Light and Shadows: Ineke Idyllwild

I’m a city person. I grew up in downtown of a big city, and I still would prefer to live in one of those. Moving to the Northern California suburbia wasn’t a conscious choice: work-related circumstances brought us here. But since we moved, San Francisco Bay Area became our home, and I love it.

There are many great things about this area but one of them that I want to mention in this post is that there are several great parks 30-90 minutes’ drive from where I live.

Idylwild, new perfume from the San Francisco-based brand INEKE, to my nose does not smell of any of the forests I’ve been to around here (and I’ve been to many different ones) but it perfectly evokes the image of California forest on a sunny day: as you follow the trail, you move from brightly sunlit areas through the mélange of light and shadows to dark patches and back to the bright openings.

 

 

Notes: rhubarb tea, grapefruit, lavender, Big Sur sagebrush, cypress, fir needle, cardamom, woods, oud and musk.

The moment I sprayed on Idyllwild, an unexpected association popped into my head: Christmas in July. Even if you’re familiar with the term, the association probably needs explaining.

This is one of those concepts, about which you are not aware until you either experience it yourself or come across it in some media. I grew up knowing about Christmas in the country that didn’t celebrate the “regular” one, let alone any other kind. After moving to the U.S., I embraced that holiday but until recently I haven’t heard about Christmas in July.

My knowledge about it came from the episode Murder Under the Mistletoe of the Australian series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Not everybody who celebrates Christmas lives in areas that have winter, snow and everything else that accompanies Christmas celebration in Northern Hemisphere – for example, where I live it never snows – so for our winter-for-winter-holidays fix we usually drive to mountains but otherwise feel content with a single Christmas celebration. But it made some sense that living on the opposite side of the globe and having winter weather but offset 6 months related to Christmas, somebody would come up with the second celebration.

Back to my association. Idyllwild smells like Christmas in July but in the area where I live – meaning, a hot July Christmas. Why? All those evergreens and cardamom in the notes vividly conjure Christmas but unlike other Chistmas-y perfumes, for example, Fille en Aiguilles, Idyllwild starts so bright and light and cheerful that white and cold winter is the last thing that comes to mind. Grapefruit is as juicy as it can be and while it is citrus, I associate it more with summer than with Christmas (unlike oranges and mandarins). As it dries down, it transitions from the sunny territory into the shadowy wood full of fir needles – though you can still “see” glimpses of “light.” I can’t smell agarwood – real or not – but it is a plus for me. Idyllwild is not the most tenacious perfume I wear but it’s not the least either.

 

Rusty and Ineke Idyllwild

 

Woody Aromatic perfumes aren’t “my thing”: until now I had just a travel bottle and a small decant in this genre. But somehow Idyllwild captured me from the first time I put it on. So soon after that a bottle has joined my collection.

Speaking of the bottle, this was my only disappointment about this perfume. Starting from the letter “E,” Ineke decorated each of the bottles so beautifully that I was looking forward to the arrival of my new bottle hoping for a nice forest-themed artwork. The bottle is still the same they used before but this time it’s back to “blank” bottle. Coupled with a slightly changed box – a generic box and a dust jacket with the perfume name on it instead of a “designated” printed box, it seems like the brand cheapened the packaging a little. But as long as they do not compromise on their scents quality, I won’t complain much.

 

Rusty and Ineke Idyllwild

 

I was almost ready to publish this post yesterday but I couldn’t finish working with pictures in time. Last thing before going to bed I checked my inbox and was surprised by a coincidence: Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) published his review of the same perfume. He liked it as well. You might want to check it out if you’re curious what the perfumer told him about this perfume in a private conversation.

 

Images: my own

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Second Sunday Samples: Berdoues Collection Grands Crus

Until recently I was familiar with Parfums Berdoues only from a couple of samples graciously sent to me by hajusuuri and Lucas’s (The Chemist in the Bottle) review. I haven’t seen this brand in any of the stores around or come across it during my recent European trip.

I didn’t know about their history, and, to tell you the truth, I don’t believe all that “since 1902 family owned” PR BS. I mean, I have no doubts that the brand was something owned by the family since whatever year it says but I doubt it was any perfume-related successful business before the current parent company decided they needed a “legitimate” niche brand under their wing. Not that it means anything to me one way or the other. It’s just a little curious how many brands with a century history started appearing in the recent years once the perfume industry started booming.

Anyway, this brand could have stayed just a record in my database if it weren’t for chocolatemarzipan, who mentioned how much she loved perfumes from Berdoues… just several dozen of times on NST, my blog and other places. So when I saw that Sephora online had that extremely appealing Discovery Set, I gave in.

Berdoues Perfumes Sampler

(see my new Sea Star Ratings explanation here)

Assam of India

The first time I tried it I immediately thought of one of my favorites – Jo Malone Assam & Grapefruit, which isn’t too surprising looking at the list of notes (here and going forward I dropped geographical descriptors): lemon, tea and sandalwood (Assam of India) vs. grapefruit, rhubarb, violet, Assam, cardamom, rose, almond, musk and patchouli (Assam & Grapefruit).

I tested them in parallel several times, and can confirm that they do smell similar, especially in the opening. Many years ago when I got Assam & Grapefruit as a gift, I wasn’t super-thrilled with it. Since then I changed my mind, and enjoy wearing it from time to time. So while I have it, I won’t need Assam of India. But since Jo Malone’s perfume was a limited edition, once my bottle is finished (or spoils), I won’t grieve much since Berdoues offers a perfect replacement – and Assam of India is priced much more reasonably.

Three and Half Sea Stars
=====

Somei Yoshino

I didn’t care for this perfume at all: it smells either nice but too simple or overly sweet and even unpleasant. Somei Yoshino might work better for you, so do not take my word – try it if you get a chance.

Official notes: shiso, patchouli and jasmine

One and Half Sea Stars
=====

Arz El-Rab

As it happens often, smelling perfume with a prominent note one immediately thinks of another perfume known for the same note. So while trying Arz El-Rab, I started drawing parallels between it and Diptyque Tam Dao. But since I own the latter, the next time I tested Arz El-Rab, I ran a wrist-by-wrist testing. And how it usually happens, being tested together, perfumes reveal both similarities and individuality. Arz El-Rab has an extra citrus in the opening (though it’s not mentioned in the short list of notes), has less oily cedar in the development and is sweeter in the drydown. I cannot smell iris, so those notes are clearly just for the general idea about perfume. It’s not bad at all – if you like cedar wood-centered perfumes.

Official notes: cedar, iris and ginger.

Three and Half Sea Stars
=====

Oud Al Sahraa

Since I rarely like agarwood perfumes, I tried Oud Al Sahraa mostly because I wanted to go through the complete set. I was pleasantly surprised: I liked it. It means that, most likely, Oud Al Sahraa’s agarwood isn’t real, which is a plus in my book. I do not smell anything citrus-y in this perfume though an Italian mandarin is declared as one of three revealed notes, and I think that I can smell what they call myrrh. I could wear Oud Al Sahraa myself and wouldn’t mind smelling it on my vSO, but I’m not sure it interests me enough to actually pursue it.

Three Sea Stars
=====

Rusty and Berdoues Sampler

Scorza di Sicilia

It smells not bad, though completely not what I expected looking at the box: it is very flowery when I thought it would be all citrus-y. It is sweeter than I wanted it to be and reminds me a little of air freshener. I retested Scorza di Sicilia three times, and I’m positive that I wouldn’t want to wear it beyond this testing.

Official notes: citron, cedar and vetiver.

One and Half Sea Stars
=====

Selva Do Brazil

First of all, I like the bottle (on the picture) and the box, in which my sample came: I think I have a shirt with a similar print. Selva Do Brazil starts green, even grassy with a hint of citrus. It settles down to a pleasant slightly woody skin scent. It is not “interesting,” “challenging” or any other epithet to similar effect one might use describing perfume. But if it works for you in its simplicity, you’ll unexplainably like it. Or it will seem too boring – so no blind buys, please.

You have to read this short but sweet review of Selva Do Brazil at Perfume Shrine!

Official notes: petit grain, gaiac wood and tonka bean.

Four Sea Stars
=====

Vanira Moorea

I can’t help it: Vanira Moorea reminds me of a tooth paste from my childhood so I cannot think of it as of a perfume. Our tooth pastes weren’t that great, I’m sure Vanira Moorea has much nicer ingredients but… In drydown it becomes just a vanilla perfume – not too great but not too bad either.

Official notes: orange, petit grain and vanilla.

Two Sea Stars
=====

Russkaya Kozha

Since a lot of leather perfumes are not my cup of tea, I didn’t expect much from this one but, I think, the sheer style of the Collection Grands Crus helped: despite its name, Russkaya Kozha (Russian Leather) doesn’t have that concentrated birch tar scent that is used to represent leather in many perfumes but it still evokes leather. Later in development it becomes sweeter (but not too much). It stays on my skin for hours – sheer, slightly smoky and with a hint of sweetness. Russkaya Kozha is one of those perfumes that are “office-safe” in a good way: it doesn’t project much to be offensive for others while it is not completely boring for the wearer.

I liked Russkaya Kozha very much, and I expect it to join my collection soon.

Official notes: juniper, cardamom and benzoin.

Four and Half Sea Stars
=====

In general, I liked this collection and think it’s a good addition to the perfume world. I can’t say one way or the other based on what I smell, but I do not believe that they are using natural ingredients – because of the price of perfumes and them insisting on listing just three notes while naming those with the location markers (e.g., oud wood from Malaysia). Does it matter to me? Not at that price. I think that this collection is a nice alternative to overpriced Jo Malone and Atelier Cologne perfumes – even though I like both brands. What Berdoues should do, in my opinion, is to produce smaller bottles (15-30 ml) keeping the same bottle and box design: I would gladly pay $35-$40 for a 30 ml bottle of at least two more perfumes in this collection while it’s hard for me to justify adding another 200 ml of perfumes to my wardrobe.

Rusty and Berdoues Sampler

Images: my own

When Life Gives You Clementines, Enjoy Them

How many different citruses can you think of?

As I told before, in my childhood there were just four different citrus fruit – orange, mandarin, lemon and later grapefruit. Since it was pre-Internet, I didn’t even know about other varieties.

Of course, by now I’ve widened my fruit horizons, so as a mental exercise, without looking it up online, I came up with additional seven: pomelo, clementine, tangerine, lime and Meyer lemon – from my grocery shopping trips; and from my perfume hobby, I know about bitter orange and bergamot though I’ve never seen or eaten them. So, eleven in total.

While everybody in our household loves citrus fruits, citrus fragrances is probably one of the least represented categories in my perfume wardrobe. It’s not that I do not like how many of them smell, but somehow I always think about cologne-type creations as of “lesser” perfumes than their oriental, woody or even floral relatives. For a while I’ve been contemplating buying one of Atelier Cologne’s citrus perfumes but kept postponing until I finish the travel spray of Orange Sanguine and a decant of Cedrat Enivrant.

And then Atelier Cologne came up with the fifth cologne in their Joie de Vivre series – and I surrendered. Brand’s site gives the following notes for this perfume: clementine from California, mandarin from Italy, juniper berries from Macedonia, star anise from China, Sichuan pepper from China, basil from Egypt, vetiver from Haiti, sandalwood from New Caledonia and cypress from France. Clementine is not my favorite fruit; and I’m not sure that I would recognize its smell or even taste from, let’s say, tangerines. But Clémentine California smells great whatever citrus it’s supposed to invoke, and it is extremely juicy, bright and uplifting. It probably can be classified as unisex but, in my opinion, it’s a little sweeter than a “civilian” man would choose to wear. I cannot say that I like Clémentine California the most out of the 5 citruses in the line – I like Orange Sanguine and Pomélo Paradis probably not less. But Clémentine California bought me with the name; and I bought a bottle.

Atelier Cologne Clementine California

As the name pushed me towards this perfume, I kept thinking about it and even got annoyed: if it’s Clémentine than why not Californie; and if it’s California, why not Clementine? And, in general, why clementine and California – whatever language you choose? I do not have a definitive answer: if they’ve explained it in some interviews or in an ad copy, I haven’t found that. But I have a plausible theory based on what I read in Wikipedia. The fruit was first discovered in 1902 by Brother Clément Rodier, so it was named after him – first in French and then in English. The first commercial production of the fruit started in California in 1914. So that English-French centaur makes some linguistic sense.

 

By the way, do you know that there are only four original citrus species, from which the rest of cultivated citrus hybridized? No, those four aren’t the same four that I knew growing up. According to Wikipedia, the four core ancestral citrus taxa are citron, pomelo, mandarin and papeda.

Rusty and Atelier Cologne Clementine California

Images: my own

Vacation in a Bottle: Yosh Ginger Ciao

I love Hawaii: beautiful nature, relaxed atmosphere and great food. And for what I value in that type of vacation the most, the best time for visiting Hawaii is late September – early October: ocean is the warmest possible while the air and sun is already tolerable at least part of the day; many tropical fruit and vegetables are the best in that season; sunsets are around dinner time; and it is slightly less crowded since school has just started.

 

Sunset on Maui

 

It’s mid-September already, and I long for that leisure week of swimming, stargazing and eating tropical fruit and fish. Sadly, this year we didn’t get to go to a tropical. European vacation, especially its London part, was great but I miss Hawaii. So to cope with that I’ve been recently wearing Ginger Ciao by Yosh.

 

Yosh Ginger Ciao

 

When I first tried, liked and bought Ginger Ciao six years ago, I didn’t think of it as a tropical perfume. It was a beautiful perfume, which didn’t remind me of any other perfume I wore until then – but other than that I didn’t think about it much. And then Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) reviewed Ginger Ciao from the sample I sent her:

Made for warm summer nights, it exudes a tropical vibe that is at once relaxing and exciting.

Birgit has always had huge influence on me, so from that moment Ginger Ciao got its tropical designation and became my number two* Hawaiian vacation perfume. It accompanied me to several trips, and I discovered that it was equally beautiful in the breezy warmth of tropical night and in sunlit heat of lazy Hawaiian day.

Ginger Ciao notes include coconut, night blooming cereus, tiger lily, neroli, ylang ylang, ginger, basil and sandalwood. Coconut is not too sweet, sandalwood is creamy, and all the floral notes sing nicely together with neither of them doing solo. It is one of those perfumes that seems simpler when you think about it remembering than it proves to be when you wear it.

 

Rusty and Yosh Ginger Ciao

 

Recently I got a bit of a scare: there was a huge sale on Yosh perfumes at Hautelook. Combined with brand’s site being down and no new releases in a while, I feared the worst. So without thinking for too long I’ve bought a back-up bottle.

Since then I calmed down and did some research. It seems that many of the online retailers still stock Yosh perfumes, full priced. Yosh Han, the brand’s owner and perfumer, is still active in perfume industry: according to her FB posts, she’s just worked at Pitti Fragranze with INEKE. So who knows: maybe one day soon Yosh releases a new chapter in her brand’s story. But meanwhile I’m happy that I’ve got an extra bottle of perfume that I love. And I’m glad to report that perfume from the new bottle smells identical to what is left in my 6 years old bottle. So, for the next 6 years I’m covered for my future trips to Hawaii (I hope) or for surviving a lack thereof.

 

Rusty and Yosh Ginger Ciao

 

Have you tried Ginger Ciao? Do you have any perfumes that you associate with beach vacation?

 

Images: my own

* Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess is my #1 tropical vacation perfume.

Back to School: Dress Code

Living in the U.S. for the last… many years I gradually got used to the fact that kids go back to school from early August to mid-September. And still, every year on the September 1st, I think of it as of the back to school day because for the first 22 years of my life (well, technically 15 – since we would start school at 7) it was the day when all schools and all other full-time educational institutions would start their new school year.

September 1st

Because of that date that imprinted in my mind probably forever, I got an urge to post something related to it. Last week there was a community project for back to school perfumes – whatever association you’ve got with that idea. My answer was Serge Lutens De Profundis, but since I’ve previously told that story, as I was reading other commenters’ interpretations, I kept comparing their ideas with my memories.

The responses were quite interesting, people had many connections:

  • Perfumes, associated with places – Library (CB I Hate Perfume In the Library); trees in the park surrounding the school (Ormonde Jayne Woman), campus in the forest (Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilee) – my school was in the downtown, and whatever the smell was, it’s not something you want to recreate with your perfume.
  • Perfumes with the smell of pencil shavings – Serge Lutens Santal Blanc and Chene, Berdoues Arz el-rab – though I’ve sharpen my share of pencils while at school, I have absolutely no recollection as to how those smelled.
  • Perfumes with apple note – Hermes Sous le Toit de Paris and Nobile 1942 La Danza delle Libellule – I didn’t know “an apple for the teacher” saying until I moved to the U.S. long after my school years, so it is not my association as well.
  • One-off clever associations “Fracas – for the fracas that the first week of school tends to be” and “going Old School” with vintage Diorella – can’t say anything about Fracas, and did previously cover school years, Diorella and my first love.
  • Perfumes that people wore during their school years – too many to list what others wore, and since for the first 20 years of my life I was in almost monogamous relationships with Lancôme Climat, this perfume is not associated for me with starting school. Besides, I wrote about it multiple times before.

And then I read something I could relate to. I don’t remember what perfume it was but the association was: new perfume in the wearer’s perfume wardrobe (connection – new clothes for the new school year). And it suddenly resonated with my memories.

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In my school years we wore uniforms. It was the same type of uniform for all schools in the country: brown dresses with black aprons (or white aprons for dress-up occasions) for girls and navy suits for boys. They were slightly different from city to city but you wouldn’t confuse it with anything else, you could tell it was a school uniform. But even though those uniforms weren’t too exciting, every year before the start of the school year I had a surge of excitement while getting a new dress and aprons.

Once I started thinking about school and clothes, my immediate association was Guerlain Habit Rouge Dress Code.

It wasn’t like that everywhere, but my school had a very strict dress code: we weren’t allowed to wear anything but those dresses and black aprons – no extra sweaters or cardigans, no colored leggings or tights, no jewelry. Of course, we weren’t allowed any make-up. How about perfumes? To tell the truth, I have no idea. Most likely not, but I don’t think anybody would think of doing it: perfumes were scarce commodity, not for the everyday use. I don’t think even teachers wore any perfumes to work.

It is not that I think that Habit Rouge Dress Code would go well with school uniform: in my opinion, it’s a more mature perfume; and probably I wouldn’t have even liked it at that age. Also, it is far too unisex for the times when I wore that uniform. But I like Gurlein’s Dress Code today and feel excited about wearing it more often than just in the beginning of a school year.

For the real review, if you haven’t tried Habit Rouge Dress Code by now and are curious about what you’ve missed, read Kafka’s review. I just want to say that I think it’s a pity that Guerlain decided to produce it as a limited edition.

Guerlain Habit Rouge Dress Code

I have many questions today. Did you have to wear a uniform to school? What was it? Were you allowed to wear perfumes? Did you? Do you have any association for back-to-school and perfumes? (I promise not to fail you if you do not answer them all)

Bespoke Perfumes, Who Needs Them?

From time to time I start thinking about bespoke perfumes. Not in terms that I consider ordering one for myself but in general, as of the idea itself.

If you were to do a search online for “bespoke perfume,” you’d find dozens of articles about that type of service, as well as offers of the said services. The prices start from $250 for a 50 ml bottle and goes all the way up to “contact for the price” (or 200K pounds mentioned in one of the articles – not sure how figurative was that figure).

Why wouldn’t I want to have perfume made just for me? Let’s look at it step by step. Since it is a theoretical exercise, I’ll assume that anything is possible.

Perfumer

I think it would be strange to have your perfume created by some random perfumer with whose work you are not familiar: while we can keep the discussion going whether perfume is art or not, it is definitely not pure science; and, in my opinion, not everyone can just learn how to mix ingredients and start creating amazing perfumes.

I ran a query in my database and figured out, which five perfumers created the most perfumes that I love.

 

Christine Nagel. Most of my favorites from her are her work for Jo Malone. As much as I like perfumes from that brand, do I really want my bespoke perfume to be of that “easy-wear-office-friendly” type?

Christopher Sheldrake. All Serge Lutens perfumes that I like and wear have been created by Sheldrake. But most of Serge Lutens perfumes that I do not like, were also created by him.

Bertrand Duchaufour. I like and wear many perfumes by this talented perfumer, and now when the daughter of the bloody dictator, for whom he created perfume 5 years ago (if you’ve somehow missed the story, look the Leftovers part of this post) is arrested, I probably wouldn’t mind him to be a creator of my bespoke perfume. But would he even have time? The man authors approximately one perfume per month.

Geza Schoen (presuming he actually is the nose behind all Ormonde Jayne perfumes). Until the brand decided to become a luxury one, they were one of my absolute favorites: I love or at least like 7-8 of their perfumes. But I’m not sure I would be able to pry a vat of Iso E-Super from him, no matter how much I pay.

Jean-Claude Ellena. I just don’t know if he still has any Dia left in him. And everything else is a little too sheer for my current taste: I like wearing many of his perfumes as my day-wear perfumes but none of them would be on a short list for a proverbial signature scent (or bespoke perfume, while we’re on the topic).

Notes

But let’s say I settled on the Perfumer. How do I know what I want to get? Clearly, I should shoot for the most beautiful perfume I do not have in my collection already. So of course I can show the Perfumer my most recent exercise with the Desert Island Perfumes and provide a list of my 13 favorite notes: linden, amber, lavender, iris, black currant, rose, mimosa, lily of the valley, narcissus, galbanum, sandalwood, cedarwood and vetiver. But how do I know that actually these thirteen notes make me like perfume? As my analysis in that post showed, the highest count of those favorite notes (8 of 13) make up my favorite Chanel No 19 – but I already have Chanel No 19, and I don’t need another one. And how do I know that it is not the combination of the other 76 notes, which composed my Top 20, that do the trick?

My Favorite Notes

Process

Assuming the Perfumer got all the information both from the notes I think I like and based on the list of perfumes I know I like, after a while we’ll have the first take – and what? How many times have you tried perfumes that sounded amazing based on what you read about them only to be completely disappointed? It is not easy to write a negative review for perfumes created by the brand or perfumer with whom you have some type of relationship or even just like them without knowing them personally. Also, have you ever experienced personally or witnessed any perfumer’s reaction to somebody criticizing their work?

I’m not sure I would be able to say: “Scratch that, let’s start over.” Instead, most likely, there would be polite going back-and-forth with: “It seems a little too sweet…”, “What if we were to add more floral notes?” or “It reminds me X, which I already love and wear.” How many iterations would I go through before giving up and agreeing to something that is very nice but doesn’t come even close to how I feel about my most beloved perfumes? What if it is not even “very nice”?

Price

For my theoretical experiment I’m going with the assumption that I can pay any price. But what is the price? What the price should be?

ScentTrunk, which keeps searching for the business model for making money from the exploding perfume industry, offers a free test kit that “includes a palette of the 6 fragrance families so our lab can identify the smells you love or hate” (you pay $4.95 for S&H). After that you can get your personalized perfume for just $11.95/month. I think we can all agree that I will skip the discussion of what exactly one might expect to get for the money.

Ok, how about € 220 for 50 ml of all-natural perfume “by Perfumer Composer AbdusSalaam Attar”? You can choose up to 7 (out of 92) essences for your perfume. If you want something “rare,” you’ll need to pay more: extra € 100 for ambergris, € 150 for Mysore sandalwood, € 250 for iris root and € 300 for agarwood. But even if you go “all in,” the most you pay is € 1,020. And you can name it whatever you want! So choose 7 ingredients, mention the most important 3, tell your profession or field of work (“important for olfactory psychology”!), add comments, “give your skype for contact ecc…”, prove that you’re not a bot (because, you know, it’s a huge work to put all those 7 notes into the shopping cart; and if you make a mistake, the whole form refreshes – so you should really be into placing that order) – and … I’m not sure what happens next because I didn’t manage to convince the page I wasn’t a “spammer.” But anyway, how personal can you expect it to be for € 220?

$6,750 can buy you three consultations with the team of perfumers at Floris, which will result in 100 ml bottle of your bespoke perfume (plus 5 future refills).

Even though By Kilian’s site states “Price upon request” on their Bespoke Perfume by Kilian page, from my recent visit to Salon de Parfums in Harrods I can surmise that it won’t be less than £15,000 – because that is how much their “one-of-a-kind” Midnight in London that Tara and I tested there costs.

By Kilian Midnight In London

I heard different numbers for bespoke perfumes by Roja Dove but the closest one to the official price was £25,000, which was mentioned a year ago in the article-interview with Mr. Dove. If you ask me, his semi-bespoke perfumes rumored at £1,000 for 250 ml, is a better deal: you can try it and decide if you like it, if it is unique enough before you commit.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, you can find dozens of brands, perfumers and no-name services that offer customized/custom/bespoke perfumes on the wide range of prices. But, in my opinion, even the highest price I cited here is not enough to pay for real creativity and uniqueness. I just do not believe that any great and talented perfumer would create something really great just for me – one person.

Why would the Perfumer spend enough time and effort to earn even £25,000, if selling it to a brand or launching it under their name would get a much better return? The explanation I could come up with was that it might make sense only if the result is not expected to be anything too special. For example, if it is done for “civilians” – people who have previously used Perfume de Jour from department stores: almost any average-pleasant perfume made from good ingredients by somebody who knows the trade would be a definite step up. It also can work for people who do not love perfumes but want to wear them because it is a part of the accepted routine. In this case, exclusivity and personal service might be much more important than actual perfume. In both cases it shouldn’t require too much time or magic from a skillful Perfumer. And those “bespoke” perfumes do not even have to be that unique from one customer to another – they just have to be different enough from what one can come across at regular perfume counters.

I have it. Now what?

But even if I manage to get the result I really like, what would I do with it? Should this perfume become my signature scent? Probably not: I’m not a one perfume woman. Should I treat it as a special occasion perfume? But then what should I do with my other special occasion perfumes? I’m not sure I have enough special occasions. Do I wear it just like any other perfume in my collection, several times per year? But then why even go through the exercise of creating bespoke perfume?

So even in my imaginary world, in which I can choose any perfumer to work on my scent and am not limited by any financial considerations, going through with that project does not seem appealing.

And then one last thought had occurred to me: I bet I can wear many of the existing perfumes in my current collection, and, almost any way you look at it, those would be not much farther from a bespoke perfume then any created as such might be.

 

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Images: my own

E-Word-of-Mouth and Le Jardin Retrouve Cuir de Russie

Three years ago in the Entertaining Statistics: On Tweeting I wrote:

I still do not see too much sense in tweeting but I still do it from time to time. I get some random news from there but mostly I use it as an announcement medium – for my new blog posts, other blogs’ giveaways and the like. The main reason I do it is the idea that I want those who actually read my posts to get a notification about them any way they prefer – by e-mail, through Facebook, Twitter, RSS, Bloglovin or Google+.

Nothing has changed since then other than me being even less active on Twitter. But one day recently I had a couple of extra minutes and as I leisurely browsed through the feed, I stumbled upon a tweet from Le Jardin Retrouve saying that during July they would have 15 ml travel flacons of all their perfumes (Yesss!!!). Available at their Paris boutique only (Arghhh…).

In this age of globalization, isn’t it annoying when some things you can get only at some special places? Luckily, a “personal shopper” Suzan of Shop France, Inc. who had previously helped me with my quest for a scent from my childhood, just sent a newsletter about her upcoming trip. So I asked her to get me in Paris perfume I wanted, if she could.

When she came back with my travel bottle, she wrote to me asking permission to give my name and e-mail to the brand owner she met at the boutique: he was curious how she knew about Le Jardin Retrouve, and, consequently, how I knew about the brand. I gave my permission and then told Michel Gutsatz, a current owner and a son of the perfumer and the original creator of the brand Yuri Gutsatz, a short version of the story I’m telling you.

Le Jardin Retrouve Samples

How often have you read somewhere a review for perfume from a completely new for you brand and not just remembered the name later when you saw it again but got actively interested and pursued it? It doesn’t usually happen to me. But something in Steve’s (The Scented Hound) review pushed the right buttons; and I ordered several samples.

Yes, I actually paid to try perfumes from a completely new for me brand: not much – they were having some promotion – but it wasn’t free, the brand didn’t reach out to me then. To my surprise, I liked all three perfumes that I tried. The only problem I had with Le Jardin Retrouve was that they had all of their perfumes in 120 ml refill format: I can barely talk myself into 50 ml of any perfume – what would I do with 120?! But when they came up with a reasonable perfumista size bottle I had to put my money where my mouth is.

If I had more time to think, I would have probably bought at least one more perfume from the three that I tested but on a short notice I went for the one I liked the most – Cuir de Russie.

Rusty and Le Jardin Retrouve Cuir de Russie

Until I read Steve’s review, got curious how Le Jardin Retrouve managed to get away with using the name, for which I assumed Chanel had a copyright, and started looking for the answer, I had no idea how many brands have or used to have perfumes with this same name! Evidently, one can get a copyright for the word “peace” but famous perfume(s) name is out there for whoever dares to use it.

According to Fragrantica, Guerlain (1872), Mury Paris (1920), Chanel (1924, 2007, 2016), L.T. Piver (1939), Creed (1953), Le Jardin Retrouve (1975, 2016), Mad et Len (2007), Anna Zworykina Perfumes (2009) and Art Deco Perfumes (2015) can claim Cuir de Russie as their perfume. And I don’t even count those that had perfume with the same name but in different language, for example, Russian Leather and Russkaya Kozha.

Both this perfume house and this perfume have history but I don’t want to repeat it: you can easily find it online. I just want to share my impressions.

Rusty and Two Cuir de Russie

Since my only reference point is Chanel’s take on this theme, I can’t help running a comparison. If you like Chanel’s Cuir de Russie, there is a good chance you’ll like Le Jardin Retrouve’s Cuir de Russie as well. I think these have a lot in common: they both are very refined leather perfumes with subtle and well-blended components. LJR’s one is greener and more floral, especially in the opening, but when you smell them side by side you have no doubts they both are telling a similar story. At the same time, these two perfumes are distinctive enough to own and wear them both.

Chanel & Le Jardin Retrouve Cuir de Russie

You can clearly trace a direct line from a blog post (through accessible samples) to a Twitter ad, then to a travel bottle and now to another blog post. Also I saw in today’s newsletter from Suzan the introduction of Le Jardin Retrouve and their perfumes to her clients. And if you “Like,” retweet or share this post, it’ll keep going further reaching more people. It will be a true e-word-of-mouth.

 

Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with either the brand or the business mentioned in the post; I did not receive any free items or discounts not available to the public.
PSA1: Contact me for Suzan’s address if you’re in the U.S. and would like to order something from Paris or London: not only she brings stuff not available in the U.S. but also her prices for high-end brands are usually lower than you can get here.
PSA2: During August you can get 20% off any purchase (including samples) from the brand’s site: go to http://jardinretrouve-en.pagedemo.co/, choose the store for your country under “Need to Order Urgently?,” put the product(s) you want in the shopping cart and use the code JARDIN17. It’s a good time to try these perfumes because in Fall the brand is releasing their 15 ml bottles in custom sets of 3 perfumes of your choice. Rusty especially likes the bag, in which my travel bottle came.

Rusty and Le Jardin Retrouve Bag

 

Images: my own