Friday, 31 August 2012

Once in a blue moon...

Once in a blue moon eh? I thought this video of the amazing Dave Rawlings Machine (with the gorgeous Gillian Welch too) playing Bells of Harlem is a fitting end to August...

Scent of the day - Ormonde Jayne Man

I think Ormonde Jayne Man was a great perfume to wear on the last day of summer. I know that meteoroligically summer doesn't strictly end until later in September, around the autumn equinox, but a simple mind like mine likes to categorise the seasons on a simple three-month basis.

Today was a fairly cool and breezy day in England, bright with blue skies, yet for some reason I could sense autumn in the air - there is something about that slightly glassy, glare-like feel of the air as the seasons start to change. 

Ormonde Jayne Man is a woody aromatic perfume, almost green, with a note that is a little like anise, but not quite. There are spices in the top notes, oud and hemlock in the heart and fairly typical masculine base notes of musk, vetiver, cedar and sandalwood. I don't detect a lot of oud myself, and like with most of the Ormonde Jayne perfumes I've tried, it has that 'typical' house feel, which if you've sampled this line, you will know exactly what I mean. I really enjoy Ormonde Man. It is understated and classy and quite simply, smells great without blaring forth with any great fanfare. Although I said the base notes are fairly typical, that is not to say that this is how the notes translate on skin. Ormonde Man does not smell typical at all.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Perfume dreaming

I don't know about you, but I have never had a dream (as far as my waking consciousness is aware) about perfume or anything remotely perfume-related. Until last night that is. 

It is hard to describe a dream, as anyone who has tried to record one will know, but the setting for mine was a shop that seemed to be a department store, yet at the same time didn't feel like a traditional department store. It was large and very open, with a layout that felt a bit like a sport warehouse. I don't really know why I was there or what I was doing, yet for some reason ended up at a circular counter where I spotted perfume. Closer inspection confirmed my suspicion that the perfumes were cheap and sporty, and I was just about to move on when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a a small collection of bottles on a top shelf and the word 'Etro'. God only knows why Etro should be the first perfume house that I dream about, but there you have it.

The weird thing is, the Etro bottles didn't look anything like the bottles I've seen in real life. In fact, they looked more like deodorant cans, with plenty of aluminium/metallic colours and rather spartan. The first bottle/can I examined was Gomma and thinking about it, perhaps this is why I dreamed of Etro, because recently I have been wearing and enjoying a sample of Gomma very much indeed. 

This is where the dream starts to get a little weirder. The second bottle I spied was called Pepper. I looked at the back of it for perfume notes and they were as follows: Top - pepper, Heart - storm notes, Base - woods. The third bottle I chose was a brown and yellow colour and closer inspection revealed that the perfume was called Roast Chicken. And then I woke up!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The blogger blues?

Since I went on holiday (and returned - two weeks in late July/early August, which felt like two days...) I've struggled to get back into blogging. You've all heard (or read) it before, so I'm not going to bore you with laments of blogger's block, etc. 

This time round, it hasn't been a case of a block. In fact, I have loads to write about. I've been to London, I've received loads of nice samples from perfume friends, I've been on holiday. Hell, I even had my mother in law stay with us for a month! The bottom line, my friends, is that I've just been plain lazy. Simple. Every evening when I get home from work, I'd rather drink a glass of wine or go to the gym, or read other people's blogs, go for a walk, eat, drink some more, read books, listen to music. Anything but blog. 

In a way, it is probably good, because there is no point in writing when your heart is not totally into it and what better time to relax and recharge the batteries than summer. Ok, here in the UK summer is usually two days, but you get my drift, hopefully!

Until fairly recently I was feeling very drained, tired and listless. Since I joined one of our local gyms just after my birthday, I am already feeling a lot better. Energised, a bit more positive about myself and my body, sleeping better, fewer headaches, less of a stiff neck. I know gym is not for everyone (and who hasn't despised a vacuous, self-absorbed gym bunny before?) but it is putting me back into a positive frame of mind and that must surely be a good thing.

So friends, my energy is returning and I can feel myself getting ready to blog with a vengeance! 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Parfum d'Empire Iskander

I recall a couple of months ago, maybe more, reading a post somewhere about which interesting citrus fragrances to try. For the life of me I can't remember whose blog it was (perhaps Blacknall Allen?), but Iskander was mentioned. Somewhere in the exchange of comments and description of Iskander, I felt that it could be a bit like De Nicolai's New York. 

When I was in London a couple of weeks ago, I asked for a sample of Iskander from the ever-generous and wonderful Les Senteurs and having tried it a couple of times since, I think  I can definitely state that Iskander and New York are very close to each other.

So what is so remarkable about that? Well, nothing in and of itself. However, those of you who have followed my blog for a while may be aware that New York and I do not get on at all. I feel bad saying this, because New York receives a lot of love and I am sure it is a very good fragrance, but when I've worn it, it has induced in me a visceral and very real sense of nausea and headache. It's not the first De Nicolai to do this to me either, so I think there must be an ingredient or ingredients in the perfumes that do not react well with me.

So, having said that, I can go further and say that Iskander smells remarkably like New York, yet induces no sense of nausea or headache for me. Why is that? Well, I don't really know, to be honest, but I do know that where the two perfumes differ is in their richness and intensity. New York is far more powerful and smells very rich, complex and heady. It is overwhelming on my skin, but conversely Iskander just smells smooth, suave and downright good!

Out of interest, I have compared the two perfumes' notes, courtesy of Luckyscent:

Iskander - citrus, mandarin, grapefruit, estragon (according to the ever-reliable internet, this is tarragon oil), coriander, orange blossom, oakmoss, amber and musk

New York - bergamot, lemon, cloves, thyme, cinnamon, black pepper, pimento, oakmoss, vetiver and amber

There are plenty of notes the two don't have in common, but the ones that do stand out are citrus, oakmoss and amber, as well as herbs (tarragon vs thyme) and spice (coriander vs black pepper and pimento). I think the commonality ultimately comes from the oakmoss and amber, lending both a complexity that a straightforward citrus fragrance seldom has. Clearly the two are not dead ringers, but close enough for me to have made that association quite easily.

In the end, no matter what note analysis I do, I personally prefer Iskander to New York. If you have tried both, what is your view?

Finally, out of interest, have any of you ever had a severely negative reaction to a perfume, which perfume was it and why do you think this was the case? Perhaps even more interesting, have you ever overcome such an aversion?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin

As usual, I am fairly late to the game, so possibly I am one of the last to try Parfums MDCI's Chypre Palatin. I am probably not one, unsophisticated philistine that I am, to appreciate or to discern the subtle differences between the myriad chypres on the market, whether they contain real oakmoss or not. Whatever, I have to say that I struggled to identify Chypre Palatin as a chypre. With notes of green clementine, hyacinth, lavender, rose, iris, jasmine, benzoin, styrax, vanilla, castoreum, costus and leather accord, I couldn't quite see the connection, and from the notes this has a far more oriental look about it.

Not long into spraying on Chypre Palatin, I immediately made a connection with Pure Distance M. I'm not saying they are dead ringers, but they share a lot more than a passing resemblance, in my opinion. Having looked up the above notes, I had a look on the Pure Distance website, where M is described as a leather chypre with an oriental twist. Bingo! The notes for M are bergamot, lemon, rose, jasmine, cinnamon, patchouli, moss, cistus, vetiver, vanilla, leather and musk.

Interestingly, the notes the above share in common are rose, jasmine, costus, vanilla and leather. There may be more in common, but one cannot definitely rely on website note lists. My thinking is that forceful notes like leather and costus are able to bring forth the similarities to my nose.

As some of you may recall, I loved M and wrote about it a number of times. So what about Chypre Palatin? I think if I had never smelled M, I would have been blown away by Chypre Palatin. However smelling it today for the first time (in fairness, repeated wearing may reveal other facets and differences not immediately apparent) I couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed that it reminded me so much of M. That may seem illogical, but there you have it.

Having said that, one thing I do like about Chypre Palatin is it is not as strong and forceful as M, being a bit more restrained. As much as I like M, it can be a bit too much at times, a real powerhouse. Chypre Palatin is no wilting flower, mind you.

So, don't get me wrong. My initial impression of Chypre Palatin is positive, and it is a lovely perfume, but I wish it had not reminded me so much of M, but nevertheless, still recommended.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Scent of the day - Absolue Pour Le Soir

I wrote glowingly of Francis Kurkdjian's Absolue Pour Le Soir a long time ago, here. More than a year and a half later, I don't think my opinion has changed all that much. Having tried the perfume a few times since then, I am more used to its honeyed, animalic rosy incense, suffused with resins and woods, so the initial impact it made on me is slightly diminished, but not by much.

I obtained a sample of this from Les Senteurs in London a few weeks ago and wearing it today, I am struck by how distinctive it is and also by its impressive lasting power. While it is a warm and sensuous perfume, sexual even, I prefer it in cooler winter, when its seductive coziness is a warm embrace and a hint of something even more enjoyable to come, perhaps by a warm fireside later that night.

Incidentally, while I quite enjoy the original Cologne Pour Le Soir, it pales in comparison to the absolue, which is an entirely different beast altogether, the emphasis on beast!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Atelier Cologne

I first tried a couple of perfumes from the Atelier Cologne line about two years ago, namely Bois Blonds and Orange Sanguine. My initial impression was so-so. Nice, but a bit simple and fleeting. Since then, I gave Orange Sanguine away and put Bois Blonds to one side. Far more recently my friend Cymbaline gave me samples of Oolang Infini and Trefle Pur. I enjoyed both so much that I dug out my older sample of Bois Blonds and tried it again. These are my updated impressions of those I have tried:

Orange Sanguine 
Ok, this is simply my impression of what I thought of it at the time. I recall it smelling lovely and orangey in the opening and then fading quickly to leave me feeling a little disappointed, not by the smell, but the longevity. I recall the orange being blood orange, which I think is a bit sweeter and possibly more fragrant than the 'usual' orange we know so well?

Bois Blonds
As with Orange Sanguine, I recall being a little underwhelmed two years ago. It smelled good, but very soft and close to the skin. Two years later, I am detecting far more of the subtle beauties in Bois Blonds. It is woody, in an understated way, but suffused with a greenness that is more herbal and dusty/leafy (a bit like a bay wood, I would venture, in the late, dry summer). I'm tempted to say it is a little like Comme de Garcons Monocle Laurel, but actually a lot better.

Oolang Infini
A lovely tea scent with a nice citrus kick to start. It has something of the feel of Bois Blonds, being fairly subtle too, and a green tinge as well. The tea note is as good as anything I have encountered in the genre, but confess to not having tried that many tea perfumes, so I guess it is a matter of opinion.

Trefle Pur
Trefle Pur was the one that surprised me the most. It opens with a very citrus burst, quite simple and clean, then a lovely spring green freshness emerges. That is possibly the clover accord, but irrespective, it is uplifting and joyous. After that, Trefle Pur seemed to disappear from my skin, only to emerge a bit later with what to me is an earthy, dry and even smoky accord, which surprised me no end. The notes mention moss and patchouli, and this must be what I am getting. Whatever, it is a nice twist and very enjoyable. To me, Trefle Pur was the most complex of the four.

So, overall, a revisit of Bois Blonds was overdue and very rewarding. The Atelier line is growing on me. As I said earlier, the perfumes are not loud, with minimal sillage, but they have a quiet and sophisticated presence that is both uplifting and even zen-like and contemplative to me.

If you haven't tried Atelier colognes, I would highly recommend searching out a few samples.

Image credit - 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Odin New York No 1 Nomad

Do you ever have one of those days where you end up wearing a perfume with no expectations and end up loving it, just because it smells good with no pretense? Well Odin New York No 1 Nomad did precisely that today.

Nomad is in many ways a fairly straightforward woods-and-musk perfume with a hint of spice. It just smells good and you don't have to think about it or analyse it. Granted, it isn't going to win any awards for genius originality and some people might say that at niche prices it ought to. I don't care though - it is good enough for me.

I've read some reviews saying that this is a very mainstream smelling fragrance, similar to Dolce and Gabbana The One. I can't say I get that association very much, and to me, the ingredients smell of very good quality.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule and friends

So I tried Santal Majuscule for the first time today. What can I say? A very nice sandalwood perfume. A very good one actually. One I like. 

And yet. And yet. I'm asking myself, what does it bring to the Serge Lutens line that hasn't already been covered by Santal de Mysore, Santal Blanc and the more recent Jeux de Peau? My personal opinion is that Santal Majuscule and Santal de Mysore have the most in common, particularly in the dry down. Having just said that, Jeux de Peau, once you get past the bread, yeast and pastry opening, is very similar too. And that is where my problem lies with Santal Majuscule - as lovely as it is, it seems to me to be just a variation of a theme. 

I'm sure there will be some of you reading this, thinking I am just nitpicking, and being a pain in the arse, which I probably am. I'd buy a bottle of Santal Majuscule, no question about it. But present me with all four Lutens sandalwood perfumes and how does one choose? For my money, I'd still go with Santal de Mysore. 


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