I just had to post this video - the late Jeff Buckley's cover of Bob Dylan's beautiful Mama, You've Been On My Mind. It's been a recent Dylan favourite of mine, hearing it off one of the official Bootleg Series tapes. I read that it was recorded during the sessions for Dylan's Another Side album, but for whatever reason never made the final cut. It is still a great song and beautifully covered by Jeff!
Saturday, 30 March 2013
Following my post of solemnity and austerity (sort of) yesterday, in a similar vein I wore Guerlain's Bois d'Armenie. Some of you may recall that I have had some longevity issues with some of the perfumes from the L'Art et la Matiere line, but today Bois d'Armenie stayed the distance and smelt excellent in the continuing cold spring weather we are experiencing.
On my skin Bois d'Armenie is mostly about incense and woods, with a hint of smoke and balsamic sweetness. It is a relatively quiet fragrance, but very well executed.
Friday, 29 March 2013
It just occurred to me that yesterday was the third anniversary of my blog. I almost forgot, but thought I would mention it primarily because when I started, I never thought it would last three months, yet alone three years!
It has been a lovely three years, during which time I have learnt a lot about perfume, but even more importantly, made good friends with like-minded fume heads and enjoyed participating in, and following the perfume blogs of many individuals. Thanks to all of you for enriching my life in some way!
Today being Good Friday, it is a day of abstinence from meat, if you are a Christian believer and of course, a day of obligation, meaning attendance at the Good Friday mass.
Being a good little boy (and more than a little fearful, thanks to a a staunch Catholic upbringing), I attended mass of course, and so I wore Heeley's Cardinal, about as incense-centric as it can get, although having written that, I can actually think of a few others that would have fit the bill, including Norma Kamali and Avignon, for example.
Sitting on a pew and feeling the solemnity of the occasion, it seemed appropriate to have wafts of austere and contemplative incense perfuming my immediate person.
Moving onto matters culinary, it was fish of course. I baked cod in foil, flavoured with a bit of salt, pepper and lemon and served it with sweet potato mash and coconut milk rice, with a hint of tamarind and lime. I think it was quite good, but whether that combination is good or not, I don't really know. Why don't you tell me, and also let me know what you had or are having for dinner this evening?
If you were going to a Good Friday mass, what perfume do you think would be appropriate? Would it be incense?
Thursday, 28 March 2013
I was at Hoopers today, which as regular readers may know, is one of two local department stores in my town, which has a very good fragrance department and some friendly and knowledgeable SAs.
I was interested to see that they now have the entire Terry de Gunzburg perfume line. I had never heard of Terry de Gunzburg, if I'm being perfectly honest. I've been informed that she is a French makeup artist, who created the Touche Eclat makeup range for YSL. I am no makeup expert I'm afraid, so I can't comment on that, but I do know that the perfume bottles are very stylish, as can be seen below.
There's something about these bottles that reminds me of the Armani Prive bottles. I think its the flattened cap.
Anyway, while all the fragrances are listed as being for women, I didn't really think this was the case. The two I tried on skin are Ombre Mercure, pictured above, and Lumiere d'Epices. Ombre Mercure has notes of violet leaf, jasmine, rose, iris, ylang-ylang, patchouli, sandalwood, benzoin and vanilla. Lumiere d'Epices has citrus top notes of bergamot, grapefruit and blood orange, a floral heart of orange blossom, jasmine and rose, and a base of cedar, nutmeg and clove. I thought for an initial wearing, both impressed. Lumiere d'Epices's main note for me is orange blossom, quite spring-like. The spices aren't particularly prominent and the cedar wood is subtle. Well done though. Ombre Mercure is a more oriental fragrance. The violet and iris aren't that prominent to me, but in the dry down the presence of a smooth sandalwood note is unmistakeable and welcome.
Others in the line include:
Flagrant Delice, which on paper smelled mostly of fig, first a bit milky, then sweetening to a more gooey fruity accord.
Reve Opulent, which to my nose, again on paper, is a fruity floral.
Parti Pris, which again is quite oriental, with tuberose and balsams, a hint of tobacco and other florals.
So, quite an interesting line then, and I think well worth exploring.
Monday, 25 March 2013
Over the years I've read some very mixed reviews of Labdanum 18. There seem to be, broadly speaking, two camps. The first love it and praise its warm, cozy, cuddliness. The other abhors its sweet, fluffy powderiness.
Having worn the perfume a few times, I can say that I understand how one could fall into one of the above camps. In many ways Labdanum 18 is sweet, powdery, warm and cozy. Fortunately, for me at least, the fragrance wears a bit dryer on my skin, which suits me just fine.
I wore Labdanum 18 today for the first time in quite a while, on a frigidly cold spring day. As an aside, I can't wait for this winter to end. It has been the coldest for some time and I am sick to death of it. Anyway, I think the cold today made the perfume feel more austere than usual, which is saying a lot, as I doubt many people would describe Labdanum 18 thus. Perhaps I should rather use the term 'pared down'. Most reviews will mention Shalimar as a reference point and I can see similarities, albeit the Le Labo being a far more modern interpretation of the style. However, to my nose Labdanum 18 bears far more of a resemblance to Musc Ravageur, which is probably no coincidence considering that the two perfumes share a common creator, the great Maurice Roucel. However, Musc Ravageur is far more sensual and animalic, with a greater musky kick, in other words a bit more growl and claws.
Tuesday, 19 March 2013
As much as I love the Frederic Malle line, I must confess that Bigarade Concentree leaves me feeling a little nonplussed.
It smells decent, but having been a fan of Ellena's earlier Cartier Declaration, I can't help but feel that Bigarade Concentree is simply a riff on a very similar theme. Citrus (bitter orange), a hint of cumin (perhaps), a whiff of spice (cardamom?) and some subtle woods (cedar?). Those all appear in Declaration, but amped up to a far more interesting level in my opinion. And also don't forget that Declaration can probably be had for a third of the price.
Yes, it is a somewhat cynical view, and in fairness, Bigarade Concentree is a good perfume, but I personally think there are far more interesting compositions in the Malle line. Another thing: longevity is not particularly good on my skin. I haven't tried the original Bigarade from the same line, but if this one is fairly subdued and fleeting, then who knows how much less the other is?
Monday, 18 March 2013
At the beginning of this month I jotted down a few thoughts on Neil Morris A Rose is a Rose, which you can read here. I really enjoyed the perfume, which is very rosy to start with, then becomes rather musky on my skin.
Recently I've also been wearing Sonoma Scent Studio's Vintage Rose. The website describes Vintage Rose as dusky, which I entirely agree with. It is quite a dry perfume, and the rose note is not fresh and dewy, but rather quite herbal, a little bit like potpourri. For me, Vintage Rose ends up smelling very strongly of labdanum, a bit of a Sonoma Scent Studio house note, I would dare to suggest. If you are not a fan of labdanum, then Vintage Rose might not be your cup of tea. For me, it is nice, but not my favourite from the line.
Another rose fragrance I've been trying is Frederic Malle's monumental Une Rose. I'm going to go out on a limb here and state that in my opinion this is one of the best rose perfumes ever created, a masterpiece by Edouard Flechier. I know it is a matter of opinion, but I think the other rose perfume in the Malle lineup, Portrait of a Lady, pales by comparison. Sorry some of you prominent bloggers out there, but that is what I think!
I've had a sample of Une Rose for years, and every time I wear it, I swoon at its beauty, sophistication and complexity. This is a rose fragrance that continually evolves and reveals different facets every time I wear it. It starts deceptively fresh, dewy and joyful, like a warm spring breeze. Then within minutes it darkens, almost imperceptibly, like a hint of the shadow from a cloud across the sun. It sweetens, it deepens, and then that rich, earthy truffle accord seeps through, so that it smells mysterious and dangerously seductive, on a woody base. The rose is always there though, reminding us that most roses have thorns, and that is part of their beauty. Une Rose is the dark rose to beat all dark roses. I love the Malle line, but I think if I had to choose just one (and it is a close call with the almost equally beautiful Vetiver Extraordinaire) Une Rose would be it.
Sunday, 17 March 2013
It has been a right old sorry weekend here in England. Gloomy, wet, windy and still horribly cold. We're past mid March now and it should be warming up a little, dammit!
I didn't wear any perfume save for a little Coromandel yesterday afternoon. I'll probably get shot for saying this, but as nice as Coromandel is, it strikes me as a very well done Patchouli lite. Regular readers will probably know that I like Patchouli a lot, the stronger and more striking the better. Also, I don't have any preconceived ideas of patchouli as the sixties and seventies flower-power scent, all head shop, etc. I wasn't there, so I don't care!
Perhaps that is why the patchouli in Coromandel smells a little understated for my liking. Having said that, I would still take Coromandel over any other modern excuse for a patch note that is currently in circulation. It still smells very well executed, in that Chanel fashion.
I have to say the the entire Chanel Exclusif line is a bit too understated for my liking. They are all fairly close-to-the-skin fragrances. Nothing wrong with that at all, but I prefer my fragrances to be a little more 'amped-up' than that. Just a personal preference.
Friday, 15 March 2013
This is probably going to seem a bit churlish coming from me, but I still don't really 'get' Santal Majuscule. I mean, it smells fairly good, I suppose, but I still don't equate the experience with the mainly highly-praised reviews by fellow bloggers.
I especially still do not understand why the Lutens line needs this one when it already has Jeux de Peau, to my nose a very similar construction, but perhaps a bit more 'foody', particularly the opening.
Still, in fairness, Santal Majuscule hardly smells bad and I didn't not enjoy it; I merely wasn't blown away to a place that others seem to have been. Then again, that is the beauty of perfume, and to an extent, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or the nostril of a perfumista, I guess.
Thursday, 14 March 2013
At least I managed to wear some perfume today. I was in Hoopers and reached for a few sprays of Michael Kors' Michael for Men.
I've written about it before, fairly recently in fact, and I'll say it again - it is a very decent fragrance. A tobacco perfume that is not too challenging, but interesting enough to keep my attention. I find tobacco fragrances to be quite comforting in a way, even though I am not a smoker myself. Maybe its because they remind me of that reassuring grandad figure, a benevolent ghost from the past in many ways, at least for me.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013
Friday, 8 March 2013
A lot of Bob Dylan and a lot of The Band. Not entirely coincidentally, as you will discover later on. I'm enjoying playing The Weight on guitar, while Million Dollar Bash from the Basement Tapes is classic tongue-in-check-yet-insightful Dylan at his best, albeit at the time in post-accident obscurity.
Clinton Heylin's Bob Dylan: Beneath the Shades. If you're a Dylan fan, you probably know of this book already. It is very well written and while I am only halfway through it, it is fascinating. I know for some people Dylan may be a cliche, but the man in my opinion is infinitely complex and compelling.
A documentary about Jimi Hendrix. I can't remember the name of it as I write, but the most interesting thing for me is, again, how complex an artist and individual he was. Who knows what he might have been had he lived beyond a mere twenty seven years of age.
Still immensely sad. I can't stop dwelling on the death of that poor girl who was in my daughter's school. And more so, her poor parents.
The return to health of my stepmother. She had a five-hour open-heart surgery last week to replace a faulty valve. A scary operation and a brave woman...
On International Women's Day, I'll leave you with a video from Jeff Buckley. Thanks Bob Dylan. And please take it in the right spirit...
Wednesday, 6 March 2013
I was going to write a post this evening, but after hearing the terrible news that a girl in the same school as my daughter, Hannah, just a year ahed in fact, had passed away suddenly last night.
I didn't know the girl or her family, but my thoughts and prayers go out to her and in particular her family, who are left behind trying to come to terms with such a tragedy; a young life ended at the age of six or seven. I also think of the teachers at the school, who play such a big part in these children's lives at this point. It must be terrible for them too.
At times like this, life is put into stark perspective, and the thought of writing about perfume, what is essentially a luxury item in my life, is impossible and inappropriate.
What hits home at a time like this, rather selfishly I suppose, is that I have two children who could suffer the same fate and that just does not bear thinking of.
I know you are all scattered far and wide, dear readers, and this is just a small tragedy in the greater scheme of our world, but please if you can keep this anonymous girl and her family in your thoughts today, even if only for a few seconds.
Monday, 4 March 2013
I received a sample of Neil Morris A Rose is a Rose quite a while ago from the ever-generous Cymbaline. I didn't try it for one reason or another until last week, when a sudden yearning awoke in me for roses. I don't know why - perhaps it is the desire for something that reminds me of summer and warmer weather, as this cold and grey winter slowly (excruciatingly so) eases into the most shy of springs.
A Rose is Rose is delightful. There's no other way to describe it really. The notes include peony, aldehydes, Bulgarian Rose, Arabian Rose, Moss Rose, myrtle wood and ambra musk.
Two things struck me. Firstly, this is most definitely a rose perfume, in the best sense of the word/idea. Particularly in the top and middle notes. It starts quite fresh and dewy, then thickens into a rosy melange of the trio mentioned above, boosted by the excellent use of aldehydes. As a review on Cafleurebon so aptly puts it, the aldehydes 'dazzle, diffuse and lift the scent', lending it a fairly strong sillage.
The second thing is, there's a lot of musk in here. In fact, the dry down is mostly musk to me, although the rose still shines through enough. My wife is a good barometer, perfume-wise and the first thing she said to me when I walked through the door in the evening was how nice I smelt. I don't get praise from her very often, so this is a good sign!