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: (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 - (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:

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!


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