Portia and LE LION de CHANEL

Hello Crew,

We’ve had some excitement around here in Australia. The news breaks that CHANEL is releasing a new Les Exclusif, and only the Middle East are getting it. Dubai! Not even Paris by all reports. Oh CHANEL, how well you know us. Suddenly LE LION de CHANEL is hyped beyond the stratosphere. It’s this, it’s that, just wait, you’ll die, it’s their best offering since Coromandel, when can we get it? It’s been a long time since a release garnered so much interest, excitement and speculation. I was agog with lemmings.

The fact that the world has been going through trauma, we’ve been locked down, life has become a very small circle, yet we are attached by the computer & TV to everything that’s happening worldwide 24/7. Watching POC around the world with their friends, families and supporters marching for an equality long denied. Trans people being told, again, that they are not their gender (that doctors and psychologist have agreed they are), and that they deserve to be placed in the “OTHER” category, preferable far far away. A pandemic that threatens lives and livelihoods that no one can seem to get a handle on and that has different symptoms and virility in every person it touches.

We needed a ray of sunshine. 99 years on from the launch of CHANEL No 5. The perfume world has been given something to write home about.

LE LION de CHANEL 2020 by Olivier Polge

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Lemon, Bergamot
Heart: Labdanum, Madagascan vanilla
Base: Sandalwood, Patchouli

Imagine the love child of CHANEL Coromandel, Guerlain Shalimar and DIOR Mitzah.

The first day I tried LE LION de CHANEL there were a group of about eight perfumistas having our first get together since C19 lockdown. We all had a spritz within about a minute. Every person got a different enough ride that they could have been different perfumes. On some it read crunchy toffee, others got animal resins, there was smoky incense, creamy sandalwood, citrus gelato, caramel. For everyone the timings were different, the depth, warmth, heft and also interestingly, WE ALL LOVED IT! Not one person in the room was less than spellbound.

My personal ride goes something like this. A swirl of pine lime gelato. Labdanum rich amber with a distinctly animalic bent. Creamy sandalwood tempered by a vanilla rich amber that has strong hints of the crackly toffee on the top of a creme brûlée. All day I was getting wafts of the most incredible resinously sweet fragrance out of the blue, and I’d think it was someone walking ahead, on the bus or train or in the department store. NOPE! It was me. The life of the fragrance is unbelievable. I’m still smelling a lived in vanilla and humanity over 24 hours later after running around town all day yesterday and then sleeping till 11 am.

How did I get it? One of my buddies owns a perfume chain here in Australia. His family owns department stores in Dubai, and they are selling LE LION de CHANEL. My buddy saw an opportunity and jumped on it. He brought in as much from Dubai as he could, which wasn’t very much. Last time we spoke he was waiting on a second order. I grabbed two 200ml bottles, and another buddy Matt and I hosted a split. We sold 150ml in 10ml batches at our cost price plus decant bottles and postage from each bottle and kept what was left for ourselves. The spots sold out in less than an evening. That’s why my picture is of a 3/4 empty bottle already.

Have you a lemming?
Portia xx


Image: My own

Saturday Question: Do You Wear Perfume to Bed?

Following great tradition started by two wonderful bloggers, Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) and Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies), once a week I or one of the guest writers will keep the lights on in this virtual leaving room, but I hope that you, my friends and readers, will engage in conversation not only with me or the other host, but also with each other.


Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass


Saturday Question #18:

Do You Wear Perfume to Bed?

We’re not talking about enjoying throughout the night (or, much more rarely, even in the morning) whatever is left of perfume you wore earlier that day. But do you intentionally apply perfume before going to bed?

I remember a couple of years ago I was impressed by Ines’s (All I am – a redhead) ritual of spraying Shalimar on her mattress when changing sheets. Do you have any rituals related to sleep and perfume?

My Answer

Many years ago I posted on the topic, but in short: while I do not mind wearing perfume to bed, I rarely do that. And when I do, I use perfumes that I do not wear otherwise. I call them “sleep scents.” Usually I apply those from a dab bottle to one or both wrists.

Some of perfumes that I wear like that: Sonoma Scent Studio To Dream, Aftelier Perfumes Honey Blossom and DSH Perfumes Lautrec. Sometimes, to help me sleep, I use lavender oil. And recently I’ve added Jo Malone‘s Lavender & Musk pillow mist to my arsenal of night scents.

I do not wear perfumes to bed too often. Mostly, because the last thing I want to do before going to bed is to think (again!) about what perfume to wear. But probably if I were to make myself a small set of sleep scents through which I could rotate and put it in the drawer of my night stand, next to my hand cream, it might be easier for me to incorporate that in my nightly routine.

How about you?


How about you?

Do You Wear Perfume to Bed?


Disclaimer: this blog doesn’t use any affiliated links or benefit from any of the G-d awful ads that some of you might see inserted tastelessly by the WP engine inside the post and/or between comments. Encouraging readers to post more comments does not serve any purpose other then getting pleasure from communicating with people who share same interests.

Liquides Imaginaires Desert Suave

For a long time, I had paid no attention to the brand Liquides Imaginaires. There are so many new houses and they don’t all catch my eye. But one day a friendly sales assistant pointed them out in response to my looking at “masculine” scents. I told her I was not impressed by the bottles: I found their pillar likeness oddly off-putting. She was quick to explain that the perfumer was an architect,  the shape of the bottles was representative of fundamental principles of … I’m not really sure what. I have tried to research this architect angle but came up empty-handed. Though I felt zero attraction to the brand, I went home with a handful of samples; and now I own two bottles of Liquides Imaginaires because, damn, they were all varying degrees of excellent. But let me continue with my carping…

The name Desert Suave is so terrible to me I wince at the thought of someone asking what I’m wearing. It reads like google translate had its way with an excellent name in another language. If this had been a bottle covered in graffiti and maybe an animal paste-up (that’s a graffiti term for all you cool cats), then the name would have been ironic. But no, the pillars of serious architectural posturing are not being ironic. Let me assure you though that Desert Suave does smell like the fantasy oasis of the ad copy, perhaps the one Camel cigarettes wanted you to imagine, and it IS very suave. I’m pretty sure Lawrence of Arabia’s corner shop smells exactly like this. Desert Suave is overwhelmingly dates and dried fruit soaked in syrups and orange blossom water. It’s not particularly sweet because this is a not a dessert, it’s the raw ingredients of a dessert and perhaps some truly excellent naan. Cardamom is wonderfully present, as well as wafts of saffron. Apparently, Desert Suave has a toasted sesame seed note that I almost imagine I can smell.

Liquides Imaginaires Desert Suave

This is a very rich scent. Rich is such a beautiful perfume word, don’t you think? It’s different then “dense” or “luxurious” or “multi-layered”. There is not a lot of progression in Desert Suave, but 12 hours later I’m left with a sweet balsam that is most pleasing. I enjoy how literal this scent is, though it is going for a souk vibe, it is highly focused and never becomes just another oriental. There’s no oud or patchouli, just luminous warm resins, dates and dried fruit. If they had upped the cumin, it would have been skank heaven, but I found the cumin almost undetectable. Perhaps they could release a cumin soaked flanker, Desert Siren, so I could again be traumatized by the name but love everything inside the bottle.

I’ve been very happy with this house, and I’m going to continue exploring it, bottle dorkiness be damned!

Liquides Imaginaires Desert Suave (Quentin Bisch and Nisrine Grillie, 2018)

Top Notes: Indian cardamom, Italian mandarin, clove, cumin, black pepper, saffron
Middle Notes: African orange blossom, rose, geranium, date
Base Notes: Spanish cistus, toasted sesame seed, atlas cedarwood, musk

Image: my own

Saturday Question: How Quickly Do You Open a New Bottle?

Following great tradition started by two wonderful bloggers, Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) and Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies), once a week I or one of the guest writers will keep the lights on in this virtual leaving room, but I hope that you, my friends and readers, will engage in conversation not only with me or the other host, but also with each other.


Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass


Saturday Question #17:

How Quickly Do You Open a New Bottle?

Are you someone who tears the shrink wrap off a new bottle in the car on the parking lot of a shopping mall or on your way from a post box? Do you get home and carefully unpack a new bottle, trying not to tear more than absolutely necessary from the said wrap? Or do you put a bottle aside for some time, while getting used to having it in your possession?

My Answer

I can rarely wait to finish completely a decant or even a sample of perfume I decided to add to my collection before buying a bottle. So, unless I buy perfume for a split, weeks or sometimes even months pass before I would finally open that bottle.

There is something extremely appealing to me in owning a pristine new bottle, knowing that I can take it out any time I want but postponing the moment until all other sources are either used up or passed onto one of my perfume friends.

My personal “best” is… 4 years, at least three of which I didn’t have perfume in question in any form but that “brand new” bottle. How did it happen? Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) shared with me a sample of Penhaligon’s Tralala (the link is to her post about this perfume, which not all of you have read – though, some have). I tried Tralala several times, liked it and was thinking about procuring a decant of it. And then I read that Penhaligon’s was discontinuing this perfume (that dreaded D-word!), and I came across it on their site’s sale. I bought it (it was a very good sale), put on the back of the shelf, told myself that I would do a post about it soon (I had a great idea for the story), and … I can’t say I completely forgot about it, but I kept moving out telling the story, then I wasn’t in the mood for it, then I had many other new and shiny things to be excited and write about…

When I finally opened it last week, I didn’t recognize Tralala at all. Of course, I didn’t know this perfume as well as I know perfumes I own and wear, but in my head I had some olfactory picture of it. Not even remotely close! First I thought (hoped?) that my bottle just went off – it would have been at least saving grace. But no: I tried it several times, and it doesn’t smell like spoiled perfume. But it smells neither how I remembered it nor how others describe it. So, I’m at a loss, and I’m not sure what I will do with it: I don’t like it enough to wear, but I would be hesitant to swap it (let alone sell) not being sure that it is still perfume it used to be. And because of that, I decided that since I won’t be telling any stories I planned for it, I’ll use it as a question (and a cautionary tale) for this Saturday Question post. Especially since the bottle is so cute and quirky.


Penhaligon's Tralala


How Quickly Do You Open a New Bottle?


Disclaimer: this blog doesn’t use any affiliated links or benefit from any of the G-d awful ads that some of you might see inserted tastelessly by the WP engine inside the post and/or between comments. Encouraging readers to post more comments does not serve any purpose other then getting pleasure from communicating with people who share same interests.

Rusty the Cat: On Comfort Temperatures

Four months ago, when I posted Rusty the Cat: On Food and Treats, I didn’t know whether it would become a series, mostly because I wasn’t sure I would be able to get good cat pictures due to the combination of my work hours and lighting conditions. Little did I know that two weeks later our entire organization of work would change completely because of the shelter-in-place and everything that came with it. So, now I constantly get opportunities to capture my cat doing… whatever cats do to amuse themselves, annoy their humans or just pass time.

* * *

I knew for a while that a normal body temperature for cats was higher than for people. So, it was logical for me that in colder season Rusty favored my or my vSO’s lap to just laying on a chair or one of his mats. What was rather unexpected, even in summer, in the middle of a very warm day, while I would be working in my second-floor office – one of the warmest places in our house, instead of staying on the cool first floor, Rusty would come up and plop himself on my lap, clearly enjoying it (and I would be dripping with sweat).

Sometimes, Rusty would place himself on a blanket next to my work laptop in such a way that one of his paws would touch or be really close to the laptop’s vent. The air that comes out of it is so hot that it is hard for me to keep my hand next to it. But Rusty doesn’t seem to mind (the highlighted text on the picture below is what actually was shown on the monitor: I was going through the security training course and had to stop to take a picture because I thought that it was a hilarious illustration).


Rusty and Laptop


But recently Rusty overdid himself: during one of the hottest days of the week (it was ~27C/81F in the house) he discovered wonders of my vSO’s laptop: being connected through the docking station to the external monitor and keyboard, it works with the closed lid, which is warm to touch. So, Rusty figured out that it was a perfect spot, from where he could hypnotize one of us while waiting to be fed after the end of the work-from-home day. Now he’s doing it almost daily.


Rusty and Laptop


We discussed with my vSO that, as Rusty gets older, at some point we’ll probably have to get him a bed with a built-in heating pad. But we’re worried a little that he’ll dump us and spend all time in bed.


Images: my own

Portia Reconnecting with Serge Lutens

Hey crew,

Last time we chatted I told you about bringing my Serge Lutens open, now old style, 50ml export bottles out of their box and onto my easy reach tray next to my desk. It’s been spritz changing, even in these few short weeks. With them lined up before me I think about them much more often and am revisiting long languished loves again. It’s like a fragrant voyage of rediscovery. It reminds me how deeply the brand changed the way I thought about scenting myself. The possibilities, choice and intricacies of scent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fooling myself that every release or even favourite of mine is a boundary pushing masterpiece. Some are merely beautiful, easy wear interpretations of old tropes, but always with an interesting twist and/or perfectly balanced symmetry.



As luck would have it, I’ve had the opportunity to do two masterclasses in the Yellow Room upstairs in the Palais Royale store in Paris. The first was Jin and I with Elvire. Over the course of an hour or two we were introduced to the entire bell jar range, her favourite exports and the history of Féminité du Bois. It was an unbelievably jaw-dropping event. We already had some orders to fulfill from Aussies, and then I dropped a very large wad of cash on bell jars and travel sets for both Jin and myself. Jin fell madly in love with Muscs Koublaï Khän and is now on his second bell jar of it. He lovingly decants it into a beautiful black octagonal Serge Lutens travel spray and spritzes with gay abandon. I’ve never let him see how much it cost, he’d be horrified.

The second visit a couple of years ago was with a crew of perfume buddies. It was a much louder, more raucous affair and our hosts were not prepared at all to explain fragrance to frag nerds. BEDLAM! It was still fantastic though, and I was reintroduced to a couple of fragrances that I suddenly needed to own immediately. Chene and La Myrrhe. They sit in my collection, still in their cellophane. I don’t want to dab them, and I don’t want to decant them. What I do though is look at the boxes and reminisce. I wasn’t the only one to bust out the credit card and shop. I think there were 16 of us, and everyone purchased at least one bottle. Some people, who knew this might be their only visit to the grande purple emporium, splashed out on much more. While I didn’t learn much on this occasion, it is the one I smile to myself about so much more. Nothing compares to sharing the love of perfume with frag heads, made exponentially magic because we’d come from all over the world to meet in Paris.



So, I know you’re dying to know what’s been put up on the tray. I’d be chomping at the bit if I was reading your posts and it had gone this far without a list.


I love the spicy opening that reminds me of ginger beer. When that settles down, I get a fruity, resinous melange that some days dips into apple pie territory and others into the scorch of spices sizzling in the pan in a sweet curry. Arabie lets me dream of Bedouin life from my comfortable couch.

Bas de Soie

I had been using a decant of this from Surrender To Chance, there was about 1ml left. I sprayed it all on and then wanted more. So I finally opened my bottle and gave myself a dousing. Something amazing happens to Bas de Soie at that level of heft. Suddenly it is a huge breath of spring. Even in our cold, rainy autumn here in Sydney I was transported to a springtime wonderland. Hyacinth, iris and musk blowing on a cool breeze.


Chergui is the fragrance I most recognise as a Serge Lutens. It seems to capture and embody the spirit of the brand perfectly for me. Spicy and honeyed herbal opening, sweet tobacco and amber woods to close, and it runs the gamut of olfactory gorgeousness through its heart. It gives me visions of the legend travellers of the Middle East all the way down through Mongolia to the Far East.

Daim Blond

This was my favourite Serge for a while, but along came Bottega Veneta EdP, and I was like “Daim Blond who?” Fruity almonds and leather. It now smells dank and dated to me. Sad face. The dry down of softest, well loved leather is very nice next morning if you wear Daim Blond to bed.

Datura Noir

I wear Datura Noir quite a lot. First in decants and now in a bottle. I thought it wasn’t me. Too clean and fresh, a creamy white floral without the breath or skank seemed pointless. Yet, there I was/am, reaching and spritzing and loving it.

Féminité du Bois

My bottle has less than 10ml left. It’s got the Palais Royale logo on the label. Still smells fabulous, but I rarely wear it because I’m scared to not have it in this eras bottle. Spicy stewed fruits and woods. It’s absolutely heartbreakingly gorgeous.

Fille en Aiguilles

Also in the Palais Royale logo. More stewed fruit, but this time backed by incense and sharp pine. i love this so much for winter that I bought a few bottles and gave them out as gifts to various friends. Every one of them (non-perfumistas all) has re-bought it for themselves after using up that first bottle.

Five O’Clock au Gingembre

My favourite Serge Lutens fragrance so far. 10% into my second bottle. There is something about that opening zing of fruity ginger that I find so invigorating. You know I haven’t read the note list for years, and my nose tells me it is a ginger, tea, white flower and honey fragrance. I’m surprised to see no white flowers or tea mentioned, and find chocolate and patchouli there. WOW! My nose is clearly broken and has been for years.


The only notes given for L’Orpheline are incense and musk. To me they miss out on the smell of icy cold, snow filled winds in the monasteries of the Himalayas. Funnily, I get cold incense like you’re standing outside the temple shop, and the breeze is stealing most of the scent but it’s there.

Sa Majesté la Rose

This is not my favourite rose perfume. It does smell like you’ve stuck your nose in a particularly fragrant bloom early in the morning while it’s still got the dew on it and the scent hasn’t had time to burn off. The problem is that I find myself wanting a rose perfume to do a few more tricks than that. I need rose +++. This has rose. When the mood takes me, I look for and wear this but it’s a rare thing.

Santal Majuscule

That creamy, soapy sandalwood smell. So smooth and elegant. None of that rough, eucalyptus like opening of the Aussie stuff. This smells like the grown up, wealthy, settled down, gravitas version of Samsara. I have a really happy memory associated with Santal Majuscule. When it was first released I went in a split and bought 10ml. After wearing it twice I was about to write a review. As I reached for the decant, I knocked it over, and it smashed all over my desk. I was so upset at my clumsiness. Jin rushed in and saw the problem, after asking if I was OK and hearing the story, he said very calmly, “Well, you better buy a bottle. It smells fantastic” or some words to that effect. So I did.

Un Boise Vanille

The last of my Palais Royale label bottles. A thick, rich, crunchy vanilla that goes on strong and stays all day. Its simplicity hides depths and layers, if you bother to look, but for most non-perfumista wearers I imagine it just smells fabulous.


So that’s how I’ve been spending my lockdown time lately. Our restrictions ease gradually. One of my club groups got in touch, and they are hoping to reinstate trivia nights in late July. So, I’m a ways off working again. Maybe I’ll finally get to the mending pile on the floor in front of my sewing machine this week. It’s getting so big, I think it might take two full days.


What are your favourite Serge Lutens? Which bottles do you have open and use?
Portia xx

Saturday Question: Do You Participate In Perfume Splits?

Following great tradition started by two wonderful bloggers, Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) and Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies), once a week I or one of the guest writers will keep the lights on in this virtual leaving room, but I hope that you, my friends and readers, will engage in conversation not only with me or the other host, but also with each other.


Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass


Saturday Question #16:

Do You Participate In Perfume Splits?

We all buy bottles – full priced, discounted, used or vintage. We buy samples and decants from decanter or subscription sites. And we swap perfumes with others. But do you participate in the “not for profit” perfume splits, in which somebody buys a new full bottle and shares portions of the juice “at cost” (price per ml plus decanting supplies and shipping)? Where do you find those splits? Do you ever host them? Was your experience with splits rather good or bad?

My Answer

For a while I was wary about splits. Somehow buying decants from TPC felt safe, while private sales seemed uncertain and suspicious. I had no reason for that, I just feared it as something unknown, never tried before. But once I successfully went through that process several times, I realized that in many cases getting a 5 ml decant from a friendly split costs close to buying a small sample of the same perfume from a decanter site. And if you end up not liking it, you can always swap it with or pass onto a friend.

I participated in several splits in a designated Facebook group. Then I moved to mostly doing it a couple of times a year during NST’s splitmeet episodes. And then a couple of years ago I started hosting my own splits there as well.

So far, all my splits – both as a participant and a host – were successful: I bought decants for perfumes I wore for a while and was done with them; I bought decants that lead up to a bottle purchase; and I bought and shared bottles of perfumes I wanted to have without feeling guilty because of adding another 50-100 ml of perfume to my ever growing collection.

Last week I went through all the offerings from the most recent NST splitmeet post – and didn’t find any perfume of which I’d like to have even 5 ml. It seems that with the explosion in the perfume industry perfumistas’ interests are spread wide: out of about 30 offered splits, the equal number closed and didn’t get any interest – eight each. The rest (about 50% of all) got some participants but didn’t generate as much interest as hosts planned. What is interesting: it looks like most hosts plan to go through with the purchase, even though they didn’t get “full funding.”

I was slightly disappointed: not that I had in mind any particular perfume that I was looking to buy, but I hoped to see something offered that I’d like to get. Since it didn’t happen, I had to host my own splits.


Do You Participate In Perfume Splits?


Disclaimer: this blog doesn’t use any affiliated links or benefit from any of the G-d awful ads that some of you might see inserted tastelessly by the WP engine inside the post and/or between comments. Encouraging readers to post more comments does not serve any purpose other then getting pleasure from communicating with people who share same interests.

Ofactive Studio Flashback in New York OR Narth’s Time Traveling Adventure

City scents! I think we’ve all felt the attraction. Could this scent transport me to my beloved Marrakesh? Will it be the ultimate armchair travel to exotic places? I have my olfactory associations, whether real or imagined, but I’ve often been disappointed.

I laughed out loud when I tried Santa Maria Novella‘s Alba di Seoul. Perhaps the outskirts of Seoul smelled like this in the Joseon era, all conifers and freshness but Seoul smells absolutely nothing like that today. Does Kyoto really smell like sakura? No, because most varieties of cherry blossom have no scent, and those that do are very faint. But we now have a sakura note in perfume which oft times is just left of peony with a dash of jam. You can bet any fragrance with Kyoto in the name will either be an incense or a light, pretty thing featuring “sakura”, that magical Japanese word.

The first time I saw Olfactive Studio’s Flashback in New York, I was excited. I grew up in New York, and having left it a long time ago, the word “flashback” captures the impact of my olfactory memories perfectly. They’ve faded over the years, but there are some odd smells that make me intensely nostalgic. Bus fumes is one. I associate the smell with the Port Authority bus terminal, a dark and greasy cave of a place choking in diesel. The smell of bus fumes still makes me wildly happy and full of anticipation of traveling. I rarely smell buses where I live now, so these memories have never been replaced with new ones.

Olfactive Studio pairs each scent with a photograph. The photo for Flashback in New York is of the Chrysler building in a blizzard, very atmospheric, but with one sniff the scent flashed me right back to New York City in the high days of summer, a much more pungent season. Flashback in New York smells like fruity garbage, exhaust and the skunky weed that filled the air before the young ones turned marijuana into an art form. The cumin phase is nicely sweaty and I can almost feel the sooty sheen on my face again. My city of Melbourne, Australia does not smell like any of these things. I have not been back to New York City in many years, perhaps it smells very differently today.  I found Flashback in New York wonderfully evocative, a whole bunch of crazy memories flooded me (oh excuse me, flashbacked me) and continue to do so every time I wear it. I went through a sample, and I knew if I didn’t have a bottle I would dearly miss it. It’s the clearest olfactory place memory connected to perfume I’ve ever experienced.

Olfactive Studio Flashback in New York

I’m sure some of you are wondering why you would wear perfume described as fruity garbage and weed. Let me assure you they are my very personal notes, my memories. For you Flashback in New York might smell like clary sage and leather, smoke and saffron and a dose of cumin. The clary sage is dry, herbaceous and tweaks Flashback in New York into something quite interesting. Unlike many of the Olfactive Studio fragrances, this scent has good lasting power. Just like New York, it will make an impression.

Tell me about your favourite city perfumes, which ones really speak of the city to you!

Olfactive Studio Flashback in New York (Jerome Epinette, 2018)

Top Notes: cumin, clary sage, white linen, saffron
Middle Notes: violet, Tuscan leather, jasmine
Base Notes: birch smoke, papyrus, vetiver, tonka bean

Photos of New York City taken by teenage Narth

Saturday Question: All-natural or “All-artificial”?

This week is quite unusual for my blog: two posts were published already, which makes this one a third post in a week. If any of you were wondering, this will continue for a while: in addition to the weekly Saturday Question lead by me (mostly), two resident writers (after a while, I can’t call them “guests”), Narth and Portia, will be posting alternating every two weeks each. And I plan to do one additional post every second week.

Also, it happened just by chance that my previous post’s title was done in a question form. And while it was a rhetorical question, it sparked a conversation similar to how it happens with Saturday Question posts. So, it feels a little strange to do a second post with a question just two days later. But it’s already a tradition, right? So, let’s do it anyway. And the topic I chose was inspired by one of the dialogs in comments to that recent post.


Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass


Saturday Question #15:

All-natural or “All-artificial”?

From what I can get, most of my readers prefer “mixed-media” perfumes, so this part is clear. But what about the two extremes – perfumes that use only natural ingredients and those that are based on manufactured molecules? Which of the two would you choose if you had to?

My Answer

I tried a fair number of all-natural perfumes, and most of them didn’t work for me. At best, I thought they were pleasant scents but not perfumes that I’d like to wear. But most seemed straightforwardly unpleasant. Currently in my collection there are two all-natural perfumes that I like a lot – Hiram Green Arbolé Arbolé and April Aromatics Unter den Linden. On the other hand, there is just one perfume that certainly has no natural ingredients – Escentric Molecules Molecule 01. So, on the surface it would seem like a 2:1 ratio.

But then I consider that while all-natural brands make sure to point out that fact, most brands do not advertise “no flowers were harmed in the making of this perfume.” So, it is extremely likely that I’ve been enjoying many more “all-artificial” perfumes than I realized. Taking that into consideration, I’d say that for me man-made perfumes are a safer bet (though, I hope never to have to make that choice).

How about you?


Molecule 01 and Unter den Linden


All-natural or “All-artificial”?


Disclaimer: this blog doesn’t use any affiliated links or benefit from any of the G-d awful ads that some of you might see inserted tastelessly by the WP engine inside the post and/or between comments. Encouraging readers to post more comments does not serve any purpose other then getting pleasure from communicating with people who share same interests.

Does Good Packaging Make the Perfume?

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence.
Mark Twain

Ukiyo-e, shodō, ikebana, kimono, kabuki… I do not dislike culture of Japan, but I reject the awe some Europeans and Americans have towards it: yes, it is different and has interesting aspects. But by the same token as I do not think that being different means “inferior,” it doesn’t mean “superior” either. It is just different. So, usually I instinctively stay away from anything artificially Japonesque (I must admit, though, that I love California roll sushi that have nothing to do with traditional Japanese food).

Unrelated, I am usually skeptical when brands launch new sub-brands or lines under different names in parallel to their main brand: I see it as a plot to trick consumers into buying more because it’s something new and different.

So, how did it happen that I bought (!) a sample set from Floraiku – an “inspired by Japanese culture, traditions and ceremonies and named after haiku poetry” (©Fragrantica) brand created by the founders of Memo Paris?

In my defense, I can say that I was “vulnerable”: soon after my In the Search for the Perfect Magnolia post, I bought Magnolia Grandiflora Michel by Grandiflora – perfume that I found the most interesting during my magnolia note exploration quest. And, as much as I liked perfume itself, I thought that the bottle was hideous. The paper label looked extremely cheap, and today it seems to be pilling off that not even a year-old bottle. Which reminded me of new design for L’Artisan’s bottles that I saw recently at a department store: the testers were still probably half-full, but those paper labels were already in a dismal state. I have never seen anything like that happening to the original L’Artisan packaging. Greed is ugly.

So, while I was lamenting poor packaging of some nice niche brands, I read Cynthia’s (The Fragrant Journey) review of Floraiku set. I was curious about the line even before, but Cynthia’s praises for the presentation did it for me, and within days I placed my order.


Floraiku Sample Set


My impressions? Floraiku set is very beautiful, with a lot of attention to details. I’m not sure about names: I don’t like “I-s” and “My-s” in perfume names, so five out of 11 names using that form … is a little too personal. And most of the names seem not to have any connection to the notes used to compose them. I See the Clouds Go By featuring black currant leaves, cherry blossom and white musk – really? OK, maybe if I were to lay down in some garden watching the sky… though, when those cherries blossom, I would get cold quickly laying down.

I know that those note pyramids have very vague connection to what actually goes into those 15-20% of a volume of any given perfume. So I’d be fine with a brand not revealing the notes at all or giving just a general impression for the scent. But listing three notes?! Are they paying royalties to creators per an officially published note? At $350 for the set (50 ml full bottle plus 10 ml travel spray) I feel cheated.

I also do not care for pretend haiku. Actually, I’m not a big fan of haiku per se. I assume they sound better in Japanese, but English attempts usually rather perplex me: why to bother? It’s not poetry… But even more I’m annoyed by pseudo-haiku that do not even follow the formal rules of constructing those mini poems. And all that after naming the brand Floraiku!

The owl is watching
between two trees

Maybe if to think of them as of an abstract mood-setting description for these perfumes, they are not awful.

But what about the most important aspect – perfumes themselves?

You should read mentioned above Cynthia’s post for more detailed review on these perfumes. As for my impressions, Sound of a Ricochet and Cricket Song are my favorites, which isn’t surprising since they are oriental vanilla and floral (magnolia) woody musk respectively – and I usually like those. Three more – Sleeping on the Roof, Moon and I and My Shadow on the Wall I could probably wear. The remaining six – One Umbrella for Two, I Am Coming Home, I See the Clouds Go By, First Dream of the Year, My Love Has Color of the Night and Between Two Trees – are not something that I find interesting (though, none of them is unpleasant).


Floraiku Sample Set


Will any of these join my collection? Not unless I come across them at 70% off. I’m not discussing merits of selling these at $350 for 60 ml, it’s just that for me none of them is even close to be worth that price.

But I can wholeheartedly recommend getting the sample set because it is perfect for testing: it will be interesting to try the line, it’s aesthetically pleasing, none of the perfumes is challenging in any way, and, most likely, with any of them you won’t be tempted to get more than a 10 ml travel spray (which can be bought separately).

Eden Square (no affiliation, but I successfully ordered once from them – not this set though) offers the set for $25 + $5 S&H in the US (and you can get 10% off if you sign up for their newsletter).


Rusty and Floraiku Sample Set

Images: my own