Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy new year (2013 the year that was)

Before I started this post, I looked back at my new year entry for 2012. The scary thing is, my sentiments have not changed one bit.

As with last year, I have no desire to go down the whole best of/worst of 2013. Too many bloggers are already doing it, and if I am honest, I don't know if I have tried enough new releases to have a massive opinion one way or the other. If this sounds cynical, so be it.

If I do have a comment in general, about perfume blogging, it would be that I sense a changing of the old guard, if there was one. Some of my favourite blogs have ceased, or become diluted, or sadly still in my opinion, become a mere stepping stone to what I sense is a desire to have a career in perfume. That's not so bad, on reflection, and all the best to them if they can accomplish this.

Moving on from perfume, 2013 was a year of ups and downs. Let's be honest, no matter what we wish, I think each year always brings its joys, sorrows, sadnesses and beautiful moments. 

I leave 2013 grateful for my family, without whom I would be a lesser man, without a doubt. My children bring me great joy, and my wife is my bedrock, despite the challenges that any relationship presents. Regrets, I have a few, but I won't mention them here. That is too personal.

All that is left to say is to wish each of you the best in 2014. I hope that each of you finds the most joy and happiness within that constraint that is the weakness of our human condition.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Happy holidays!

Okay, this is somewhat belated, to say the least, but here's hoping that you all had a very peaceful and happy Christmas, and I hope every last one of you manages to spend time with those people who are special to you.

Thursday, 19 December 2013


I haven't posted a lot of perfume-related thoughts of late, as some may have noticed. It is possibly a good point to stop (for me anyway) and reflect on what perfume I have been wearing and thinking about over the past few weeks.

I haven't acquired a lot of new perfume, whether it be bottles or samples. I have been working my way through the considerable number of samples I already have in possession and in some cases have thrown away stuff that I can easily find in any department store across the land; I don't see the point in keeping it just for the sake of it. I've also tried to finish off samples where I have just a few drops left, unless it is something exceptional that I want to hang on to.

Other than that, I have found myself repeatedly returning to the Atelier Cologne line, including the excellent recent releases, Silver and Gold. The former is an iris, the latter a leather. I've also spent a bit of time with the Tom Ford Private Blends. I was also pleasantly surprised by Iris Prima, the latest Penhaligon release. Not much from this line moves me, but Iris Prima is excellent, and also has quite decent longevity, an issue I've had with the more recent Penhaligon releases.

This week I took out my sample of Caron's Nuit de Noel, a favourite of mine at this time of year. It is quite feminine, but I think that I manage to (just) pull it off!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

What I am....

Listening to:

Surprisingly (for me), not that much. I've struggled to find time to really sit down and listen, if you know what I mean. Yet, slightly contradictory, I am reading a lot. Go figure.

I am still very much enjoying the latest Dylan bootleg series album, and if you visit my last post on this, it is still the same songs that attract. I've also been enjoying a bit of Arcade Fire for my Indie fix, and Joni Mitchell for my blue mood fix.


I just finished The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. I stayed away from this book for some time, worried that it had been overhyped, particularly when it was turned into a film. I needn't have been concerned. It was a very well-written, life-affirming novel that I can highly recommend.

I am also enjoying novels in the Harry Hole series, by Jo Nesbo. Nesbo is a Norwegian writer and has been likened to Stieg Larson, but in my opinion they are quite different, other than both are Scandinavian writers.


Nada. I have better things to do than watch TV.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

Some of my more regular readers may have noticed my absence over the last couple of weeks, and generally, a much-reduced blog output this year.

I can't really pin down what has contributed to this, other than the simple fact that life is busy, and perfume blogging tends to take a back seat in an environment of work pressures, a busy family life, and who knows what else. 

I've noticed a few bloggers who have called it quits this year, or hopefully just a hiatus - who knows? I don't think I've reached that stage, don't worry, but I've got to the point where I only want to blog when I have something that I really want to say, or put across, or failing that, the desire to simply say something, as the urge takes hold of me. Not ideal, perhaps, but better that than simply churning out content for the sake of keeping up with the Joneses.

Today would have been my mother's 74th birthday; she passed away almost nine years ago. It's kind of strange trying to imagine what she would have been like in her mid-seventies. But it is probably a fruitless exercise. I sometimes play this game with well known people who died before their time. At this time of year, my favourite is John Lennon, who was shot dead on December 8th, 1980. I find it very difficult to think of him as someone who would have been 73, yet look at Yoko, who is still going strong and in her way is still very cutting edge.

To be honest though, I prefer to remember the dead as I last saw them in their prime.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

SOTD - Le Labo Labdanum 18

Brief thoughts? Its a cozy little fragrance, well suited to this time of year in the chill. Lots of labdanum, quite sweet and powdery. To me it smells a bit like a cross between Johnson's Baby Powder and a toned down Musc Ravageur.

I don't mind Labdanum 18, but would take the Malle any day.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Brief thoughts on Mona di Orio perfumes

Today I worn Mona di Orio's beautiful Oud. It is one of those perfumes that is bold, yet oddly comforting at the same time. Sweetish, yet quite aromatic. Smooth, but definitely not boring. 

I'm not going to lie and say that I love every Mona di Orio perfume I've tried, but I can honestly say that none has failed to move me in some way. 

What interests me most perhaps is that these perfumes, to my mind anyway, are executed with bold strokes, almost simplistic, but then very often resolve into much softer, subtle creations. I like that.

I can't wait to try the new perfume in the line, Violette Fumee. If you've tried it, I'd be interested to know what you think.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Numero 600

I know it is slightly unbecoming to issue self-congratulatory posts, but I did notice that I reached 600 posts today, and thought I would mention it here, if only to put a marker down that in some ways I am surprised I am still here, blogging away, albeit somewhat infrequently.

I had a look at my Numero 500 post and noticed that I posted that on 14 December 2012, so just under a year ago. Not that quantity equates to quality necessarily, but a hundred posts in a year is quite a lot less than I used to do. In all honesty, I still have the desire to write about perfume, but finding the time in a busy schedule is an increasingly difficult thing to do.

As I said a year ago, it is still a pleasure to follow the blogs of many great perfume fans, and also meet like-minded people from time to time. Long may it last!

Tobacco perfumes - Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea

The final detailed review in my tobacco perfumes series is Tabac Aurea by the excellent Sonoma Scent Studio. 

Of all the tobacco perfumes I've written about, Tabac Aurea is the most dry and in some ways the most austere, despite (or perhaps because of) a hard-hitting list of notes that include cedar, sandalwood, tobacco, leather, vetiver, patchouli, clove, labdanum, tonka bean, amber, vanilla and musk.

It is not sweet at all on my skin, even though I thought the tonka, amber and vanilla might turn it that way. Musk and labdanum are very evident, and I've noticed that labdanum is a very well-used note by Sonoma Scent Studio.

While tobacco is very definitely a feature note, it isn't a cozy, comforting tobacco. It is a bit of a shape shifter and reminds me a little of what I think it feels like to walk through a very old study, where once gentlemen smoked, read, drank, and time passed. A bit of dust, some wood, a hint of mustiness, a bit of leather chair.

Image credit - http://fimgs.net/ (Fragrantica)

Monday, 4 November 2013

Laura Marling - Suite - Take The Night Off/I Was An Eagle/You Know/Breathe

Where're the perfume posts, you ask? Well, sometimes music is too good not to share, so another Youtube link folks.

This time its the first four songs from Laura Marling's most recent album, Once I Was An Eagle. Check it out, it is definitely worth the listen.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Ellie Makes Music - a gorgeous cover of Joni Mitchell's A Case of You

I stumbled across this stunning cover of one of my favourite Joni Mitchell songs, A Case of You. Hope you like it, and check out this talented musician's website, www.elliemakesmusic.com

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Tobacco Fragrances - Serge Lutens Chergui

Serge Lutens Chergui is a big, bold spicy tobacco fragrance in classic Lutens oriental style. The fragrance features tobacco leaf, honey, iris, sandalwood, amber, musk, incense, rose and hay, according to Fragrantica.

While I generally enjoy Chergui, I do find that I need to be in a certain mood to enjoy it, and preferably in cooler weather please. As with quite a few other tobacco fragrances, particularly the sweeter ones, it can become very cloying in warmer weather, I find.

Whilst tobacco is very prominent in Chergui, what I do enjoy is the use of a hay note, which goes very well with tobacco and sandalwood. Chergui is a sweet fragrance, but as with most Lutens perfumes, I find it is balanced enough by other notes, such as iris and incense, and given a bit of a lift with the rose. Chergui smells quite thick and syrupy, and is quite spicy to my nose, although I can't find anything in the list of notes to suggest what spice I am smelling. I know that one cannot always use the colour of a perfume as a guide, but in this case what I smell really looks like what I see in the bottle, with that dark brown, fragrant looking juice.

Chergui is a very popular perfume, judging by the many reviews out there. However I suspect that it can be a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it fragrance, but try it for yourself, and see.

Image credit - www.luckyscent.com

Friday, 1 November 2013

Tobacco Fragances - Tom Ford Tobacco Oud

When I started this series on tobacco perfumes, Tom Ford's Tobacco Oud wasn't even on my radar. The only reason I have included it (other than the fact I really like it) is because it is fresh in my memory and immediate.

The interesting thing for me is that to my nose Tobacco Oud is not really very much about tobacco or oud. Persolaise alluded to it in a recent post, and he was spot on in saying that it is has a lot in common with the also fairly recent Sahara Noir (I am paraphrasing).

Therefore, I think Tobacco Oud is more about incense and labdanum, at least in the opening, heart and into the early dry down. Mixed in with these notes are hints of tobacco, amber, a light smokiness and woods. It smells fantastic.

Where's the oud, you ask? Well, a more sophisticated or trained nose might detect this clearly, for all I know, but in my opinion it is evident for all of two minutes or so, when it manifests itself in a glorious, skanky barnyard smell, suffused with a slightly sweet wood accord, before the incense seeps in and it changes direction. I really loved this opening on first application. On subsequent wearing I didn't pick it up as much, so perhaps it is dependent on skin chemistry, weather, mood and who knows what else.

It was only in the late dry down that tobacco became more of a feature note, albeit fairly subtle.

In summary, I think Tobacco Oud is a fantastic fragrance and well worth sampling, particularly if you like incense. In case you're wondering, I didn't think it is anything like the original Oud Wood.

Image credit - http://fimgs.net/ (Fragrantica)   

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Tobacco perfumes - Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille

I've done quite a few online searches for tobacco perfumes and reviews in recent weeks. One perfume that seems to be consistently mentioned is Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille. It appears to be a crowd pleaser. 

It took me a long time to try. The line only came to Tunbridge Wells a few months ago and my first encounter with this perfume took place on a slightly humid, quite warm August day. A mistake, if you ask me. I mentioned previously that tobacco perfumes can become quite cloying and oppressive on warmer days and Tobacco Vanille bloomed on my skin in a slightly sickening fashion. Since then I have worn it a few times as the weather has cooled and I am pleased to say that it is a lot more tolerable now.

However, I am still not entirely seduced by Tobacco Vanille and I think the reason for this is the use of the vanilla note. I like rich vanilla notes in perfume, provided they are balanced by other strong notes that temper the sweetness, such as smoke, incense or dry woods. A case in point would be Serge Lutens' Un Bois Vanille, which I love. Tobacco Vanille is a very sweet perfume, no getting away from it. Longer standing readers of my blog may recall my aversion to L'Artisan's Havana Vanille, which literally reduced me to nausea when I wore it. I think it has been renamed and I haven't tried it in a long time, but there is a similar accord in the Tom Ford perfume that at times almost tilts me over the edge. Fortunately it never does, but therein lies my reservation with this perfume, which despite its lovely tobacco note, is too sweet for my taste. 

Various websites mention the following notes: tobacco leaf, spicy notes, tonka bean, tobacco blossom, vanilla, cacao, dried fruits and wood notes.

I can understand why many people would be attracted to Tobacco Vanille. It is warm, comforting and cozy and is undeniably smooth and rich. I do like it, but not enough to sing its praises too highly.

Image credit: http://fimgs.net/ (Fragrantica)

Monday, 21 October 2013

Tobacco perfumes - Versace Dreamer

Continuing with my tobacco theme, today I thought I would move onto a tobacco perfume with a twist. A serious twist.

At one point when thinking about this series of posts, I wanted to leave Versace Dreamer until last, but I couldn't resist throwing a curveball early on!

I want to start by saying that if you've never tried this one, don't be put off by the dreck that Versace, in my opinion, has put out since 1996 (when Dreamer was released). I own a bottle of Dreamer, which I bought blind about six years ago, and even today, I sometimes wonder if it was a mistake. I should have sampled first, because Dreamer is possibly the weirdest tobacco perfume I know of, and at times I love it and the rest of the time recoil. One thing I can say though, is that there is nothing else like it on the market and it is the most original perfume from Versace, by a long way.

Searching the internet can reveal some varied note lists for Dreamer. The one I think comes closest to what I smell is from Now Smell This, who list juniper, artemisia, tarragon, mugwort,  linen (?) seed flowers, tobacco, amber, lily and iris. Fragrantica has a shorter list that mentions clary sage and geranium, and a base note of tonka bean. Whichever one you prefer, I can say that the opening is very herbal, and could well include all the above mentioned herbs, and certainly a good few of them. Mingled with the herbal notes is a very strong tobacco note which is also very sweet. Tonka is very much a star player here, and it is the tonka which I think can leave me feeling slightly sickened on occasion, and at other times entranced. The weirdest note of all however, must be the lily. I'd love to know which other perfumes pair tobacco and lily. It is a striking combination, but again, in warmer weather in particular the lily can come across as cloying and slightly repulsive. On a cold day, it blends well with the tobacco and tonka.

If you care to search out reviews of Dreamer, I think it is safe to say that views are somewhat polarising. I love that, because in my opinion that is very often an indication of a perfume that is a true original, a 'classic' even. The fact that Dreamer can be had for under £20 is even better, because it equates to a cheap failure if it doesn't work for you! If I recall correctly, I got my bottle for well under £20 six years ago. At one point I thought Dreamer was discontinued, but I have seen bottles of it over the years, but it is by no means that prominent these days.

Dreamer is not a gender polarising fragrance. Whilst the tobacco and herbal notes could have leaned towards masculine, the floral lily and sweet tonka make it easily worn by a woman, and in fact I am not even sure that Dreamer was meant for a man. Either way, I would strongly recommend trying Dreamer, even if only to experience its weird wonderfulness. 

One thing I want to end on - when Dreamer works, it really works. I wore it about two weeks ago on a cold, windy and rainy evening and it was beautifully warm and comforting. I could smell it on my jumper for days afterwards and therein also lies a warning - beware its lasting power, because if you don't like it, it isn't going to fade or wash off in a hurry.

Image credit - http://fimgs.net/ (Fragrantica)

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Tobacco perfumes (and Michael Kors Michael for Men)

There must be something about the air in Autumn, because it often makes me want to smell and wear tobacco-focused perfumes. In a way this may be kind of strange, as I don't smoke and hate the smell of cigarettes, pipe smoke and the like, but I do like the smell of tobacco before it is lit. I guess for some of us, myself included, there is also possibly a certain nostalgia and comfort that comes from the smell of pipe tobacco, often smoked by our grandads and other men of that age and era.

I occasionally wear perfumes with a tobacco note in the warmer months, but very often this note can become overwhelming and cloying when it is hot. A good example of this is Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille, although I am not sure whether it is the tobacco or vanilla that is more cloying, possibly both. Serge Luten's Chergui is another case in point.

Come the cooler months however, and tobacco perfumes really come into their own, when the strong aromatic accords provide comfort and complexity, but are kept in check. Over the last week or so I have worn a tobacco perfume almost every day and I am aiming to cover a few of these on this blog in the ensuing days.

Today I will start with a tobacco perfume that I have mentioned a few times recently, but won't go into much detail, Michael Kors' Michael for Men. The reason I want to start with it, is because it is a great example of a tobacco perfume that neither rocks the boat, nor is so inconsequential that one does not even realise there is a tobacco note in there. While it does stray into more masculine territory, I don't personally think that it is too strong and macho that a woman should not try it. It is smooth, comforting, well-blended and very versatile. It can work in the day, for work and I think also suits the evening. It is not dressy, but at the same time it does have a smooth suaveness to it.

As a starting point, one could do a lot worse than try the Michael Kors, and it would be a good reference point, from a neutral position, to try more challenging and possibly more interesting examples.

Image credit: http://www.cigar-connoisseur.co.uk/

Saturday, 19 October 2013

What I am.....


I have finally finished all the Game of Thrones books. Imagine my chagrin when I realised that after thousands of pages of reading, this was not even the end and actually, George Martin still has two remaining installments to write! Even worse, he usually takes about two years between releases, so at this rate I shall have to wait until at least 2014 for the next one, being optimistic.


Games of Thrones. Yes, I've succumbed to the TV series, sad sucker that I am. Being HBO, it is a good production, but I still think the novels are better.

Harry Potter. I've finally managed to persuade my daughters to watch the first film. Unfortunately, it is also the least scary of all eight, and as they are only six and four, I shall need to progress very carefully!

Listening to:

Laura Marling's fourth Album, Once I Was An Eagle. Stunning music, well worth a listen to.

Bob Dylan Another Self Portrait (1969-1970). This is the latest in the Bootleg series and it is wonderful. Some amazing songs on here such as Little Sadie, Time Passes Slowly, a stripped down and incredible If Not For You, Copper Kettle and Tattle O'Day.


Too much comfort food. A cool and rainy Autumn does this to me.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Miller Harris - La Fumee Arabie Ottoman

I was in Hoopers the other day, which is one of my two local department stores, and noticed that they are carrying Miller Harris La Fumee Arabie Ottoman, which is a limited edition variant of La Fumee.

I first tried La Fumee a few months ago and whilst I liked it (I am a sucker for incense and smoke in almost any form), I found that it performed quite poorly on my skin, with negligible sillage and longevity. It may have been just me, skin chemistry and all that.

La Fumee Arabie Ottoman also has the smoky incense, but with the addition of rose and labdanum, plenty of it. The Miller Harris website mentions oud (is there any perfume house these days that hasn't used oud as a selling point), but I honestly can't detect any oud note in the perfume. Mind you, I am not complaining, because I think it wears beautifully as an incense, rose and labdanum oriental perfume. 

In the early stages La Fumee Arabie Ottoman is quite rosy, and to my nose labdanum is at the forefront, and actually, is the star player. There is some incense, and a subtle waft of smoke, but I don't personally think that incense is the centre piece. In the dry down I found more evidence of incense, but perhaps I would have liked a stronger presence, but that is my personal preference. The smoke is not heavy either, and is well balanced with the slightly musky labdanum. I also found quite a sweet note, which I think is vanilla. Fragrantica certainly lists vanilla as a base note. This note was far stronger on a scent strip and fortunately (for me) it is more restrained on my skin.

Overall I would say that La Fumee Arabie Ottoman is a delightful fragrance. After the original La Fumee I was pleasantly surprised and also very happy that it has far more presence and longevity on my skin. This is certainly well worth seeking out if you can track it down.

Note - as you will see, I mistakenly thought this was Arabie instead of Arabie. My apologies. In any event, it is still a very nice perfume!

Friday, 4 October 2013

The week that was

Well, this has been a busy and tiring week, to be sure. We had a lovely weekend away in Bonn, Germany. I think I 'achieved' pretty much everything I set out to do, perhaps even more. We even got to experience a river cruise on the mighty Rhine and a hike up a mountain called the Drakensfell with spectacular views over the Rhine valley and the surrounding hills and mountains. 

Of course, no visit to Germany is complete without sausages, and plenty of them. I ate more sausages in three days than I think I have in three months. Let's not talk about blood pressure and cholesterol please! I had sausages fried, boiled, stewed, chopped up, served with piquant and fiery mustard, sweet mustard, and sauerkraut. Plus a few beers to top it off. 

The only downside to our weekend was the flight back to England, which was delayed by almost an hour, so we only landed at midnight. Our children were exhausted by the delay, which was then compounded by a fifteen minute walk from the gate to passport control, then a further queue to get through immigration and then another fifteen minutes or so to catch a bus to the long stay car park. It was then only a matter of a forty minute drive home. I think we got home around 2am!

Perfume wise, I have been enjoying all the new additions to my local Fenwick's department store, which I shall write about in due course. Autumn is truly here now, although temperatures are still quite warm. However, this being England, the weather has been a story of mostly grey skies and plenty of rain. Some things never change!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Auf Wiedersehen

We are off to Germany for a long weekend, visiting some friends of ours in Bonn. I'm not sure if there will be any perfume experiences along the way, although I do know that Bonn is only half an hour from Cologne, the 'spiritual home' of eau de cologne, or Kolnisch Wasser. 4711 anyone?

Till October, here's wishing you all a great weekend. Hopefully I'll manage to indulge in some good German beer and sausages, and return afresh.

SOTD - Etat Libre d'Orange Je Suis Un Homme.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Laura Marling - I Was An Eagle

I feel compelled to post I Was An Eagle, a song from one of my favourite young artist's latest album, Once I Was An Eagle. Check out the album if you can. Its her fourth, and she's only 23. And living in California now, so catch her live if you can.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Serge Lutens Clair de Musc

Serge Lutens' Clair de Musc is one of those perfumes from the line that I have never spent much time with. I am sure I am not the only one, because searches on reviews reveal that a lot of people wonder why they have not paid more attention to it and also why it tends to be rather overlooked. 

I have my theory. Certainly from my point of view I was always more interested in trying Muscs Koublai Khan, a much skankier sort of musk fragrance. I prefer dirtier, stronger musk perfumes and I always thought that Clair de Musc would be too tame for me. It wouldn't surprise me if others felt the same. I wore Clair de Musc today for the first time in a long time. I have to say, it is a fine fragrance. It starts quite perfumey on my skin, with what I perceive as a burst of aldehydes, then settles down to a fairly understated, sophisticated skin musk. It is certainly not skanky or dirty, but equally I wouldn't say it smells too 'boring white musk' either. 

The notes include neroli, bergamot, iris and musk. From that list, one would read simplicity, and in truth, Clair de Musc is not a massively involved and complicated perfume. It is fairly streamlined, with clean lines and just enough urban sophistication to avoid spilling over into that dreaded cliched white musk territory. I struggle to detect the iris. I am sure it is there, as there is an ever so slight powderiness to the perfume, but it is not a stand out note to me here.

Clair de Musc is a very decent perfume and I think very well suited to when you want to wear a perfume that does not shout out, yet also is not too much of a wilting flower. I still find it a little bit the 'odd one out' in the Lutens canon, particularly from that earlier period, when most Lutens tended to be fairly heavy hitting orientals.

Image credit -  Luckyscent

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Perfume musings, and thoughts on Caron

I know I tend to go on a bit about new perfume ranges that come to my town, but considering that Tunbridge Wells only has a population of about 50,000 (albeit a fairly affluent one at that) I think it punches above its weight on the sheer diversity and range of perfumes on offer.

My local Fenwick department store has now got the Van Cleef and Arpels Collection Extraordinaire back in stock, including the two most recent additions, Rose Velours and Oud something or other. Bottega Veneta Pour Homme has just come in (more about that one another day perhaps) and there is now a small range of Caron perfumes, including Parfum Sacre. 

Speaking of Caron, the new bottles have been modernised a lot (I quite liked the older ones to be honest) and I gauge from various reviewers that the juice in many cases has changed drastically too. That may be the case, but I haven't tried enough Carons side by side to have an opinion one way or another. I smelt Parfum Sacre on paper and it possibly did smell different to the sample I had from about four years ago, but a scent strip is hardly the ideal way to form an opinion or make a comparison. I actually thought it smelt very good by the way.

I'd be interested to find out if you live in a town or city that has a particularly good selection of perfumes. Also, what is your view of the recent Caron perfumes? Any marked change, otherf than the bottles and packaging?

Monday, 9 September 2013

Thirteen years, and a perfume

Today my wife and I celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary, which in itself is a reason to post this, don't you think? The cliched phrase, 'time flies', does indeed apply. I can still remember our wedding day like it was yesterday. A happy day, to be sure, but how did thirteen years fly by?

My wife gave me a bottle of Jo Malone's Saffron Cologne Intense. I think it is a fairly recent release, so couldn't find many reviews of it, but my initial impression is very favourable. I tried a few from the line when it first came to my town and while I liked them, most seemed to lack longevity, particularly the cologne intense range, which I found a bit odd. Thankfully Saffron has no such issues - I sprayed it on at 9 this morning and I can still experience it quite clearly almost twelve hours later. 

I'll leave you with one thought - I had no real idea what Saffron as a note really smelled like. Smelling Saffron today, I now know what the note is like and realise, somewhat belatedly. that I knew its smell all along, as it is often paired with oud in perfumes. I know I'm stating the obvious, for some of you, but hey, you learn something new every day!

Friday, 6 September 2013

All change

Here in the UK you know autumn is almost upon us when the children return to school at the start of a new year. A lot of people are writing about perfumes for fall/autumn, but really, I don't think it is autumnal weather quite yet, despite the nights starting to draw in a bit. I suppose it depends where you are and your state of mind.

My older daughter Hannah returned to school yesterday, while my younger, Daisy, starts for the first time on Monday. I don't know where the time has gone.

I'll leave you with the evidence of the older:

Have a good weekend everyone, and if you're in an autumnal frame of mind (I'm not, I'm still in denial), enjoy it whatever the weather.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Samples from DSH

Well, its September, and what better way to start the month than a parcel containing loads of samples from Indie perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz.

Dawn was very generous and the package included a friendly handwritten note from her personally, which I appreciated. The samples she sent are: the New Kingdom series (there are four of them), Jitterbug for Men, Michelangelo, Prana, Kohl Gris, Matsu, Viridian, Dirty Rose, Oude Arabique, Ruba'iyat, Three Kings and Bodhi Sativa.

I have tried and enjoyed others in the DSH line, including Sandalo Inspiritu and Cuir et Champignon in particular, but these are all entirely new to me. Im going to have a go at writing down and posting my thoughts on them as I go along, hopefully.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Bob Dylan - Duquesne Whistle

I thought I'd end the month with a music video by none other than Bob Dylan. I didn't know he did music videos, geez, but this one is quite good, Duquesne Whistle, off his last album, Tempest.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Perfume developments in Tunbridge Wells

It may not seem exciting to those of you who live in big cities with access to plenty of large perfume departments, boutique perfume stores and so forth, but I am always pleased when new perfume lines come to the two department stores in Tunbridge Wells, where I live. Admittedly I only live an hour's train journey away from London, but even so, I only go up to London a few times a year.

Fenwick has really upped the ante over the past few months and appears to be taking a firm step away from lowest common denominator perfumes that one can find in any store in the land, including England's most well known chemist. Not that Fenwick had a poor selection of perfumes before, far from it. However, recently a Jo Malone counter opened up, carrying the full range, as far as I can make out, and within the last month Tom Ford's Private Blends have entered the fray too, which I find exciting. I will be writing more about both these lines over the next few weeks, hopefully. I also understand that there are some other exciting brands in the pipeline over the next few months. In addition to these lines, Fenwick also carries Penhaligon, Serge Lutens, Hermes, Annick Goutal, L'Artisan, Floris and Miller Harris.

Hoopers, the other department store, had a makeover fairly recently, modernising its old interior considerably, with a lovely perfume space. There has been less happening there of late, but they also stock a good selection of perfumes, including Commes des Garcons' main line (if only they could get in the rest!), Amouage, Terry de Gunzburg and, remarkably, Ineke. 

As a closing question to those of you who live in smaller centres - do you have decent perfume selections in your town, or do you have to travel far and wide to track down the good stuff?

Friday, 23 August 2013

Back in Blighty

Hello and hope all is well with you, if you're reading this, or not for that matter. I've been back in England for almost a week already, but have hardly managed to get near a computer, yet alone get too involved with the perfume world. 

We had an excellent trip to Brittany, in France and to be honest, most of our time was spent outside enjoying the French sun, the gorgeous beaches and scenery, and eating and drinking. I drank more cider in a week than I have in my whole life, as Brittany's drink of choice stems from the humble apple. If you like seafood, Brittany is the place for you. With a long coastline, one can find unbelievably good, fresh mussels, clams, crab, lobster, langoustine and fish. Let's not got onto the butter. The Bretons aren't shy of a little butter shall we say - every dish, pudding and pastry contains oodles of the stuff. 

Now that I am back I shall try to blog a little bit more and hopefully get into the swing of things again. Until later, have a great weekend.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Au Revoir, for now...

We are off to Brittany for a week, so there won't be any posting from me for the next ten days. Not that I was writing a lot on the blog anyway.

I'm really looking forward to this trip. I haven't been to Brittany before, but as my friend Cymbaline pointed out to me the other day, two very good perfume houses are based in this part of France, Divine and Lostmarc'h. I doubt I will get the chance to track them down, but a part of me feels pleased I am traveling to a place where I can make an association that provides me with a sense of place relative to these two perfume houses.

Until a few days time, au revoir!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Guerlain L'Instant Pour Homme

Another day, another perfume. Again, I wore a perfume from a bottle I actually own. Again, I received a compliment from the same lady at work. Is it a coincidence?

It's been a while since I wore perfumes I own. I wonder why I don't do it more often; I'm sure many perfumistas feel the same way.

I love L'Instant. It is a wonderful perfume that makes me feel comfortable in my own skin. It just smells good. Period.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Terre de Hermes

Some of you may be aware that I own a bottle of Terre de Hermes. In fact it was one of the first bottles of perfume I was given during the first year in which I fell seriously in love with perfume.

Perfumes come and go, as we all know, but Terre de Hermes has become, in my view, a modern classic. It's smell is instantly recognisable, perhaps not as much so as say Le Male, but once you've smelt it, I hazard a guess that you will never forget it. Not that it is a polarising fragrance, mind you. In some ways it is a fairly straightforward perfume - orange, woods and a mineral accord, with vetiver. But as is so often the case with the truly great perfumes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and what Jean Claude Elena did here is nothing short of genius.

It's not often I say this of a mainstream fragrance, but Terre de Hermes is in my opinion one of the best perfumes released in the last decade, mainstream or niche.

Incidentally, I don't often receive compliments on my perfumes, but a lady at my work complimented me on Terre de Hermes and it isn't the first time this has happened when wearing this one!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Scent of the day - Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour Le Soir

Nothing new today, but Absolue Pour Le Soir is still my favourite of the line.

Mellow, yet animalic, honeyed, suffused with hints of rosemary, smoke and a touch of incense, it just smells good. That instinctive sort of good, where you don't have to think about it.

The alchemy that sometimes, if you're very lucky to encounter it, is perfume at its best.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Penhaligon's - Vaara

My local Fenwick's department store stocks most, if not all, of the Penhaligon line, and they recently got in Vaara, Penhaligon's latest release.

The fragrance is apparently inspired by the Royal House of Marwar-Jodpur in Rajastan and was created by Bertrand Duchaufour. If this has a ring of familiarity about it, at least in terms of subject matter, you wouldn't be wrong. Just think of the fairly recent work Mr Duchaufour did with the Neela Vermeire line. More about that shortly.

The initial opening is more fruity than I thought it might be. When first testing, I did not know the exact notes, so suspected Mango. I did know that there is carrot seed, but wouldn't expect that the seed would have a fruitiness to it. As it turns out, what I was smelling is very likely quince. The fruity opening is combined with some spices, but is not heavy at all. Underneath the spices is a slightly soapy, zingy feel as well as a softer, almost creamy, lactonic accord. This is the stage at which I make a particular connection to the Neela Vermeire creations, all of which had a similar creamy accord.

As Vaara dries down, it softens and fades considerably on my skin. I tested this at least three times over the last week and this happened each time. After about three hours, Vaara has become a very soft, slightly creamy skin scent, suffused with mellow spice. I can't say that I detected half of the notes listed below. For example, I didn't get any honey and not much rose. The saffron and coriander no doubt contributed to the spicy overtone early on.

While I really like parts of Vaara's development, I am slightly disappointed with its dry down, and how quickly it fades on my skin. Perhaps this is to do with my skin chemistry. I would like to try Vaara again perhaps in cooler weather, and see how it performs then. Of all the recent Penhaligon fragrances I have tried, the concept of Vaara appeals to me the most, and it has the most promise for my tastes. I wasn't particularly impressed with Peony, sort of liked Sartorial, but am not a massive fan of Fougeres, and the floral/banana/tropical/creamy Amaranthine just turned my stomach.

Notes from Penhaligon's:

Quince, rosewater, carrot seed, coriander seed, saffron
Moroccan rose, Bulgarian rose, freesia, Indian magnolia, peony, iris
Honey, white musk, cedarwood, sandalwood, benzoin, tonka bean

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Solo Loewe

Loewe is a Spanish house, I think. I've had samples of Solo for ages. I can't for the life of me remember where I got them from and who stocked the perfume, but I do know that I haven't seen Solo anywhere else since then.

I always seem to reach for Solo when it is hot and muggy, like it was this weekend. It is essentially a cologne, but with considerable lasting power. Fragrantica lists copious notes, including lavender, mandarin, bergamot, guava, lemon, thyme, rosemary, cashmirwood, patchouli, costus, aldehydes, nutmeg, cinnamon, pink pepper, mint, caraway, anise, tangerine, amber, musk, oakmoss and vanilla.

I can't say I detect all these notes - I primarily detect citrus notes, musk, woods and a melange of spices and herbs. Solo does smell very good though, and best of all, fairly unique, at least to me. It doesn't smell fresh off the conveyor belt of focus-group hell.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Tom Ford Sahara Noir

Before I even try to carry out any sort of review of Sahara Noir, let me start by saying that I think it is my favourite Tom Ford fragrance. I haven't tried a lot of the Private Blends to date, to be fair (although this is set to change, as Fenwicks in Tunbridge Wells is about to stock some of the PB range) but certainly Sahara Noir comes up trumps in the main line.

That's not to say that I dislike Tom Ford's main line, in fact I quite like all of them, but Sahara Noir smells like a niche perfume that somehow got misplaced and ended up in mainstream by mistake. Again, I should make it very clear that none of the TF perfumes in the main line smell ubiquitously mainstream, to their credit.

I have read a few reviews of Sahara Noir, and it seems like some people felt it smelt good, but at the end of the day was an incense perfume that smelt just like that: incense. Perhaps that is the case, but the question I would ask is how many full on incense perfumes are you likely to find in your local department store? I'd hazard a guess that it would be very few, if  any at all. Now, I also have to accept that Sahara Noir is priced very high, and that may give you an indication as to the quality of the creation and the ingredients, although I realise that price and quality do not always correlate.

One other thing that struck me is that while Sahara Noir is marketed as a feminine perfume, it does not smell remotely gender specific. Take the picture of the sultry woman off the packaging and advertising and I would never have remotely guessed.

I'm not aware of the exact notes for Sahara Noir, but other than incense, there is a fair amount of labdanum in here. Some people have commented that the perfume smells only of incense, and comes across as one-dimensional. Perhaps they are right, but I love incense in any form, and on my skin the ambery accord does come to the fore in the dry down, when labdanum is very clear to my nose. There is a slight sweetening too in the base, possibly by a touch of vanilla, but it is true that Sahara Noir is a fairly dry perfume, which suits me fine, as I love that style.

I have to be honest and say that I think this is a lovely perfume, although it is by no means cheap. Someone commented that it smelt like it belongs in the Private Blend collection and perhaps that is true. 

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Hello, I'm still alive and out there people

Just in case anyone forgets that I still exist, I haven't gone away or decided to stop blogging. But thanks to those of you that were concerned. *

I guess July has just been one of those months crammed with lots of events and activities that have taken my attentions and energies away from perfume and blogging. In fact, over the last few months I've come to realise that there is a lot more to my life than simply sitting in front of a computer writing my own posts and reading others. No offense to any 'regulars' or otherwise reading this - I still enjoy reading other people's sites and perfume reviews, but it just isn't that compelling for me at present.

Of course, over the last month I have become a British citizen, had my sister come to visit for three weeks (I only get to see her roughly once every two years), got bogged down in crappy work pressures, and turned forty. In between all of this I have worn some perfume, but in the heat wave we're currently experiencing, many of my favourite types of perfumes are not enticing - who wants strong tobaccos, ambers, leathers and the like when it is 30 degree plus with 90 percent humidity?

So apologies for coming across slightly curmudgeonly and flippant even, but that's just the way it is at present. I have a few things to write about, and perhaps I'll fit them in this month. If not, I am sure they can wait. Either way, I doubt the perfume world is waiting with baited breath!

Till later, ciao for now.

* In fact, no one was particularly concerned, I just wanted to add that for dramatic effect

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Les Senteurs

Anyone who has followed my blog for any length of time will know of my attempts to bring attention to, and give praise to local or not so local perfume stores that carry good lines and more importantly, offer good service and knowledge.

Les Senteurs is such a store, and while I haven't had the opportunity to visit for some time, I presume is still the case. What does disappoint me about Les Senteurs is that I received an email from them a few months ago stating that they no longer offer free samples in store. For a long time they have charged for posting samples, and I had no problem with that, particularly as they are very generous samples. However, I don't personally think it is right that potential customers should be charged for wanting to sample in store what is very often highly price perfumes. I realise that there is the potential issue of people who visit the store purely to score free samples, and I'd be lying if I said I had never done that myself, but still.

I was interested to note that Les Senteurs is also selling their remaining Annick Goutal stock at up to 50% off, being end of line. A quick look at their website shows that Annick Goutal is no longer listed, hence my presumption. This makes me slightly sad, for I recall Les Senteurs  making quite a big deal about how when they opened as the only niche perfume shop in London in the eighties, they were the first to stock and promote Annick Goutal. I realise that this perfume house is no longer that niche, but neither is Serge Lutens or Creed for example, both both are still stocked. I'm certain Les Senteurs has its reasons for discontinuing the line, but still, I am slightly sad about that, particularly in light of what was stated above.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Scent of the day - Amouage Dia Man

I have a bottle of Dia Man in my possession, lucky person that I am. I don't wear this perfume as often as I should. Each time I wear Dia, I feel good. Smart, yet not too smart. Relaxed, but poised. It is a great and sophisticated day time fragrance. 

With Amouage, you usually get great quality ingredients, and Dia is no different. I'm a great fan of Amouage's older perfumes in particular and wearing Dia today reminded me about all that is good about Amouage and why I fell in love with the house in the first place.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The week that was

Hello, fellow perfume lovers. It was a busy week for me, one in which I wore perfume, but none particularly stood out, possibly because I was too distracted by other matters to focus fully on the fumes.

I am excited because my sister is coming to stay with us for three weeks. She is flying in on Sunday, and I haven't seen her for two years. It's easy to take family for granted sometimes, but in my case, the fact that I only get to see some of my family so infrequently helps me to appreciate what and who I have got, most of the time.

So on the perfume front I tried two Miller Harris perfumes new to Fenwick in Tunbridge Wells, Fleurs de Sel and Terre d'Iris, and new to me too. I found both of them interesting enough that I want to try them again when I am more focused. Fleurs de Sel in particular struck me as being unusual, in a good way. Herbal, slightly leathery, with a hint of moss, suffused with a hint of salty, slightly humid air. I also wore Kingston Ferry, by Olympic Orchids, which I've written about before, I think. Like most of the other perfumes I've tried by this house, it too is somewhat unusual and certainly like nothing else I've tried elsewhere.

The week after next I have a holiday coming out, which will be spent with my sister and my family. Nothing major planned, but will aim to relax and spend time with loved ones.

Have a good weekend, friends in fumes, and let me know what you've been doing this week, if you have the time or inclination. 

Monday, 17 June 2013

Father's day musings

I hope all you fathers out there had a fantastic father's day yesterday, and were spoilt by your loved ones. And if you are not a father, I hope you were able to convey to your own father how special he is, or if departed, how special he was.

I appreciate also that not all of us have had the greatest relationships with our fathers. If that is the case, my sympathy to you. I was fortunate enough to have (and still do) a very good relationship with my own father. For me, the sad thing is I live more than 10,000 miles away from him now, on the other side of the world. I won't go into the feelings of guilt that this invokes.

While I am thinking of father's day, I feel I ought to express how wonderful it feels to me to be a father to my own two beautiful girls. I don't want to go all soppy, but truly, it is a very privileged position I find myself in. I was walking around today, thinking about this, and realised that there was never a truer saying than 'money cannot buy you love'. My own daughters are living proof of this. I would exchange (if I had it) all the money, status and material possessions I own to see their unbridled joy as they run to hug me, and say "I love you daddy!"

My perfume on father's day was Serge Lutens' Cedre. Cedar, tuberose, musk, amber and cinnamon. A manly fragrance with a feminine touch. Dare I say it.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The Civil Wars - Tiny Desk concert

I listen to and watch quite a few music videos on Youtube these days. It's not good for my bandwidth and internet charges, but I like it anyway...

A really good source of unusual 'concerts' are the NPR Tiny Desk videos, which are recorded and filmed in the NPR radio station's studio. I've stumbled across many excellent performances here, including Laura Marling, Lisa Hannigan, Adele, Steve Earle, The National, The Decemberists, Martha and Rufus Wainright, Lyle Lovett and most recently, a great one by The Civil Wars.

As I liked it so much, I've included the video here:

Friday, 14 June 2013

SOTD - Olympic Orchids Gujarat

Olympic Orchids do some very interesting perfumes. Today I wore Gujarat, which as the name implies, is inspired by India. 

Olympic Orchids describe Gujarat thus: "Like a full-scale Bollywood extravaganza, Gujarat is made with just about every spice you can name and some you probably never even heard of, softened and sweetened with exotic tropical flowers, supported on a base of smoky woods, resins, and balms, and garnished with a dash of chili and a twist of lime. Don’t worry - it doesn’t smell like curry. Gujarat is like nothing you’ve ever smelled before. You may love it, you may hate it, but either way you’ll have a unique and exotic perfume experience."

What I like about this house and Ellen Covey, is that they freely admit you may love it or hate it, a bit like Marmite (perhaps only a Brit will appreciate that). I don't know what Gujarat actually contains, but on my skin it smells like a supercharged marmalade being made, using the most intense Seville Orange rinds imaginable. This bitter orange smell, sweet yet bitter, fragrant, complex, is complemented by an undertone of spices and wood, yet at no time can I pin down what they are. 

I have to admit that while I like Gujarat, I don't think I could wear it every day. It is very intense, but equally, I have never smelt another perfume remotely like it, which speaks volumes, at least to me.


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