Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Comme des Garcons Ouarzazate and Kyoto

Some of you may recall that a few weeks ago I went on a bit of an incense binge, ordering a number of mainly incense-dominated samples from Luckyscent.

Among the many I ordered were two from the Comme des Garcons range, Ouarzazate and Kyoto. I'd sprayed these before a number of years ago, but only on paper, and neither was particularly impressive in that form.

Ouarzazate is inspired by the deserts and mountains of Morocco while Kyoto is a nod to incense practices in Japan. Ouarzazate opens with perhaps a quick burst of something citrus then very quickly becomes smoky. This is not a fragrant campfire smoke, but quite clean, smelling more like the vapours released from dying embers than burning wood. There is a smell of stones to me, gently warmed in the sun. I find Ouarzazate a very relaxed, rather slight perfume. It smells good, but in a very understated way. As the fragrance progresses, it becomes linear, smelling slightly more earthy than before and with a hint of sweetness in the dry down. The notes include incense, pepper, nutmeg, clary sage, wenge, musk, vanilla, labdanum and kashmir wood. If I'm not mistaken, wenge has also been used in Timbuktu, by Duchafour, although I think Ouarzazate was created by Mark Buxton.

Kyoto is not a million miles removed from Ouarzazate. It smells less of stone, earth and fire and perhaps more of incense, in a more 'traditional' sense, with perhaps a bit more woody undertone and resin. There is also a slight greenness to Kyoto, for want of a better expression, and it also strikes me as drier and less sweet than Ouarzazate, not that it was sweet itself. As the top notes fade, Kyoto becomes stronger and even becomes slightly bracing, with a pine note. There is something about Kyoto at this point that smells like being in an evergreen forest on a cold day. Like Ouarazate, it is quite linear and simple, encouraging quiet contemplation. Kyoto was created by Duchafour and includes notes of vetiver, patchouli,  amber, incense, cypress, coffee, teak wood, cedar and everlasting flower. Despite the notes, it still strikes me as quite a simple (not inferior) perfume.

Overall, I think I like both of these fragrances, although neither moved me quite enough to produce that 'moment', which I'm sure most of you have encountered at some point or other during your perfume journeys. They are both very well executed perfumes and if, like me, you enjoy incense, then I don't think  you will mind these very much.

Image credit - http://www.punmiris.com/

Monday, 30 May 2011

Back from holiday

Well hi folks. In some ways it's nice to be back from our holiday down in Cornwall but the week went far too quickly, as is usually the case. The weather wasn't fantastic, very windy and variable, but the north Cornish coast is very beautiful, with wild, windswept cliffs and bracing coastal path walks a must if, like me, you enjoy the outdoors.

The place we stayed at was very nice too, with both an outdoor and indoor swimming pool, sauna and steam room, and an adjoining cafe that serve excellent food. The kids had a very good time and there were plenty of facilities for them, including a trampoline and a very nice play area. Of course, they loved the swimming and we did manage to make it down to the beach  a couple of times to build sand castles. We also took the kids to the Newquay zoo and aquarium, both of which were rather nice too. Newquay is the surfing centre of Cornwall (and the UK, if I'm not mistaken) and there were plenty of surfer dudes braving the frigid atlantic waters and gales.

I mentioned before I left that I would take Sel de Vetiver with me and a few incense perfumes. Sel de Vetiver is perfect for the coast, with its salty, fresh-yet-complex vetiver tang. I wore it a few times and never felt let down. I also wore Profumum Olibanum and Andy Tauer's L'air du Desert Marocain and Gucci 1, which is, if I am correct, now discontinued, or at least rather more difficult to find than it was three years ago.

I must admit that we went to a place that had terrible mobile phone reception and we didn't bring our laptop. Therefore we had no internet connection and hence I am so out of touch with the perfume world and blogosphere. In a way I have missed it, and my usual saturation in perfume, but in another way it has been a welcome break. I still have lots to write about, but with work stepping up yet another gear, I am not sure how much time I will have to blog over the next couple of months. Nevertheless I will try to keep in touch and blog as much as time permits.

Thursday, 19 May 2011


I'm off for a week's holiday tomorrow, so no blogging from me for a few days. Not that I've been doing much, but anyway...

We're heading west over to Cornwall, for those of you who know the UK. Somewhere between Newquay and Padstow. I must admit that it will be great to get away to the seaside, far away from the usual everyday life!

On the perfume front, not much to say really. I hope to wear some perfume on holiday, but I'm still deciding what might be nice. I'm thinking possibly of Sel de Vetiver for starters, with a couple of nice incenses. Ah, who knows!

Till later, all the best.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Weekly roundup and bloggers block

I never thought I would say this, but over the last six weeks I have found myself increasingly in the position of experiencing a mild form of writer's block, or bloggers block as I have named it above. To be fair, I am extremely busy at work and that never helps, but I do find myself making a few rough notes on perfumes I have tried, or making mental notes of things I want to say, then when I sit down at the computer, I simply feel no compelling inspiration to type. It's more a form of procrastination than a block really, as all the ideas are there in my head. I hope it passes, because I do love blogging and am still very interested in perfume and trying lots of perfume, to be honest.

This week was mostly about trying some of my older samples. One that caught my attention in particular was Diptyque's Philosykos, possibly the best fig fragrance I know, in my opinion. Actually, I am not generally a massive fan of fig in perfume. I don't mind it, but it doesn't move me like some other styles do. Having said that, I do love Philosykos and with Tam Dao, it is my favourite in the Diptyque line. I think what I like is that the fig smells like fig to me. The whole tree, not just the fruit or the milky sap. It starts quite milky green, then gets a touch 'fruitier' and finally mellows to a woodiness that is suffused with subtle fig notes. A masterpiece in my opinion.

Another thing I have been doing a lot more of recently is giving away samples to friends. Not bloggers who live in other countries, but just my ordinary, every day friends, many of whom are not at all fanatical about fragrance. It's also a way of culling my ever-growing collection of samples, which is wholly unmanageable now. My drawers at work are overflowing with samples, and these days I do not have any idea what is in my collection. I mean, I do have a general idea, but it is a hazy recollection at best!

What I'd be interested in hearing from you, dear perfume bloggers, is whether any of you have experienced a period of bloggers block, and secondly, whether you also like giving away samples to friends and family, even if they aren't massive fans of perfume.

Have a good weekend all, and wherever you are, I hope it is sunny and fragrance-filled!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Random family pictures

Some of you have expressed interest in seeing the occasional picture of my family, or a glimpse into my personal life - gulp - God forbid, so below I'm setting out a few more pics of my children and my insane cat Sadie.

Hannah in a field of Dandelions near Oxford

Sadie in our garden, about a year ago

Sadie, queen of our staircase

Daisy tucks into birthday snacks

Daisy at Bedgbury Pinetum, East Sussex

Ah, I do like my afternoon nap!
So, on a more perfume-related topic, today I wore Creed Aventus again, after some time. My opinion of it hasn't changed. I still find it to be a fusty, overtly masculine creation that is totally not up my alley. Yet it is one of Creed's best sellers at present, so I am told by the sales staff at  both my local department stores.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles - a brief review

There's been a lot written about Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles. Looking on the web, it also seems as if it can be had for some significant knock-down prices. I got my sample from Les Senteurs and I must admit it surprised me on two counts. First, I was led to believe that it is very feminine. On my skin it did have these elements, but was far more unisex than I had feared. Second, it was nowhere near as skanky as I had read it was. 

To me Bal a Versailles smells rosy, with even a hint of spicy geranium and a touch of citrus and fruit to start. Underneath is a bit of musk and perhaps patchouli, quite earthy but not overtly so. As the top fades it becomes a bit more 'perfume-y' and feminine and a more recognisable chypre structure is evident, with a oriental twist - oakmoss, amber, a bit of patchouli and a smidgen of vanilla. It is nice, but not as challenging as I thought it would be. Having said that, this is the EDT that I've been trying, so possibly not the best concentration to try. In the dry down I detect a bit of leather and labdanum, which lends a nice earthiness to round things off.

So overall,  I like Bal a Versailles and was glad that it is more unisex compared to the reviews I have read. I only wish it had had a bit more 'oomph' to it on my skin, but nevertheless still enjoyable to wear.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Xerjoff Casamorati Mefisto

This is the first Xerjoff that I've tried, courtesy of the lovely Carol at Waft, what a fragrance fanatic thinks. I've been wanting to try Xerjoff for some time, partly based on the many solid, perhaps even rave reviews.

I didn't know anything about Mefisto before trying, but initially it felt very thin and weak. I can't quite explain it, but I was expecting the top notes to sparkle with citrus notes in the Italian style, but it felt stilted. For a good few minutes the only thing I could smell was what to me comes across as flower petals that have turned brown, steeped in water. In other words vegetal rot. Once this phase passes, Mefisto improves significantly. A prominent rose note emerges and pretty much lasts for the duration. It isn't a dark rose, but does have a lushness, which in style is a little like Creed's Fleurs de Bulgarie. Paired with this rose note is iris, which cools down the rosy lushness and tempers the dewy sweetness, but overall Mefisto is a relatively straightforward, gentle fragrance. Nothing wrong with that.

Although I quite like Mefisto, I have to be honest and state that it perhaps is not quite my style. It smells of very good, high-quality ingredients, but is just a little short of the mark for me. Having said that, it is perfectly wearable and who knows, I may change my mind with subsequent wearings.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Weekend roundup and Blu Mediterraneo

Life continues to be busy as the first week of May comes to a close. Yet, as I said the other day, despite the hectic work schedule and other distractions that I am currently encountering, I'm still wearing a lot of perfume, and a lot of new perfume at that (for me). If only I could somehow bring myself to write about it more than I am.

I plan to express some thoughts on these over the next few weeks, but over the last five days I've been wearing Six Scents Series 1 no 1 and no 5. Blimey, they are weird. Compellingly weird, and surprising. 

I also tried for the first time Acqua Di Parma's Blu Mediterraneo Mirto di Panerea and Cipresso di Toscana. Mirto opens with a very appealing aquatic note, which I never thought I'd see myself write, but actually, it smells of salt and sea and perhaps driftwood, before being joined by rose and jasmine. At this point it sweetens and becomes a bit too staidly floral for my liking. I don't particularly like rose and jasmine together. So often they combine, in my opinion, to become cloying and a bit too sweet. 

Cipresso di Toscana is more masculine. In fact, for the first hour it wears like a slightly toned down Polo for Men, not surprising considering the heavy use of Cypress. It is actually very nice and as the piney notes fade about midway through development it becomes a little sweeter, woodier and, simply, very nice. I was surprised at the relative tenacity and complexity of these two. I didn't take the Blu Mediterraneo line very seriously before. Perhaps that says more about my own prejudices, but for some reason the bright blue bottles and my association with the sea conjured up images of simple colognes that fade within the hour, all fresh and citrusy.

My recent forays to my local department stores have revealed that there are quite a few more new launches than there were a couple of months ago. Serge Lutens' Jeux de Peau has finally hit my store, while I've also encountered Houbigant's Fougere Royale. Fenwicks is stocking both the eau de parfum and the pure parfum. I was staggered at the price of the pure parfum. It comes in a special box and 50ml (or is it 75ml, I don't know) will set you back a cool £375 I was told by the sales assistant. For those of you who live in the States, that is about $560! It smells good, but jeez, I'm not convinced it is worth that much money.

Anyway, here's wishing all my blogger mates a great weekend and wherever you are, I hope you have an excellent, perfumed time.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Montale Oud Musk and Full Incense

I've been working my way steadily through my new samples over the last three weeks and I must say, one lesson I am learning is to not jump to conclusions about a fragrance before I try it. I know this might seem obvious, but so often I read a good review of a perfume, go into raptures and then order a sample. I wait with bated breath, it arrives, I try it and... Oh dear, not so good. Disappointment. Or sometimes it works the other way round, whereby I read a poor review, think 'sod it, I'll order it anyway', it arrives, I leave it until last and then wham, it impresses me no end.

This happened recently with Montale Oud Musk and Full Incense. I can't remember too many reviews being negative, but there were a few that were more than a bit wishy washy about these. I should state from the start that Montale is not my favourite house. With the exception of Cuir D'arabie I have found the others I've tried fair to middling. The oud note they use, usually that searing medicinal/band aid aroma, is a bit overbearing. However, Oud Musk employs an oud note that is more akin to that found in Le Labo and By Kilian's oud perfumes. It is woodier, dry and quite complex. 

Oud Musk is a little strange for me in that neither note shouts. It is surprisingly well blended and while the oud is very evident, it is not skanky and by the same token the musk, while not a laundry or white musk in style, is not skanky either. Having said that, it isn't quite clean. It hangs tantalisingly on the fence, which lends a certain frisson to the fragrance. Oud Musk is quite a warm fragrance, yet just aloof enough to add a tension. Therein lies the appeal for me.

Full Incense is very nice, I should say up front. Yet for some reason it doesn't move me quite as much as Oud Musk. Having said that, it is very well executed. Again, from reviews I was expecting it to overwhelm with an incense intensity that never quite manifests itself on my skin, unless I am so used to strong incense that I don't detect it as much. That's not to say that incense is not evident. It is, but is complemented by a lot of cedar and, I think, sandalwood, although that note is not listed. There is a slight creamy sweetness to it that prevents it from becoming too overbearing. Full Incense is hardly a revolutionary incense fragrance - if you've tried Profumum's Olibanum for example, or even 10 Corso Como, you will recognise where this fragrance is going, albeit perhaps slightly more forcefully. Still, I like it.

In summary, what I really like about both these perfumes is that neither strikes me being as particularly 'Montale' in style. I can hardly claim to have extensively tried Montale's line, but these are sufficiently different to those I have tried to satisfy me and leave me feeling gratified that I stuck with my gut feel and ordered samples of these anyway, despite what some reviews have said.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Aramis Vintage Porto

I'm relatively familiar with the Aramis line, in particular the one pictured left, the original classic, which is a very 60s/70s leathery chypre and can be found all over the show. However, until Carol sent me a sample of Porto, I had not even heard of it, let alone tried it. In fact, googling Porto images, I could not even find a picture of the bottle, hence the picture used here. 

Porto opens with a fairly strong shot of citrus and lavender, with spices, in a way typical of masculine fougeres of this period. One it settles, there is a slightly leathery, dark aspect to Porto, with just a hint of herbs and oakmoss. The heart and dry down are classical fougere territory, but very well executed. Porto is without a doubt a manly mix and I have to admit that fougeres are probably not my favourite perfume genre, but for what it is, it is very good.

I hope this doesn't come across as damning with faint praise, because I don't mean to do that, but Porto is a well executed fougere, fairly classic and gentlemanly and if you are looking for a good example of this genre, this would be it. Although quite strong, it isn't overbearing and actually smells very refined and smooth the longer it wears. Perhaps that is the nature of a perfume that hasn't been interfered with and remixed in later years, as as happened with so many 'classics' recently. 

If I were to compare Porto to anything else, for some reason a less spicy Hermes Equipage comes to mind, sort of, because Equipage is a bit more complex and multi-layered and some might argue, more a chypre than a fougere, but that is the association I get.

I'm glad I was given a sample of Porto, because it has given me the chance to try a perfume from a relative bygone era, that I believe, is no longer in production.


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