Thursday, 31 January 2013

Sandalwood Thursday

Following on from my post yesterday, I did wear perfume today. I was in a sandalwood mood, so wore DSH Sandalo Inspiritu on one wrist and Mysore Sandalwood oil (Attar Bazaar) on the other. There is something calming about sandalwood, so no wonder I craved it this week. 

The oil is very linear. It is pretty much sandalwood oil, straight up and unadulterated. I like it, particularly as it mellows later on. Early on it is perhaps a touch too sappy and raw for my liking, but overall very nice. Sandalo Inspiritu has long been a favourite of mine and it is a lot more complex and nuanced than the former.

So, it is the end of January. Bring on the spring I say...

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Too busy to wear perfume?

I've written about this malaise a few times before. I have been very busy and stressed at work this month, particularly over the last ten days. This week I have not worn perfume at all, so far. So that equates to three whole days, which is very unusual for me.

Thinking about it, I cannot fathom why I so often skip wearing perfume during busy times. I'm not convinced it is because I don't have time to apply a perfume; after all, all it takes is one dab or spritz, literally seconds. I think it has more to do with the fact that deciding on what to wear, the selection process, is for me a deliberate and considered process. I like taking my time, assessing my mood and choosing accordingly. When I'm busy and stressed, that peace or frame of mind is missing and thus I enter a state of inertia, as far as perfume is concerned.

Do you ever have phases like this, and if so, what do you think prevents you from wearing perfume, if at all?

Monday, 28 January 2013

How good is your nose?

Like many perfume lovers, I have a lot of samples, not very well organised. Inevitably, one or two of these samples have lost their labels. The other day I picked out one of these label-less samples and on a whim decided to wear it.

I don't hold myself out to have a brilliant nose, but generally speaking I do think I have a decent sense of smell and over the years have managed to build up a library of olfactory associations with most of the major notes. Or at least I thought I had. Wearing this perfume, I realised that I had absolutely no idea what I was wearing. When I first sniffed it, it smelled quite dry and leathery, and for an instant I thought I was wearing Knize Ten. Then the perfume sweetened a little, started to smell a bit more 'perfumey', with perhaps a touch of aldehydes. At that stage I realised I was probably wearing a feminine perfume, but one that a man could pull off. 

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I eventually worked out after a few minutes as the oriental nature of the perfume revealed itself that I was wearing Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles. 

This got me thinking about how our minds are influenced by the labels of perfumes we wear, and whether most of us really do have as good a sense of smell as we think we do. I read somewhere that most, or a lot, of people actually would struggle to identify the smell of roses if they did not see the flower they were smelling. I can't remember where I read this and I haven't tried this experiment in real life, so I don't know if it is indeed true.

What do you think about your sense of smell? To what extent do you think a label influences how easily and quickly you smell notes? On my side, I am tempted to decant a few perfumes into blank vials and see how good I really am at identifying which perfumes they are!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


I don't like to write very much about personal things on my blog, but I feel my mother deserves a special mention today. Eight years ago today she passed away.

My main feeling today, besides a degree of sorrow, is amazement at how quickly the time has passed. Two regrets are that my mum never got to see my daughters, her granddaughters; in fact neither of them was conceived until after her death, and I also never got the chance to say a proper farewell. Perhaps very few of us are fortunate to be able to do that with the passing of our loved ones. My mother did not die a sudden death, in the manner of an unforeseen accident for example, but the severity and advancement of her illness took us all by surprise.

My mum died from complications resulting from COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. For those of you who need to google it, it is essentially a lung disease, preventing airflow to the lungs, a gradual process. It is caused primarily from heavy smoking. Even though my mother gave up smoking a good 15 years before her death, the damage had already been done. The worst thing for her was the chronic shortness of breath and the gradual limitation in her lifestyle. If you've ever had a panic attack and experienced the fear that comes with that feeling of chest constriction and inability to breath, imagine my mother feeling a bit like that every day, except each day it got a little bit worse. Although we knew she had the disease and that her life was likely to be shortened, we didn't expect the speed at which it happened in the end, at the age of 65. By the time I flew over to be with my family at her bedside, she was in a coma, which lasted for a week, before she breathed her last. I spoke to her a lot in her comatose state, but I cannot be certain that she really heard or understood my words. I can only hope and believe that she did.

I dedicate today's post to my mother's life. She had her shortcomings, but one thing I never doubted was that she loved me and my family with all her heart.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Saturday SOTD - Parfums MDCI Enlevement au Serail

I've had a sample of Enlevement au Serail hanging about in my samples box for easily a couple of years now. I've worn it occasionally, but I must admit that it veers close enough to being too feminine for me to wear comfortably at work. Today seemed like a perfect opportunity to wear it. 

I haven't sampled extensively from the MDCI range (and at those prices, full bottles are unlikely, at least for me!) but I've mostly enjoyed the ones I've tried, which in addition to this one include Chypre Palatin, Invasion Barbare (amazing) and Ambre Topkapi (very so-so in my books). 

I'm not going to go into much detail here, but Enlevement au Serail reminds me of some of the Amouage perfumes from a few years ago, in particular Jubilation 25. Jubilation has more incense and ends up more chypre and quite dry, but to my nose they have a lot in common, particularly in spirit. Looking at the notes, I recognise some common accords shared with Amouage in many of their earlier fragrances, including the use of plenty of jasmine and rose, and that base of vetiver, sandalwood and patchouli. Like with Amouage, MDCI seem able to balance the florals with a much woodier and spicy base, which makes for a very even-keeled perfume, that feels even slightly retro and classic in feel.

I'm not going to say much more, other than to state that Enlevement au Serail is a very good perfume indeed, well worth seeking out a sample of. A full bottle, at around $250 for 60ml, is quite expensive, to say the least. This perfume was created by Francis Kurkdjian, and his quality and eye (or nose, I suppose) for good ingredients and class shine through.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Parfums Love - My Love

This is a first for me, I must say - a post about a perfume for little girls (at least I think its for young girls). The main reason (actually, the only reason) this perfume is even on my radar is because Hannah, my older daughter, was given a bottle for her 6th birthday. Not by me or my immediate family, I hasten to add, snob that I am. 

Anyway, I haven't smelled it yet, so perhaps I shouldn't be so judgmental, but there are top notes of blackcurrant and lemon, heart notes of jasmine and passion fruit and a base note of musk. A fruity floral then!

Hannah has been bugging me for a few days now to wear it, but we wouldn't let her during the school week. Now that the weekend is here, I suppose I will have to cave in and let her try it tomorrow. I'm sure it will be fun, but part of me wonders whether I should be letting my young daughter wear perfume so young, even if this one is aimed at young girls. On the other hand, considering I am so into perfume myself, I am slightly surprised that I haven't tried to 'brainwash' my two girls into becoming obsessed with perfume too!

So, dear fellow perfume lovers, what is your opinion on perfume and young girls? Do you think I should be encouraging them to develop a love of perfume even at a young age? If so, should I be letting them wear stuff like My Love, or weaning them gently onto some classics?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Growing up

Today my older daughter Hannah turned six. As proud and happy as we are for her, part of me can't help also feeling slightly sad at the passing of time and how quickly she is growing up. She is no longer that proper little girl anymore. Increasingly she is displaying signs of growing awareness and little glimpses of adult maturity, albeit fledgling. It is a normal part of growing up, yet a selfish part of me would like for her to remain young for as long as possible.

Today I wore Norma Kamali Incense. There is something about that slightly churchy type of incense that smells timeless and provided a much needed solidity to a day that for me was full of joy and pride, yet a poignant sadness too.

Friday, 11 January 2013

What I'm listening to, reading and watching

Where would I be without music? It's strange how it works, but the path I'm following at present seems to be fueled mainly by biographies and autobiographies I've been reading about various musicians. Is there a common thread that binds everyone together? I'm not really sure, but a lot of it comes out of the New York scene from the sixties and seventies. I've loved Bob Dylan for years and am familiar with his rise through the folk ranks whilst living in Greenwich Village. From Dylan I've sort of linked to Patti Smith, who wrote in detail in her book Just Kids of her early Greenwich Village life with Robert Mapplethorpe, living at the Chelsea Hotel. The Chelsea Hotel seems to be a fertile location for latching onto other musicians and artists. Then there's Leonard Cohen. I read the biography A Remarkable Life and his fleeting obsession with chanteuse Nico. From there its a short skip to The Velvet Underground and their seminal first album with Nico. Intertwined in this whole scene is Andy Warhol and his Factory, then further back in time, the Beat poets, Allen Ginsberg in particular.

I realise this post is rambling and slightly incoherent, but it sums up how random and 'shotgun' my journey into the past is becoming.

As for film, what is it with New York, but I've been going through Woody Allen's back catalogue of classics, such as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters and what about the bizarre Everything You Wanted to Know about Sex? That is one strange movie, with its slightly Blackadder feel in parts!

As for more regular fiction, I'm still working my way through Game Of Thrones. I'm on book 5 out of 7, but frankly, as much as I'm enjoying it, it is slow going considering each book is roughly between 800 and 1000 pages in length...

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Perfume compliments!

Like many of you, I wear perfume every day, almost. However, I have to say that I seldom receive compliments on the perfume I wear. I can recall perhaps five instances in five years where someone has commented on what I am wearing, excluding my wife.

Anyway, this week I received two positive compliments on successive days. Admittedly it was the same lady both times, but hey, beggars can't be choosy! The first perfume was Amouage Interlude Man. Unlike 99% of the perfume blogging world, I haven't written about Interlude yet, but I plan to at some point. What I will say now is that I haven't fallen head over heels in love with it, unlike a lot of people. I think it is decent though. Actually, thinking about it now, a few weeks ago another lady in my office commented that it smelled as if something was burning in our room. I didn't say anything, but I was wearing Interlude that day. 

The second perfume is an altogether more obscure perfume - Exotic Island's (Juan Perez) Oud Nawab. This is a sample that was kindly given to me by Cymbaline (again!), but I can find very few blog posts about this perfume and the whole line in general. If I'm not mistaken, Juan Perez is based in Puerto Rico, which is not the most obvious place for the birth of a very interesting perfume line, but very welcome nevertheless. I am certain I shall write about Oud Nawab and some of the others in due course.

Until next time, let's hope those compliments keep coming!

Monday, 7 January 2013

The end of Christmas and a bit of ice skating

There is always something slightly melancholy about taking down the Christmas tree, packing away decorations until next year and having a quick flip-through of cards received. For me it feels like hearing the echo of children now grown up and gone far away. Maudlin, I know, but I can't help it. Oh well, there's always next year.

On a brighter note, we took our children ice skating on Saturday, to an outdoor rink set up in one of our local parks. We had a very enjoyable time, so I thought I would post a picture of my wife and children larking about on the ice!

Moving onto perfume, I didn't wear a lot this weekend. In fact, Sunday was scentless. 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles

I've had a little mini-bottle of L'Ambre des Merveilles knocking about my sample box for a few months now. I never got round to trying it, but reading various bloggers 'best of 2012' lists, this perfume seemed to feature frequently.

Curious, I decided to wear L'Ambre today. I have to admit that I enjoy almost all Hermes perfumes and I've liked the various incarnations of Merveilles. L'Ambre, while a little different, is to my nose a variation of a familiar theme. Losing the orangeness of the original and other flankers, it is a bit dryer, possibly due to the amber note and what seems to be listed as patchouli. However, it still has that sunny, fresh-yet-not-fresh, tang of salty skin that I love about the original, and with a hint of amber, it is very well done. I say hint, because the amber note is not particularly strong to my nose, but blends very well.

I can't say that L'Ambre is totally my style, but equally I can't deny that it is very well executed and another very good addition to the Hermes range. I'm also not surprised that it has received very good reviews. 

Friday, 4 January 2013

Etat Libre d'Orange - The Afternoon of a Faun

I'm late to the party, as usual. I have read a number of rave reviews of ELDO's The Afternoon of a Faun and it made a number of bloggers 'best of 2012' lists. I received a sample of this perfume courtesy of my fume fiend in crime, Cymbaline.

I've tried my sample a few times over the past few weeks, but have reserved judgement primarily because I haven't got my head around this intriguing perfume. I have said it before, and I will say it again now: some of the best and most memorable perfumes in my opinion both attract and repel in equal measures. The Afternoon of a Faun is one of those perfumes. I struggle to put it into words, but when I smell this perfume, I feel intrigued, but at the same time a little uncomfortable. This perfume provides me with a sense of unease, yet I keep on sniffing my wrist.

When I first smelled Afternoon of a Faun, I was reminded of a less forceful Mon Parfume Cherie, Par Camille. Even now, while I appreciate the two perfumes are quite different in many ways, I still find that the two share more than a passing resemblance. Mon Parfume Cherie's notes include violet, plum, patchouli, iris and heliotropine. Afternoon of a Faun's notes run a lot longer, and include bergamot, pepper, cinnamon, incense, rose, immortelle flower, orris, jasmine, myrrh, moss, leather and benzoin. Yet both smell intensely peppery and dark to me. Looking at the two note lists (and I'm convinced there is more to the Annick Goutal) there is not that much in common, so who knows...

To me, The Afternoon of a Faun smells mystical, strange, dark, and slightly disturbing. A number of reviews have mentioned that this perfume seems to have the bones of a classical chypre, yet is firmly modern in its final interpretation. That may well be. I get the chypre feel, but if you're looking for the sort of peachy-moss chypre epitomised by Mitsouko, or the green style of Chanel No 19, for example, then you're looking in the wrong place. This chypre is dark, dusty, dry, peppery, yet having said that, it does have a density that harkens back to older vintage-style times. 

And that is where I leave my impressions. I could try fool you with a spiel about Nijinsky Ballet and so forth, but that would be ridiculous because I know nothing about ballet and could not relate it to this perfume no matter how much I might try. All I can say in the end is that The Afternoon of a Faun is well worth sampling. It is not an easy perfume, let it be said. It is a challenge, but I am intrigued.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Out with a bang. In with a bang

Readers of my blog will probably have fathomed by now that I am not naturally a gregarious party animal. However, I do enjoy socialising with close friends, and last night was spent with some good friends of ours.

There were about five couples, all with young kids of similar ages, and the evening was great fun. We played a murder mystery game, which was hilariously confusing, yet fun, and our host served us plate after plate of lovely food, including canapes, oysters, foie gras, spicy chicken and a lovely traditional new year French tart. I think we got to bed after 3am, and this includes our children, who were totally shattered today!

It was a lovely way to end the old year and start the new one. I wore Enchanted Forest, which felt quite appropriate, as when we arrived at our friends, we were served champagne with cassis. Cassis, as most of you will know, is the French word for blackcurrant, one of the primary notes in Enchanted Forest. I don't quite know what to make of the perfume yet. I do know that on my skin, particularly the first hour of development, the blackcurrant notes are very prominent and realistic. I need to wear the perfume more to gain a proper impression, particularly out of party mode, when I can think about, sniff and gauge the development in a calmer setting.


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