Turkish Delight? Yes, Please!

Even though there were at least a couple of guest writers on Undina’s Looking Glass, over the last couple of years I was a sole contributor, so for a while I will be reminding my readers to look at the By line (Undina).

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When I was a child, I loved to read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, and I read it multiple times a year. In it a rather unpleasant child is offered a box of Turkish delight by a beautiful woman. He likes it so much he trades everything for more and more Turkish delight, everything being his siblings, Jesus, summer time, kittens… everything! I had no idea what Turkish delight was, but it was obviously very delicious since it was worth betraying everyone you ever met. For my whole childhood I imagined it was rum truffles, something I had tasted only a few times. They were rich and decadent, and you were never allowed to have as many as you wanted, so that to me was Turkish delight.

Many years later, I discovered what Turkish delight really was, and I love it far more than rum truffles! I’m also aghast that Edmund managed to eat boxes and boxes of it. I’ve always loved any foods with a perfumed note and rose flavour is the queen. Rose pastilles, rose truffles, rose gelato… I remember them all because they are not easy to find. Turkish delight, however, is readily available, and I buy it a few times a year and cover myself in powdered sugar eating far too many delightful cubes of rosy joy. So when a perfume smells like Turkish delight I am absolutely in LOVE.

My beloved favourite Turkish delight perfume is the original Boucheron Jaipur for women. It’s a beautiful bracelet (and confusingly one of the flankers is named “Bracelet” but that is a different perfume), and it I adore it. Sticky, candied rose and fruits created in 1994 by Sophia Grojsman. There are plenty of sweet rose perfumes that are delicious, such as Lush‘s Rose Jam, but to evoke Turkish delight you need that perfumey note. It’s more a caricature of rose than rose itself. Boucheron Jaipur just plainly makes me happy.

Top Notes: Pineapple, Apricot, Freesia, Peach, Plum
Middle Notes: Carnation, Iris, Jasmine, Lily of the Valley, Orchid, Peony, Black locust, Rose
Base Notes: Amber, Vanilla, Benzoin, Heliotrope, Musk, Sandalwood, Styrax

Turkish delight, or lokum can be flavoured with a variety of things, but the rose flavour made with rose water, which is a distillate of rose petals, is the most popular. There are synthetic versions as well and who knows which ones I’ve eaten. I’ve bought it in markets from huge slabs, as well as chucking it in the trolley from the supermarket. I have loved them all!

 

BoucheronJaipurAndLArtisanTraverseeDuBosphore

 

Though I have no idea if Sophia Grojsman ever thought about Turkish delight when creating Boucheron Jaipur, it was the inspiration for my other sticky perfume treasure, L’Artisan’s Traversee du Bosphore (2010) by Betrand Duchaufour.

Top Notes: Apple, Pomegranate, Tulip
Middle Notes: Iris, Leather, Saffron, Rose, Pistachio
Base Notes: Vanilla, Musk

The heart of Traversee Bosphore is a plasticky, perfumey rose, without a doubt more cheap rosewater than the actual flower. This is what makes it a true Turkish delight scent, that the rose is all about confection. There’s a powdery iris that speaks of the powdered sugar very well without altering the perfumey rose heart. Violet would have created something quite different here. However fear not, this is still a grown-up scent. Saffron and leather are very sexy skin scents in this creation, and the brightness of the top notes keeps it surprisingly fresh.

Rose is a constant perfume love for me, but I have a special place in my heart for the ones that evoke Turkish delight. I’ve tried some that claim to do so but add an almond marzipan note, which moves the creation firmly away from the simple joy of lokom and into a fancy cake shop. I want an indulgent sticky mess!

 

Images: my own (Narth)

Lush Dirty, a Very Minty Boy

Undina: Let me introduce to you Narth – the latest addition to this blog’s wonderful (though infrequent) guest writers’ team. Narth used to write for the Australian Perfume Junkies blog (now regretfully defunct), and now she plans to publish regularly her reviews, perfume and travel stories on Undina’s Looking Glass. What is noteworthy: in my estimate, our tastes in perfumes have just a small overlap (approximately 10%). So, it will introduce nice variety.

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The main drag in my city of Melbourne, Australia is like most main drags, a bit of a mess. Buskers, rubbish, bargain shops, fast food… A few years back they closed it off for cars and only trams can travel this strip in the heart of the city. This improved nothing and the pushy chaos continues.

Walking up this street to my favourite dumplings place I can tell how far I have to go by the two smells that are so overpowering you can smell them a block away. One is Subway whose strangely artificial bread smell makes my children gag. The other, god bless them, is Lush. For many years a cult company relying on the addictive powers of cupcake flavoured bath bombs and towering soap piles that look like cool art works Lush has also quietly been creating perfume. I’m late to the Lush perfume game and part of that I blame on the eye watering impact of the smell of a Lush store. Since I’m usually planning a spray and a sniff somewhere when I’m in the city, I have no intention of abrading my nose with Lush’s cacophony of soapiness before I get to the good stuff. And so it’s only been in the last year that I have discovered the wonders of Lush perfumes whose price point is perfect for impulse purchase.

 

Lush Dirty

 

Rather than blathering on about the whole range, which has quite a few treasures, I want to talk to you about a beautiful minty masterpiece, Dirty. Spearmint, tarragon, thyme, lavender, sandalwood and oakmoss. So says the Lush website, not given to note pyramids. While refreshing in the heat, Dirty really blooms when it’s a misty cool day. The lavender and mintiness are more edible versions than you’d get in a classic barbershop scent, and the sandalwood is a quiet creamy constant under the sharper notes. And what’s that, an odd herbal accent? The tarragon is light but adds some important herbaceousness to the spearmint, you won’t for one minute be thinking this smells like gum. The drydown brings out a salty note, a fantastic fresh from the beach skin scent. I sprayed this on myself, walked out of the shop, turned around, went straight back in and bought the 100ml. No regrets. It’s been a very hot summer here, and I’ve been wearing this perfume in the intense heat and in the rains that follow. A relative of mine immediately bought a bottle for her partner who wants something fresh to wear at work. Mainstream freshies are more expensive and have annoying synthetic notes while not everyone wants to up their niche game in the freshie department. Lush’s Dirty is a stunner. If you have ever lamented a lack of mint in Perfumeland, I encourage you to brave the soap stacks and try Dirty. The sillage is good, and the lasting power (as it is with most Lush perfumes) is excellent.

 

Images: my own (Narth)

Second Sunday Samples: Jo Malone Vetiver & Golden Vanilla

Years pass, I come across many new brands and new perfumes from old favorites, but it seems that Jo Malone (brand, not the person) still manages to produce, among the avalanche of new releases, something that attracts my attention.

Unfortunately, my attention span shrank recently, so unless I come to the store right when a new offering takes the central stage on the stand, I might completely miss it.

I remembered from reading an announcement on NST that new Jo Malone would be released. I even remembered that it was supposed to be vanilla. On my first visit to the store I looked around, tried reading multiple labels – and didn’t succeed. Since I couldn’t remember the name (and for whatever reason it’s almost impossible to get Internet connection from inside our Nordstrom store), I just left without even asking.

The next time I got to the store, I couldn’t spot anything new … and I couldn’t remember the name again. But I told myself it would be silly to go away without trying. So, I surprised the SA agreeing that I needed his help (you could see in his body language that he was already half-way turning away fully expecting my polite “I’m just browsing”). I said: “You are supposed to have a new vanilla perfume, but I seem not to be able to notice it.” He immediately resolved the mystery: Vetiver & Golden Vanilla is released in the Cologne Intense collection – I wasn’t even looking there.

The SA complimented me on being adventurous because I wasn’t afraid to try the Intense Collection, which “most women avoid.” Really? I was surprised: out of all the brands that ventures in the unisex perfume territory Jo Malone seemed like the one that leans more feminine. But since he works there, he might know better (or not), I’m not familiar with “civilian’s” tastes.

 

Jo Malone Vetiver and Golden Vanilla

 

Neither brand’s site nor Fragrantica are too generous with the notes: cardamom, grapefruit tea accord, vetiver bourbon and vanilla bourbon. Perfumer (according to NST): Mathilde Bijaoui, who previously created for Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka.

To my nose, Vetiver & Golden Vanilla is all about vetiver. I don’t think I can smell cardamom, and vanilla is surprising in this composition: it’s much less sweet than you might expect both from the material and from the brand. But it’s not a bad thing, don’t read it as a criticism. It creates an interesting “adult” composition that keeps your mind far away from the cupcake territory. On my skin perfume has moderate to good projection and moderate tenacity (and I’d expect it to be even better if sprayed from a bottle instead of a small sample).

Since I like vetiver in perfumes, Vetiver & Golden Vanilla smells good to me but, unlike most of Jo Malone main collection’s offerings, it is not the one that everybody will either like or stay indifferent: I expect some people to actively dislike it or (virtually waving Hi to that SA) feel that it’s too masculine. But if you enjoy vetiver (and especially if you, as I, like but get tired of Hermes’s Vetiver Tonka), give Vetiver & Golden Vanilla a try: if not a bottle, it might be worth a 10 ml decant space in your collection.

I’m thinking that I still don’t have a single bottle from the Cologne Intense collection… I could probably take a closer look at one of those 50 ml black bottles (I’m glad Jo Malone finally moved away from 100 ml only, but I wish they’ve done them in 30 ml black bottles – I still remember how great the Dark Amber & Ginger Lily 30 ml bottle looked).

 

Images: from the brand’s site (my sample vial looked not interesting to warrant bribing Rusty; if I end up buying a bottle, I’ll find a reason to publish a picture of Rusty with it)

A Smell of Home

I was contemplating getting back to blogging for a while now. I want to do it. I miss thinking my posts through, choosing pictures for them, waiting for and then answering your comments. I even have pages of ideas for topics in my “Next” file. But the longer you postpone that next post, the harder it is to choose the “right” topic. After a seven weeks’ silence I couldn’t return with a post about the next lipstick I picked up for the cute name or with the next episode of my “Small Things That Brighten Life” series. I mean, of course I could, but it seemed wrong with this one being a perfume blog.

I traveled half of the time I was absent, mostly for work, and while I brought many perfumes with me and wore them daily, perfumes stayed at the back of my mind. Primarily I thought about staying awake (I hate jet lag!), keeping concentration that I needed to perform my duties (sleeping aids help to sleep but totally mess up cognitive functions) and Rusty who we left with a new cat sitter for such a long time. Rusty looked somewhat sad on daily reports’ photos but at least he was taken good care of.

 

 

Going to Ukraine, I had some hopes to check out their perfume offerings since I had 3 major cities on my itinerary. But time ran away from me, and the only true olfactory experience I got there was an extremely pleasant ambient scent in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency hotel in Kiev. But everything was so hectic that I hadn’t checked if they had anything with that scent in their gift shop (or if they even had a gift shop, for that matter).

And then there was London. It was a wonderful week of vacation that started with what felt like half an hour but probably was three times longer meeting with Vanessa who, once again, arrived at the place we were staying ahead of us, though this time, unlike it happened in Paris, not only she didn’t get to talk to the owner but she couldn’t even get a confirmation from the person holding they keys whether we’d already collected them (to be fair, it wasn’t for Vanessa’s not looking trustworthy or that person being super careful – she just had no idea who I was since the key was dispatched in response to the code, no names asked).

While exchanging small gifts with Vanessa, I showed her some pictures and videos of Rusty who by that time got acclimated with his new nanny enough to enjoy staying on her lap, purring and allowing her to scratch his belly. “Aren’t you jealous?” Vanessa asked me.

 

 

By that time, I was asking myself the same. Every day, seeing the next portion of pictures and video clips, my vSO and I were, jokingly, exclaiming: “Traitor!” But while we acknowledged that we were somewhat jealous, the prevailing feeling was that we were happy that he befriended his stand-in (well, live-in) human and wasn’t lonely. For the first time in many years, while away on a long trip, I wasn’t missing Rusty so badly to want to cut the trip short. But still, I was pining for his company, his fluffy tail, his “meow” language that he trained my vSO and me to understand and the smell of his warm fur.

I rarely read reviews for perfumes that I haven’t tried because I don’t want reviews to influence my impressions of them when I finally test them. But since I usually do not care for hand-made perfumes and rarely get to try them, I read two inspiring reviews for Bengale Rouge, the latest creation by Liz Moores of Papillon Perfumes, published by my friends – Tara (A Bottled Rose) and Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume). I wasn’t paying much attention to notes but I did remember that it was “about the cat” or “Your Cat But Better.” So, when Vanessa shared her sample with me, even though normally I would have preserved “a sample in the hand” for later while fully exploring all opportunities provided by London, missing my cat, I started testing this perfume almost immediately.

I thought I was predisposed to like this perfume. I was wrong: I loved it. Since then I looked up the notes more than once (sandalwood, Turkish rose, honey, vanilla and sweet myrrh), and I still can’t really make them out. But does it really matter? Bengale Rouge is perfectly blended, elegant and complex perfume that purrs on my skin – maybe not as sweet as Rusty sitting on my lap but warm and comforting nevertheless.

When we returned home, Rusty behaved a little strange: he looked like he recognized us but still was not completely sure who we were, and he kept sniffing the air. And only after I showered, changed into clean clothes, put on Bengale Rouge and started smelling of home, Rusty conceded that he knew me.

Had Bengale Rouge been offered in smaller size, I would have bought it already. Actually, I was trying to buy a full bottle soon after coming home but, luckily, it was sold out everywhere I checked. Since the impulse has gone (and no full bottles are available yet anyway), I’ll probably try to buy a decant and then see if I need more. If I’m not the last one who tried it, I do recommend you, keeping up with a cat theme, get your paws on a sample: even if in the end you decide not to buy and wear Bengale Rouge, it’s one of the releases this year that is worth trying.

As I’m writing this, Rusty sits on my lap. And since he’s much more photogenic than an almost empty 1 ml vial of Bengale Rouge, and this post was “about the cat” at least as much as about perfume, I’ll finish this post with his picture – even though the only connection to Bengal cats he has is the animosity between him and a cute neighbor Bengal who comes to the door window from time to time to hiss at Rusty. On a couple of occasions Rusty and I formed a coalition and chased him away (well, I did while holding my indoor fluffy warrior).

 

Rusty on my lap

 

Images: my own

Summer Iris

While most of classifications, such as gender or seasonality, as well as more specific designations – genres, families and notes – are relatively abstract and often very subjective, we still use them, even when we break all the rules and wear heavily pronounced oriental perfumes in a heatwave or cheerful citrus number in the dead of winter.

In my mind iris perfumes belong to spring. It doesn’t mean that I don’t wear them all year round, especially considering our local weather, and I had a full winter month of iris perfumes (do you remember last year’s Februiris (©Lucas)?), but mentally I place my favorite Chanel No 19, Prada Infusion d’Iris or Ramon Monegal Impossible Iris somewhere in March, maybe April when their warmth and cool duality perfectly matches an early Spring weather (or, at least, my conceptual image of it).

 

Butterfly Iris

 

As it often happens in Perfumeland, I tried this perfume by chance: last year my occasional guest writer and perfume twin hajusuuri sent me Swarovski studded atomizer filled with Houbigant Iris des Champs. I do not remember the exact story of that atomizer but I think hajusuuri got it from a friendly SA with a purchase of something else, tried it and passed the remaining portion to me.

It was such a pleasant surprise! From the first time I sprayed Iris des Champs on I was charmed by it: it was a very subtle and beautiful floral composition with warm powdery iris nicely blended with Lily of the Valley, rose, jasmine and ylang-ylang (additional notes listed are bergamot, pink pepper, sandalwood, amber woody notes, vanilla and musk). I quickly finished the decant, refilled it from a bottle I bought soon after that and sent it back to the original owner.

 

Houbigant Iris des Champs

 

I do not think that Iris des Champs is not suitable for a colder weather: I wore it in December and enjoyed it very much. But either because I got my bottle in summer or it actually fits me better when it’s warm, but I consider Iris des Champs my summer iris. All those notes I listed above? I don’t know, if you tried this perfume, please tell me what you can smell besides iris. I think that a slight soapiness that I get comes from rose (and, strangely, I do not mind it here, even though usually it bothers me). And I could probably vouch for whatever could be considered very light amber. But beyond that you could take or leave any of the notes, and I’ll believe we’re still talking about the same fragrance (as I stated earlier, it’s abstract and subjective).

Iris des Champs is elegant, light and extremely office-friendly while not boring. You might not like it (I don’t think it’s everybody’s darling) but I find it original and unusual enough to have it in one’s collection if you happen to like it. Also, the packaging is nice, and price is more than reasonable if you do not mind shopping at discounter sites.

 

Rusty and Houbigant Iris des Champs

 

Images: my own

Yuzu Overload

I came across Demeter Fragrance Library more than 10 years ago while searching for a linden perfume. First I was inspired by the number of different perfumes they offered (as I was researching the brand online) and then completely disappointed by the simplicity of their creations, once I tried some of them at Sephora. Since then I tried several of them, even bought a couple (they were $5/30 ml at TJ Max, so I couldn’t resist but I use them as a room spray), but since then I never considered that brand again for personal perfume.

I’ve never been a huge marmalade fan. Most likely, because those that I tried were too over-processed to the degree where it was just sugar syrup soured by citric acid. But also because it was so far from what I used to love as a child. When I was growing up, lemons were scarce: as with a lot of other things and produce, one had to be in the right place at the right time to buy some. So, of course, nobody would be buying just one or two lemons if they were to happen upon them. But since lemons did not keep well for too long, I remember my grandmother slicing them, mixing with sugar and storing in a jar. And since no heat was involved into creating these preserves, they still smelled and tasted very natural.

 

Citrus and Honey Tea

 

So when a friend offered something that was called Yuzu Hot & Cold Tea and looked like most citrus store-bought marmalade I’d tried before, I was skeptical, but being a polite guest I got a couple of spoons… WOW. I’ve never eaten or smelled a real yuzu fruit before, so I have no comparison point, but that Yuzu “tea” was so fragrant that I wasn’t sure whether I should eat it or slather over my pulse points.

Since then couple of times my friend managed to get me that “tea” from some San Francisco store, but we don’t see each other often enough to make it a steady delivery channel, so I tried to find it around where I live first and then online – without much luck. I don’t remember how exactly I came across Yuzu Marmalade on Amazon, but I decided to give it a try – even though it was a different jar (much smaller) and it wasn’t “tea.” Luckily for me, it was exactly the same taste and aroma. So now I keep ordering it online, even though $11-12 for a 10oz (300g) jar seems a little steep.

Recently, while running a search to see if any other online retailers had it cheaper or in a bigger jar, I discovered that Demeter had perfume called Yuzu Marmalade. Of course I wanted to try it! While I was thinking of checking if Sephora still carried the line, a kind NST’er offered to send me her small spray bottle of this perfume, with which she wasn’t that enamored. From her I got also the idea of the post title, as she wrote in her note:

Not my favorite frag, but I like the experiment of yuzu marmalade overload–in fragrance and on toast.

Despite not that glowing recommendation, I had high hopes: not because Demeter makes great perfumes, but because how hard could it be to create an artificial citrus scent representing just one note, right? Demeter did it so many times to other notes, often relatively convincing even if not the most naturally smelling. I’m surprised to report that Demeter failed miserably: not only Yuzu Marmalade wasn’t even close to that zesty and aromatic marmalade that I had in my mind’s nose, but it barely might be classified as a citrus scent. All I can smell is that over-processed orange marmalade’s flat sweetness. Extremely disappointing.

I’m not even sure if I really want to wear yuzu soliflore, but I would love to find perfume where it’s recognizable. Any recommendations?

 

 

Images: Lemons from my friend’s recipe, (if you’re into cooking, I highly recommend looking through her blog); the rest – my own

Change of Plans

For some perfumes you have a mental picture. For me Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess is strongly connected to a tropical vacation, Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt is a stroll on a NorthCal beach, and Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles reminds me of Christmas. And I always associated Ormonde Jayne Tsarina with winter and snow. Why? Beats me. Until last week I haven’t ever worn it in cold weather. Probably, some cultural stereotypes: tsarina -> Russia -> winter -> bears… OK, the last part has nothing to do with perfume but you got the picture.

Winter

Being not a morning person, I try to plan all of my trips to start not too early and prepare everything in advance. So for this New Year’s trip to New Mexico, with a flight scheduled in the afternoon and all our suitcases packed the night before, I felt pretty good: all I had left to do in the morning was to figure out what perfumes to take with me and pack them – after I slept in on my first day of vacation.

That morning, on December 28th, I haven’t heard anything because of the Do Not Disturb mode on my phone, but something made me check it out before it was time to get up. Text messages from the friends who were joining us on this trip from Texas urged me to contact them. A series of calls and messages between them and the other couple in our party painted not an optimistic picture: our friends got from Austin to Dallas, where they learned that their next flight was cancelled… until the New Year Eve. And even though the four of us from California could still fly into the airport 2.5 hours’ drive away from the destination, weather advisory for the area didn’t recommend traveling to there because of the strong snow storm, and our friends from Texas couldn’t get their luggage back from the airline to even attempt driving to the rented house in New Mexico.

It was shaping up to become a disaster instead of a pleasant holiday with friends, so we had to figure out something quickly. We changed everything and had just a couple of hours to get tickets to Austin (luckily, our friends could accommodate four more people at their house), rent a car, re-pack suitcases (clothes suitable for 5F/-15C mountain retreat would be out of place in a mild Texan winter) and choose perfumes for the trip. And same as wool underwear and snow boots, Tsarina didn’t get to accompany me to Austin because it seemed not quite right for the weather there.

Everything came together nicely, and we had wonderful time with our friends, but it was the second New Year trip where I didn’t wear Tsarina even though I planned to: since I was sick during my last year’s trip, I haven’t got to experience Tsarina in cold weather then as well. But at least last year with my friend’s help I managed to get an appropriate winter picture with it.

Ormonde Jayne Tsarina

On my recent short trip to the East Coast I finally managed to find the right weather to wear Tsarina: there was no snow but it was cold-cold-cold! And Tsarina was just right then and there.

Tsarina was created in 2012 for Ormonde Jayne by Geza Shoen. Official notes: mandarine, bergamot, coriander, cassis, hedione, freesia, jasmine, sambac, iris, suede, sandalwood, cedar, vanilla bean, labdanum and musk.

Tsarina is very polite suede, iris and amber perfume with each of the three named players being even more timid than the previous one. I’m not sure what the brand meant when describing it as “a powerhouse perfume” but on my skin Tsarina is gracious and well-behaved – as a true royalty. I wish iris and amber were more prominent but probably for that I’ll have to turn to Tsarina‘s relatives – Ormonde Woman and Vanille d’Iris.

If you haven’t tried this perfume yet and want to know more, read this review by Kafka, who is responsible for Tsarina in my collection: not only she did that nice review but she also shared a sample with me. And I liked it enough to buy travel sprays.

 

Images: my own