Monday, 30 July 2012

Olympic Orchids

A few weeks ago my kind and generous friend Cym sent me a good number of samples, including a few from Olympic Orchids, a small indie (or artisanal) perfumery based in the Pacific Northwest. Many of their perfumes are inspired by different species of orchids, but there is also another line, Scents of Place, inspired by places the creator, Ellen Covey, has visited on her travels. It is from this second line that I have sampled.

I'm not going to go into any great detail here, but briefly, these are my initial impressions:

Arizona was the one I thought I would like most from the notes and from various reviews, yet strangely enough, it failed to move me much. It isn't poor by any means but I didn't really 'get' it. Perhaps subsequent wearings will change this. The notes include ponderosa pine, juniper, sagebrush and chaparral, with a touch of desert wildflowers. In all honesty, Arizona felt a bit flat to me, without much expected zip from the pine and juniper. I have read one review describing Arizona blushingly as the scent of sex. Well, its not the sex I know!

The website does not list notes but describes this perfume as a 'full scale Bollywood extravaganza'. Gujarat is definitely an extremely spicy perfume and strong too. On the day I wore it, I had the beginnings of a headache and this did me no favours. However, I have to say that Gujarat was the most unique and interesting of the ones I tried. Gujarat opens with a smell that for the first hour reminds me exactly of the smell (and I mean exactly) of making marmalade, using Seville Oranges. It has a zesty, resinous orange smell, but not the freshly peeled sort. If you have cooked Seville Oranges before you may know what I am trying to say. As Gujarat develops, the spices seep through, along with a prominent rose note. At this point, Gujarat seems to me to be more Middle-Eastern inspired and perhaps it is just my nose fooling me, but it smells like a rose-oud combo for a while.

Kingston Ferry
Kingston Ferry is described as a woody, green, subtle oceanic fragrance, but this is no nineties-inspired marine perfume. It has a lot of floral notes listed, but it never strikes me as very floral on skin. It is difficult to describe Kingston Ferry really, but it does smell woody, watery and even slightly salty, so kudos to Olympic Orchids for managing to recreate a sense of place so well.

Olympic Rainforest
This was possibly my second favourite of the ones I tried. It is green and woody, aromatic and in many ways a fairly quiet perfume. I can't say for sure whether it does smell like the Olympic Rainforest, not having been anywhere near it myself, but it does smell outdoorsy, in a fresh and good sort of way.

Salamanca is a university town in the hot south of Spain and the perfume is meant to evoke the dry, hot and dusty atmosphere of midsummer. It includes notes of mitti ( an attar distilling the scent of clay), vetiver, immortelle, hay, labdanum and helichrysum oil. To me, Salamanca is all about vetiver and immortelle and reminds me of Nasomatto's Black Afgano, where the vetiver smells intensely green, weedy and frankly, quite a lot like hash. I like Salamanca though. It is a clever fragrance that again, does seem to capture the sense of place well. I haven't been to southern Spain, but I have been to, and lived in, hot and dusty places and I can identify with that.

All in all, I really liked my first encounter with Olympic Orchids and can definitely recommend sampling this interesting house.

Friday, 27 July 2012

How to fix a bust spray nozzle

Some of you may recall that I reported a few months ago (it could be even further back than that) that my Diptyque Tam Dao spray nozzle had broken or jammed. I had tried various methods of fixing it following suggestions, to no avail. I had almost given up and was on the verge of breaking the bottle and decanting the perfume. However, this morning I was at John Lewis, a well known British department store, and for some reason when at the Diptyque counter, asked the person how I could fix the nozzle. 

To cut a short story even shorter, I followed his simple and brief advice and knock me down with a feather, it worked a treat! The advice - take off the sprayer and stick a pin into the hole. Apparently the blockage is often caused by air pressure that has built up in the spray line in the bottle and a pin removes this.

I feel really good in saying this - my bottle of Tam Dao is now back to its very best!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino

Believe it or not, but the past two or three days have been rather hot here in the UK. Or more precisely, south east England - the poor north has had drizzle and 14 celsius. 

Yesterday felt perfect for spritzing on something uplifting and refreshing. Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino fit the bill perfectly. Yet I must say, £135 for 50ml of eau de parfum is steep indeed, particularly for a citrusy eau de cologne style perfume. Some say you get what you pay for, but I have smelled a lot of citrus/cologne/orange blossom perfumes and there are plenty of excellent ones for well under £135!

That said, Neroli Portofino does smell very decent.

Saturday, 21 July 2012


I am now on holiday for two weeks. Not particularly notable, I'm sure, but I am looking forward to a break with my family. We aren't going anywhere, mind you, but we do plan to get out in Kent and Sussex (do day trips count as going somewhere?) and certainly a trip or two up to London. As you know, no trip to London is complete for me without a visit to some perfume emporiums, so I m sure I will pay a visit to some!

I may or may not post in this period; I'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, have a good weekend wherever you are!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Serge Lutens Cedre

It was my birthday on Friday and my wife gave me a bottle of Serge Lutens Cedre, which was very nice of her indeed!

I've tried Cedre a few times before, but hadn't for a couple of years, so I wore it yesterday with a fairly neutral outlook. Prior to wearing it, I had a quick browse around of the reviews, just to get a rough idea of people's views. Most opinions went like this: "Cedar, where's the cedar? This should be called tuberose, tuberose, tuberose." Or something along those lines.

So imagine my surprise when for me Cedre was all: "Cedar, cedar, cedar, with a hint of tuberose." Perhaps my nose is inferior to others, I don't really know, but the initial opening has a similar mentholated first act like Tubereuse Criminelle, but a lot more toned down. Within minutes the Lutens cedar woody accord seeps though, not miles removed from a lot of his Bois series and then for me it is cedar for the rest of the day, and a very nice one at that, slightly sweetened with some amber and perhaps rounded off with a hint of musk. I don't get a lot of musk in Cedre.

I think I am going to enjoy my bottle a lot. I suspect it will perform better in cooler weather though - Cedre has a slightly cozy aspect to it.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

The airport

Tomorrow I am going to the airport to fetch my mother in law, who is flying into England to visit us for a month. Now before you even think, or ask the question, yes I do get on ok with my wife's mother. She does all the talking, I do all the listening, and everyone is happy! Jokes aside, she is a good person and we're looking forward to having her.

A rather silly (or perhaps not) question for a rainy Thursday evening (or if you happen to live in any country in the world other than England, a sunny Thursday evening, I am sure) - what perfume would you wear to an airport, or what perfume do you think I should wear to an airport? Bear in mind I am not flying anywhere myself, merely visiting a soulless and glorified bus station.

Two obvious perfumes come to mind, albeit that I won't get off the ground myself, namely Guerlain's Vol de Nuit and Caron's En Avion.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Bottega Veneta - Man vs Woman

Bottega Veneta is one of my favourite mainstream releases of the last year. It isn't flashy - it has a fairly quiet and restrained elegance that speaks of class and good bearing to me. Perhaps that's a slightly snobby perception, but I can't help it.

While I really love the smell of Bottega Veneta, I have to admit that my skin chemistry doesn't bring out the best in the perfume. It smells quite muted on me.

I recently gave my wife a sample and tonight she wore it for the first time. She doesn't wear a lot of perfume, but tonight she is going out for dinner with friends and sprayed some on before leaving the house. Well, what can I say - Bottega Veneta smells absolutely amazing on her. The sillage she left behind as she departed was just stunning, putting this lovely perfume in a whole new light for me.

It goes to show that in this 'battle of the sexes', perfume wise, Woman came out on top!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Christian Dior Eau Noire

Wearing Eau Noire today reminded me of all that can be good about the Christian Dior line. I like a lot of Dior perfumes, including many of the mainstream ones, but one that sent me into a right old tailspin was Leather Oud, which is gorgeously sensuous and sexy. Eau Noire doesn't quite reach the giddy heights of Leather Oud, at least not for me, but nevertheless it is a lovely perfume. 

What can be said about Eau Noire that hasn't been written before? Probably not much, to be honest. What you get here is essentially an Immortelle-focused perfume, with vanilla and woods, lavender and a hint of leather perhaps. Immortelle tends to be a divider of opinion - some like its maple syrup and curry-ish accord, while others despise it. I certainly like it in Eau Noire, when it is evident, but not like a whack over the head. I found the same sort of thing in Chanel's Coromandel for example, where the patchouli was presented in such a way that you were left in no doubt as to the primary ingredient, but it didn't overwhelm. 

Eau Noire has decent lasting power and smells very good. I suspect it would perform better in cooler weather, when I could sense it being more of a comfort scent, but I will need to test it in a few months time and report back. 

Monday, 9 July 2012

Norma Kamali Incense

Thanks to Cymbaline, I finally got to try a sample of Norma Kamali Incense, a perfume I've heard about a lot, but never came across until now. Regular followers of my blog will probably have guessed by now that incense is one of my favourite accords in perfumery and I have tried a lot of incense-focused perfumes. 

It is hard to find any detailed notes for Norma Kamali Incense. The two notes that appear most often are Frankincense and Myrrh, while labdanum gets mentioned too. The opening of Incense was a little baffling, in that it smelled quite muted and even 'oily' in a way. I'm guessing this might have been the phase when Myrrh is at its most dominant. Gradually however, the Frankincense seeps into the composition, gaining strength and poise, until at its zenith, it shines radiant and pure, undiminished by anything else. I say that, but in reality, there is something quite woody about Incense too, which compliments the perfume wonderfully, without detracting from the incense. It is quite difficult to describe Incense. In a way, it is quite linear and simple, yet it is curiously and fabulously complex in its simplicity, if that can make any sense at all. 

I wondered if I would be moved and impressed by Norma Kamali Incense and I can say yes, truly I was. One would be hard-pressed to find such a glorious interpretation of Frankincense. The Myrrh is lost from the heart onward, at least to my nose and labdanum may be there, but is not especially present for me. 

I think I've found my new incense holy grail.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Weekend roundup

It has been an interesting week here in the UK. What with Wimbledon in its second week, torrential rain in Devon and the school summer holidays just round the corner, it is go, go, go.

As the school year winds down, we are personally reflecting on our daughter Hannah's first year in formal education, and even our younger, Daisy, is finishing her first year of pre school! I never realised just how busy it could get. I mean, Hannah is only 5, but it is already difficult keeping on top of everything that happens. Friday was sports day and I was really impressed with Hannah's sporting skills. It is very un-politically correct to be competitive at that age, and it isn't really, but still, I was proud to see that Hannah had some zip and determination and got into the spirit of things. Today was the school's summer festival, but it was somewhat spoilt by outbursts of capricious English downpours.

I was very excited to receive a parcel of perfume samples from my kind friend Cymbaline earlier in the week. There are some wonderful goodies in there and I am slowly working my way through them. I am sure I will write about some of them in the weeks to come.

In addition to trying some of these new samples, I revisited Gaultier's Fleur de Male, a very underrated orange blossom perfume in my opinion. If you are familiar with Le Male (and let's face it, who isn't?) then Fleur de Male will rekindle some of the memories and associations, but I find it to be wonderfully warm and sensuous perfume. In fact, I really like Le Male too, except that every other man and his dog was wearing it for most of the late nineties and early noughties, meaning that you couldn't escape the smell of it!

Tomorrow we are off to London to meet some friends of ours who now live in Germany. I don't think I will manage to get near to any perfume stores, but rest assured that if I do, I will take advantage of the opportunity!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

And the winner is.....

Tony Goh!

Tony, please email me your details and I will get the samples off to you as soon as I can.

Thanks to all the people who commented - your suggestions and ideas were all very useful!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Happy Independence Day

To all my friends in America, wishing you all a very enjoyable and restful Independence Day. 

The 4th of July has some significance in my life, not because of any specific connection with the USA, but because my mother and father married on 4 July 1964. Had my mother still been alive today, they would have been celebrating their 48th wedding anniversary! Sadly, my mother is no longer with us, but it is still a day for celebration.


Related Posts with Thumbnails