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

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

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

Memo Tiger’s Nest

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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“A rabbit finds the tiger scary, whether it still has the teeth or not.”
Let’s Eat 2, episode 14

My friends, do you like tigers? I am not sure if many would say, “No, I do not care for such beasts.” I very much like tigers, in the way a little child likes a particular animal. I have one tiger tattoo (and a pussy cat, who all think themselves tigers). Is having a tiger tattoo tacky? Probably, but I do not care. If something brings you joy, enjoy it! Maybe your perfume was a huge sum you wouldn’t want to admit to friends, or maybe you bought it in a drug store. If you love it, it is beautiful. The same is true of tigers. Fine art or tacky emblem, I respect the image. Even in their dotage a toothless a tiger is still a tiger.

Memo Tiger’s Nest is one of those beautiful perfume bottles where you very much want to love the perfume inside to justify buying it. Having found myself tearing up at the beauty of the one Memo I owned, Shams Oud, I was hopeful. I’d been gifted a few samples of other Memos which I enjoyed. Very soon these things added up to a “you will blind buy this and you will do it fearlessly” conviction. Opening the box and feeling the heavy, enameled bottle with its beautiful beast I felt nothing but love. I have been rewarded tenfold for my leap of faith by the juice itself.

Memo Tiger’s Nest

Oil of Absinthe, Aldehyde, Lime, Amber, Safran, Incense absolute, Osmanthus, Ylang ylang, Rose, Papyrus, Vanilla, Balsam of Tolu

I’ve never been on the incense quest that many in perfume land pursue. I have some nice frankincense choices, and some weirder BPAL’s, and I do not need much else. I’m guilty of always wanting things to be more intense, to the point of possibly smelling like someone should call the fire marshal. Tiger’s Nest offers a different interpretation to my joss stick inferno fantasies. There’s a wonderful medicinal note weaving throughout this scent. Crushed leaves, a sticky frankincense mixed with camphor. Medicinal, it’s a thrilling note for perfume! In the middle of Tiger’s Nest there’s a lovely leathery floral with a sweet, warm rose. At this stage of wearing Tiger’s Nest I am getting a strong health food store vibe. Mother was a hippy and I spent many, MANY hours standing around health food stores as a child inhaling essential oils, wheat germ, raw blocks of eye watering soap and incense. Some incense perfumes smell only of the ingredients, Tiger’s Nest smells of the burning sticks as well. Underneath it all a gentle vanilla, lasting long into the drydown. Memo Tiger’s Nest is a very interesting scent and one you may find you bring your own associations to.

So, I am quite happy. I am enjoying my beautiful tiger bottle and its contents very much!

Memo Tiger's Nest

Image: Paintings are Korean Minhwa style tigers by Polish artist Małgorzata Bonas

Orto Parisi Stercus

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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The most sensual of aromas is the essence of a young raven
fed only boiled eggs for forty days, then killed and preserved
in myrtle and almond oil.
Tongue, by Kyung Ran Jo

Reading that quote my perfume loving friends are you not just dying to rub preserved raven all over your pulse points and inhale the magic? Let us take gourmands to the next level! Ridiculous and yet not ridiculous in the eyes (or copy) of some perfumers.

There is seemingly no end to permutations within current perfume trends. We’ll have rosy ouds and oudy roses and roses with stinky oud and clean oud with stinky roses. This one is rich! This one is sheer! This one has barely discernible notes and only if you squint! If a current perfume trend is something you dearly love then this can be quite enjoyable.You may have always wanted a rosy oud that was sparkling and a rosy oud that was liturgical. And then we have the creative perfumers who are here to help you discover things you never even knew you wanted.

So. Stercus means feces. I’m feeling for Undina who wasn’t fond of Lush’s name “Dirty” for their mint fragrance. I think if I send her a sample of this one I shall have to rename it. Undina for the love of fragrance do not look at the Orto Parisi website!

The perfume house Orto Parisi was created by the man behind Nasomotto, Alessandro Gualtieri. He introduces Orto Parisi with this bit of hyperbole: “The parts of the body that carry more smell are those where more soul is collected. The strong smells have become unpleasant to us, because the excess of soul is intolerable to the extent that our innate animalism is repressed and breaking from civilization.” But forget all that (I’m sure you have already!).

I once had a craft beer whose name I’ve forgotten that tasted intensely and immediately of too ripe bananas and smoked meats. It was so ridiculous and disgusting I announced to the pub that this brewery was surely trolling it’s patrons with this concoction. Having read the ad copy for Stercus before I obtained a bottle I was convinced that I was going to repeat this experience in perfume. I was wrong. I am IN LOVE with Orto Parisi Stercus. It is beautiful and rich and comforting and dramatic all at once. Orto Parisi won’t give out notes so these are all my own impressions from my love affair with Stercus. We have chocolate and camphor and rotten fruit and oud and a sugared croissant. There’s a sharp jasmine in the top notes that almost magically hovers over all the bakery oudy goodness warming this fragrance. It’s quite an original scent and the deft creativity impresses me. But what of the name? Let’s just say I understand the connection being drawn between the name and the fragrance. I am unable to summarily dismiss this idea even while thinking it is a pretentious attempt at getting attention. If this were an abstract painting entitled “Stercus” I would nod my head and think a good job had been done.

Given these times I was tempted to just cave to the copy and take a photo of Stercus on a row of precious, precious toilet paper. But I resist as Stercus is too beautiful to be pigeonholed by its silly ad copy. Too beautiful and too complex.

 

Joan Miro Painting

 

Photo is of my beloved Stercus and Joan Miró’s “Painting”.

Discoveries: A Perfume Story

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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Discovery sets. Do you buy them? They seem like a great idea. A decent amount of each juice thematically selected by a perfume house, often nicely packaged. Sadly though I have sworn off discovery sets. Invariably in a set of five I will love two, talk myself into maybe liking one and outright dislike two more. Then I sit there looking at my discovery set thinking about how it costs half the price of a nice fat bottle of the one I like the most. Math is cruel. Last time I bought one it was out of some weird guilt after having sniffed every last thing in a shop and taken up the owner’s time and conversation. I had been unable to decide on any of the sale items so I sprung for a discovery set of the illustrious candle maker Cire Trudon’s perfumes. Trudon has been making candles since 1643 and perfumes since 2017. As discovery sets go, this one beat the odds.There are three I like, one I have no need of and then the subject of this post, Trudon Deux/ II (2017).

Notes: green leaves, pine, juniper, Ambroxan, Cashmeran

Deux perfectly captures one of my nature loves, the dark, viscerally bitter greenness of so many plants. There’s pine, but it’s not a sweet pine, no cozy winter associations here. If you’ve ever tasted pine sap because it was so pretty and recoiled at its bitterness, this is that pine. Now I LOVE bitter things. Bitter beer, bitter foods. Just thinking about cruciferous vegetables makes my mouth water. It’s watering right now with the visions of broccoli, my best friend vegetable, that popped into my head when I typed “cruciferous”.

Since I was a small child, I have loved bitter flavours. My dad used to give me non-alcoholic beer in order to get me used to the taste. Yes, I realize how this sounds! He was a true foodie, and he wanted to make sure my palate was ready for anything. We ate grapefruit many a morning and of course we did not put sugar on it, the bitterer the better! Fresh, bright, rindy, pithy grapefruit. I was naturally attracted to bitterness, and this was encouraged. People who put sugar on their grapefruit were weak!

 

Trudon Deaux II

 

Deux is sharp, linear, dark green and bitter, bitter, bitter. It smells exactly like a plant, impressively so. I’m not one to ask “but is it perfume?” however this phrase did jump into my head while wearing it. Though I love to eat bitterness, it seems I do not love to smell it, a confusing and sad revelation. I have always tried with green perfumes because they seem like I should love them, my personality is whispering “make that your scent… yes that green sappy one…”. But I can’t do it, the more realistic and dark green the fragrance, the more it bothers me. I can love a fragrance that is a water colour in a green wash, such as Diorella, but once we’re in niche or vintage territory where true greenery is the point I have to sadly bow out.

If you are on a holy grail for greenness I do encourage you to try Trudon Deux/ II. It doesn’t bother with smelling like a beautiful woman in a forest, or even the whole forest. It’s crushed dark leaves and pine, bright and bitter and good.

 

Image: my own

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