Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The end of summer (and more Amouage)

Depending on how you view it, today could have been the last day of summer. Some people think of summer being the three months of June, July and August; others' view is that summer officially ends at the autumn equinox, which I think is somewhere around the 21st of September.

Irrespective, here in the UK summer may as well be over. In fact, I can't honestly say that it ever started. Such is the capriciousness of British weather.

Yesterday I encountered Amouage's Honour Man and Women. Typically, Amouage have released another duo of fragrances. This isn't a proper review, as I've only tried these once, but my initial impression is that I like Honour Man, but Honour Women is a stinker. Not literally, but it is a white fruity floral, and I can only handle so many of those in a ubiquitious world of feminine fruity florals. Admittedly, I am hardly in the best position to comment on this style, but the lady who showed Honour Woman summed it up most aptly when she said that it would make the perfect bridal scent. And to be be fair, I am sure Honour Woman is good, but it is so not my style.

So what about Honour Man? I liked its strong peppery opening, as well as the smooth incense and woods dry down. I prefer it initially to recent Amouage releases, such as Opus IV and Memoir, although there is still something in Honour that bears some resemblance to the aforementioned, something faintly fruity-sweet, which I didn't like. Still, it's a decent fragrance, but in a slightly cynical way, I can't help feeling that Amouage has shot it's bolt somehow. I just don't think that the recent releases are reaching the heights of some of their classics, for example Lyric, Jubilation, Dia and Gold. Then again, it was a hard act to follow.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Hooray its the weekend (and Eau d'Italie)

So, another weekend rolls by and here in England we are having a long weekend, or the summer bank holiday weekend (or August bank holiday weekend, take your pick) as it is known. Theoretically this should be a celebration of summer - long days and sultry evenings, lazy barbecues, etc, but in reality it usually means sheltering from a persistent, drizzly rain and cursing the fact that the English summer was too short, as usual, and has come to an abrupt end.

Me cynical you ask? No way! Ha ha....

So this weekend is all mapped out for us. Our best friends are coming down for the day from London and we are planning to have a nice pub lunch at a country pub followed possibly by a visit to Marle Place, which is a lovely privately-owned house and garden lost in the back lanes of the Kent Weald. For those of you not familiar with Kent or England for that matter, the Weald is a bucolic landscape of old woods, valleys and farmland that remain surprisingly unspoilt, considering how densely populated the south east of England is. Here in Kent they have old Saxon names for various landscape features and villages. For example many villages names end in 'hurst' which means a wooded hill, or 'holt' which means wood, 'leigh/ly/ley' which means a clearing in a wood, 'wald' (corrupted to weald) means forest and 'den' means pasture. Ok, enough petty history for now...

I mentioned a while ago that the Eau d'Italie line was now stocked in one of my local department stores. Well I was in there just the other day and one of the sales ladies kindly gave me samples of the entire line, which was very nice indeed. Having said that, although I quite like what I have tried so far, I don't know if they do enough for me to mean I am entirely sold on the line.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

L'Artisan comes to town

Ok, I know that might not be the most exciting news, but L'Artisan is now stocked at one of my local department stores. It's not the full range of course, but rather the more common ones encountered, like Myrrh & Musc, Timbuktu, Ambre and Premier Figuier. There are two others that I haven't tried before, Nuit de Tubereuse and Fou d'Absinthe.

I have to say, my first impression of Fou d'Absinthe is WTF! It starts with a wonderful hit of anise/absinth, cool and deadly, but then turns to something dank and manky on my skin for about two hours. Honestly, every time I smelled my wrist I had the impression I had dried my skin with a towel that hadn't been aired properly. You must know that smell. It isn't quite revolting, but not pleasant either. Then later on, the fragrance turns back into a slightly resinous, piney, even lightly incense-y dry down. Weird, and possibly weirdly compelling.

A lot was written about Nuit de Tubereuse when it came out last year. I only ever sprayed it on paper once and promptly forgot about it. Wearing it today, I'm struck by how this must be the most un-floral tuberose perfume I have every encountered. Much later in the dry down some of the more usual facets of tuberose come into play but again, it is a rather intriguing shape-shifter of a scent that I can't quite pin down. I think I really like it.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

V&A Midnight in Paris and Delrae Panache revisited

After my rather strange reviews of Van Cleef and Arpels Midnight in Paris and Delrae Panache a few days ago, I thought I would revisit both to see if my perceptions had changed.

Well, in short, they haven't. If anything, Midnight in Paris strikes me as even more vanilla-cloying than before. Perhaps it is the fact I wore it again on quite a warm day. I don't know, but it choked me half to death with that note. Yuck. Sorry...

Panache is still by far the better of the two in my opinion. There's something about the style of Delrae that reminds me a bit of Di Nicolai. Certainly in the case of Panache the combination of rich citrus, perhaps lavender and vanilla that reminds me of Di Nicolai's New York. The difference is New York usually gives me the dry heaves for some weird reason, but luckily Panache doesn't. Still, it is a curious fragrance and I don't know whether I love it, or think I could do with a bit more perseverance!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Scentless Sunday

After a few unseasonably cool days in my part of England, this weekend the weather returned to something resembling late summer. We took advantage of this by taking our daughters to the pool for a swim, followed by a picnic in a park and then a play in an adventure playground. It was a great way to spend quality time with my kids, but I am exhausted now! 

Of course, spending time in a chlorinated swimming pool is hardly the best way to appreciate a fine fragrance, so it was a scentless Sunday for me. I hate it when I don't wear perfume. It may seem silly, but in a way I don't feel complete without it.

By the way, this afternoon we also watched Toy Story 3 on Blu Ray. I've loved all the Toy Story movies - they're brilliant. I don't know if I should be revealing such details on my blog, but I must admit that I shed a couple of tears at the end when Andy leaves Woody, Buzz and the gang with a younger girl as he goes off to college. There's something painful about leaving childhood behind. Now if only I hadn't treated my toys so badly.... !

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Delrae Panache

Okay, this is perhaps taking a perfume review to a streamlined extreme, almost a stream-of-consciousness thing. Perhaps this won't be fair to Delrae Panache, but here goes - my 1 minute summary of the fragrance...

Delrae Panache starts with a bit of citrus and lavender. It strikes me as very aldehydic and actually high pitched. A bit of a nod to a bygone age. Smells perfume-y, for want of a better word. It stays citrusy for a long time. The term high pitched comes to mind again because it isn't a warm, fluffy fragrance. It gets a bit greener as it progresses, with a dusting of spice, perhaps a touch of patchouli and a bit herbal. It smells classy and interesting.

Hmm, I can't say that is the most enlightening review I've done on this blog, but that's my first stab.

Note to self - wear Delrae Panache again and give it a bit more thought...

Friday, 19 August 2011

Old favourites revisited part 2

Following on from my recent desire to wear some older, more tried-and-tested fragrances, today I wore Montale's Blue Amber and Costamor's Tabacca. 

Actually, Tabacca is a sample that I only acquired a few months ago, but I very quickly grew to love it. It smells comforting, warmly spicy, fragrantly tobacco-y, with a deft dose of what smells to me like rum or cognac. It's great; nicely relaxed, but there's a lot going on.

Blue Amber is also a lovely fragrance, although still doesn't top my amber gold standard, Uncle Serge's Ambre Sultan. Nevertheless, it is also warm, comforting and relaxed, with a slightly salty tang that manages to cut the sweet amber and prevent it from becoming too powdery.

Like yesterday, I'm feeling the love. Viva. 

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Old favourites revisited

Cymbaline commented on one of my recent posts, where I mused over whether I was becoming jaded and cynical in my perception of what is or isn't original. She mentioned that she keeps on returning to old favourites.

Well, following that, I've returned to a few old favourites too, and what a pleasant experience it has been. Today I wore Andy Tauer's Incense Extreme and Les Nez Let Me Play The Lion. What struck me most about both of these perfumes is how unique and original they are, at least to me. Incense Extreme is mostly about incense, but somehow despite its apparent simplicity it never fails to wow me. What longevity it has too. I sprayed it on at 8 this morning and after a shower at 8pm I could still detect it. Well, Andy Tauer is renowned for this, isn't he?

LMPTL is a curious fragrance, but very lovely all the same. I'm sure the name (which I understand comes from a line out of Shakespeare - is it Hamlet?) has subconsciously evoked the smell of African bush and lions for me, which is just fanciful. Having said that, I grew up in Africa and have spent time in the bush and have been in proximity to lions, so I know what this smells like and LMPTL does smell a bit like that, honestly! Again, I haven't smelled anything quite like it.

Then this evening I am wearing one of my Serge Lutens loves, Borneo 1834. Well, there's patchouli and then there's patchouli and Uncle Serge's is one of the best, in my opinion. Perfect for a relaxing evening that is unseasonably cool for late summer, even by English standards.

This really brings me back to a point I made a few days ago. I'm increasingly struggling to find perfumes that stand out for me and smell truly original. The ones I've mentioned here fit that bill. In spades....

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Van Cleef and Arpels Midnight in Paris

Van Cleef and Arpel's Midnight in Paris starts with a fizzing sort of citrus top note, quite heavy on bergamot and a touch of leather. It also has a slight powdery smell about it and ever so sweet, with what I think is vanilla. While not exactly generic, it doesn't smell all that original either.

The rest of the development is relatively bog standard, at least to me. There is a leathery, perhaps more suede smell, which is nice, with a touch of light smoky spice and woods, which smells even slightly rubbery. Yes, you may guess where I'm going with this...

I'd say that Midnight in Paris is great for day wear, for the office, but not particularly original. The combination of vanilla and what I later perceive as a very slightly rubbery/smoky leather is a certain nod to Bulgari Black actually. Is this a bad thing? No, not really, but yet another example of a perfume that is nice, but in my opinion not nice enough to stand out as brilliant and certainly not as cutting edge as Bulgari Black was in its day.

The notes from Luckyscent include lemon, bergamot, rosemary, green tea, lily of the valley, black tea, styrax, wood notes, tonka bean, benzoin, leather accord.

Image credit -

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Verbosity or brevity?

I've noticed in the almost year and a half that I've been blogging about perfume that my posts generally have tended to become shorter and more to the point. Part of this is down to necessity and circumstance, as I have been very busy this year and increasingly find less time to post.

However, I do find that particularly with posts where I try to review a perfume, I tend to write in less detail. The way I tend to write about a perfume is to wear it and make short notes as the day progresses, attempting to capture the mood, smell, sensation and progression of the scent. In recent months these notes have become shorter and less detailed. Perhaps it is a matter of practice and training one's nose and perhaps I have become lazy. I don't really know. What I do know is that I find it increasingly difficult to capture the feel of a perfume, as if I lack inspiration. Perhaps it is a form of burnout!

Another thought crossed my mind recently, that being that it takes far more to surprise and move me these days, perfume-wise. I think some of this must be because I have tried so many perfumes in the last three years. I mean, lets face it - after a while a lot of juice out there starts to smell the same as other stuff, no matter whether it is released by a niche house or mainstream conglomerate. Or am I just being a kill joy? One benefit of this slightly jaded outlook is that when I do come across a perfume that wows me, it is doubly fantastic.

I'd be interested to find out what some of you think about this. Am I just too cynical and jaded, or is there some truth in what I am saying?

Sunday, 14 August 2011

LT Piver Cuir

I don't know about you, but LT Piver is one of those perfume houses that has evaded my interest, and judging by the scarcity of reviews out there, the interest of most of the blogosphere too. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I can't recall reading any reviews, but I suppose there must be some out there.

LT Piver is carried by Les Senteurs in London, the only place I've seen them. When I was last there, I decided to get a sample of Cuir, one of the men's fragrances. If I understand correctly, Piver is a venerable old house and most, if not all of their fragrances have been recently modernised. Whether this is only the packaging and bottles, or the juices as well, I can't say.

Anyway, Cuir is a curious little number. In keeping with some of the older style leather fragrances, it has no shortage of greens and florals, and while I wouldn't call it a leather green chypre in the style of say Bandit, for example, it does verge on feminine for quite a long time. The opening is especially floral and quite intense, with very little leather to start with. There is also a soapiness that reminds me a bit of a Spanish leather style, with perhaps a hint of smoke too. As Cuir dries down the leather does become more prominent, but it never reaches the intensity of Knize 10 for example and retains a resinous, slightly green feel. I suppose it is a chypre, and I certainly didn't mind it, but it does smell a bit fusty and dated to me.

Having said that, I think it is worth at least trying.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Cuir et Champignon

Cuir et Champignon is part of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's Parfums des Beaux Arts line. As the name suggests, this perfume is mostly about leather and mushrooms, and what an interesting and at times startlingly realistic interpretation it is. 

I don't know if I have encountered a mushroom accord in perfume before. I've seen truffle used before, for example in Frederic Malle's Un Rose. Cuir et Champignon opens with a very smoky and leathery feel. Although it is a very sophisticated perfume, to me it is all about the outdoors, to my mind evocative of an autumnal walk in the woods, tramping over leaf-strewn paths, the smell of early season decay in the air, the smell of woodsmoke wafting on the cooling breeze. Perhaps this is fanciful, but this is really a very woodsy perfume. Leather is most evident at the start, and while it never fades, it, along with the smoke, soften and blur as the perfume progresses. 

The mushroom accord is also very realistic, mainly in the first half of wearing it. Later on, that smell segues into a more recognisable woods accord, but is anything but conventional.

I don't know what else to say about Cuir et Champignon, other than it is a fabulous perfume, possibly the best I have tried by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. It also, unlike a few others I've tried, has very good lasting power. I'd certainly recommend this to anyone.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Eau d'Italie comes to town

This may not seem like the most exciting news, but to me, any new line launch (in the sense of new to my town, not a new line in itself) interests me. I've tried a couple from the Eau d'Italie line before, Paestum Rose and Sienne l'Hiver, both of which I found interesting, if not amazing. I've also encountered the line at Liberty in London, but for some reason have never tried the others. Anyway, Fenwick is now stocking the entire line, which is good news.

This weekend I wore Bois d'Ombrie and Baume du Doge. I found them both, again, quite interesting, but couldn't help feeling as if something in both of them didn't quite work. I don't know for sure what it was, but both seemed quite fruity to me, which combined with incense and myrrh just seemed strange. Both had good dry downs, particularly Bois d'Ombrie and I also enjoyed both of them more on paper, where the fruitiness was more subdued. Still, I will try them again and I can't deny that they are interesting. Baume du Doge reminded me a lot of another fragrance I've tried before (from a niche line, I'm sure) but I could not pin it down. If anyone has any idea, please let me know.

Friday, 5 August 2011

The week that was (or wasn't)

Well, another week has gone by and my blogging continues to flounder, drowning as I am in a sticky, muddy bog of work. That's one monkey I can't seem to get off my back, at least for now.

I did try the new Serge Lutens, Vitriol d'Oeillet. Honestly, I don't really know what to make of it. I've only tried it once, but I didn't feel moved, be it positively or negatively. I'd be interested to find out if anyone has tried it and if so, what they think.

I haven't worn a lot of perfume this week, but today I tried my favourite Montale, Oud Cuir d'Arabie. Some of you who've read my blog for a while will probably know that I love it, but jeez, for some reason it did not smell good on me today. I don't know if my sample is turning bad, but it smelled plasticky and slightly synthetic-sweet on my skin, which it never has before.

Perfume has taken a bit of a back seat in my life recently, but for some reason I have turned to music, a lot. In particular Bob Dylan. I'm no stranger to his music, owning most of his albums, bootleg series and basement tapes, but I keep on revisiting his stuff, in particular Another Side of Bob Dylan. Two songs stand out for me, where he really sounds like he is enjoying himself, almost laughing in places.  The two are All I Really Want to Do and I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met). Check them out...


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