Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The late January lurgy

The January lurgy has struck again, which means that I am struck down by a cold/flu/chest infection. I'm not sure which. It's probably not flu, although I can hardly walk as all my joints, neck and eyes ache like crazy.

I'm not looking for sympathy, honest, but it is a rotten way to end the month. This year is already flying by. I can't keep up!

Another side affect of this is that I can't smell all that much and feeling rubbish doesn't lend itself to wearing perfume, in my book. So I'm abstaining so far this week. Hopefully I'll be back on track soon.

Do any of you find you can't wear perfume when feeling ill?

Monday, 30 January 2012

Roses part 2

I've finally got around to part 2 of my musings on roses. Last time I generally just rambled on, describing my love for the plant and flower itself and its scent of course, with some very brief thoughts on its use in perfume.

This time I want to touch on specific rose perfumes. I suppose I will be biased and one must realise that this is not even remotely close to a definitive list of rose-centric perfumes. On the contrary, I am still very much on my rose journey of discovery in perfume and I still stumble across perfumes I haven't even heard of, let alone tried, that contain a lovely or compelling rose note.

Nevertheless, let me proceed with my list of rose perfumes, many of which some of you are already familiar with.

Un Rose (Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle) - I start with my favourite rose perfume. Many like to compare or rank this one with Serge Lutens' Rose De Nuit. For me, I prefer Un Rose, but it is a different beast entirely. See my review here. It is a deep, complex 'dark' rose of a scent, continually shifting and developing. A masterpiece in my opinion.

Rose De Nuit (Serge Lutens) - See my review here. I may prefer Un Rose, but this is still a very lovely and complex rose fragrance too. It is slightly lighter, I think, but still has plenty of character.

Rose 31 (Le Labo) - See my review here. This is a perennial favourite among Le Labo lovers and again, it is very good. I almost cried the day I dropped my sample in the loo at work (don't ask) and saw its remaining contents evaporate on the floor. The loo did smell good though!

Rose Poivre (The Different Company) - See my review here. This is very different to the above. It reminds me quite a lot of a very good quality potpourri, and is quite dry and aromatic. Mind you, it starts skanky as all hell.

Voleur De Roses (L'Artisan) - Patchouli and rose. A great combination, and executed very well by L'Artisan. I don't see this one mentioned much anymore but it is a great perfume. Try it if you haven't already.

Paestum Rose (Eau D'Italie) See my review here. My review is very positive and I do think this is a great perfume, but with subsequent wearing it has been a little up and down on my skin. Still,  when it is good, it is great.

Kingdom (Alexander McQueen) - See my review here. I still own a bottle of Kingdom. I wonder how easy it is to find it now? And I wonder since his passing whether the price has gone up significantly. In any event, Kingdom has a very special place in my heart. It is a little trashy in places, and to my nose is a great example of how a rose can smell 'jammy'. I guess this, in combination with the hefty dose of cumin, is possibly why some people think it is too skanky. I personally love it.

Lyric Woman and Lyric Man (Amouage) - I won't post the links to my reviews, but I do love these two dearly. Lyric Man in particular has staggering longevity and it can become a bit too much sometimes, but oh so gorgeous. As for Lyric Woman, some people don't like it but I definitely do.

Dark Rose (Czech & Speake) - See my review here. Onto my first rose and oud combination, Dark Rose is nice, but having tried a lot more in this style since, I find that it holds my attention less these days. Not bad though.

Black Oud (Montale) - same review as above. I could write pages on Black Oud (half the blogosphere and Basenotes has over the years). It is an iconic Western Oud and rose perfume. So strong and long lasting, I do like it, but wish it was toned down just enough so I could see out its development and appreciate its subtleties (if there are any).

Sa Majeste La Rose (Serge Lutens) - this one often gets overlooked in the Lutens stable. Perhaps it is because it seems quite linear and also because it packs a mighty, rosy punch. Still, on a hot summer day, not much beats the smell of this one wafting up from one's body, tinged with a bit of musk.

Agent Provocateur (Agent Provocateur) - See my review here. A good mainstream rose perfume and quite a daring one, I think. 

(Incense Rose) - Andy Tauer. I used to love it, and in fact still think it is a great perfume, but I had to be very cautious when applying. Too much and you're in headache territory. Lovely though.

Portrait of a Lady ( Editions de Parfumes Frederic Malle) - I don't know, I still don't get this one. It seems too strong and loud to me. Plenty of people love it and that's great, but I'll stick with Un Rose any day.

Juliette Has a Gun - Just about any perfume from this line has a strong rose note. They are all quite nice, but with that hefty use of ambroxen, they (or POTL) remind me of the Malle.

So, I've got to the end of my list. I know once I post this I will immediately think of some more rose perfumes. I could go on for ages, but one has to draw the line somewhere. Actually, just writing this, I've thought of another, but I haven't tried it much (I have a sample now, so that will change), Nahema, by Guerlain!

So, please do get back to me with your thoughts on these, and what else you would add to the list....

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Weekend roundup

Some of you might have noticed my relative scarcity of posting this month. Some of this is part of my so-called new year resolution, as I have resolved not to write simply for the sake of it. Which, thinking about it, means that this post is in direct contradiction to that, as I don't really have anything that interesting to say, but I felt like posting, and its my blog, so wah!

The other reason for my scarcity is that my work has got incredibly busy again. January is usually one of my quietest working months, but for various reasons this is not proving the case in 2012. I shudder to think what June to September will be like, as that is usually my busiest time of year!

On the perfume front, I have been working my way through some samples sent to me by my generous friend Cym, and that has been a lot of fun. I plan to write about some of those at some point, but for now I shall merely appreciate them on my own skin. 

This week I've worn Ormonde Jayne's Ta'if, Aroma M Geisha Green, Aftelier Shiso and Al Haramain Sheika. They are all very interesting to say the least. This weekend I got a bit retro and loved wearing Caron's Tabac Blond and En Avion. I don't know anyone who wears Tabac Blond, but jeez, I would almost kill to smell this on a woman, it's so stunning. I also tried Puredistance 1 and Antonia's Flowers, two which I was too nervous to wear at work, for fear they would be too feminine. They are feminine, but lovely, and not as strong as I feared they would be. I can't decide which one I preferred; they both had some lovely aspects.

So, this week continues in a crazy-busy fashion, but rest assured, somewhere along the line (actually mostly along the line) perfume will feature!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

D.S. & Durga Petitgrain

For some reason, over the last few days the dull, grey and damp English weather has made me yearn for a pick-me-up, and I have suddenly veered towards wearing a few citrus-focused perfumes. I'm very glad then, that I acquired a sample of D.S & Durga's Petitgrain (thanks Cym!).  Most citrus perfumes can be rather fleeting, very nice-smelling when first applied, but they disappear from my skin quite quickly.

D.S & Durga's take on Petitgrain is a lovely one, the petitgrain note as one might expect, fresh, bracing, oily and full of the smell of orange trees and blossom. There is something about this perfume that reminds me of the citrus style of Diptyque, which is no bad thing in my opinion. What I like about D.S & Durga's Petitgrain is that it has surprising lasting power. I applied it at about 11 this morning and now at 9pm it still has some presence. As it dries down, it loses a bit of the early zing and freshness, but retains its character and also becomes a bit woodier. I think it is lovely.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Bittersweet farewells and a visit to Rye.

I've just got back from dropping my niece Kirsty off at Heathrow airport, as she flies back to Australia tonight. The poor thing has a good 20 hours of flying ahead of her, as well as a number of time zone changes.

I felt really sad saying goodbye to her. We had a wonderful time together and I hope she has wonderful memories of England, France and Switzerland.

Today we drove down to a lovely little town called Rye, which is in East Sussex, not far from Hastings. On the way we drove through the lovely bucolic countryside of the Kent and Sussex Weald, a reminder of what a lovely corner of England I live in. Rye is quaint, but with a slightly arty feel to it, with lovely independent art galleries, cafes, bookstores and other shops you don't necessarily find elsewhere. Many of the streets are cobbled, lined with wonderful old cottages and buildings. There is quite a good literary connection here too, with a number of well known authors who have lived and visited here, including Henry James. I even found a tiny perfume shop selling Serge Lutens, Carthusia and Miller Harris. Joy!

If you're interested in seeing a bit of Rye, click here.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Friday update

It's been a whole week since I last posted and primarily this is because my niece Kirsty from Australia has been visiting us. I last saw Kirsty nine years ago, not thinking such an elapse of time would take place before we would meet again. She is now twenty one years old, so you can imagine how much has changed. 

It was my older daughter Hannah's fifth birthday this past Sunday and she had a birthday party with her school friends on Friday, followed by a party on the Saturday with our closer friends and their families. Although tiring, we all had a great time and Hannah was most pleased to receive a pink bicycle as her main present, replete with shiny tassels, a pink helmet and a shiny, very loud-and-ringy bell!

On Sunday we all went for brunch at Woods, a local hotel, and ate eggs benedict and drank coffee. Our friends Darren and Carmen had stayed over for the night and it was great to just catch up generally, chew the fat and have a good time.

On Tuesday, Kirsty and I went up to London for two days, staying over at Darren and Carmen's flat near the Docklands and spent the time walking ourselves ragged. I showed Kirsty 'all' the sights, as much as one can in two days. For a girl who has never left the Southern Hemisphere before, I think we managed to show her a good time. I say we, because that evening we all went out to dinner at Wahaca, a Mexican restaurant in Canary Wharf, prior to which we had a drink at a pub owned by Gordon Ramsay, called The Narrow, in Limehouse. On Wednesday we ended the day at a place called Little Georgia Cafe, somewhere in deepest darkest Hackney, which again, was lovely.

So, throwing some perfume topics into the mix, I did manage a visit to Selfridges on Oxford Street and got to sniff (on paper) some new Guerlains, including the City Exclusives, London, Tokyo, Moscow and New York. Of these, London stood out the most to me, with a very intense, fruity rhubarb top note. I also smelled Shalimar Initial L'eau and l'Homme L'eau Boisee. Both smelled good to me on paper. Initial had quite a distinct iris note to start, then sweetened with vanilla later on, while Boisee smelled more interesting than the original L'Homme to me.

The perfume highlight for me was a quick visit to the Arabian Oud store on Oxford Street. I'm not sure whether it has made me appreciate or like oud more, but it was very interesting to be shown the oud collection downstairs, where a gentleman showed me a bottle of oud that sells for about £76,000! It was locked in a solid cabinet, unsurprisingly, but he did rub on my wrists an oil called The Sultan's Blend, which he said had been created especially for the Sultan of Brunei, and if I recall correctly, is a Cambodian oud. He also burned some oud incense for me, which personally I found a little overwhelming and heavy. Still, the whole experience was great.

So, that leads me to Thursday, when we got up at 5am to get Kirsty to her Eurostar train at St Pancras, on her next leg to France and Switzerland. I then went back to Tunbridge Wells to get ready for a full day's work. No surprise then that I was shattered by the time I got home that evening!

On Sunday I fetch Kirsty from Gatwick Airport. She flies back to Australia on Monday night, so we shall endeavour to spend some final quality time together before then.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Jean Paul Gaultier Kokorico

Kokorico has finally made it to my town and I tried it for the first time today. From what I have read of the reviews, it seems to contain a high dose of ambrox and I would tend to agree with that. 

What surprised me, though, was how similar this smells to Christian Dior's Fahrenheit Absolute. Perhaps I wouldn't go so far as to say it is a dead ringer, but to my nose it is pretty close. Anyone else tried this yet who could chip in with a few bobs worth?

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Roses part 1

Starting off my series of posts on perfume notes is the humble rose. I say humble only because in some ways the rose is ubiquitous and in this country, one can hardly pass a garden that does not have at least one rose bush or climber of some variety.

I do not aim to cover the botany of roses. One could write whole books on roses, and I don't feel I could do the subject any justice. What I can say though, is that I have loved roses almost my whole life. My earliest memories of roses are probably twofold. My local church where I grew up was on a slope, where below the gardens stretched out in a series of terraces that were jam-packed with rose bushes. My town was known as one of the best areas for growing roses, funnily enough, and these roses thrived, blooming for months on end, releasing their seductive fragrance. There was a garden of remembrance close by, where relatives would visit the site of their deceased ones' ashes. I can recall the stillness there, the only sound a light breeze through the pines, and the sweet alluring scent of roses. On days like that, the bittersweet memories were appropriately framed by the more tangible roses with their wicked thorns.

My second memory of roses arises in my own childhood garden. My parents grew a number of different roses, some standards, most of which had glorious, old-fashioned fragrance. I can still remember helping my dad prune the roses, or rather I watched him, broke thorns off the stems and licked them with saliva, planting them on the tip of my nose and pretending I was a wicked witch!

I personally find roses and their scent quite fascinating. In the context of smell and perfume, I suppose it is tempting to think of a rose smell as quite old fashioned, feminine and sometimes, a bit old-lady like. I don't and never have. Actually, I tend to think of lavender like that, whereas I have always thought of rose as possibly the most masculine flower there is, in as much as the smell goes. The shape and form of the flower is decidedly feminine and I shall leave it at that...

I think what also fascinates me about the smell of roses is how diversely it can be represented in a perfume. Roses can smell sweet and heady, green and dewy, dusky and dusty, slightly decaying (as in plant matter decay), earthy and even like tea. Plus a number of things in between. Plus, rose as a note goes well with many other notes, or can stand alone quite comfortably as a single note and in terms of style, can often be part of a chypre or oriental, pairing well with vanilla, patchouli, incense, balsams, and moss. While I enjoy almost all styles of rose, I am most drawn to what could be termed the 'dark rose'. I like my rose perfumes to carry an air of mystery and a certain seductiveness, and if there is a bit of sluttiness in there too, well, I'm certainly not complaining.

Next time I shall explore the rose perfumes themselves in a bit more detail. In the meantime, returning to the plant and flower itself, when I moved to England, the first house we stayed in was packed with rose bushes. They were old and gnarled and most years the leaves were spotted with fungal infections, but no matter what, each summer they bloomed with unfailing beauty and grace, and for a few short weeks, summertime was a joy to behold. 

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Ideas, ideas, ideas

So, following on from my post yesterday, I have a few ideas for the year ahead. Nothing mind-blowing original mind you, but something slightly different to most of what I posted last year.

I'm thinking of starting the year by running a series of musings (or whatever one might like to refer to it as) on perfume notes. It's not as if it hasn't been done before, but I'm interested in writing in more detail about perfumes I have tried within a genre and see where it takes me.

I think I will start with rose, which is one of my favourite perfume notes, then move on to (not necessarily in this order) vetiver, amber, oud, chypre, fougere, incense, woods, spice, perhaps floral (a difficult one for Mr Alpha Male ;-) ) and then who knows - quirky, strange, odd, whatever.

As an aside, I wore our dear Uncle Serge's Miel de Bois again today, for the first time in almost a year. Cor blimey, but it is a difficult perfume to wear! I've mentioned its freaky strength and longevity before, but I kid you not - one small spray at about 10 this morning and it is still firing away on all cylinders at 8pm, 10 hours later. One thing I've learned is that with this one, less is more, or at least, better. 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

To be or not to be...

I've been thinking a lot about my perfume blog lately and wondering what makes a good blog. I started blogging in March 2010. Like many, I was possibly quite idealistic when I started. A year and nine months later, having blogged extensively and also read many other perfume blogs extensively, I have come to realise that while a lot of people can be dismissive about blogging, it  very often is quite a challenge to keep it up.

I love writing about perfume, but to be honest, there are days (or weeks sometimes) where I run out of ideas, thoughts and inspiration. When I started blogging, I researched what I was going to write about, kept a diary of perfume ideas, reviews and thoughts, and went over posts a number of times before publishing them. Perhaps a lot of you still do, but these days I find my blog posts tend to be quite instinctive and reactive in a way - an idea pops into my head and boom, I get it down in a post and fire away. I don't know if I should be revealing this. After all, for all I know each of you spends hours fine-tuning your ideas and articles. 

Having read a lot of perfume blogs, I think that bloggers tend to generally fall into one of two types. You get the blogger who researches a lot and spends time composing a post and then you get the blogger who shoots from the hip. I think these days I tend to fall into the latter. Actually, I am typing this post exactly like that. I haven't thought about this at all but am simply making this up as I go along. Brilliant eh? Hmm.

So, what is the point of this post then? Actually, what I am trying to do, in a roundabout sort of way, is justify my existence as a blogger. After twenty months of blogging, I realise that I am not a naturally gifted writer. I don't have a background in publishing, magazines, or even freelance writing. I've also realised that I have no credentials to write about perfume. I think in fairness I do know a fair bit about perfume, and I am definitely a perfume lover, but I do not have any qualifications - I'm not a chemist, I have no background in fashion.

I've also looked very generally at the responses I get to my posts. I realised quite early on that my technical posts, for want of a better term, very seldom garner any attention. No one out there really cares whether I think a perfume smells woody and evokes the atmosphere of driving along a coastal road at sunset. To put it in perspective, I get more comments for a picture of my cat. So much for a perfume blog then!

I can understand the response. Let's think of my own attitude to blogs. I have to be honest and state that I love reading articles and posts about technical aspects of perfume. For example I like to know the history of musk in perfumery, what all the synthetic musks are, which perfumes are good examples of musk and so forth. I love to read a series of posts that cover a perfume family for example. Great examples of these sorts of bloggers include Perfume Shrine and Perfume Smellin' Things. I also like the everyday, matter-of-fact sort of blogs that keep me up to date with latest releases. Now Smell This was one of, if not the first blog I ever read and I still read it daily. It is a perfect example of this sort of blog. While I am interested in the history of perfume, I have to admit to being a little bored by too much of that sort of thing, but  I will dip my toe into that sort of proverbial water. Then, I love the bread-and-butter blogs, those that feel like coming home after a tough day out. I'm not going to mention names, but read my blog list and the vast majority of those bloggers are precisely like this, and I would in fairness include myself in that category.

I think what I'm really trying to get at in this post is that a blog should reflect the character of its creator or creators. I think that's the most important thing. And to stay true to that character. I'm not saying that a blog can't adapt or develop, nor that its creator can't experiment and develop too, but ultimately, the blog should be the genuine reflection of its creator's spirit, whatever that spirit might be.

In some ways, I feel that I occasionally blog just to keep in touch and not fall by the wayside, and if I am being honest, not all my posts are inspired. But they do reflect where I am in my life and mostly what I am. This year, I am feeling both excited and also cautious about the future. In real life, my world faces an uncertain future. Without being too melodramatic, Britain and Europe, and many parts of the world, are in the throes of an economic crisis unheard of certainly in our lifetime. I just hope it all works out.

On a personal front, I want my perfume blog this year to truly reflect who I am. I can't guarantee it will work out that way, but I will do my darn best to try deliver that. I have a few ideas to write about this year. I'm not saying that they are original ideas, or even that they are that interesting, necessarily, but they will represent me, and whether that is simply mundane or not, will be left to fate.

I invite you to continue to join me, if you will. I like company, and have come to the conclusion that it is the quality rather than quantity that matters. Sometimes I might post every day; otherwise it could be once a week. I don't know, it depends. 

So, here's to 2012, and I look forward to continuing on my perfume journey and look forward to being a passenger on yours too, if you will have me.


Related Posts with Thumbnails