Friday, 30 November 2012

End of November musings

So, the last day of November. How fast this month has gone. With one month of the year left, I'm already starting to feel bereft, with that inevitable sense of loss of control. Tempus fugit and all that...

I thought I'd end off the month with a brief list of what I'm wearing, reading and listening to.

Book - I'm still making my steady way through the Game of Thrones series, but have also managed to read a Lee Child novel (easy escapism) and something far more interesting, a great book from the Harry Hole detective series by Jo Nesbo, The Snowman. Creepy, creepy stuff, I tell you!

Music - strangely enough, I'm going through a bit of a lean period. I'm a bit bored of what I've been listening to. Joanna Newsom is always good though, in small doses. That voice! it either captivates, or grates.

Perfume - well, you know. A bit of everything really. Today I wore Neela Vermeire's Bombay Bling and Mohur, while yesterday I really enjoyed a bit of a journey back in time to some of the earliest samples in my collection, Wazamba and Frapin's Caravelle Epicee. Lovely perfumes, those last two.

So, farewell November and in the meantime, I'll leave you with a video of Joanna Newsom on the Jools Holland Show, singing and playing '81.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Parfum d'Empire Wazamba

It never ceases to amaze me how perceptions of perfume can change over time. Take Wazamba for instance. When I first sampled it probably more than a couple of years ago now, I didn't care for it at all. I found it overpowering, smelling too much of pine, no doubt from the fir and cypress, and also strangely sweet. I think some of it was to do with the fact that I wore it in summer, when the warmth perhaps made it a bit cloying.

Today I picked out my sample of Wazamba and decided to give it another go. This time, it was totally different on my skin. Yes, the conifer notes were still there, but the incense was far more to the fore, smoky and swirling, mingling beautifully with the pine notes, sweetened just a touch by I don't know what - perhaps the labdanum and opoponax. Today was a really cold day here and I think the weather was a big factor in making Wazamba seem comforting, yet slightly mysterious. I can see myself wearing this a lot more over the coming weeks, as we head into winter proper and it would be perfect as a Christmas season fragrance, I think.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Mona Di Orio Oud

In this perfume world of overdone, over-saturated ouds, it takes a lot to convince me that we still need another oud fragrance. 

I know that Mona Di Orio's Oud was released over a year ago, and that many ouds have been released since then, but I can honestly say this is one of the best, if not the best, Western takes on the now-ubiquitous fragrance note. The notes, according to Luckyscent, include elemi, green mandarin,  petitgrain, patchouli, nagarmotha, cedar, osmanthus, musk, ambergris and the essential ingredient, essential oud oil from Laos.

What strikes me most about this fragrance is how smooth, rich and enveloping it is. Mona Di Orio was never a restrained and subdued perfumer. All the perfumes I've tried are fairly bold compositions, and I think this probably resulted in love-it-or-hate-it opinions. The perfume I'm thinking of in particular was her brilliant Nuit Noir, a skanky take-it-or-leave-it jasmine. Mona's Les Nombres D'Or seems to have reached a larger and more accepting fan base, but smelling Oud today, I can still very much sense her bold spirit and path all the way from Nuit Noir to the present. Oud is very smooth though. No jagged edges here. No medicinal band oud, no rotting wood smells. At least, not on the surface. Like with all the very best of French perfumes, she managed to create something alluringly complex. Pull back the multiple layers and what is revealed is something with a bit more growl and flash of stockinged leg than first meets the eye.

Oud never ventures too far down that path though and its class shines through from start to finish. Osmanthus is known for its apricot-like facets, but equally it can have a hint of jasmine too, which is perhaps why I make the connection, albeit an extended one, with Nuit Noir. The musk and patchouli ground the fragrance, acting as a good counterpoint to the rich, almost honeyed oud and amber notes and leaves me feeling extremely satisfied. If ever there was a sign of this extremely talented perfumer, who tragically left us prematurely, it is Mona Di Orio's Oud.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Oakmossy goodness

Ok, I don't think that 'oakmossy' is actually a word, but so what. Oakmoss has been in the press and in the perfume blogs quite a bit recently and it is no surprise to any of us that this pedigree perfume ingredient is in danger of disappearing from the majority of, if not all, perfumes, classic or otherwise. 

I'm not going to write about that, relevant as it is. On Monday I went up to town at lunch to get a sandwich, as I do most working days. On my way to the shops I got stuck behind an elderly lady who was giving off the most hefty sillage of chypre, laden with seriously old school oakmoss. I could be wrong, but there is a very good chance she was wearing something of a venerable vintage, being the age she was, no ageist prejudice intended. A little while later I walked behind another lady, probably middle-aged, who was also wearing what smelled like a vintage age chypre, again with a lot of oakmoss, but not quite as strong as the first. On my way back from the shops, I passed a lady who was probably in her early forties and this time I detected a more modern style chypre, smelling like it could be a Chanel from the Exclusifs range, but I could be wrong of course.

This story probably comes across a little like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but the main reason I'm telling it is because I was so surprised to encounter three ladies wearing chypres, let alone a couple that reeked of proper, heavy oakmoss. Its no exaggeration to say that I possibly only smell oakmoss once or twice a year in Tunbridge Wells, let alone three times in one hour!

My story doesn't really have a point, I suppose, but I must say it was a pleasure to smell the sillage of the first lady in particular and pleasing to see that chypres and good old oakmoss aren't dead, at least not yet. I wonder what the elderly lady would do with her bottle of perfume? Do you think she would pass it down to her daughter, granddaughter or niece? Or would it just be thrown on the trash pile when sadly, she may come to pass one day? Who knows. What I do know is that this smell, full of character and brio, could be a thing of the past faster than we can say oakmoss!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my friends in the USA, wishing you all a very good and happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. Whatever you do, I hope good food and drink feature very prominently, spent in the company of family and friends you love and cherish. And if you can wear a gorgeous perfume, all the better!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Sonomo Scent Studio scents of the day

I don't know what it is about Sonoma Scent Studio's perfumes, but so many of them seem to be ideal to wear on a cool, slightly misty, melancholy autumn day. 

Today I wore Winter Woods and Wood Violet. While I could also see Wood Violet being good for a cool spring day, when one might expect to encounter violets in nature, there is something wistful about the smell of violets (at least to me) that seems suited to the decaying season of autumn. Winter Woods is warmer in feel than Wood Violet, but both fragrances seem like they belong naturally to the in-between seasons. 

One thing I've noticed about a number of Sonoma Scent Studio perfumes is that they contain a lot of labdanum. The perfume company's website goes on to say that 'Labdanum is a thick, resinous substance with a sweet, earthy, musky, woodsy aroma'. No surprise then, that I associate a number of the house's perfumes with nature, woods, autumn, or even a damp spring.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Serge Lutens Cedre

I was given a bottle of Cedre for my birthday back in July, courtesy of my good wife. Although I didn't quite realise it at the time, she made the choice based on what appealed to her, after trawling through literally the whole export range at Fenwicks!

We recently went away to the Isle of Wight for a week's holiday. I'm not going to describe our holiday in any detail, nice as it was, suffice to say that for an island only three miles south of a bigger island (United Kingdom) it felt like three hundred and thirty three miles away. If you ever go to the Isle of Wight, you can look across the Solent from Ryde, Fishbourne or Cowes and see merry Portsmouth, with its spinnaker tower gleaming in the sunlight. Of course, this being late October, sunlight was in short supply!

Anyway, the only perfume I took to the Isle of Wight was Cedre, and I wore it solidly for a week. This is unusual for me. I think the last time I wore one bottle of perfume exclusively for three days, let alone a week must have been about five years ago. I thought I would get withdrawal symptoms, but I actually enjoyed wearing Cedre exclusively. Each day brought out a new facet, and as a perfumista, this is something I seldom experience these days. Cedre also become quite comforting to me, knowing each day as I sprayed it on that it would stay with me on my travels, constant and warm.

Ever better was that my wife wore Cedre the whole week too. She has taken to it in a big way, which is very unusual, as she is not a massive perfume fan. I'm perfectly happy to share it with her.

I'm not sure of the exact note list for Cedre, but other than a very well-executed cedar note, it also includes musk, amber, cinnamon and tuberose. I would have thought that tuberose and cedar would make an unusual pairing and in a way it is, but it works wonderfully. The tuberose is not overwhelming, but perfectly blended with dryer woody notes to work in beautiful harmony. I read somewhere that Cedre is a continuation of the Bois series, at least in feel, and I must say that I can see the link from Feminite Du Bois quite clearly. However I find Cedre to be much warmer and comforting.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Micallef - The Art Collection Vanille part 2

Following on from my last post, I thought I'd add a few more thoughts on the Micallef Art Collection Vanille. I stated that Vanille Orient was my favourite of the four. However, what I didn't explain is that favourite doesn't necessarily mean the most interesting. 

I think Vanille Orient is an easy pleaser, and easy to wear. However, with all due respect, it isn't particularly original in concept. Having said that, I don't only wear perfume for its originality. It has to smell pretty good too, which this one is.

So moving onto Vanille Marine: I think it is the most original of the four, and quite a bold move to release a marine fragrance knowing its ubiquity in the nineties. One thing is clear: this is not a marine fragrance circa 1996. It does not smell of calone, nor does it smell contrived and synthetically cliched. To my nose it smells of sea and salt, not of stagnating seaweed, which so many marine fragrances do smell like, to me. It is also rather floral, and even tinged with a greenness or herbal tone, making it smell fresh. The fresh I am thinking of here is clean skin that has perspired slightly, warmed by the sun after a dip in the sea. 

Vanille Cuir to me is a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps I like leather to be on the bold side, but on my skin the leather here is very light and overall masked or swamped by the vanilla. It doesn't smell bad by any means, but doesn't really stand out; I'm not sure what this fragrance is trying to get across.

Overall, I think the collection is decent, but I'm not sure how much vanilla I want at this point in my life. They smell very decent and are well executed for the most part. If I were to recommend two, it would be Vanille Orient if you want a slightly different take on Spiritueuse Double Vanille, and Vanilla Marine for something a bit quirky and by far the most interesting in the line in my opinion.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Micallef - The Art Collection Vanille

I received samples of the four perfumes in the Art Collection Vanille a few months ago and have tried them on and off for a few weeks. As the name of the collection suggests, vanilla is the main theme, presented in different styles, covering leather, oriental, floral and marine. The four perfumes are Vanille Marine, Vanille Fleur, Vanille Orient and Vanille Cuir. 

Of the four, Vanille Orient appealed to me the most. The first thing that struck me when spraying on Vanille Orient was how similar it was to Guerlain's Spiritueuse Double Vanille. The Guerlain  includes notes of pink pepper, bergamot, incense, cedarwood, rose, ylang ylang, benzoin and vanilla. Vanille Orient, according to Micallef's marketing material, has notes of vanilla, sandalwood, vanilla flower, musk and amber. Judging from the notes then, there is not much in common between the two other than the vanilla, but unless my nose is playing tricks on me, I feel there must be more in common, as they do smell very similar. Interestingly, the opening of Vanilla Orient has, to me anyway, a subtle oud note. I could be wrong of course, but that is what I detect. 

If I'm being honest, while Vanilla Orient is hardly original, and bears more than a passing resemblance to Guerlain's SDV, I actually prefer it to SDV. I've mentioned it on this blog before, that I find SDV to have serious longevity and sillage issues on my skin. I like its smell but struggle to detect it quite often, whereas Vanilla Orient has more presence and longevity on my skin and smells good.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Anything but perfume Sunday

As it is a mellow Sunday evening here, I thought I'd share what I'm enjoying at the moment, other than perfume.

Film-wise, I bought a box set of four great Woody Allen movies, including Annie Hall Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, Hannah and Her Sisters and Manhattan. I've always been a great fan of Woody Allen but I know he is not everybody's cup of tea.

I've been reading the Song of Ice and Fire series. So far I'm on the fourth book, with another three to go, I think. I haven't seen the TV series, Game of Thrones, but it is very good, I am told. Science fiction meets medieval fantasy, but it is intriguing.

I haven't been listening to a lot of music, but rather watching a lot of music videos off You Tube. I also play the guitar, so have been spending time learning some of my favourite songs in some alternative tunings, such as open D and G. Joni Mitchell in particularly plays in a lot of different tunings, while Keith Richards favours open G.

I thought I'd share a link to a You Tube video of Bon Iver playing I Can't Make You Love Me. I was a fan of Justin Vernon a long time before he won a Grammy award earlier this year. I love the high range of his voice - I can imagine he would have made one hell of a choir boy...

I hope you are all having a great weekend!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

I'm back!

I don't know whether that is good news or not, depending on one's point of view, but I'm glad to be back, after spending a lovely week in the Isle of Wight. We didn't have great weather, mind you, but then again, we never thought the weather would be great in late October. With that mindset, it was actually enjoyable!

I haven't done a lot of blogging recently, as some might have noticed, partly a result of being away on holiday, but I am also going through one of those phases when thoughts and ideas are not coming to the fore as readily as they might have done previously. Oh well.

I was also shocked to read about the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, not just in the USA of course, but also in the Caribbean, Cuba and Haiti. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this, but in particularly to my blogging friends who have been directly affected. My thoughts are with you and you know who you are.


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