Sunday, 30 September 2012

Nina Simone - How it feels to be free

I've been watching a bit of X Factor tonight, which for those of you that don't know of it, is a 'talent' singing contest, similar to American Idol and in fact, there is now an American version of X Factor. I watch these boys and girls singing, lips quivering, arms and hands gesticulating, like gangsta-rappers-cum-divas, and think, where's the real quality, the true passion, the genuine musicianship. 

That is why I've posted this You Tube link of Nina Simone at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1976, singing "How it feels to be free". That to me is a true example of a brilliant talent - a woman who sings with conviction, passion and no need to wave her hands all over the place  - the one time when words should speak louder than actions.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Floris Mahon Leather

I got samples of Floris' Private Collection a few months ago, but must admit that I haven't really tried them until now. Mahon Leather was the one that I was most keen to try, being a fan of leathery fragrances. 

Floris' website states that Mahon Leather is inspired by the Spanish island of Minorca, the birthplace of Juan Famenias Floris. It is also inspired by a Minorcan liqueur called Calent, an infusion of wine and spices, and the aroma of leather horse tack. The notes include leather, saffron, deep woods, amber and vetiver.

I have to say that on skin I don't really identify any notes that smell like spice-infused wine, but Mahon Leather is certainly leathery. However, it isn't a whip-crack of leather or kinky BDSM paraphernalia. Rather, it does smell like Spanish leather, so read a fair amount of soapiness. I don't mind this, as I enjoy the smell, and there is enough vetiver, amber and woody notes to balance this, while never deviating too far from a leather theme. I'd say that Mahon Leather does seem quite gentlemanly, but in a good way. It certainly isn't slight or fleeting, but equally it isn't a powerhouse of a scent, which I personally think is a good thing, where leather is concerned. Even though there is that gentlemanly aspect to Mahon Leather, I think it could be worn by a woman, and indeed, I'd love to know what the ladies think of this one, if you've tried it before.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Scents of the day - Sonoma Scent Studio

Today was an incredibly rainy day in my south eastern corner of England. I arrived at work sodden, miserable, just a touch cranky and cold. In keeping with the weather, I needed some comfort, now that autumn well and truly is here, so wore Sonoma Scent Studio's Tabac Aurea and Winter Woods. 

I know I've written a lot about Sonoma Scent Studio before, and I assure you I do not get commission or free perfumes from them, but I can't help but say what good value for money perfumes come from this line and how good they are. Winter Woods is less smoky and intense than Fireside Intense and I think perfect for the autumnal weather and Tabac Aurea, with its amber, tobacco and immortelle notes, is great for those cool days too.

I don't think I've found a dud in the line yet. Incense Pure is my all-time favourite and while I don't love Violet Woods and Sienna Musk, I know they are well received too.

Perhaps the best thing about the house is that they offer the perfumes in a number of different sizes, ranging from samples, to 5ml, 15ml, 30ml and so on (at least they did the last time I looked) which is just fantastic. Chanel with their 200ml bottles of Exclusives could learn a thing or two...

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Balmain Ivoire de Balmain

I came across Ivoire de Balmain in one of my local department stores. I understand that this is a relaunch  of the original Ivoire under new licence with InterParfums. 

Now, I never tried the original Ivoire, released in 1980 (or 1979) so I can't compare the original to the current version. What I do know is that I like the current version, which is housed in a very pretty bottle, I might add. Ivoire is soapy, no doubt about it, and fairly green too. I suppose one might class it as a green floral chypre, but to my nose it doesn't really have an oakmoss base, and while the notes list rose, jasmine and ylang-ylang, I am sure I am also detecting some muguet and galbanum. If not, the combined notes certainly created that illusion then. I am not usually a fan of soapy fragrances, but there is something about the way Ivoire presents the soapy note, not too chilly and austere, warmed with a little patchouli and vanilla, that makes it very appealing. 

I have to be honest and say that I think I would struggle to pull off wearing Ivoire as a man, but I certainly like how it smells and would love to smell it on a woman. I'm sure there will be those people who remember the original and no doubt compare it to the current version, and bemoan the state of the perfume industry with reformulation and so on, but at least they've brought back a perfume that could so easily have been assigned to the annals of history.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Humiecki & Graf Bosque

Humiecki & Graf is one of those perfume houses that I've probably steered away from. After reading the reviews and notes of some of their fragrances, I've had that gut feel that they will be all weirdness and unwearable. I'm sure that is unfair, but there you have it.

Well, I wore Bosque for the first time today. It has notes of grapefruit, primrose, narcissis, buffalo grass, vetiver, saffron and musk. Many of the reviews I read raved about the vetiver note - all I smell is a weird and sickly sweet musk, yet in a strange way, quite compelling. I don't know if this is the sum of the parts of florals, grasses and musk, but it is very odd. I don't personally smell vetiver very much, if at all, but perhaps this is because I am expecting the vetiver I know and love. As for buffalo grass, I couldn't even begin to tell you what that is meant to smell like, not having any reference point.

After all this, I feel that Bosque ended up smelling just like I thought a Humiecki & Graf perfume would smell like. Call me short sighted. Having said that, I don't dislike it. It is strangely compelling, but it is all about musk in my book, a very odd and skin-like musk.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Autumn and perfume

Today is the Autumn (Fall) Equinox, so I've read, the day on which we experience equal day and night. After this, it is downhill to the gloom of winter, as the nighttime hours steadily and stealthily overtake the fleeting day. On the bright side, I suppose I should be grateful that I only live 50 degrees north, rather than in Scandinavian countries, or Iceland. My wife went to Iceland a few years ago in early November, which, mind you, was still a good six weeks away from the winter solstice, and the sun was rising at 11am and setting at 2.30pm. Be thankful for small mercies...

I mention the Autumn Equinox because autumn is now more than just a hint in the air in England. The days are turning clear and crisp, with early morning mist, and the air has that slightly glassy glare that I often associate with autumn, while in the late afternoon, the light starts to fade quickly. The trees too are showing signs of seasonal shift, with more than just hints of red, gold and yellow. I haven't been to our local fruit farm recently, but I expect that the apples are close to ready for picking, although I don't think 2012 is going to be kind to the apple crop, with the cool and wet spring and summer we've had. 

As autumn grows near, I tend to think of perfumes that are appropriate for cooler weather. In a way, it is more a sense of pending coolness and that faint feeling of melancholy that drives my thoughts on autumnal perfumes rather than the actual experience of the weather changing; I find that I become very contemplative around this time of year. The thought of wearing light and airy citrus fragrances right now doesn't appeal at all, yet I can't say that I have a yearning for thick, heavy ambers and orientals, or soft and fluffy comfort scents. For me, the sort of perfumes that appeal at this time of year are those that evoke the scents, smells and feel of crisp and cooler weather, or that wistfulness of passing time. So I think fragrances that smell earthy, woody, grassy or like nature really, are the ones that attract. I think any vetiver perfume would be good, particularly those that smell more like damp, fecund earth. Frederic Malle's Vetiver Extraordinaire would be perfect. I also think perfumes with a focus on patchouli would fit the bill nicely. Although I love and wear incense fragrances year-round, I feel that incense is particularly fitting for the change of seasons, with its contemplative-evoking properties. Any perfume with more than a hint of smoke and leather would also be excellent, evoking the smell of distant bonfires and woodsmoke. I don't think a gourmand or two would be remiss either, particularly those that have a touch of apple or pumpkin in. I don't personally like Ambre Narguile very much, but I think the idea of it fits perfectly with autumn, with its notes of light smoke and spiced apple. 

So, what sort of perfumes do you like to wear in autumn? 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Ajmal Dahn Al Oudh Al Shams

I acquired a sample of Dahn Al Oudh Al Shams probably about a year ago, put it in one of my boxes or bags somewhere and promptly forgot all about it. Perhaps I had grown sick of oud by then (in truth, quite a long time before that). As I mentioned the other day, I have catalogued all my samples now and when I came across the Dahn Oudh, I opened the vial briefly to have a sniff. The most pungent smell of what one can only describe as close to raw silage met my nose, or in slightly pretty terms, barnyard. The interesting thing is that while I am quite familiar with oud perfumes, real or not, I've never really encountered such a raw, skanky oud note. Many ouds I've tried have smelled medicinal, woody, musty, almost musky at times, but not really very barnyard. 

The pong is long lasting too if you get it on your clothes. I decided to wear the Dahn Oud the next day. On skin, that barnyard skank was as pronounced as it was out the vial. For the first hour, I felt rather self conscious, thinking that someone would either think that I live on a farm, or worse, happened to have had a bowel incident. Fortunately the oudh note does soften in time, to become woodier and more resinous. I've read that Dahn is a term for Indian Oud. Now I'm not going to go into Indian Oud versus Cambodian, etc etc and bore you to tears (there's plenty of that on Basenotes if you're interested in the anoraks' discourse), but apparently Indian Ouds do smell quite feral, so no surprise there.

The most interesting part of my day wearing Dahn Oudh was when I got home that evening and asked my daughter Hannah to sniff my wrist. Bearing in mind this was almost twelve hours later, she recoiled in horror and said: "Daddy, yuck. That smells like a toffee you've taken out of the bin"! Bless her...

Monday, 17 September 2012

Sample therapy

I've been trying to sort out my catalogue (I'm being ambitious here) of samples for months, so what better day to do it than a rotten Monday? Actually, now that I have almost completed it, save for a few bags of stuff, I feel that it was therapeutic for me (I'm cleansed, I tell you). It was like a trip down memory lane. hauling out and sniffing samples that I haven't smelled, yet alone touched for years. 

In all seriousness though, I did feel very happy doing it and it made me realise just how many lovely perfumes I have been fortunate to smell over the years I've been collecting. Many of the samples brought back a very strong sense of memory of a place or a feeling. For example I could recall an event I wore it to, or on occasion to remember, or even where I bought it or which kind soul passed it on to me. I've had a lot of kind people share perfume with me, and I'd just like to thank all of you who have done just that. You know who you are.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Men, beauty and perfume (and women too)

Some of you may know that about two months ago I joined a gym. That is going well. Being healthy and fit is a good thing. However, I recently purchased a men's health and fitness magazine (Men's Health, if you're interested), hoping that it would contain some useful articles on fitness and health. Now, call me naive, but I was surprised to discover that there was relatively little about health and fitness, and plenty about sex, how to seduce women and more than half the magazine was filled out with advertising.

This is slightly off topic, but I hate the insidious way so many women are influenced by what 'society' considers is an acceptable woman. By this I mean her size, her weight, her dress size, and other things like body hair. However, it is also disturbing to see that increasingly men are being influenced this way too. Men's Health, for instance, contained numerous images of men ( the majority actually) without a single evident strand of body hair. Now, I understand the power of Photoshop, but even at my local gym I would estimate that 75-85% of all men I see are literally hairless, save for the tops of their heads (if they're fortunate enough). When I go to our local public swimming pool, I see men with the hairiest arms and legs and facial hair, yet not a strand is seen on their torsos, chests, shoulders and back. Now I realise I am possibly getting into contentious territory here, and I am not saying that men and women don't and shouldn't have a choice about how much body hair they have, but equally, why should 'society' and 'societal norms', whatever the hell they are, also dictate what is an acceptable amount and distribution of body hair to have? I am not saying that it is attractive to see men at the pool with rugs of hair on their back, but let's face it, it isn't their fault that genetically they are this way. It is natural after all. And men are increasingly becoming as obsessed with weight, shape and looks as women are, with hugely detrimental effects to their self-esteem and health. Both men and women are victims here. Just for the record, I'd much rather know a woman or man who is hairy and is a lovely person, than some vacuous, dictated-to 'individual' who suffers the monthly pain of having vast swathes of body hair ripped out by hot wax. Even more disturbingly, I've read a number of reports of girls who aren't even at the age of puberty yet who are asking their mothers (and who knows who else) to take them for arm and leg waxes. Well done society - you're doing a great job...

So where does perfume figure in this post/rant? Well, before I get to that, I wanted to quote some of the vacuous drivel that can be contained in Men's Health and probably many other magazines. Such as: "Fight fat and win!", "17 sex moves that build muscle", the 18 drugs your body needs now!" And while I'm ranting, what is the obsession with 50 Shades of Grey? Every other magazine I've looked at over the last few months sees fit to presume that every man thinks every woman has a secret yearning for bondage, and that every woman has read 50 Shades of Grey (and thinks it is actually a literary masterpiece) and thinks it is the gold-standard for how to engage in bondage.

Anyway, I looked at the advertisements in Men's Health and in order, the the perfumes advertised were: Bleu de Chanel, Armani Code, Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme and Pour Homme, Calvin Klein Encounter and Aramis. That's as mainstream, safe and boring as it gets. Between waxing, fantasizing about nipple clamps (and watches it seems, there were scores of adverts for these) and silk ties, it seems men on the cutting edge of what society wants them to be are also happy to buy mundane, they-all-smell-like-each-other-but-my-mate-likes-it-so-it-must-be-cool perfumes. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Bois 1920 Come La Luna and Vento di Fiori

Bois 1920 is one of those perfume lines that I often overlook. I don't really know why. What I have tried is perfectly decent, but very little in their lineup jumps out and grabs me.

I've had samples of Come La Luna and Vento di Fiori for a couple of years now. I recall trying them once, maybe twice and since then they've languished in my perfume sample box, untouched. Well, I tried both again today.

Come La Luna, according to Luckyscent, is way over on the feminine side of the scale, yet without any preconceptions, I would never have said this is feminine. Neither is it massively masculine. I would say this is a perfect example of a unisex perfume. Come La Luna is described as a spicy amber perfume. Without going into it too deeply, I would say that is fairly accurate, but amber is by no means dominant here. It is well balanced by coriander and pink pepper and the base includes incense and patchouli. This means the amber never gets sweet or powdery, which for me is a Godsend. The cedar and patchouli make this quite a woody perfume. It smells plush and rather sedate in some ways, but not boring. Other reviews hint at a sensualness from the coriander. Perhaps that is true, but I wouldn't describe Come La Luna as a very sexy scent personally.

Vento di Fiori is a chypre, the style very much in evidence from the word go. It smells green and classic, with plenty of galbanum and oak moss. Musk, Siberian birch, tarragon and cardamom add enough of a twist to prevent it from becoming too mean, lean and green, if you know what I mean. I haven't much experience of classic vintage chypres, but plenty of reviews compared Vento di Fiori to a vintage Ma Griffe or Vent Verte, high praise indeed.

Of the two (and I like both) I think I preferred Vento di Fiori. It smelled a touch more classic, a touch more refined and was dry and mossy, which went well on my skin.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Parfumerie Generale Cuir D'Iris and Le Labo Oud 27

I wore Parfumerie General Cuir D'Iris today, not having tried it for possibly a year or more.  My original review, back when I was still starting my blog can be found here. It's startling sometimes how much one's perception of a perfume can alter over time. When I first wore Cuir D'Iris, I commented that I couldn't detect much leather, even less iris and loads of patchouli.  Trying it today, I still don't think it is a particularly strong leather fragrance, but I definitely detect more leather notes and the iris is there, now that I have more experience with the note. What surprised me most about my original review is the patchouli - I can't detect any now, and I consider myself quite able to sniff out patch in most things. Again, I put it down to lack of experience a couple of years ago. I feel that I appreciate Cuir D'Iris more. It's still not my favourite iris fragrance in the PG line; Iris Taizo (now called Iris Oriental) is still my first choice.

I also revisited Le Labo Oud 27. My original review can be found here. I don't think my perception of Oud 27 has changed that much. I perhaps detect more floral notes in the opening, but generally, it still smells very woody. The best thing about Oud 27, in my over-oud-saturated opinion, is that there is still nothing else on the market that smells like it. It isn't your typical oud perfume - you know, the type done by Montale for years or the type that started with YSL M7(as much as I enjoyed it) and is still being replicated in mainstream perfumery (and yes, Creed, I include your Royal Oud in that genre as well). It smells original, complex and inimitably Le Labo.

I know time moves on, but I am surprised how seldom I encounter any writing on perfumes like Oud 27 or Cuir D'Iris anymore. Is everyone only writing about the latest releases (I'm generalising, I know) these days, the next big thing?

Monday, 3 September 2012

Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day to all my American friends and fumeheads! Hope you all have a good holiday (and see, I even spelled Labor the American way....).

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Saturday scents

The first of September has been a fairly grey and cool day here in Blighty. For some reason I was in a Guerlain mood today, so wore Habit Rouge and L'Instant, both of which I own. I'm not going to review them now; I've written of my love for L'Instant many times before. I'm also glad that I bought that bottle of Habit Rouge on sale a few months ago. It is a classic men's fragrance, the way only Guerlain can do it, in my opinion.

While writing this, I started thinking about whether I tend to wear different fragrances on the weekend than during the week. It is difficult to say really, but I have a suspicion that I tend to be more daring and adventurous during the week, funnily enough. At the weekend I am usually far more relaxed and in a peaceful frame of mind, and perhaps that translates to the scents as well, as I often wear fairly soft and subtle perfumes, or comforting ones.

So over to you - do you think you have a different approach to perfume at the weekend, and if so, how?


Related Posts with Thumbnails