“All that is gold does not glitter…”: Parfums Dusita Le Pavillon d’Or

As I started writing this post, it dawned on me how prescient were the lines that inspired Pissara Umavijani to create Le Pavillon d’Or: “… to live more happily in just any confinement” (Montri Umavijani, a Thai poet and the perfumer’s father). In just several months after the perfume release, the whole World suddenly had to slow down and start learning how to live in confinement and if not be happier but at least survive.

Le Pavillon d’Or is very fitting to the circumstances: it is not manifestly shiny, so you don’t have to rationalize to yourself wearing it while working from the kitchen table or blitzkrieging through a grocery store in search of TP, but it possesses an internal beauty that elevates your spirit and contributes to the feeling of well-being and… well, happiness.

Dusita Parfums Pavillon d'Or

Do you remember how Parfums Dusita brand appeared on the scene? It came seemingly from nowhere around 2015, released 3 perfumes by a new perfumer, and those perfumes were offered at a price point that not that many niche brands dared to put on their price tag back then. Especially not those without some history/standing in the community or at least done by renowned “noses.”

While I do not think that perfumes (or any luxury goods for that matter) should be accessible or even reasonable in their price setting, I remember being slightly annoyed by that launch. (Little did I know that from that point on there will be dozens of brands springing up like mushrooms and flooding the market with perfumes at astounding prices.)

But since back then many blogs that were reviewing and discussing new perfume launches were still around, I got curious about the brand because of the general buzz those reviews created. So, as soon as I got a chance, I tried those first three perfumes and … let me put it this way: I still didn’t get either the prices or the buzz. I guess, the fact that two out of the first three perfumes were built around ingredients I usually dislike (agarwood and tuberose) didn’t help.

The next three perfumes that were released I found interesting, but I didn’t want to wear any of them – so, I decided that Parfums Dusita wasn’t “my brand” and could have never tried another perfume from this brand if it weren’t for my perfumista friends. Cynthia (The Fragrant Journey), after in comment to her wonderful review, I expressed interest in testing Le Pavillon d’Or, had shared with me the remaining portion of her tiny sample. And it was enough for me to fall in love with Le Pavillon d’Or.

Dusita Parfums Pavillon d'Or

I’m a little confused with the notes for Le Pavillon d’Or. The brand’s site has the following list (explanations in parentheses are mine): Wild Menthe Citrata (bergamot mint), Honeysuckle Extrait, Boronia Absolute, Frankincense Green Sacra, White Thyme Oil, Vanilla, English Oakwood and Sandalwood Spicata (Australian sandalwood). I do not smell mint, but Cynthia in the review linked to above shares what she discovered about the ingredient used. Fragrantica, Luckyscent and the perfumer’s older posts on Instagram also mention fig leaves, heliotrope and orris butter. I wouldn’t recognize heliotrope (in general, not specifically here), but I thought that I know both fig and iris enough to distinguish them in the composition, and I can’t. So, I’m not sure if they are there, were there before but not anymore, or if they are created by some other ingredients that I don’t recognize as such. Le Pavillion d’Or starts as a very green perfume – a tad herbal, slightly bitter and somewhat uplifting. It develops through sheer resinous frankincense into a woody base, though my nose isn’t sophisticated enough to recognize which wood. But when you like what you smell, it doesn’t really matter what you smell, does it?

Rusty and Dusita Parfums Pavillon d'Or

The pavilion is golden not because it’s made of gold. Imagine a late-Spring morning when a rising sun reflects in dewdrops on the wooden beams of a pavilion making them sparkle through the leafy branches of the old tranquil park.

 

Images: my own

A Gift Horse’s Mouth?

When was the last time you won anything at all? How about anything big? (It is kind of an introduction, but I am curious, so please share if you can.)

A couple of days ago I got a winning lottery scratcher from a local realtor with whom I’ve never had any dealings, but who keeps sending those red envelopes every year for the Chinese New Year. I’m not sure why: neither of us is Chinese, and she never recognizes any other holidays, for example, Christmas or New Year. But since she sends them, I dutifully scratch them. I haven’t won anything in the last 10 years. Until this year. I won $2 (two dollars!). I have no idea where I could get my prize, and My vSO suggested just to keep it for good luck. So, after persuading Rusty that he would get a treat if he stares into my phone camera for a couple of seconds, I put the ticket back into the envelope and pinned it to my documents board.

Rusty and Lottery Ticket

Last Saturday I asked you about giveaways you do not (or do) enter. One of the rules that I usually follow but forgot to mention is that I do not participate in social media giveaways that require providing my personal information, especially if it would be linked to my social media profiles that I try to keep separate from my RL persona. So, when a couple of months ago on IG I saw a draw for a gift certificate to one of the online perfume stores, which required my real name and address, I almost passed it by… but then realized that not only I could participate in it outside of IG, but also I’ve recently purchased perfume from that store, so none of the information that was required for the entry was new to them. I entered and forgot about it.

You can probably imagine my shock when in one of my Undina social accounts I saw a post that announced me, a person, as a winner. The first second I thought it was some type of a clever targeted/personalized ads that insert something saved in your cookies. I never click on those but do notice them. But then I worked out that it was quite unlikely that information was available to be used like that… and the next day I got an official confirmation in the email that my entry – one of more than 100K submitted – in fact, won the prize. $200 to buy whatever I want in the store.

I do not have an extensive wish list, if any. Given that sum of money to spend wherever I want, I would have probably come up with an idea or two. But trying to figure out what to get from a particular store proved to be an undertaking. I know, I know, it’s not even a First World problem. But I didn’t want to get just anything because I’m not good at either swapping or selling anything, so I’d be stuck with whatever I got.

After going back and forth, I decided on a bottle of perfume that was in my Top 10 Perfumes in 2020L’Aimee by Parfums MDCI. As of the time of that post, I liked it but didn’t plan on buying it. But as I tested it again (before I knew I won the prize), I liked it even more. And I didn’t have any perfumes from this brand in my collection. So, it seemed like a good choice, and I got that bottle just in time to think of it as my birthday present from the Universe.

If you were in this hobby 8-10 years ago, most likely you remember perfumistas being excited about the next new launch from Parfums MDCI but being conflicted about the “special edition” that for about $150 on top of the not that affordable regular bottle price offered a resin bust bottle cap. But since that additional decorative part wasn’t the only available option, its existence didn’t cause any high emotions. Those busts looked quite nice, and I remember thinking that “maybe one day…” If you’re interested, I found a story about these busts creation and inspiration.

Parfums MDCI

Parfums MDCI stand in Harrod’s

L’Aimee, created in 2020 by Nathalie Feisthauer for the brand’s new series “Painters and Perfumes,” isn’t offered in the “bust presentation,” so I wasn’t even tempted. But also, I didn’t expect what I got.

The box itself is made from very thin and flimsy cardboard. I don’t like the quality of the print, and it can’t even be argued that it’s a reproduction of an older painting because the same print on the bottle itself looks much nicer.

The insert for protecting the bottle and holding it in place looks cheap, and on top of that it’s cut the way that you cannot open or close the top flip without moving insert itself out of the box partially – you can see where that top part stops otherwise, and there is no possibility to close it (those uneven edges in the round hole are results of my attempts to do so).

And to add insult to injury, the bottle cap is beyond cheap. I didn’t take a picture, and it’s not obvious from photos, but it’s made from an extremely light and cheap-looking plastic painted in gold. It doesn’t have any heft when you hold it in your hand. It doesn’t have either a magnetic closure or a nice “gripping” layer inside that would normally snuggle the sprayer.

I compared them side by side and discovered that L’Aimee bottle and box are amazingly similar to those of Mimosa perfume by Monotheme Fine Fragrances Venezia sent to me as a gift by Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle). It does not sit well with me that perfume 75 ml of which retails for $250 has a packaging of a $50 perfume.

 

 

But what about the most important part, the perfume itself, you might still be curious even after all the points stated above?

I like L’Aimee. I wonder where Fragrantica gets their notes, but their list is more “colorful” than the one I can see on the brand’s site. I’m not sure if Fragrantica embellishes or clarifies, but many of the ingredients on their list are accompanied by the origin qualifier (e.g., it’s not just “jasmine” but “Egyptian jasmine” or “Australian sandalwood” instead of just “sandalwood”). I’ll go with the brand’s list: bergamot, mandarin, blackcurrant bud, rose, jasmine, champaca, lily-of-the-valley, orange, heliotrope, orris, raspberry, peach, cedarwoood, vetyver, patchouli, amyris, oakmoss, sandalwood, vanilla, amber and musks.

I often state that my nose isn’t sophisticated enough to pinpoint specific notes in perfumes, even when I have a list of those in front of me. But with this perfume, I would expect that all but very experienced “sniffers” wouldn’t be able to do much better. It’s a perfect blend that can be appreciated (or not) as a whole.

L’Aimee is done as a classic perfume – well-rounded, without unexpected twists or complex development. I’m not saying that it’s linear. No, it has noticeable development during its lifespan (it is quite tenacious), but it is an expected progression of the scent living on your skin, without any surprises. The composition seems muted, which you don’t expect after reading the list of notes. But the way I visualized it in my head (and it is not based on any scientific knowledge of the process, just an image): if you were to take a couple of dozen of paints from a painter’s palette and mix them all, you’d end up with some kind of a brown color, more or less mudded (dependent on what went into the mix). So, this overly polite blend of 20+ notes reminds me of that paint-mixing experiment.

L’Aimee is not a controversial perfume: I don’t expect either a strong “dislike” or “love” for it. To be fair, it doesn’t go into the territory of “pleasant scent” either, where anyone at least does not mind wearing it. I mean that it is complex enough not to be a universal pleaser, which (I realize that) might be a good thing only in perfumista’s book, but I wanted to mention it.

Do I regret getting L’Aimee? No. Since I like the fragrance itself, I still think it was a good choice as a gift. Would I recommend it? Given a chance (meaning “for free”), try it – just out of interest and to see that I was right in its description. As to buying it… I would have never paid full price for it, even before I had a chance to look at the packaging: I think it is not… well, controversial or even “just pleasant” enough to justify that price. But even with enough money to spend on any, even the quietest and simplest perfume, I would still say “No.” Because, in my opinion, when a luxury brand while selling luxury products at a luxury price cuts corners this way, they disrespect me as a customer. And to afford that they should be releasing more than a blurred classic-painting-themed illustration (I’m talking not about the box).

MDCI L'Aimee

As to the really big wins (just “material” ones – happiness, health an other more important things highly appreciated but not counted here), many-many years ago I won in the Green Card Lottery.

 

Images: my own

Evening Water

Sisley Paris isn’t one of the brands I’m closely familiar with: their skincare prices were always outside of my budget, and their makeup has never been considered anything to aspire to (at least, I haven’t read or heard any accolades for their lipsticks or mascaras). So usually I was passing by that counter at the local Neiman Marcus without even stopping.

And then I got a tiny mini bottle of Eau du Soir in a subscription box, and that was the first time I though about approaching this brand’s perfumes at a store counter to try it sprayed. I liked it and contemplated getting it one day if I found it cheaper at a discounter site. But I was in the very beginning of my niche perfumes exploration discovering plenty of great perfumes every month, so there was no urgency.

And then one day a travel bottle of Eau du Soir was offered for a swap, and I got it in exchange for some niche decants. Several years later I thought the bottle spoiled, and I stopped wearing it. But since the bottle was nice – a small round bottle with that recognizable sculptured cap and a suede pouch – so I couldn’t make myself to through it away… When I tested it a week ago, I was amazed: I can’t smell there any more the qualities that persuaded me those years ago that it was off. I can’t explain it since it couldn’t have been wasn’t just in my head: on both occasions I compared it to the same mini bottle. Nevertheless, I put that round travel bottle back into the active rotation part of my collection. Though, I might still prefer a dab application from the mini bottle.

Sisley Eau Du Soir mini bottle

Recently, when I decided to join Mmkinpa in her “Mini Monday” Instagram sub-project, I was surprised once again by how much I liked Eau du Soir and felt slightly guilty for discounting it because of the perceived issues with that travel bottle. So, I decided to write about it again.

If you were to run a search, you’d see that Eau du Soir usually gets quite high ratings on different sites, both mainstream and more niche oriented. But at the same time, for perfume publicly released more than 20 years ago (created in 1990, until 1999 it said to stay as a personal perfume of Countess Isabelle d’Ornano), it hasn’t got too many blog reviews. And I have a feeling that had Eau du Soir been released by a niche brand, it would have been much more spoken about.

Eau du Soir is green chypre that reminds me Chanel No 19 EdT and not only in the notes combination but also in that sharpness of the scent that is present in No 19 EdT but is much rounder and smoother in EdP or extrait.

Every time I put it on, I wish it were just slightly less harsh in the opening, but half an hour later it smooths out and smells very classy and elegant. It might lean just slightly feminine but not even remotely close to requiring any audacity from a man to wear it. But regardless of your gender perfume preferences, if you are not familiar with Eau du Soir and decide to try it, make sure to apply it very sparingly: it’s extremely tenacious, so you better like it!

Rusty and Sisley Eau Du Soir

If you have tried Eau du Soir, do you like it? If you haven’t, why?

 

Images: my own

My Long Road to Houbigant

We all have some brands that for whatever reason stay out of our realm of interest despite appearing on our radar one way or the other. And then one day…

* * *

Almost half a lifetime ago, my father who came from the US to visit me in my native country, brought me a present – Raffinee by Houbigant. Back then it was a very valuable gift (from the U.S.!), I didn’t have too many perfumes (two, maybe three), and all I could afford to buy was maybe one more mini bottle if that. And still, I didn’t like Raffinee to the extend that I wouldn’t want to wear it even from time to time, as a daily scent, to save my more precious perfumes for a special occasion. So, after a while, I passed that bottle onto my older friend and kind of a mentor, thanks to whom I eventually abandoned the idea of a signature scent and started exploring different perfumes. She loved Raffinee and was happy to re-home it.

I completely forgot both that perfume and the brand and have never thought about it either in my pre-perfumista years in the US or even after this hobby expanded my perfume horizons. Until one day I found myself on the sniffathon in San Francisco with a fellow-perfumista. She was extremely excited about the re-release of Quelques Fleurs l’Original by Houbigant that we could try at Nordstrom. I didn’t mind going there since that Nordstrom carried many other interesting brands and, what was even more attractive, allowed you to make samples without having to “dance” for 10-15 minutes before that with an SA. We went there, tried everything we wanted, made a dozen of samples each and went on our way. Since my partner in crime was so enamored with Quelques Fleurs, I made a sample of it as well. I tried it at home, thought it was nice, put the sample away to retry at some point… and completely forgot about it for the next three years. When I came back to it, my sample almost completely evaporated. The last half-drop that I tried was quite nice but not enough to form an opinion. So, once again, I stopped thinking about Houbigant.

And then hajusuuri sent me a decant of Iris des Champs, and I fell in love with it (I told a story of my Summer Iris here). That brought the brand to the foreground of my interest. But the only other bottle that I saw in the store – Quelques Fleurs Royale – seemed too simple for the price asked at the department store, and the counter was so uninviting… so I didn’t even test it.

And then on the next trip to the store I saw this bottle…

My cat Rusty's tail and Houbigant Quelques Fleurs Royale Collection Privee

Quelques Fleurs Royale Collection Privee (QFRCP). I tried it and immediately fell in love with it. Fragrantica’s notes don’t match those given on the brand’s site, so let’s go by what the brand has reported:
HEAD NOTES: Blackcurrant, Grapefruit.
HEART NOTES: Jasmine Absolute, Rose Absolute, Violet, Tuberose Absolute, Beeswax Absolute.
BASE NOTES: Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Musk

What can I smell in QFRCP? Probably a bright citrus-y rose (it reminds me of my favorite Rose d’Amour by Annick Goutal). Maybe, just maybe I can agree about black currant, but it’s in there not in the Enchanted Forest’s concentration, but rather as it usually smells in niche perfumery when the note is listed. That’s it. I’m not saying that it’s a simple fragrance with just a couple of notes. On the contrary, QFRCP smells quite rich and complex. But even when I’m smelling it with my wrist glued to my nose and eyes scanning the list of notes, I cannot dissect the composition. I disagree though with several reviewers on Fragrantica who smell amber in this perfume.

Cat Rusty and a bottle of Houbigant Quelques Fleurs Royale Collection Privee perfume

I bought this bottle in 2019 when Neiman Marcus had its first on my memory 20% off fragrances and cosmetics sale. I know that it’s not something unusual for my European readers since I know that large department stores in many countries used to have beauty sales periodically. But for many years here, all stores – regardless of their luxury meter readings – were selling beauty products strictly for MSRP without any discounts offered ever. The only way one could get some of those brands’ products cheaper was Duty-Free shops, brands’ outlet stores, or when they went to online discounters. There were Value Sets, Gifts With Purchase or Gift Card Events (e.g., spend $100 get a $20 GC for future use). But never %% off. I think that Sephora was the first who started their yearly Friends & Family events that allowed customers to buy high-end cosmetics and fine fragrances with 15-20% off. But in recent years, even before the pandemic, these large stores have capitulated, and I saw several sales from each of them. But that NM sale was the first one I experienced, so I just had to take an advantage of it, haven’t I? But back to perfume.

Houbigant Quelques Fleurs Royale Three Versions

I think Houbigant did something extremely strange with the marketing of this perfume. Look at the picture above: all three are 100 ml of Quelques Fleurs Royale. The first one on the left is Quelques Fleurs Royale EdP. It retails for $200 but can be found much cheaper online. The next one – Quelques Fleurs Royale Collection Prevee (or, as it’s called on some sites, Quelques Fleurs Royale Extreme), the perfume that Rusty and I welcomed to my collection, retails for $285, and I’m not sure I’d trust the site that offers it less than 50% off the price. And the last bottle is Quelques Fleurs Royale Parfum with an eye-popping price tag of $600. The notes listed for all three are identical. I don’t think I tested the first one (as I said, I didn’t like the bottle), but I got a sample of parfum from the SA who were more than happy to oblige a paying customer and wore the two – Privee/Extreme and Parfum – in parallel. I didn’t notice any significant difference in either scent or longevity of the two. So, with almost identical bottles, the same volume and a very similar scent, I’m not sure how the brand justifies more than doubled price. But as always in such cases, I assume they know something I don’t.

Meanwhile, I enjoy wearing Quelques Fleurs Royale Collection Prevee very much. It is a very beautiful and pronounced floral feminine scent. It doesn’t mean that a man cannot wear it – I’m just mentioning it as a characteristic for those who prefer their perfumes that way (as I do) or, the opposite, tries to steer clear of those. These days every perfume is an everyday scent, but I wouldn’t probably wear more than a moderate spritz or two to an office where people don’t wear masks.

Rusty and Houbigant Quelques Fleurs Royale Collection Privee

That was a long way to accepting the brand. I think I’d like to try several more perfumes from this Collection Privee whenever I’m able to go to the store again because a cursory sniff of a couple of them left good impression (and having Jean-Claude Ellena and Luca Maffei behind those newer offerings didn’t hurt either). I wonder though: would I have liked that Raffinee today?

 

Images: all but 3 bottles (compiled from the official product pictures) – my own

Review by Christine W: Several Patous, Old(ish) and New

Dear friends and readers, let me introduce to you the latest addition to the ULG contributors: Christine W, a guest writer from Melbourne, Australia. Having collected vintage perfume for over a decade, Christine finally took the plunge and came out with her first-ever blog post. I hope we won’t scare her away, and she’ll fill the gap of vintage perfumes coverage on this blog. Undina

* * *

Seven years ago, Maison Jean Patou released Collection Héritage; reworkings of nine of the house’s much older fragrances. While stocks last, they can be found online for a fraction of the original price. In 2019, when LVMH bought Jean Patou, the new owners discontinued production of Patou fragrances. Since then, fragrance fans have been snapping up the remaining stock of classics such as Joy, Sublime and 1000. But are the more obscure Collection Héritage scents also worth buying? Are they anything like the earlier fragrances upon which they were based? I will attempt to answer these questions by comparing seven of the Collection Héritage scents with their corresponding, older Ma Collection versions. The prices I mention are based on my location in Australia. If you are in another country you might pay more, or less, than I did.

Before my reviews, I need to outline what I will be comparing.

The Collection Héritage (CH) series consists of nine 100ml EDPs released in 2013 and 2014. Patou’s last in-house perfumer, Thomas Fontaine, composed each of them as re-imaginings of older “archived” Patou scents of the same name. The series (in random order) comprises: Adieu Sagesse, Colony, L’Heure Attendue, Chaldée, Que Sais-Je?, Vacances, Deux Amours, Eau de Patou and Patou Pour Homme. I am not reviewing the last two because I didn’t buy them.

The Ma Collection (MC) series was released in 1984. Consisting of 12 fragrances (which I own as a boxed set of minis, pictured below with its accompanying book), these were themselves re-workings of selected early Patou scents created between 1925 and 1964, mostly by in-house perfumer, Henri Alméras (1892-1965). The MC recreations were composed by Jean Kerléo, who had taken over from Alméras in 1967. The MC scents that I will examine for comparison have the same names as the first six listed above, plus Amour Amour (the original name for Deux Amours). In case you were wondering, these MC titles didn’t make the cut for CH: Moment Supréme, Cocktail, Divine Folie, Normandie and Caline.

Patou Ma Collection boxed set

To supplement (and guide) my impression of each CH scent and its corresponding MC version, I will include notes lists from Fragrantica (unless otherwise noted) and information supplied with packaging.

So, let’s dive in!

Continue reading

Twice into the same pond*…

Do you remember those times when all Jo Malone perfumes were done in standard transparent bottles with black and white labels and silver caps? They were absolutely uniformed, and the only visual difference was in the name.

 

Jo Malone Perfumes

 

And then twelve years ago Jo Malone released the Kohdo Wood collection. It was a limited edition collection that included two perfumes – Lotus Blossom & Water Lily and Dark Amber & Ginger Lily. The first one came in Jo Malone’s traditional clear bottle with the only difference that the label was transparent. And the second one… The second one was a perfection: a beautiful black bottle with a black label. Especially cute it was in a 30 ml format. As far as I know, it was the first colored bottle for the brand (Cologne Intense collection appeared two years later).

 

 

I liked both perfumes, but back then I wasn’t familiar yet with the limited-edition concept, so by the time I decided to buy them, both were long gone. I hunted down and bought on eBay Lotus Blossom & Water Lily, but all I could get for Dark Amber & Ginger Lily was a decant. So, whenever I would find myself at a Jo Malone counter, I would be asking SAs about that perfume, telling how great it was and what a pity it got discontinued. For a while it was rumored that Jo Malone would bring Dark Amber & Ginger Lily back… and despite all odds three years later they did! I’m telling myself that my voice (well, multiple voices since I did it at different stores with different SAs) made a difference, and I contributed to the brand’s decision to re-release it. Unfortunately, by that time they’ve already had that Cologne Intense collection with all black bottles and only 100 ml (now they have 50 ml as well), so since they didn’t have that 30 ml black bottle that I liked so much, in addition to my decant, I bought their smaller promotional 9 ml bottle – and it’ll be enough for me for a while.

Several years ago, I discovered that my bottle of Lotus Blossom & Water Lily had turned. Since most of the other bottles that I bought myself, many earlier than this one, were still fine, I wasn’t sure whether the issue was with how the previous owner stored it, or if it was perfume itself that had an unstable formula. And because of that I felt reluctant to buy another bottle from eBay. But I liked Lotus Blossom & Water Lily so much that I kept checking Jo Malone’s site hoping to catch it in their Archives collection. No luck so far. (Did you know about it? Only from their site you can order some of the previously discontinued perfumes, including my favorite French Lime Blossom.)

And then a couple of months ago Jo Malone released two perfumes – Yuja Cologne and Waterlily Cologne.

I couldn’t wait for stores to open (and I was right: you still can’t test any perfumes there) and bought 9 ml bottles of both.

I wrote about Yuja in my In the Search for the Perfect Yuzu post. As to the Waterlily

Do you remember Jo Malone used to release from time to time perfume combining sets with one full bottle of their scent and a couple of small bottles of additional notes that could be layered with the main perfume to create a more unique combination. Those additional “notes” were very nice and pleasant but even more simplistic than the main line Jo Malone perfumes, if you can imagine that. Waterlily Cologne reminds me of those “additional notes.” I like the opening: to my nose it has galbanum in it, though it isn’t listed anywhere (official notes: neroli, waterlily and white musk), but in the development it’s very simplistic and just doesn’t want to stay on my skin. I’ll use up my small bottle, but it’s not something I need in my collection, and it doesn’t remind me of Lotus Blossom & Water Lily at all.

But Jo Malone was adamant to continue tempting me: recently they’ve released two more new perfumes – Fig & Lotus Flower and Cypress & Grape Vine. Not only the first one had that “lotus” part in the name that filled me with hope that this one will be “it,” but also the second one was a part of the Cologne Intense collection, hence a black bottle).

 

Jo Malone Fig & Lotus Flower and Cypress & Grape Vine

 

With stores still closed, I just had to buy those cute travel bottles from eBay. So, was the second time a charm? Not really.

I like Fig & Lotus Flower, especially in the opening. It’s a pleasant and light fig perfume, and sometimes in development I can smell vetiver. I don’t know how lotus flower smells, but in this perfume I don’t smell what I perceive as a lotus note in several other perfumes, my illusive favorite Lotus Blossom & Water Lily included. I also compared Fig & Lotus Flower with my other Jo Malone favorite, Wild Fig & Cassis (also available from the Archives collection), which smells drier and more… grown-up (?) than a bright and uncomplicated new scent. I’ll wear Fig & Lotus Flower from my small bottle, but I don’t think I’ll want more after that.

Cypress & Grape Vine had nothing to do with my waterlily or lotus quest, but since I got it as a part of the set, I tested it as well. It is too masculine for me. Cypress & Grape Vine reminds me of very traditional men cologne. But if anyone likes that style, it’s very tenacious (and not just by Jo Malone standards). I’ll see if I like how it smells on my vSO, though it doesn’t seem like his style.

All-in-all, I should probably stop buying Jo Malone perfumes unsniffed, even in smaller bottles: while I still have many favorites from the brand, I rarely like their new creations. But I’ll be checking their Archives Collection hoping for the return of my original favorite.

 

Rusty and Jo Malone Fig & Lotus Flower and Cypress & Grape Vine

 

Images: Kohdo Wood collection – JM official; all others – my own.

 

* I know that I’ve previously used the allusion to this quote from Heraclitus, but the temptation was too strong.

Interlude Black Iris by Amouage. NEW! NEW! NEW!

Hey crew, It’s Portia in the Sydney spring sunshine.

What a lovely time of year down here. I was in Libertine Parfumerie (Australia’s most respected niche importer and distributor) offices the other day. It was so good to see everyone. Everything is being released by ZOOM meeting now, and we are all sent a package to sniff and join the conversation. It’s interesting but much more clinical discussion and little room for personal experiences or interaction. Got to sniff the new Amouage Renaissance Collection! Can’t wait to write about those for you. Also, I picked up my Press Bottle of today’s extravaganza, Interlude Black Iris. Yes, Amouage has released its first flanker of its most popular fragrance Interlude Man.

 

Interlude Black Iris

From Amouage:

Crafted as an overpainting, Interlude Black Iris uses a refined palette to smoothen the facets of the original creation. A complex interplay of dark stoic serenity and buried vibrant power bursting upwards, into the light…

Top: Bergamot, Rosemary, Violet Leaves
Heart: Orris, Amber, Frankincense, Cistus, Myrrh, Vanilla
Base: Leather, Agarwood Smoke, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Cedarwood

Right from open mixed with the zing of citrus and cool green of violet is the dry, dusty and earthy facet of iris. The opening is so fleeting on me I had to come back for a second and third round to really get an idea of how it flows. In the time it took me to write this paragraph we are already in the heart with all the resins surrounding and lifting the iris. At this point, the iris gets a buttery softness, and the resins start to feel very churchy. The cool heart of a busy, clean church with the memories of a thousands days of worship, incense, woods and their waxy clean/preservers.

I’m not sure if it’s the cistus, leather or oudh that brings darkness and a cold touch of otherworldliness to Interlude Black Iris. It descends like a whisper and then takes the iris to a carroty rootiness. GOSH! So interesting. It’s all this way in that I finally get a whiff of the green, herbal rosemary!

 

Amouage Interlude Black Iris Sept 2020

 

Dry down is a gentle woody melange with some patchouli and iris to give interest. Interlude Black Iris hums away quietly, nowhere near the beast mode power trip of the original Interlude. This is a refined, urbane, sophisticated journey. The word that I keep wanting to write is centered. Without being anything like it, I am reminded of the elegant aloofness and backbone inducing fortitude of CHANEL No 19. This is a much more 21st century niche offering, but the heart, the integrity of the scent seems similar to me.

I can’t wait to hear what you all think.

Portia xx

Portia’s Mid Season Beauties 2020

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

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Review by Narth: Penhalgion’s Belgravia Chypre

I hoped that after a while everybody gets used to seeing posts written by my guest-cum-co-bloggers Narth and Portia, but a couple of times recently when Narths posts were mistaken for mine, I decided for a while to add her name to the titles (and Portia is doing something along the line already) – at least until everyone learns to check the By line (Undina).

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I’ve always been someone who likes strong flavours. If a flavour must be delicate, it should be a work of art to make up for its delicacy. I was raised on robustness; mega garlic and onions, chillies, the darkest of pumpernickels. Food was praised in my childhood for how much of a flavour bomb it was. I didn’t eat sliced white bread until I was at least 15 as this was regarded as poison by one parent and pointless by the other. Why would you eat this when you could eat rye with caraway? Don’t people realize white flour is stripped of all its nutrients?

The last time I was travelling, I had a revelation as I sat in the hostel kitchen and ate my free breakfast. A slice of white toast, spread with margarine (an abomination) and some thin, sugary strawberry jam. At home I would have used butter, and my jam would have been either an expensive brand or, more likely, made by myself and intensely flavourful. Here, drinking some over stewed black coffee and munching away at this testament to blandness, I shocked myself by appreciating the very blandness itself. It wasn’t about beautiful simplicity in food, it was a sudden shift in my thinking from an almost religious belief that all food had to be purposefully wonderful. Now you could say this enjoyment of blandness was a byproduct of travelling, we all know that the McDonald’s breakfast you have at 5am in the airport is the best McDonald’s breakfast you’ll ever have. But it was more than that, and since returning home I’ve found myself enjoying food in a different way. Perhaps, the last snobbery of my upbringing has finally dropped off, or maybe I’m just a lame-o hipster. And of course, I’m still overthinking everything, but that’s what perfume people do. So, has this played out in perfume for me? Not as readily as with food, but there have been a few times my hostel breakfast has come to mind as I enjoy a scent.

Penhaligon’s Belgravia Chypre, a limited edition now making rounds of the discounters, has at its very heart a strange staleness. It’s pretty, clean and patchouli minty. A thin rose, it smells like old musk sticks left in the bottom of a paper bag. Musk sticks for the non-Antipodeans are pink, musk flavoured sweets that people are either delighted by or grimace at the sight of. Found in the corner shops for a few cents each, many an Australian childhood included buying this cheap candy and eating it out of little paper bags. Musk is a strange thing to use as a flavour if you haven’t grown up with it. In my perfume swapping days, I would often include some Musk flavoured Lifesavers as the “extras” in an overseas swap because it is such a surprising thing to try if you’ve never had it before. Belgravia Chypre dries down to a stale paper bag infused with the flattest of musks, and I absolutely love it. It’s become my favourite evening simple scent, when I want to wind down. It often makes me laugh because of that not very good musk note, and I would not wish it any other way. I think they were going for a sheer musk, but if they had achieved that, it would have lost all its personality for me and been just another musky rose.

Do you have any scents you appreciate for their failure to be exceptional?

 

Penhaligon's Belgravia Chypre

 

Penhalgion’s Belgravia Chypre (Fabrice Pellegrin, 2018)

Top Notes: Raspberry, Pink Pepper
Middle Notes: May Rose, Mate
Base Notes: Patchouli, Cistus labdanum

 

Image: my own

Zoologist Bee

Have you ever had a perfume note that was never center stage enough for you? A supporting note that warms, cools or brightens the star of the fragrance. You talk about how much you love the inclusion of that note, how wonderfully it is used! But the more you wear it the more you think: why can’t this note be the star? Always the bridesmaid, never the bride! In Zoologist Bee the main player is honey sodden beeswax, and all the floral attributes serve only to praise and fete the delightful waxiness.

I’ve found beeswax to be an elusive note in fragrance, I can remember only a few times being absolutely delighted by its presence. BPAL and Arcana perfume oils have scents with a beeswax note, but even while smearing on a generous amount of oil, I’ve always wanted it to be more intense. Penhalgion’s Sartorial has a waxy note designed to evoke the wax blocks used with thread by tailors, and I’ve huffed my arm trying to focus on those waxy, wonderful moments. I’ve found many honey perfumes are just sweetness without the wax, which doesn’t work for me. If you eat really excellent cold pressed honey, that wax note will be there.

When I was a child, my Dad would often bring home honeycomb, and I’d sit at the table spooning up great gobs of it, chewing away at the wax until only a tiny bit was left. Sometimes there was even a bee in the honeycomb! It was a far cry from squeezy bottles shaped like bears full of sugar syrup. Zoologist Bee is truly all about the bee and his creations. The floral notes capture that mouthwatering moment you try some fresh from the hive honey and marvel at how many flavours you can taste in it. Orange blossom, pollen, a resinous goodness, honey is a work of art. I’m honestly astonished to find all these beautiful tastes so vividly portrayed in this scent.

 

Zoologist Bee

 

Zoologist Bee (Cristiano Canali, 2019)

Top Notes: Orange, Ginger Syrup, Royal Jelly Accord

Middle Notes: Broom, Heliotrope, Mimosa, Orange Flower

Base Notes: Benzoin, Labdanum, Musks, Sandalwood, Tonka, Vanilla

Bee is quite linear. Potency gradually softening is the extent of the journey. And potent it is, no delicate wafting breeze here. This is a wonderful thing when beeswax is often only a bit player in a vanillic drydown. Is it too sweet? Is excellent honey too sweet? There’s your answer. It’s too sweet because it’s supposed to be. The only thing holding me back from acquiring a bottle is that I have yet to try Hiram Green‘s Slow Dive, another true beeswax and honey scent according to reviews. I’ve sniffed it once, and I suspect it is richer, while Bee is simpler. Both are very appealing, but I probably do not need two intensive honey and beeswax scents. I’m looking forward to our lockdown being over, someday, and being able to take myself off to the perfume shop and have a Slow Dive sniff.

And here’s an odd tidbit about Zoologist Bee. I have accidentally eaten some of this fragrance, and it tastes just like it smells! I honestly think you could make this into a liqueur or a gelato flavouring. This is not the first time I’ve accidentally eaten perfume, and usually it is a vile experience, so I was quite surprised.

 

Image: my own