Sunday, 27 February 2011

Lubin L'eau Neuve Figaro

I have samples of all the (fairly) recent releases by Lubin. Confusingly, they are all called L'eau Neuve, but each ends with its own name. Two of the releases, Bluff and Itasca, are fairly typical masculines, and not hugely interesting, in my opinion. Inedite is meant to be the most feminine in the lineup but didn't strike me as such. It turns out that I liked it the most.

Figaro, the fourth, is loosely based on fig and strikes me as the most original of the group, albeit not entirely my cup of tea. The blurb from my carded sample states: "Bold and seductive like Figaro from Beaumarchais's plays, Figaro by Lubin takes liberties with conventions much like the character who inspired it. The heart is a counterpoint of vetiver and fig brightened by notes of apple, clover and plum. Cilantro (Coriander) evokes the green of nature and seaside pines, mingling with ocean breezes. These woody, amber tones finally give way to vetiver, sandalwood, tonka bean and benzoin balm base notes."

There are two things I can say about Figaro. Firstly, if you are expecting a fig fragrance in a similar vein to Philosykos, for example, you will not find it. In fact, if I hadn't known this was a fig scent I would never have guessed it. To be fair, from the notes above it is clear that there is a lot of other stuff going on, rather than fig as the main player. Secondly, Figaro is woody. Very woody. But I don't mean a big, bold masculine wood. When I think about it in more detail, it came to me that actually, if you had to chop down a fig tree and smell the cut wood, this is what it might smell like. So there is a kind of figginess to it, in that sense.

I'm not sure if I detect clover, apple or plum, but there is an oceanic-ness about Figaro that luckily does not paint a scene of water or freshness. In feel it is more like a salt-laden breeze, without much salt, if that makes any sense. This is by no means a fresh fragrance, nor is it light. Yet at the same time it is not a heavy, rich scent either. Although vetiver is mentioned quite a bit, I never really detect much of it either. I do find the woodiness smells slightly creamy or milky, like fig can do, but I suspect this could be the combination of sandalwood, tonka and benzoin.

So I said earlier that Figaro is not entirely my cup of tea. That is true, but this is by no means a boring fragrance. In fact, it is rather quirky and interesting and like I stated, by far the most original of the four new releases by Lubin. I would certainly suggest at least sampling it. You could even be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Weekly roundup and post numero 200

It's been a bit of a funny old week for me, personally and perfume-wise. I've had the last two days off from work, just like last week. I haven't done anything particularly special - it's more a case of trying to use up all my holidays before my firm's year-end, as we aren't allowed to carry leave over. Having said that, any time I get to spend with my children is special, so don't get me wrong - I have enjoyed it.

Less enjoyable are the colds my wife and I have come down with. I won't bore you with the details but it's hard to appreciate and enjoy perfume as much as I usually do with a sore throat, cough and the chills. Sob.

I have worn some perfume. I can't exactly remember when, but its mostly been a case of revisiting some old favourites, including L'Artisan's Al Oud and 10 Corso Como and some new faves, like Dior's Leather Oud and Caron's Secret Oud. I can't believe that I've just typed Oud three times in a row (four times now...). What is it with oud lately (five)? Every other blog I've visited in the last month has had a post or more about it. I happen to like the note, but I guess if you don't you're probably thinking enough already.

On the samples front, I still haven't ordered any. Call it perfume constipation, impotence, whatever, but it's getting on my nerves.

My local department stores are still frustratingly devoid of any new releases or perfume lines. I've seen some Daisy flankers or something knocking about, but I'm still waiting for the latest from Uncle Serge. One of my friends in the know tells me that the Etro line is coming to Fenwicks. It's not a line I've tried very often, so if this is true I'll be quite happy.

Oh, and lastly, if I'm correct, I think this is my 200th post. When I reached the century mark I made a big sing and dance about it. This time I'll just say that a further 100 on, I still feel as enthused and excited by blogging as before, which I'm happy about. I honestly wouldn't be doing this if I didn't enjoy it. A big thank you to you who visit my little blog, particularly those regulars who take the time to comment and partake in a bit of perfume banter and chat. I do enjoy these online relationships and community. Honestly!

Have a good weekend everyone. 

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Christian Dior Leather Oud

I suspect that I might be slightly late to the Leather Oud party, but what a celebration it is! As I sample and try more and more perfumes, it seems the more special a perfume has to be to impress me. Of late there are only a handful that have had this immediate 'wow' effect on me. A couple that spring to mind are Absolue Pour Le Soir by Francis Kurkdjian and to a lesser extent Secret Oud by Caron.

Now I can add a third to the list - Leather Oud. Like with all my favourites, it is often very difficult to pinpoint why it is so good. It's much easier to point out the negatives in perfume, I find. The notes from Now Smell This include leather notes and oud, Gaiac wood, cedar, sandalwood,  cardamom and clove. I'm sure there is more to Leather Oud than that. For example there is an exquisitely rendered civet note - a skankiness that just hums beneath the surface, warm and unctuous. Leather Oud starts with a massive whiff of intensely sweet, almost burnt/caramelised sugar, which lasts but seconds. As this note fades, a smoldering, smoky oud and leather accord emerges, and this sets the tone for the rest of development. Although not listed, I think I detect a rose note that seems almost honeyed, and the leather becomes thick and buttery, for want of a more suitable description. As the fragrance develops, the leather becomes smokier and combined with what I think is civet, a brilliant 'dirty' smell arises. On my skin it feels like a wonderful combination of leather, oud, honey, light florals just here and there and that slightly dirty civet feel - all good.

There is something about Leather Oud that has a a similar vibe to Absolue Pour le Soir. They are by no means the same, but while Absolue has no oud or leather, its incense note creates a similar feel to the smokiness in Leather Oud, and both have that fabulously dirty undertone. The top and heart of Leather Oud are my favourite - I find that the base, while still very good, loses a bit of that warmth and sensuousness that thrills me so much earlier on. While the oud is lovely in this composition, this is by no means an over-the-top oud perfume. It is very well balanced, with an equally stunning leather accord.

I think what I love so much about Leather Oud is that it is such a complex and multi-faceted perfume. I've worn it quite a lot over the last three weeks (thanks to a very kind swop by Persolaise) and while it still feels mostly the same each time, there are subtle variations and the range of smells is so great. Leather Oud oozes sophistication and in my opinion, originality. While the notes themselves and in isolation are well known, its their combination that makes the sum of this perfume so much greater than its parts. Highly recommended. One thing though - why does this need to be sold in a 250ml bottle? No matter how good it is it, I do not need that much of it. I wish they could sell it in 30ml or 50ml...

Image credit -

Monday, 21 February 2011

L'eau Serge Lutens

The marketing blurb for Serge Luten's L'eau was as ever, slightly fanciful. All this guff about an anti-perfume, with the emphasis on wanting to smell like a crisp, freshly laundered white shirt.

The notes, from Luckyscent, include aldehydes, citrus, magnolia, white mint, clary sage, ozonic notes and musk.

I have to admit, there is a ring of truth to the above. If I were to attribute a colour to L'eau, it would be white. And the fabric would be a linen, smartly-pressed shirt, well-tailored, not too smart, not raspy but not silky either. So what does that tell you about L'eau? Well, honestly, this style of perfume is not me at all, irrespective of who the house is or the perfumer. Having said that, L'eau is in my opinion actually very well done. I know there have been quite a number of negative reviews of L'eau, but as far as fresh and ozonic go, one could do a lot worse than try this little number. 

Usually when I read notes like ozonic and descriptions about crisp and fresh, I run a mile. But this is Lutens after all, and no matter what one says of L'eau, it certainly is not generic and manages to avoid the usual cliches, without smelling like  a synthetic mess in the process. This perfume is full of musk, from start to finish, but there is nothing skanky about it. The musk and aldehydes, with that touch of light herbs, citrus and just a hint of mint, give this perfume a feel of the laundry room, the air redolent with the fading heat and humidity of the iron. In fact, the smell mostly reminds me of that metallic, slightly ionic smell caused by a hot and steamy iron on fabric, so I think in this respect Lutens has been very successful with L'eau. 

The first half of L'eau is far more appealing to me, when the feel is most like that of cool, fresh laundry. In the dry down particularly, it all starts to smell a bit stale, when I wish the fragrance would change direction somewhat. Laundry musks only hold so much appeal for me after all.

As I said earlier, L'eau is not something I would consider wearing too often, but for what it is, it is quite impressive. If you enjoy this sort of perfume, L'eau will provide you with something bordering on fresh, with an intellectual twist to it and you could do far worse. Typically for Lutens, longevity is above average. This is one of the lighter and shorter-lived Lutens, but compared to other perfumes of its type, this lasts very well, at least 6-8 hours on my skin.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


Everyone loves peanuts, right? Well, perhaps not everyone. For example, those with a peanut allergy might disagree. For me, peanuts are so-so. I actually prefer a lot of other nuts (peanuts are not even nuts are they, rather legumes?). In any event, I prefer peanuts in some forms to others. I am not mad-crazy about peanut butter (chunky or smooth) but I do like a roasted and salted peanut. Raw peanuts are not my favourite - if they're slightly old they get very bitter and leave a dryness on my tongue.  I'm not even a huge fan of peanuts in cooking, such as satay sauce. I'm sure many others would disagree, which is cool. 

What I have fallen in love with recently though are peanut butter cookies. My wife bought a book called The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook a few months ago (I can highly recommend it) and included in there is this cookie recipe. I'm obviously not going to list the recipe here, but it is a lovely cookie that includes peanut butter, a little chocolate, and many of the usual biscuit ingredients. They are simple to make but taste absolutely delicious! They are very well balanced, being neither too sweet nor too bland, and the peanut butter, while clearly the star ingredient, never overpowers.

While I was eating a couple of these with a coffee earlier, I started thinking about perfume and whether peanuts or peanut butter ever feature in perfumes, and if they do, what they would smell like. I can't think of any perfumes that do mention peanuts as an accord, but if you can think of one, please let me know. I'd love to try it! In theory, with my limited knowledge, I can't think why it wouldn't make a good perfume note. After all, peanuts feature in both sweet and savoury cooking, they can be rich and oily and the taste can range from sweet-nutty to green-salty. Who knows?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Time out

I have a couple of days off this week (Today and Friday) and it couldn't have come sooner. At the risk of moaning, it's been one of those working weeks that shouldn't have happened, at least for me! I won't bore you with the detail, suffice to say that it involved an irate client, a neurotic (possibly psychopathic) bookkeeper and me. Hoorah! In those sort of awkward circumstances I almost wish that I was out picking apples or something. Or being a monk  holed away in an abbey obeying a vow of silence. Oh the melodrama!

I also didn't wear any perfume today, which always leaves me feeling ever so slightly out of sorts, but I did get a few samples from one of my local department stores. Annick Goutal's Duel, Ancens Flamboyant (Yes, Josephine!) and Ambre Fetiche as well as Uncle Serge's L'Eau. Yes, that one... I've tried all of these a number of times, but for some reason when I see samples lying around for the taking, like a moth to a flame I grab! Duel never fails to baffle me. It smells so weird, and yet compelling. I never quite know if I like it or not, but funnily enough, I think it is literally the only perfume that has ever got me a viscerally favourable comment from a lady. Bizarre.

I mentioned some holiday ideas a couple of days ago. I'm increasingly gravitating towards Mallorca, particularly the north-west of the island. If I can only find a favourable deal that doesn't involve staying next to lager louts or a fish and chip shop, we'll be off in a flash!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Wednesday scent of the day

I continue to work through my recently acquired samples from Les Senteurs and today I tried Cedre Sandaraque by Parfumerie Generale and Angeliques sous la Pluie by Frederic Malle. 

For some reason I was expecting to like the PG and find the Malle a bit of a letdown. Don't ask me why. Instead it panned out the other way round. While I didn't mind Cedre Sandaraque, it didn't wow me. I know perfumes can be slow burners and win one over in the long run, but initially I find it a bit bland. It has that PG touch of course - woods, slightly gourmand without being cloying and a strange berry/fruity note which while not department store fruity, is just a bit off putting, at least to me. Maybe it's the Sandarac note, which apparently is a resin obtained from a tree that grows in north-west Africa and has a slightly fruity, balsamic, warm aroma.

Angeliques sous la Pluie was created by Jean-Claude Ellena, but for some reason, while quite light and sheer, a J-C hallmark, this did not really smell to me like the work he has done at Hermes for example. It's a simple perfume, with a bit of pink pepper, angelica and cedar, but it smells lovely. I've read a lot of reviews that describe it as a very fleeting perfume, but on my skin it lasted all day. Yes, it was very much a skin scent, but gorgeous at that, and perfectly unisex. In the past I have steered clear of it, as it's name sounds so feminine to me. I wish I had tried it earlier!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Tuesday scent of the day and holiday thoughts

We haven't been on a proper holiday for a long time. This year is hopefully going to be different. However, like my recent prevaricating with perfume samples, we have been struggling to decide where to go for a week or two (no work, but no Cliff either, please). I'm rather keen on a relaxing beach holiday, that doesn't entail too much effort. I'm usually a relatively adventurous traveller, but since we've had kids, I'm less enthusiastic. I really want them to have a good time and to my mind a sandy beach, warm weather and buckets and spades sounds good.

So, I've been looking at South-West France, particularly the Languedoc and Gascony, or possibly somewhere around the French or Spanish Pyranees. However, Brittany is appealing too, and easier to get to, particularly by ferry. 

Another part of my mind, primarily the lazy one, is set on simplicity, like a package tour to one of the Canary Islands, or Madeira, or perhaps even Ibiza or Mallorca. Ibiza is not as crazy as it seems. I've been told that there is far more to the island than clubbing and Cafe Del Mar. Another destination I've been toying with is the Azores. 

I was shown an advert by a colleague today that was advertising very affordable self-catering accommodation at some exotic sounding beach, which name I can't remember. It sounded great, but turns out it was in the Falkland Islands, which interesting though it is, I'm sure, is a tad far away for me this year!

So, what about my scent of the day? Well, it was Secret Oud, by Caron. I will review this in more detail another day, but save to say that it is very well done. I think if you are expecting a great big blast of oud with a massive Middle-Eastern aura about it, then you might be disappointed. But Caron being Caron, this is a sophisticated and lovely take on the note, with the added delight of a soft, sweet, yet not cloying rose, with a bit of incense and smooth woods. It's not a screamer, but in many ways all the better for it. Watch this space...

A belated thought on Valentines Day

Call me the scrooge of Saint Valentine, but I don't generally enjoy this day. I can't even really say why. The tempting answer is that one shouldn't need an excuse to express one's love for another, or spend ridiculous amounts of money on cards, roses and chocolates. I used to do this, but over the last decade my wife and I have agreed not to do anything special. So, I am not a romantic then. Oh well. Having said that, I have no issues with anyone else enjoying or celebrating this day, so if you did, then I hope you and your partner had a good time.

So what did I do on Valentines Day then? Well, nothing really, other than what I usually do on a working Monday, which is go to work, sit through boring meetings and wear perfume of course.

I tried two of my newly acquired samples, Frapin's Terre de Sarment and Andy Tauer's Eau d'Epices. I like them both. Very much. 

I must say that the Tauer takes the cake though. It's very good indeed. It's very much in the same spirit as Orange Star, I think. In fact add warm, snuggly spices to Orange Star and reduce the orange level, and you get Eau d'Epices. More or less. It's not quite that straightforward. I love them both though - they feel warm, cozy, bright, happy.

Terre de Sarment is also very nice, but I think I prefer Caravelle Epicee a bit more. I don't know why this line receives so little attention. Certainly what I've tried so far is very wearable and certainly worth sampling.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Another visit to Les Senteurs, and some samples

Following on from my last post, as I mentioned, I spent the day in London with my family, but also managed a short visit to Les Senteurs in Elizabeth Street, Belgravia. I've gone on quite a bit about this niche perfume store in the past, and my opinion hasn't changed. If you want personal, unhurried service, friendly and knowledgeable staff, and great perfumes, then you can do a hell of a lot worse than pay a visit to this perfume institution.

On Saturday the store was busier than I have found it in the past, so I took my time and leisurely tried a few perfumes on paper that I haven't tried in the past. I always feel so good coming here. There's an atmosphere about this shop that just feels 'right'. It's hard to describe, but it feels a perfume shop for perfume lovers, owned and staffed in turn by perfume lovers. I asked for some samples and a lovely lady decanted six samples for me without hesitation. I always feel slightly guilty doing this, but Les Senteurs positively encourage you to go away with samples. I think unlike the large department stores, they realise that by building up customer loyalty and a client relationship, and giving you ample opportunity to try a perfume properly that costs sometimes well over a hundred pounds, they are more likely to make a sale in the long term, and have repeat business. I should mention that I don't just take the piss at Les Senteurs - I have bought from them before and regularly purchase samples online, which they currently charge £3 a sample for. Which is not unreasonable, considering the vials contain a very generous quantity of perfume.

The samples I got on this occasion are:

Molinard - Chypre Orient
Frederic Malle - Angeliques sous la Pluie
Parfumerie Generale - Cedre Sandaraque
Andy Tauer - Eau d'Epices
Frapin et Cie - Terre de Sarment
Caron - Secret Oud

So, I am quite excited to try these, particularly Secret Oud, which as I mentioned before, I saw at Harrods and was staggered by the price, so I was pleased to get a free sample of this. And what name is more lovely for a perfume than Angeliques sous la Pluie?

So next time you are in London, do yourself a favour and try pay a visit to this great place, or if you can't, have a look at their website instead and see what they have got. Just for the record, I have absolutely nothing to do with Les Senteurs. I like mentioning them because they are so good for perfume lovers, and that's what I know you, readers, are too!

A Saturday jaunt to the Capital

My wife and I, and our two kids, spent the day in London on Saturday. Nothing remarkable about that, except that as a family, we only get up from Tunbridge Wells about twice a year. Since leaving London in 2007 we haven't really missed the place, but as the children are getting a bit older its nice to make the odd excursion. 

On this occasion we went to the museums in South Kensington, the Science Museum and The Natural History Museum. For those of you not that familiar with London, most major museums offer free entry these days, and have done so since about 2001. Major exhibitions are different; one still pays to see these. There is actually a lot of free stuff to see and do in London, which makes it a great place to visit, and also with children. For those of you who have been to any of the museums in South Kensington, you will have probably found out for yourself that they are exceptionally busy, particularly the Natural History Museum. It was manic this weekend, with literally hundreds of kiddies running riot, including ours. Anyone with young children will know that little minds do not have great attention spans, so we only spent about an hour in each of the two museums. My older daughter Hannah enjoyed looking at the aeroplanes at the Science Museum. They have one of the engines from a Boeing 747 on display and it is a frighteningly massive piece of equipment, close up. Both children loved the Natural History Museum, which has a great (if busy) dinosaur display and lots of the to-be-expected stuffed wild animals, like a lion, tiger, gorilla, etc. Particularly impressive is the skeleton and also life-size model of a blue whale, which takes up the better part of the roof space of a huge exhibition hall. Imagine meeting one of those in real life!

Of course, London being London, and me being me, crazy perfume fanatic that I am, no visit would be complete without a brief excursion to a couple of perfume places. I popped into Les Senteurs in Belgravia (more about that in another post) and Harrods in Knightsbridge. As Valentines Day is on Monday, Harrods was awash with zombie men trying to find a last-minute perfume for their partners and of course, sales assistants waving perfume bottles in one's face. I have learned to bump them off, mostly politely, but I do find Harrods daunting at times, particularly around Christmas and Valentines Day. I did smell the two newish Guerlains on paper, Arsene Lupin Dandy and Voyou. I must say that neither made a huge impression on me, but I clearly would need to test them on skin to form a proper and fair opinion. Of the two I think I preferred Dandy, but both disappeared very quickly on paper, lasting not much more than a couple of hours. I also tried Fleurs de Sel by Miller Harris, which I've never seen before. It was interesting. Slightly weird, but worth a revisit at some point. My final spray was Secret Oud, by Caron. The sales lady said that Harrods have the exclusive right to sell this in London, but a hour later I saw it at Les Senteurs as well, so I am not convinced she was correct. In any event, it smells rather interesting, although the oud had more of a vetiver vibe on paper than the oud smell I was expecting. This is seriously expensive at about £137 for a 50ml bottle (not sure what this is in US dollars). Actually, the Guerlains are bloody expensive too, not much cheaper than the Caron, and with less staying power, on paper at least.

After the perfume detour, we popped into a pub in Victoria for a quick pint of Doom Bar beer, then it was off to a Chinese Buffet place that we always used to eat at when we lived in London. It is cheap and cheerful, and doesn't feel awfully clean, if I'm being honest, but the crispy duck and pancakes are yum, as is the crispy seaweed. My two girls loved it, having not eaten Chinese before. We eventually got home at about 9pm that night and the poor mites were utterly exhausted. Actually, we felt a bit guilty keeping them out so long, but they did have a good time and we don't do this often.

So, all in all a good day, but I must admit that one day in London at a time is more than enough for me. It can be a crazy busy place and it's always good to return to a more mundane and sedate pace of life all being told!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Serge Lutens Miel de Bois

Ah, Miel de Bois. If ever there was a divisive fragrance from Uncle Serge, this is it. If you bother to read the reviews, you will generally find it is a case of love-it-or-hate-it, with very little middle ground. The three principal reviews I have read come from Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmine and Perfume Smellin Things, and all three trod more of a middle ground, stating that this is a perfume that is initially repelling, but that with perseverance you can grow to love it. I don't give up easily, so have tried Miel de Bois on and off for a few year now. I have to say that I am still in the 'with perseverance' camp!

No review can truly prepare you for Miel de Bois, I think. The initial assault upon the senses is astonishing. The error I made the first time I tried it was to use five sprays. Within ten minutes I stank to high heaven and had christened this rather as Miel de Pong. The notes include honey, hawthorn, ebony gaiac and oak woods, beeswax, iris and acquilaria, which as I take it is oud. On skin, Miel de Bois' opening translates to a massive blast of sweet, strong honey and intense, almost charred woods. It is pungent and smoky and fills the nostrils with almost palpable waves of honeyed fumes. The honey note is so forceful that it does come across as quite pissy, or urinous. It really does.

Miel de Bois has astonishing longevity on my skin. I've never encountered a Lutens that is a wilting flower; they all last very well on me, but this one is beyond robust. For example, I sprayed this on at about 8.30 this morning and it is now 2pm as I type, and Miel de Bois still smells almost as strong as if I sprayed it 10 minutes ago. And that's the issue I have with it. It's not the smell itself that is so offputting to me, but rather how strong and persistent it is, with a massive sillage. Reviews suggest that after the first 20 minutes this is mostly a skin scent, but not for me. I can still smell it intensely five hours later, wafting up clearly and loudly, and I only sprayed once. Yes, that is all you need and you're set for a long day's wear.

While I find Miel de Bois quite repulsive in some ways, I keep on returning to it in the hope that one day I'll 'get it'. Whatever one thinks of it, you can't say that this is a boring fragrance, or not challenging. It has these in spades. When I think of Lutens' most distinctive perfume (and I have to admit that there are still quite a few non-exports I haven't tried) I think of Miel de Bois. There is nothing else remotely like it. It is an extremely dark, woody and honeyed fragrance. The honey is prominent on me from start to dry down, whenever that happens to take place (I've never reached, always having had to wash it off eventually, hours and hours later). I can't distinguish between the different woods and the iris is lost on me. The oud makes sense, combined with the strong honey and beeswax. For originality and balls, I give it a big thumbs up. But I really struggle to wear it - it is one of the few perfumes that I feel wears me instead.

I'll leave you with a phrase from a review by Tom from Perfume Smellin Things, that has always stuck in my mind and amused me no end at the time I read it. He describes the opening of Miel de Bois as "killer bees on crack". That sums it up very aptly for me!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Bath water blues and perfume prattle

In the deep and dark December (to sort of quote Simon & Garfunkel) our boiler nearly packed up. Typically it occurred on one of the coldest days of the winter, with snow thick on the ground and icicles hanging from the gutters. The boiler man came round to fix the problem, which ironically turned out to be something as mundane as a slightly loose connection and having to bleed the radiators. In the event, he also adjusted the thermostat, with the result that we now have very close to boiling water on tap. Energy efficiency and high gas bills aside, this can also be a blessing and a curse, as we found out tonight.

I was giving my two daughters a bath, as we do every evening. Lately my older daughter, Hannah, has got into the habit of putting in the plug and starting the water running. We haven't really thought twice about this. On this occasion she turned on the hot water tap and left it running, until it had got up to some serious heat. My other daughter, Daisy, must have taken a plastic cup and held it under the tap and in the process spilled it over Hannah's chest and arm. I say must have, because I had my back turned, so didn't notice anything until Hannah started screaming blue murder. We immediately ran some cold water and put some cold flannels over the burn areas and then got some special burn cream from the chemist afterwards. To cut a long story short, she seems to be fine and there is no obvious sign of swelling, blistering or broken skin, which we are hoping is a good thing, but we will monitor her closely over the next twelve hours or so, just in case.

I'm not really sure what the point is of writing about this on my blog, save to let some steam out. I was extremely angry with myself for losing concentration and not paying enough attention to what my children were doing. Part of me (my inner critic, damn him, as Josephine would say) was saying that these things happen and that I shouldn't beat myself up too much, while another part of me was cursing myself for negligence and for taking for granted the safety of my children. Whatever, the bottom line is that accidents can happen so bloody quickly, especially where children are involved, and also illustrates how easily a parent can lapse into bad habits and just assume their children can handle certain situations. I'm just very thankful that it wasn't more serious. I mean, Hannah or Daisy could have slipped while leaning over to reach a tap and could easily have fallen into the bath of near-boiling water.

So on a happier note, I did wear some perfume today. I tried Parfume De Rosine's Twill Rose and DSH's Cuir et Champignon. I will probably write about these in more detail at some point but for now I can say that I like Twill Rose, although it is slightly underwhelming. I would have preferred more dirt/skank/whatever from it, but it smells good and is perfectly wearable. Cuir et Champignon is the second DSH which doesn't fade from my skin within the hour (the other is Vintage Patchouli) so that counts as a major positive in my book. The mushroom accord in this is startlingly realistic and goes so well with leather. Who would have thought? Brilliant!

On the samples front, I still haven't purchased any. Every night I sit at my computer browsing the various sites, umming and ahhing over what to buy, but like some cold-war president with his finger hovering over that red button, I just can't bring myself to click the purchase icon. Damn... perfume purchase impotence - that's a first for me.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier - Parfum D'Habit

Following on from yesterday's post, today is all about Parfum D'Habit, another men's favourite over at Basenotes. I struggled to find a comprehensive list of notes for this perfume. One source listed leather, bergamot, patchouli, incense and amber, while Luckyscent listed bergamot, blackcurrant, vetiver, leather and patchouli. A lot of folk at Basenotes mention a sandalwood note too. I suspect that in reality a combination of these two lists would be reasonably accurate.

Parfum D'Habit opens with quite a potent, slightly animalic twang. This might be blackcurrant, which can smell a bit pissy, which with a good dose of patchouli, could create this impression. In a weird sort of way, there is something about this perfume that in my opinion is not miles away in feel from L'Artisan's Al Oud, without the oud and perhaps a bit more stripped down. Once the animalic note disappears, Parfum D'Habit becomes mostly a leather fragrance, kept slightly green by the vetiver, and ever so slightly powdery and earthy by the patchouli. This perfume also is a kissing cousin of Eau des Iles, I think. Not so much in the actual smell, but more in the overall gentlemanly, quite refined feel. A lot of reviewers describe Parfume D'Habit as a powerhouse fragrance, and while it is no wilting flower, it strikes me as fairly linear and subdued after the opening.

The leather is not overwhelming, being neither smoky nor tarry. Like I stated yesterday, like Eau des Iles, Parfum D'Habit is refined, sophisticated and very well done. But, it lacks something, at least for me. I find it overstays its welcome on my skin and save for the opening, is a bit too refined. I wish it would bare its teeth a bit more. While Parfum D'Habit and Eau des Iles receive a lot of the praise over at Basenotes, I personally prefer Route de Vetiver, which is a little more unpredictable and rough-and-ready, which is more to my taste.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier - Eau des Iles

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier is one of those perfume houses that is often admired, but more elusive than one might think. There were rumours that they were closing down, but Luckyscent got them back in stock (albeit a fairly limited range) as did Les Senteurs in London. 

Eau des Iles is quite a strange perfume in my opinion. There is a green coffee note in it that while ingenious, is also slightly offputting for me. The notes include galbanum, coffee beans, myrtle, tarragon, ylang-ylang, incense, vetiver and patchouli. If from these notes you are thinking 'earthy', then you'd be correct, but not in a dirty, earthy way. The earthiness smells like dust and plant life to me. The opening is a very strong coffee and herbal concoction, and quite floral. The herbalness initially made me think that there was lavender in there, but this is probably myrtle. The initial phases are also very green and even a bit sour. The greenness comes from the galbanum, no doubt, of which there is a hefty dose here. The sourness might be from the vetiver.  As the opening fades the very realistic, freshly-brewed-coffee accord is replaced by what for me is the smell of the actual coffee bean. If you've ever smelled a coffee bean that is only lightly roasted, or perhaps not at all, then you'll get what I'm trying to convey. This green coffee note persists for some time, although it does soften to become green and woody, with an undertone of patchouli and what I perceive as a powderiness. Patchouli can smell a bit powdery in my experience and this is the effect I get with Eau des Iles. 

Like quite a few of the fragrances I've sampled in this line, Eau des Iles strikes me as quite gentlemanly and refined, even perhaps ever so slightly fusty. I do like this fragrance, but it seems a bit too conservative for my tastes, albeit very well done. This is highly rated on Basenotes, but for some reason I don't find it that groundbreaking - it smells quite traditional to my nose. Not that this is a bad thing, but just not what I'm really looking for in fragrance at this stage. Some might say that Eau des Iles is a bit quirky, and I do get that to an extent.

Overall though, I would certainly recommend that you sample this. While quite masculine, as ever I see no reason why a woman should not give this a go. 

Monday, 7 February 2011

Amouage Reflection Woman and Man

I've tried a lot of Amouage perfumes over the last few years and while Reflection Man was one of the first I sampled, I have never tried the Woman's version. Reflection Man is one of those in the line that seldom seems to garner much attention, yet I actually enjoy it a lot. It's a bit of a slow burner, without that signature frankincense, but it dries down to a lovely combination of cedar, vetiver, patchouli and sandalwood. The notes include red pepper berries,  rosemary, bitter orange leaves, orris, jasmine, neroli, cedarwood, sandalwood, patchouli and vetiver. The opening borders on being an aquatic, which is not appealing, but just as you think this is going to be run-of-the-mill, the heart reveals an interesting combination of iris and jasmine and then the lovely dry down. Amouage is not afraid of using florals in its men's perfumes, but the effect is quite restrained here. I wouldn't say that Reflection Man is my favourite in the line, but it is very decent and worth sampling for a different take on Amouage. 

I have mentioned it before, that is that I quite often enjoy the Woman's 'version' of an Amouage fragrance more than the Men's. Case in point being Lyric in particular, and to a lesser extent Epic. Although I am slowly changing my mind about Epic. It is growing on me with each wearing. Reflection Woman's notes include water violet, freesia, tropical green leaves, magnolia, ylang-ylang, jasmine, amber, musk, cedarwood and sandalwood. You might notice the heavy presence of florals here, and this is possibly the most floral Amouage I have tried. I know Gold is quite heavy on the florals too, but I find the combination in Reflection Woman quite off-putting. This is definitely a case of my preferring the men's version to the woman's, without a doubt. I hate to say this, and it is a matter of opinion of course, but Reflection Woman is the least enjoyable Amouage fragrance I have tried, and this is coming from a fully-annointed acolyte of the line. It does strike me as far more marine-like than the men's version, and stays that way. Whereas Reflection Man moves away from this feel into a more appealing iris-and-woods with a light floral touch, Reflection Woman never quite achieves this, preferring to stay near whatever grows and flowers at or near the pond, dam, lake or whatever it is in this case. Incidentally, I do love the bottle, pictured top left. It is gorgeous.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Byredo Baudelaire

Judging generally by comments on a number of sites, Byredo receives a fair amount of criticism. I haven't tried a lot of their perfumes, but I do think that Baudelaire is quite decent.

It opens sweet, woody and warm, with a mix of comforting spices. The notes, as far as I can gather, include juniper berry, caraway, black pepper, hyacinth, incense, leather, papyrus, patchouli and black amber. The spices to me don't smell particularly peppery, and while no sweet notes are listed, the opening feels ever so slightly gourmand to me. Again, while not listed, I soon detect a smoky vetiver note. In fact, had I not read these notes, I would have gauged this perfume as a smoky vetiver scent. Perhaps this effect is caused by a combination of juniper, incense and patchouli. I don't really know. The heart continues in much the same fashion, slightly green, a bit smoky, a bit tangy and a hint of leather joining the fray. Baudelaire smells very good, no doubt about that.

In the dry down the smokiness does fade away, leaving what to me smells like a vetiver and patchouli accord, not unlike what I smell in Le Labo Vetiver 46 or ELDO's Fat Electrician. At no point do I detect the floral hyacinth, nor is the black amber particularly evident. I'd say that Baudelaire strays towards masculine, with its earthy patchouli, leather and what I think is vetiver, but I don't think a woman couldn't wear this by any means. Overall I think this is a very good fragrance and certainly enhances Byredo's reputation in my opinion. Having said that, I'm not sure I would buy a full bottle of this. It's very nice, but falls just short of being special, I think.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Sample heaven, or hell?

I don't know about you, but I have collected a sizable collection of samples over the last four years. It's become a bit of an obsession you see, although I suspect I'm not the only one to suffer from this malaise. As much as I love sampling perfume, it does become a double-edged sword after a while. 

There are two issues as I see it. The first issue is storage, or the lack of it. I would guess that my collection now numbers well into the hundreds, and as you might appreciate, even though sample vials are not that big, two to three hundred-plus little vials, some carded, some loose, do amount to something quite big. Part of the storage issue is how to categorise these perfumes, and how to catalogue them. As they all look pretty much the same, it can be a nightmare to locate the one I am looking for. I currently store my samples in a large, multi-tiered plastic box with a snap on secure lid, to keep the smells in. Within each tier is a plastic tray with little compartments, a little like an old fashioned printer's tray, if you've ever seen those. It works well, but as I said, if I'm in a hurry, and want to find something specific, it can be time consuming.

The other issue is usage. I haven't done an exact calculation, but even at this stage in my perfume journey, I would estimate that should I choose not to buy another sample ever again, it would still take me at least two years to work through what I've got. Although I am not a huge collector of full bottles, I still own at least 15-20 at last count, and those would probably take me another six years to work through, I reckon. So, I have enough perfume to last for what I would conservatively guess the best part of a decade! And in reality I am nowhere near stopping yet, oh no...

So what is the point of this post? Well, nothing really, except it serves to illustrate just how quickly this little 'hobby' of ours can spiral out of control! I still love doing this though, and as I collect more stuff, I think I am far more open to sharing this with others. I haven't really got into proper swapping yet, but I think I should start being more generous, perfume wise.

Do any of you have a perfume dilemma? How many samples do you have, and is it as much a nightmare storing and cataloguing them for you as it is for me?

Ooh, I've just thought of another 'complexity' in my shallow little perfume life - I'm always taking samples out of my storage box, so I keep loads at work in my desk drawer, some in my suit jacket pockets, and who knows where else!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Jimmy Choo Eau de Parfum

Well, I tried the new Jimmy Choo perfume that was launched here in the UK today (I think). It is described as a fruity chypre. The opening is in my opinion horrendous, a cloying fruity mess that evokes all the ubiquitous horror of the woman's mainstream modern fruity-floral or fruitchouli (take your pick). 

Luckily the rest of the fragrance turns out to be ok. I stress ok. This is, again in my opinion only, a very average, very ordinary, very been-there-done-that perfume. I have smelled worse, a lot worse, but that's all I can really say about this perfume.

Jimmy Choo brings nothing new to perfume, and neither offends nor compels one to explore further. Am I being harsh? Perhaps yes, but to call this a fruity chypre? Come on. Jimmy Choo is to Guerlain Mitsouko as a Renault Twingo is to an Aston Martin. (Apologies to Renault Twingo owners). Pass....


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