Portia’s Mid Season Beauties 2020

Hey there crew,

Mid Seasons are my favourites. I love the less extreme temperatures and the chopping and changing. Whether it’s Spring or Autumn, the days play similarly, and I find the same set of fragrances can often get some play. One day hot, next day cloudy, sunshiny days and chilly nights happen in both seasons. It does mean our easy reach fragrances need to be able to fit into more than a single weather mood. So I have a bunch of perfumes each year that are able to cross the borders comfortably. I pop them on the easy access tray with some all-year contenders. This year looks like it’s going to be fun.



Portia’s Mid Season Beauties 2020


Autoportrait by Olfactive Studio 2011

Top: Bergamot, Elemi resin
Heart: Benzoin, Musk, Frankincense
Base: Oakmoss, Vetiver, Cedar

It’s funny that we’ve just been talking Sample Sets here on ULG. Though Autoportrait is a recent acquisition from a mate’s Sale Doc on FB, I have quietly longed for a bottle since buying one of the three scent sample sets when Olfactive Studio first came out. Chamber Noire joined my collection almost immediately, and I have never got around to buying this. It often sat in a cart; it never made it to checkout.

A delightful opening of tart citrus which quickly smooths out with the resins and cool incense. I’m surprised that the dry rasp of pepper and the spicy fizz of ginger aren’t featured notes. Maybe it’s early pointers towards the vetiver and cedar in the base, but that doesn’t seem quite what I’m smelling. I love that Autoportrait seems sheer and ethereal but is actually quite potent and gives excellent sillage.



Noel au Balcon by Etat Libre d’Orange 2007

Top: Bergamot Orpur®, Cinnamon, Pepper
Heart: Rose Orpur®, Lily-of-the-valley, Honey
Base: Cedarwood, Vanilla, Musk

Another relative newcomer to my collection, bought from a different friend’s Sale Doc on FB. Most of this bottle’s use was hers, but it’s definitely seeing skin time here too. Done in the naughties radiant fragrance style, how does this not have a bunch of white flowers? Really, it wears on me like honeyed white flowers and vanilla over a thick and rich laundry musk. Even that is overstating what I can actually smell as separate notes. Etat Libre d’Orange‘s Noel au Balcon is its own smell, a melange, very of its time but a lovely version. Comfortable in all weathers and beautiful without being distracting.



Secret Joly by Oriza Legrand 2018

Top: Jasmine, Hyacinth
Heart: Ylang-ylang, Gardenia, Tuberose, Jasmine sambac
Base: Civet, Honey, Tobacco leaf, Tonkin musk, Benzoin, Peru balsam

Jasmine, hyacinth and a slightly putrid gardenia (like they are in life sometimes) over a very French animal base drizzled with honey and resins. Secret Joly is definitely based on memories of early/mid 20th century fragrance as it started to become mass market prestige. Maybe even a hint of later drug store offerings. Secret Joly feels like a yearning scent, towards or remembering summer. Oriza Legrand has such a diverse portfolio, all historically based, but lavish in a way so few houses are doing now.



Stash Unspoken by Sarah Jessica Parker 2017

Top: Pink pepper, Quince
Heart: Wisteria, Honeysuckle, Peony
Base: Musk, Sandalwood, Tonka bean, Frankincense

I remember when Stash Unspoken came out. After the huge hype train and critical acclaim of the original Stash, the expectation was high. Sadly, it didn’t reach the exalted, hoped for heights and was panned almost universally. Personally, I think it’s unfair, but Coty should know better. Why couldn’t they just have named it Unspoken? It’s a very pretty fragrance. Quite like Burberry Brit if you replace the pear and almond with quince and tonka: still warm, nutty and sweet but less ladylike and more fun. I think Stash Unspoken is the more interesting release. I love and wear them both, so it’s not favouritism. Brit seems more syrupy, Unspoken darker and grittier, more unisex. It smells like it has some of that ubiquitous woody niche base swirling around down the bottom. Quite a surprise in a cheaper celeb scent.



Tea for Two by L’Artisan 2000

Top: Bergamot, Gentian, Orange blossom, Star anise
Heart: Cinnamon, Ginger, Lapsang Souchong tea
Base: Tobacco, Honey, Vanilla, Gaiac wood

Sweet, spicy, smoky tea. What more can I say? A masterpiece of fragrant light and shade, cold and warm. Tea for Two is one of L’Artisan‘s heftier releases, with excellent longevity and sillage. This bottle was a gift from the crew at Beauty Habit while on the ScentSation Bus Tour in LA 2013. You can see there’s nearly 1/3 air in my 100ml bottle. It gets some wear around here in the mid seasons because it fits so perfectly with heat and cool, and always smells perfect. This weekend I wore it for Now Smell This Citrus and Smoke Friday Project.



Vetiver Oriental by Serge Lutens 2004

Amber, Underwood, Gaiac wood, Iris, Labdanum, Moss, Musk, Plant juice, Sandalwood, Chocolate, Vetiver

The dry rasp of torn grass and leaf opens this fragrance, slightly bitter green. It’s so refreshing, in an olfactory sense, unexpected, rich, beautiful and cleansing. Through its life the changes and growth are phenomenal. The cool, earthy, mildly carroty iris wafts through, and then the resins and warm amber takes us home to dry down. All through though, the vetiver reigns supreme. One of the only vetiver fragrances that doesn’t lean salty on me.

For many years I wondered about this fragrance, I don’t know why, but it only got a couple of department store sniffs. Recently someone on a FB frag page told me I must retry it. I did. REVELATION: Vetiver Oriental is perfection. Bottle immediately ordered. I wonder if the modern version is different? Could the change have worked in my favour?


What have you brought out on your easy reach tray or shelf for mid season wear?

Portia x


Images: my own


29 thoughts on “Portia’s Mid Season Beauties 2020

  1. Hey Portia
    I usually wear Seville a L’Aube in this mid season period. It has the orange flower for summer and the touch of incense for autumn.

    Love Tea for Two but that’s my run up to Christmas perfume.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The only one of these that I have tried is Lutens’ Vetiver Oriental and it is a real beauty. I’m into my floral orientals at the moment. It’s still too hot here to go for ambers, but I am enjoying my woody perfumes with cooling herbal notes like Ormonde Jayne Woman (love it!) and Annick Goutal’s Nuit Etoilee’
    Hope everyone has a great week.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am clinging to the last of summer with a death grip. It is freezing at night here now but still up in the 70s for a week or so. I am bummed that I wasn’t able to get through all my summer frags (I limit to light citrus and ginger themes) at least once this year, but I just didn’t feel like wearing perfume during the times I was trapped at home.


  4. With temperatures at 40C/104F this Labor Day long weekend, it’s hard to think of any mid-season perfumes :). I’m wearing different Jo Malone perfumes (and can do 2-3 per day!). I also plan to do a week of my Hawaiian vacation perfumes (alas, without going to Hawaii) But once it gets a little cooler, I’ll move onto my beloved ambers.

    Love Tea for Two (I just recently wore it), and Vetiver Oriental is a strong like (but I have just a decant of it).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, you guys are doing it hot over there still Undina. This post is more of a prelude to climate turnarounds for you guys. Here we are definitely feeling the flush of spring.
      YAY for Hawaii vacation perfume week. I’m 100% behind that, so fun.
      Portia xx


  5. I’ve lately been revisiting some of my rose perfumes from May, which isn’t as odd as it seems because we’re getting a late flush of roses here in gardens including my own. August just gets too hot and humid for them, I think, and their blooming slows down a lot. Now that nights are cooler and days are still warm and sunny, but less humid, they’re putting out blooms again. So my rose fragrances fit right in! Especially the warmer roses that have a bit of spice. I’m also very drawn to galbanum these days; I always love it, but right now I’m finding it especially appealing.


  6. Am really intrigued by Unspoken now!

    I had been meaning to retry Vetiver Oriental as I am on a myrrh kick at the moment and read that it has myrrh in it. Will definitely dig out my sample now, thanks for the nudge.


  7. That Secret Joly with the hyacinth sounds very inviting. I need more flowers in my perfume wardrobe.
    We have a wonderful Indian Summer here, even the evenings are still warm, so I haven’t brought out my true mid-season perfumes. I know for sure that Bulgari Omnia and Orris Tattoo from Parle Moi de Parfum will have my attention soon.


    • Hi there Neva,
      One of the wonderful things to me about the spring bulb scents is that they are really complex and interesting. So many variations and ways they can be portrayed. They seem to be floral ++++.
      If you’re not much of a floral fragrance lover they might be a bit more fun for you.
      Bulgari Omnia is so good. Perfect as you guys cool off a bit.
      Portia xx

      Liked by 1 person

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