to stay.

Today we took the kids to a soft-play centre just outside of Tunbridge Wells. It is located in a warehouse and has lots of slides, obstacles and padded climbing frames. A dream for a kid and, I would have thought, for a dad who enjoys mucking about. Unfortunately my mucking about ended up as daddy-does-his-back-in and I am now almost immobile with an excruciatingly painful lower back injury. Ah, the follies of youth! Not... Having spoken to a doctor it seems like there is not much I can or should do for a few days other than take some strong painkillers and try to take it easy, yet ironically not stay still - the doctor said I stand a better chance of a quicker recovery if I move around, albeit carefully.

So, in and around all of this, I was intending on writing up and posting my thoughts on Puredistance M, but sadly haven't managed to fit this in. I guess it will have to wait until next week, as our closest friends, Darren and Carmen, are coming to stay for the weekend.

I've worn a bit of this and a bit of that this week, but to be honest I can hardly remember what. Today I wore Guerlain's L'Instant, which I own. I still think it is a lovely perfume. I wore Diptyque's Tam Dao yesterday, which felt perfect for a nice spring day. Not that it is necessarily a springlike fragrance, but its contemplative sandalwood and ambergris felt just right.

Next week I hope to be back with a bang. Until then, happy blogging everyone and have a good weekend.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Monday 'vrooms' by

As I mentioned on Friday, we visited friends of ours who live in Cambridge. Actually, they have just moved a little way outside of Cambridge, to a village called Girton. It is a lovely place, and while their new house needs a bit of work, it already feels quite homely and welcoming and we had a lovely time. George, their son, turned four and it was his party that day. It was a long drive up from Kent, but we had lunch with John and Katherine and after the party we stayed on with another family of close friends to have a few laughs, some cider and then a curry. The only down side was having to drive back to Kent at 9 at night, with two shattered young children for company! Incidentally, Girton is sort of famous for being the location of Cambridge University's first female college. This being a bit before the Suffragettes movement reached its height, the ladies were housed a 'safe' two miles or so out of town. I could be wrong, but I think males were only admitted well into the 20th century.

Anyway, rambling on, the last three days have been relatively devoid of perfume, as I suspected it would be. Today, back at work, it was scentless, until this evening, when determined not to remain unscented, I applied a few dabs of Le Labo's Iris 39 and Profumum's Olibanum. Yes, I know. There isn't much science in how I wear perfume. I simply looked at my sample vials and picked two that randomly shouted out at me. Wear me! Wear me!

The highlight of my day was that we completed the exchange of our car for a new one. Nothing fancy - one Honda Jazz for a newer Jazz model. We like the Jazz. It's a very small family car that for it's size is surprisingly spacious inside. It's hardly a boy racer's dream, but hey ho, so what. Now I am obsessing like a new parent, looking outside the window to where it is parked, terrified that someone is going to scrape it as they walk by, or some idiot is going to dent it as they try park nearby. Anal, I know. I'm sure the feeling will pass in due course!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Weekly roundup and Le Labo Vetiver 46 and L'Artisan Voleur de Roses

This has been a good week for me perfume-wise. Do you ever have one of those cycles where all the perfume you wear smells good or different to before? It's lovely when it happens.

I started the week by trying the new samples that Frida sent me. Florida Water is a cologne, and quite light, but it smelled good - essentially some citrus and perhaps a touch of cloves. I also wore Cologne du Maghreb by Andy Tauer on the other wrist and you know what? They weren't miles away in feel and smell. Both are fleeting, but being colognes, they are meant to be applied and re-applied generously. I also tried Bond no 9's Washington Square and Creed's Fleurs de Bulgarie. The Bond reminded me freakily of something else I've worn. I know I've never tried another Bond before, so I don't know what it is. Fleurs de Bulgarie is lovely, with a pure and gorgeous rose note, easing into a dry down that reminds me startlingly of La Nuit by Paco Rabanne, which is a dirty green chypre. Very nice.

I mentioned last week how I wore Tabac Aurea and for the first time got what everyone else seems to love about it. This week a similar thing happened with Vetiver 46 by Le Labo. In the past I've worn it and liked it, but not loved it. It smelled like a bog-standard vetiver on me. Today it started with a wonderful smoky, almost beeswax-like blast and then carried on with a great smoky vetiver note that impressed me. So what happened? I'm always fascinated how this can occur with perfume. Is it my skin chemistry, seasons, hormones, the place my mind is at at present, or what?
Today I revisited L'Artisan's Voleur de Roses, after reading Perfume Shrine's lovely post about it a few days ago. She's right too. This must have been one of the first rose and patchouli combinations before it became all the rage. What I love about Voleur de Roses is its heavy shot of patchouli with a sweet, yet pure rose note. While there might or might not be ambroxen in it, it doesn't smell as cliched as some of the more recent rose-patch perfumes that have been released. And it still smells surprisingly distinctive and unique. I love it.

Following receipt of my sample of M from Puredistance a couple of weeks ago, I have tried it a few times and feel ready to write about it. That will most likely be next week. It's very good I might add.

So, this weekend we are off to Cambridge to see some friends whose son is turning four and is having a party. I like going up there. We hardly ever see them anymore. I doubt I will get anywhere near a perfume shop but no doubt I will be wearing something or other.

Have a good weekend all.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

My dad and Muscs Kublai Khan

I don't know about you, but sometimes it is difficult seeing one's parents grow old. I say sometimes, because age is not something that should frighten us, and growing old gracefully and graciously is part of our humanity and collective wisdom. Without it, we would be poorer humans.

Still, it does hurt from time to time. Pictured left is a photo of my dad with my late mother (right) and the then girlfriend (left) of his best friend from school, Eric. My dad and Eric would remain friends for the next forty years, until he passed away sadly a couple of years ago. What I love about this photo are the expressions of vitality and hope in the faces of all three. My dad looks proud to have his future wife-to-be on his left side. Would he have known then that their marriage would stand the test of time, destined to spend the next four decades together, have three children, live, love, lose, and then be parted by death? I suppose so. Fundamentally we all know the ultimate destiny, our human frailty. But I think at this moment, the photo captures that immortality of youth, and rightly so.

The title of this post mentions Muscs Koublai Khan. What does this have to do with my dad? Well, nothing directly, but today I am wearing MKK and whenever I do, I almost always think of my dad, because he used to wear a musk perfume that smelled very similar to MKK. I know for sure that it wasn't, considering this was in the eighties and early nineties and I have to be honest, I don't know what it was. Still, the smell of my dad brings back a lot of memories. Of when he was younger and more vital. When I believed my parents were invincible and would always protect me. When our family was still together. When youth reigned supreme. When I believed in ever after. Which seems a bit contradictory, as MKK is hardly the perfume of innocence. Having said that, musk in this style smells very fleshy, of skin, and very carnal. The skin of humans in their prime, who have loved and lusted.

Today my dad may be in his seventies, with his frailties beginning to show, but I know that even though flesh may shrivel and bones weaken, his spirit remains young and true, and that is what counts. The fact that Muscs Koublai Khan can help me to believe this is part of what makes it such a brilliant perfume for me. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Heeley Sel Marin

Sometimes it can be risky to order a perfume sample based too much on expectation. Heeley Sel Marin is a case in point. I had read reviews beforehand, studied the notes and salivated at the thought of how good it was going to be. For some reason (why?) I thought it would be another Sel de Vetiver, one of my favourite and original takes on a 'marine' theme. I suppose both have the word 'sel' in their title.

The notes from Luckyscent include lemon, Sicilian bergamot, sea salt, seaweed, vetiver, birch and cedar. Not a million miles away in theory from Sel de Vetiver. The opening was totally unexpected, and that threw me, I think. It reminded me strongly of Apres la Mousson by Hermes, which is not what I was hoping for. I don't dislike the Hermes, but it is not my favourite in the line. Sel Marin smells swampy and brackish and not like the sea salt accord I was hoping for. There is a watery and slightly peppery feel to it, with light woods. As it progresses, it smells less like Apres la Mousson, but still not distinct enough to win over my heart. I was hoping it would smell fresher and fragrant, with an association of being by the sea, washed by an ozone-laden sea breeze. Instead it makes me feel like I'm stuck on the middle of an island, on the salt pan, away from any breeze, sweaty and humid, desperate for a drink, with only brackish pond water available. I know, that is a fairly pathetic attempt at describing the feeling of Sel Marin, but its the best I can do.

I know there are fans of Sel Marin out there and I appreciate that for you this may work brilliantly. I don't think it is a poor fragrance, but just not what I am looking for in a perfume.

Image credit - 

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A gift from Frida

As I mentioned yesterday, I received a package from Bloody Frida yesterday and promised I would post some pictures. Having finally located my camera I took a few very professional photographs (yeah, right) which are set out below. I thought as I am a proud dad, I would include a few additional ones of my very lovely daughters, who mean the world to me. No bragging...

We do like our berets!
Stickers, hair clips, perfume samples, sweets - yum!
Thanks Frida!

As you can see, I am not the best at laying out photos in a blog, which is probably why I don't focus much on the pictorial aspect of my blog.

As you can see, Frida knitted my daughters lovely berets and was also very kind to send them some sweets, stickers and hair clips. The perfumes are on top of the green beret if you haven't spotted them.

Daisy and Hannah with their dollies
A sleepy Daisy
Daisy and Hannah on the train to London
Spring is almost here - the first Daffodils in our garden

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Weekend musings

So, it is weekend again, and it was back to DIY again. The day started with fantastic weather, which could only mean one thing - get a roof on the Wendy House (playhouse) as soon as possible. To someone technically challenged like myself, this is no easy task. In the event, I managed to get the roof on by mid afternoon, but still needed to collect the felt (for waterproofing) from a friend who had a spare roll. By this time the sky was looking decidedly more murky, so with a sense of urgency we fetched the felt and after some cutting, cursing and tacking, got it done by 5.30pm. By the time we had finished supper the rain was pouring down. Phew! Thank goodness.

A lovely surprise awaited me today - a package from my friend Frida over on Bloody Frida! I'm sure quite a few of you know this wonderful lady already, who is extremely kind and generous. I sent Frida a few samples last month and she reciprocated by knitting my two daughters lovely berets and also sent me samples of Bond's Washington Square, Creed's Fleurs de Bulgarie and something I haven't seen before, Florida Water. Yo Frida - big thanks. I will post some pics in due course, once I locate my camera...

I didn't wear any perfume today because I knew that with manual labour it would disappear quicker than a refund of an MP's falsified expense claim. Yesterday I wore a couple of samples from the wonderful Sonomo Scent Studio. I've written about them before - Winter Woods and Tabac Aurea. In my original post about Tabac Aurea back in August or September last year I wrote that I couldn't detect all that much tobacco and mentioned an immortelle note that I didn't like very much. I've worn Tabac Aurea a few times since then and got the same impression. Lo and behold, yesterday it unfolded in a totally different manner. Right from the outset I smelled a beautifully rendered tobacco note, which was later joined by smoke and labdanum. I could still smell a little immortelle, but only just, and it worked well with the tobacco. I still find it amazing how perfumes can perform so differently over time.

So, have a good weekend all. I'm off to find my camera now...

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Different Company Bois d'Iris

I'm not sure about you, but generally I am a fan of iris-focused perfumes. I don't know what it is about iris, but it smells like the height of sophistication for me, perfume-wise. There is something about that cool, almost haughty earthiness that thrills me. 

I must admit that iris notes are not always that approachable. In fact they are a bit of an acquired taste (or smell I suppose one should say), but once acquired, very rewarding. I find that broadly speaking iris can smell powdery, earthy/rooty and woody. Of course, very often it can borrow from all of these, and also smell buttery in the process. 

There are still a lot of iris perfumes I haven't tried. One that I haven't, but yearn to try, is Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens. Of those I have tried, I particularly enjoy 28 La Pausa by Chanel and Iris Taizo by Parfumerie Generale (which I think has been renamed). I think my least favourite rendition of the note is powdery/floral, a good example of which for me is Iris Nobile by Aqua di Parma.

Bois d'Iris by the Different Company to my mind falls predominantly into the woody category, but in the heart also smells richly buttery and almost fatty. I suspect that some of that 'fattiness' might come from aldehydes, which I detect a lot of in the top and heart. Bois d'Iris, along with the same-named by Van Cleef and Arpels, is possibly the most woody rendition of iris I have personally encountered. I like that. There is a phase, probably as the aldehydes dissipate, where the more rooty/earthy facets of iris emerge, but this is relatively short-lived. To my mind Bois d'Iris is not dissimilar to 28 La Pausa. Particularly with all the aldehydes it smells very 'Chanel' at one point, before the woodiness takes over.

I would say that Bois d'Iris is fairly unisex, and I think I can pull it off fairly comfortably, although I suspect it would be marginally more popular with the ladies. This is not to say that I don't like it. I actually do. My favourite part is the first half, particularly when the coolness of iris is balanced with that butteriness, gradually merging to reveal a woody heart. It is very well done.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Odin New York 01 'Nomad'

I don't know all that much about the Odin New York line. I ordered a sample of 01 sometime last year purely off the back of a review of the line by someone (can't remember who) who mentioned that 01 was most to his liking.

The notes from Luckyscent include juniper berries, Himalayan cedar, bergamot, palmarosa, black pepper, heliotrope, tonka bean, sandalwood and grey musk.

My initial notes for the opening state that I detect something quite juicy, smelling like mandarin. I suppose I was wrong there. I also noticed early on a surprising heavy dose of musk, with what I would describe as 'blonde' woods. I'm not sure what I mean by blonde, except that Nomad wears rather light. As the citrus fades, Nomad starts to smell uncannily like the wooden stick of a vanilla ice cream eaten at the beach. You know, the part of the wood that was covered with ice cream but is now just fragrantly damp from where you've licked off all the ice. At least, that is how I perceive it. Is this the heliotrope, with sandalwood and tonka? There is a creaminess to Nomad, with light woods and a vanillic undertone, definitely. This phase is the most enjoyable for me. I love this evocative smell of a childhood (and adult, come to think of it!) treat.

The rest of the development continues in much the same vein. The musk becomes more prominent, but it is a clean musk, not skanky but not totally like laundry either. The woody vanilla note diminishes, whereas I would have preferred if it had stuck around longer. What I like about Nomad is that it uses a lot of notes that could have strayed dangerously into generic men's perfume territory, yet manages to avoid the obvious cliches. The dry down is probably the phase where it smells the most generic, yet even then it retains enough of a bite and uniqueness to please me. I wouldn't say that I would rush out to buy a bottle of Nomad, but it is very well done for what it is. I think it would be a good all-round perfume for office or casual evening wear, and I don't think a woman would struggle wearing it either. It is not overtly masculine, and is on the sweet side, but balanced.

If someone could tell me what Palmarosa is, I would be grateful. I could Google it, but feel like hearing from you instead.

Image credit -

Monday, 7 March 2011

The banality of Monday

Monday, Monday, Monday. Boy, am I glad you are gone for another six days. The title of this post can be summed up by the news I read today that LVMH has bought a majority stake in Bulgari. Is there anything that they don't own or have their sticky fingers in?

I woke up today with a stiff neck that has left me walking around like a robot, unable to turn my head left or right, or even forward and backward. I know I did some DIY this weekend but definitely nothing so strenuous as to result in this affliction. For now I'll blame it on a poor pillow.

I have a question to ask. Do any of you find that the longer you delay putting on perfume on a particular day the less likely it is you'll put on any at all? I definitely find this is the case for me. Of course there are exceptions, for example if I'm going out after work ( a rare occasion these days with young kids) I will wear perfume if I haven't already worn some in the day. Generally though, if I haven't sprayed something on by the end of lunchtime, I reckon seven times out of ten I won't have worn any perfume by the end of that day. I'm not even sure why. It becomes almost like a state of inertia. Subconsciously I know I want to wear something, but I just put it off. It doesn't feel quite right to me. Am I a weirdo? (No, you don't have to answer that one, thanks)

In the end, I did spray on some perfume today, as I was leaving the office. In desperation I flung my hand in one of my drawers (of my desk) and sprayed the first sample I found, which happened to be A La Nuit by our Uncle Serge. It's a good thing it was the end of the working day, as I don't think I can carry this one off particularly well. Indolic jasmine - might not go down so well, unless people think I am having an affair with one of my colleagues at lunchtime... I actually like A La Nuit though, but it just isn't me. Incidentally my wife hates it on me. She wrinkled her nose as I walked in this evening and said I smelled sweet and cloying, like Gardenia or Frangipani. She says that sort of thing a lot whenever I wear a white floral. She thinks they all smell slightly 'sub tropical', which is her way of saying they smell shit. I think if I'm going to fall for a jasmine perfume it might end up being the skanky Nuit Noire, by Mona di Orio!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Saturday, KFC and the slow-burners

So, Saturday is almost over, for me anyway. MY DIY project has commenced, albeit much slower than I anticipated. It doesn't help getting stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the industrial estate where the hardware store is based (B&Q, for those of you in the UK). At least I now have the wood I need to make the new roof and floor of the Wendy House, and various shelves for our own house. MDF, chipboard, plywood, you name it. I have it all stacked up in a corner of our dining room (I am a romantic at heart) and a grazed finger for my troubles. Oh the drama.

Tonight, continuing with the romantic theme, my wife and I ate KFC for the first time in about a year. What is it about that place? Do you enjoy KFC and junk food? I don't particularly, and it freaks me out going there. A clandestine guilt falls over me, furtive glances left and right to check that none of our neighbours spots the tell tale red and white packaging as I return home with the takeaway. Was it a guilty pleasure? Not really, it tasted ok but laced with salt and other preservatives, I think. It was cheap though, which is probably why so many people eat there.

So what does any of this have to do with perfume? Absolutely freaking nothing my friends. But hey, its Saturday and I have nothing better to talk about. I did wear some perfume today. I tried my samples of Ineke's Field Notes from Paris and Frederic Malle Noir Epices. Neither of these has worked particularly well for me in the past. I'm not really sure why. Both are very decent perfumes but just don't interest me all that much. Today went better though. I appreciated more of the tobacco in Field Notes, which goes well with all that Orange Blossom, while the pepper in Noir Epices was less severe than usual and I got the full chypre effect for a change, rather than the pepper mill in 3d technicolour. Perhaps these two are slow burners and starting to grow on me.

What are you wearing this weekend? Are there any perfumes that intellectually (or otherwise) you think ought to appeal to you, but for some reason just fall short of the mark or fail to impress? 

Friday and the weekend blues

It's meant to be the other way around, right? I should be saying this on Sunday night, with the Monday blues. But no, this weekend I have been roped into DIY duty, and that makes me feel queasy. I've developed a modicum of DIY skill over the years, out of necessity mind you, not desire. This weekend I have to put up shelves and put a new roof on the Wendy House we got from a neighbour. Her daughter is a bit old for it now, so it's found a new home at no 98. Pity that the roof and floor are half rotting and the felting has just about disintegrated. I suppose the decade of cobwebs can be dusted away easily enough...

On a more serious note, I hope our two daughters will enjoy playing in it over the summer, and perhaps more importantly, that I won't lose DIY face by screwing up the new roof installation or felting. We'll see. Roof tacks at the ready, I'm coming to get you baby.

Today I wore two of my most recent favourite perfumes, Caron's Secret Oud and Dior's Leather Oud. I know, I'm starting to sound like a stuck record. What is it about these two perfumes? I can't quite explain it, save to say that they both appeal to me very strongly, particularly Leather Oud. It has the most gloriously skanky but sexy accord that catches me every time, particularly in the dry down when it reappears with a bit of an oud reprisal as well. After a shower the oud note is surprisingly evident when some of the other notes are stripped away. Leather Oud manages to balance all these accords very nicely. There is leather, oud and skank, but not in a bad way. It's alluring and sexy and just right. For me.

Have a good weekend all.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

A visit to Hoopers and thoughts on some samples

Today I felt in a much better frame of mind, and inevitably I ended up wearing perfume that I enjoyed and also managed to pay a visit to Hoopers, one of my local department stores that I have written about on a number of occasions.

True to form, Melanie, my friend in the perfume department at Hoopers, had some samples for me, including Amouage's Opus IV (which I already have, thanks to my friend Persolaise) and Jubilation 25. I'm quite chuffed with Jubilation. It's a lovely, elegant chypre, one of the best in the Amouage Ladies lineup, in my opinion. She also gave me samples of Cartier De Lune and one of the endless Daisy flankers, Eau So Fresh. I'm not so sure about the Daisy. The description on the card says: "Playfully spirited, charmingly fun. A bubbly floral fruity, that radiates a sunny and sparkling energy." Hmm. Do I need a fresh fruity floral? Not sure.

As for De Lune, one can "capture the ephemeral, taste the wonder of a bouquet of white flowers in the moonlight. A rare and delicate sensation, a floral caress suffused with freshness." I generally like Cartier's fragrances - they are usually well made - and will certainly give this one a go.

So what perfume did I wear today? Well I tried Puredistance M for the first time - see my post from yesterday. It's still early days but my initial impression is very positive. It is a leathery concoction that initially starts quite smoky and severe and then mellows into a smooth and suave amber and woods combination, with the leather never far away. Mmm, nice. Very nice and very well done. I also wore Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez. Woah, this is very good too. And not remotely feminine to me. If you gave me an unlabeled sample I would never have made such a connection anyway. It's rich, skanky, sexy, complex. I love it.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

A scentless day, and a surprise sample

Today was a day devoid of perfume, sadly. For some reason work and its myriad distractions got the better of me and before I knew it, the day was over and I went home, scentless and, possibly, senseless.

A nice surprise was waiting for me when I got home though - a sample of Puredistance M, by the luxury company Puredistance, who, if I understand correctly, are based in Vienna, Austria. I'm not going to review M now, for obvious reasons, but will say that they contacted me out of the blue, offering to send me a sample to try. This is the first time this has happened to me and I'm perfectly happy to take them up on the offer!

M is created by Roja Dove, who many of you will have heard of before. He is based in London and is famed partly for his magnificent haute parfumerie located on the top floor of Harrods in Knightsbridge. I've been there before and the place and its perfumes are just stunning. According to Puredistance, "M is an oriental, leather chypre. Sumptuous and complex, yet at the same time noble and sophisticated. M is a smooth blend of spicy and woody ingredients with the leathery part seamlessly integrated into the whole. The floral note is there, but hidden, adding richness and sensuality."

I'm looking forward to trying M, I must say. I've smelled some other chypres by Roja Dove and they were exquisitely done, so let's hope this one is too.

Watch this space... with a review to follow once I've tried M a few times.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Hermes Terre D'Hermes

Terre D'Hermes is a perfume I own. A whole bottle. Which is a relative rarity for me. My wife gave it to me for Christmas in 2007, so it is a fragrance I am well-acquainted with, as you might imagine.

The unfortunate thing for me concerning Terre D'Hermes is that I developed a negative association with it shortly after receiving it. I've mentioned this in one of my much earlier posts last year. I associate the smell with fear. The fear of failure. By this I mean that I wore it when going through a tough time during a big career change, with a lot at stake. It might seem silly to those of you to whom this hasn't happened before, but believe me, this really can happen. I should say one thing though - I like Terre D'Hermes. It is a very good mainstream perfume, possibly one of the best offerings for men in recent years, up there with Dior Homme and Guerlain L'Instant, in my opinion anyway.

So, what about the perfume itself? Well, the notes include grapefruit, orange, flint, pepper, pink pepper, geranium, patchouli, cedar, vetiver and benzoin. One thing is not in doubt - Terre D'Hermes at one level or another is all about citrus, orange in particular. The genius though is that this is also so much more than citrus. There is a wonderful earthiness that at times really does smell flinty. I wanted to use the term minerally, but thinking about it, flinty sums it up better. As many of you probably are aware, Terre was created by Jean-Claude Ellena, and if you are familiar with his work, you will recognise his signature very clearly across this fragrance. What I find interesting about Ellena, and in particular his work for Hermes, is that despite his creations being sheer, transparent and light (or so the general label goes), they actually have extremely good lasting power, and in the case of Terre, significant sillage too. This is by no means a skin scent. On more than one occasion someone has complimented me when wearing this and it lasts a long time. Case in point - I sprayed it on at about 8 this morning and I can still smell it clearly at 9.30 tonight, as I'm typing this. I think this is partly where Ellena's genius lies, in that he has an almost freaky ability to create perfumes that create an illusion of lightness and sheerness, yet they still pack a punch, albeit a subtle one. Or maybe it's just my skin chemistry, which has never swallowed up his fragrances. 

Terre D'Hermes has been reviewed so many times by so many people that I am not going to go into a detailed review of the actual progression myself. Despite Terre's clarity and sparkliness, it is actually a very complex perfume, in my opinion, and it is temperamental. It performs variably on my skin in the sense that sometimes it turns a bit sour on me, when the orange notes intensify and become ever so slightly cloying. On other occasions the orange, flint, woods and vetiver combine wonderfully to work just right, and then I feel truly happy that I own a bottle of it.

As for gender, should I need to mention it (well I just have), I think Terre D'Hermes can definitely be worn by either sex. It is marketed as a masculine, but I don't see why a woman can't wear it with confidence.

One final thought. Despite my up-and-down relationship with Terre D'Hermes, I still find it even now to be totally distinctive. Yes, anyone who has any experience of Ellena and Hermes in particular will recognise little tell tale traits and similarities to others in the stable, but Terre is still very recognisably Terre. I can identify it from a mile away. Now, depending on your point of view, this could either be a good or a bad thing. For me its a good thing, because in an increasingly bland and banal masculine perfume world, Terre is one of the shining beacons of individuality and proof that men's perfumes can be unique and interesting.


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