Jaipur Homme by Boucheron

Jaipur Homme by Boucheron

Jaipur Homme is 20+ years old, Boucheron wasn’t really on my radar at that time. It wasn’t till late 2000s that I smelled it. In the early 2000s, I was living with a man who came from halfway between Delhi & Jaipur. He took me to the Rambagh Palace for a few nights on our first holiday to India, and he knew every nook and cranny of the town, so I got a really fabulous look at it. After we had broken up and he’d returned to India, I found the Boucheron fragrance. It was so subtle compared to the reality of India but there were lovely reminders and the name itself conjures happy memories. Over the years, I’ve brought or sent him bottles of Jaipur and it’s been his signature scent.

Anyway, thought I hadn’t bought myself a bottle of Jaipur Homme in years, so I grabbed a super cheap EdT from FragNet recently and have been wearing it a bit. It’s still very nice.

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Bergamot, Heliotrope, Cardamom, Lime, Lemon
Heart: Amber, Jasmine, Carnation, Nutmeg, Rose, Vanilla, Cinnamon
Base: Benzoin, Clove, Patchouli, Tonka bean, Cedarwood

If you know ground cardamom from your spice cupboard then you’ll instantly recognise it in the opening of Jaipur Homme. The citrus creates an initial sparkling, zingy opening, and the cardamom becomes apparent almost immediately. It stays after the citrus burns off, and the cool powdery fluff of heliotrope is then a tangible note that leads us into the heart.

I’m drinking chai as I write this post, and the heart of Jaipur Homme is a softer, more French perfumery armchair dream of it. Very softly animalic, vanilla-heavy amber with spices. Clove is more noticeable than anything else, but I definitely get the sweet milky tea reference. It’s not the MAIN heart accord, but it plays alongside everything else.

The dry down is sweet amber woods. I become nose blind to it after a couple of hours, but it stays on my clothes for days. When I pick up a top to wash it, I am hit gently with a beautiful spiced wood fragrance. It’s really lovely, so I know that’s what I’m wafting at the end of a day.

Don’t let the homme fool you. Jaipur Homme is unisex. It doesn’t even lean towards a modern traditional masculine. It could be brought out as a women’s fragrance today, and no one would have questioned it. Longevity is excellent, projection after about 30 minutes is moderate to low but oh so lovely.

Did you ever try Jaipur Homme?

Portia xx

Saturday Question: What Was Your Starter Brand?

Last week when Portia posted about the most worn L’Artisan Parfumeur perfumes, I noticed that several commenters mentioned that they started their niche perfume stage of the hobby from that brand. That’s why I decided to run it as a formal Saturday Question.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #62:

What Was Your Starter Brand?

Many of us came to this hobby through the years of using 1-2-5 (or more) “OTC” perfumes at a time. But then there was a moment when we discovered niche perfumes. And usually the next step would be hunting for samples of perfumes from that brand and, more often than not, becoming a lifelong fan of the brand.

So, it would be interesting to know whether it happened this way for you and, if yes, what was the brand and whether you still love and wear it.

My Answer

Formally, I could have named Jo Malone as such a brand since back 15+ years ago it was still kind of niche-ish brand, and the only place I could try it was at a local Neiman Marcus, to which I didn’t dare to go for a long time (unless accompanied by a family member visiting from another state where she worked at NM). The fact that back then they didn’t accept any credit cards but their own wasn’t helping either. Only later, when they started accepting all American Express cards, I remember venturing into the store to pick up a bottle of Jo Malone’s perfume, fearlessly presenting my Costco AmEx card to a quite snobbish SA.

I think Jo Malone is still the most represented brand in my collection. I still like and wear perfumes that I own, and whenever I can I check out their latest releases. But these days I rarely like any of them enough to buy.

But the true niche brand – something that I’ve never seen or even heard of before and then got to investigate – was Amouage. After reading multiple reviews, I bought a set of five 1 ml vials from Aedes de Venustas – and that was a beginning of long relationships with the brand.

I love, own and wear several Amouage perfumes (to name a few, Gold, Dia, Lyric and Memoir), and having been given a choice of getting perfumes just from one brand for the rest of my life, I would have been really torn between Amouage and Ormonde Jayne, with probably Amouage winning because of Gold that reminds me a lot of my most favorite perfumes of all times – Lancome Climat (I’m just not sure that these days I would be able to settle on one perfume, even if it’s my number one, but I wouldn’t be able to choose too many alternatives from Lancome – that’s why it wouldn’t have been a contender in that cruel hypothetical choosing game).

But as to Amouage newer perfumes… I should probably do a separate post about it. Soon.

Rusty and Amouage Epic

What Was Your Starter Brand?

“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

In The Search For The Perfect Mandarin

How often do you see print ads for a fruit? I’m talking not about store fliers, delivery service leaflets or motivational magazine collages about healthy eating, but actual ads that promote fruits. Not too often if you ask me. So, when I saw the ad in The New Yorker magazine, I registered it as something unusual.

Sumo Citrus

I’ve been seeing so-called Sumo Citruses/Mandarins for at least a couple of years, but it wasn’t until my vSO told me its story that I decided to try it (before seeing that ad). If you’re up to reading, here’s an article in the Los Angeles Times from a decade ago that gives a lot of details. But in short: it’s a Japanese hybrid citrus fruit known as Dekopon. Due to the high susceptibility to “exotic pests and diseases,” this fruit is prohibited from being imported into the US. It took a private grower many years to get trees grafted with legally imported branches cleaned off diseases, in quarantine, before those could be planted, legally but in secrecy, on 430 acres in California. So, now these are legally produced locally Dekopon fruit given in the US name Sumo (I really hope Japanese are secure enough not to claim “cultural appropriation”).

I like Sumo Citruses, but since they are two-three times more expensive than regular mandarins, I won’t eat them casually but will be buying them several times during the season (January – April).

What makes me even more fond of Sumo mandarin is that this hybrid is a “grand-child” of my most favorite mandarin – Satsuma. And my quest for the perfect mandarin perfume is based on it since I know it the best.

Of course, when the perfume pyramid mentions “mandarin,” it doesn’t usually clarify its variety or origin. So, I went just by the note in my database and selected a bunch of perfumes that I either remembered had that note as a prominent one or I thought they might.

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I’ll start with samples.

Mandarin Perfumes Samples

From time to time, Antica Farmacista decides to step up from their usual ambiance scents ampluá and produce “Fragrance for Home & Body” or even “Le Parfum” version of their scents. These appear for a short period and then disappear, never to be seen again. I’m not sure whether they are different from Antica Farmacista’s Room Sprays. But if it says “body,” I feel better about spraying them on the skin. Vanilla Bourbon & Mandarin was one of such scents. I got it as a part of the sample set offer a couple of years ago, and I’m not sure if I tested it before, but now it seemed like a good occasion to finally get to it. Notes (according to the brand’s site): Crisp Satsuma Mandarin, Sweet Clementine, Orange Peel, Heliotrope, Bright Verbena, Spicy Bourbon, Warm Amber, Bourbon Vanilla, Labdanum Balsam. It’s a nice ambiance scent with juicy citrus in the opening and not overly sweet but boozy vanilla. I think it would be perfect in a diffuser, but there is no good reason to wear Vanilla Bourbon & Mandarin as perfume.

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I’m not sure whether Atelier Cologne still produces Mandarine Glaciale: it’s “out of stock” everywhere I checked. But even if it has been discontinued, I won’t be upset since I’ve never warmed up to their Collection Azur, as a part of which Mandarine Glaciale was released. I don’t know if subconsciously I thought less of the collection because it appeared at Sephora first, or if it actually was less interesting than Atelier Cologne’s earlier lines. But whatever it was, I’m done with the sample. It is not mandarin I am looking for.

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Pont Des Arts A ce soir was a “false positive” in my list: the promised “green mangarin” note was completely indiscernible. I’m mentioning it here only because it got into the “group photo” before I decided it wasn’t a part of this exercise.

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BDK Parfums Citrus Riviera has an impressive list of notes (from the brand’s site): Essence of Moroccan Neroli, Essence of Italian Mandarin, Essence of Italian Lemon, Fig Accord, Moroccan Orange Blossom Absolute, Jasmine, Strawberry Neo Jungle Essence, Eucalyptus Essence, Everlasting Flower Absolute, White Musk, Patchouli from Indonesia, Vetiver from Haiti and Tonka Bean Absolute. For my nose, it opens with a nice citrus accord – bright, juicy and happy. I don’t get any fig, which surprises me since usually it’s a note I easily recognize. Citrus Riviera settles down to a drier composition with recognizable vetiver, but it’s not too insistent, like, for example, it feels for me in Hermes’s Vetiver Tonka. All the announced florals are probably there but blended without any prominent outliers. I’m a little bit annoyed by the promise of the strawberry note: as much as I do not trust my nose, strawberry is one of the most ubiquitous and recognizable aromas, so why to even mention it if it’s not really noticeable? It’s not like they put in some natural and extremely rare/expensive strawberry enfleurage or strawberry butter and now want us to know that, right? All-in-all, I like this perfume but… I’ll explain it while talking about the next sample.

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If it weren’t for the current situation, for this post I should have got a sample of Tom Ford’s Mandarino di Amalfi. But I don’t know when I get to the store next time, so I decided to go with Neroli Portofino, a sample of which I had at home: after all, it has a mandarin note listed. I like this perfume, same as many other Private Blend variations in “blue bottles.” But I always felt like all these aromatic, aquatic, etc. perfumes, while quite nice and not simple or linear, in my book were “lesser” perfumes than, let’s say, chypres, orientals or even florals. So, leaving aside the absolute price of each perfume (e.g., Citrus Riviera is much cheaper than Tom Ford’s offerings), I could never justify paying any luxury brand’s “standard” price for their citrus perfume. I know, it’s not rational, but this is how I feel.

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For someone who proclaims herself not a citrus perfumes fan, I discovered that I had quite a few perfumes featuring mandarin in my collection.

Mandarin Perfums

I had a small bottle of Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien for the last 10 years, and I’m not done with it yet. I don’t think it has enough mandarin to be a contender in my search – it’s more lemony and rather astringent than sweet. But today when I smell it, I like it much more than I did back then. I blame the industry! Compared to hundreds of releases of similar genre perfumes in that period, this 40-years old creation seems like a masterpiece.

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Jul et Mad Aqua Sextius was a wrong choice for this post since official notes on the brand’s site do not even claim mandarin, but that note got into this perfume description in my database from Fragrantica – and that’s how it ended up here. If you haven’t tried this perfume and are curious, read Lucas’s review. From me, I want to add that I find it a little bit on the masculine side (but not overly) and that I think it wears much better in warmer weather. And if you like the scent, the combination of its longevity with the available bottle formats (7 ml, 20 ml and 50 ml) makes the price almost tolerable.

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Hermès Eau de Mandarine Ambrée is one of my most favorite Hermes perfumes. And it is a great mandarin. Recently I wore it “hajusuuri-style” – 8 sprays. It produces a pleasant burst of mandarin in the opening, and in a couple of hours, it’s just a sheer amber with a hint of the initial fruit. I do not mind: the cute bottle that I have can easily fit into the smallest purse for the re-application (in case I ever again need to go anywhere for longer than a couple of hours, that is).

Rusty and Hermes Mandarine Ambree

Prada Infusion Mandarine is probably my perfect mandarin perfume. It combines wonderfully juicy and very realistic mandarin with some recognizable aspects of the “Infusion” line, which makes it more interesting in the drydown than many other citrus-centric perfumes. I plan to finish this small (8 ml) bottle in the next couple of months and will probably buy a FB – luckily, it can be found for a very reasonable price online.

* * *

I previously published a post about Atelier Cologne Clementine California (When Life Gives You Clementines, Enjoy Them), but I want to mention it here again since, as I admitted then, I have no idea what fruit I smell – it can be either a mandarin, a clementine or both. But I enjoy it every time I wear it, and it’s one of those perfumes that I would consider repurchasing if I ever go through the bottle that I have. It is extremely juicy, bright and uplifting.

Mandarin Samples and Perfums

Have you tried Sumo citrus? Do you like mandarins? Do you have a favorite mandarin perfume?

 

Images: my own

Saturday Question: What Is Your Favorite Diptyque Perfume?

When I just started my niche perfume journey (note to myself: ask Vanessa of Bonkers about Perfume what’s wrong with this word – she’s usually censoring it in her posts), Diptyque was one of everybody’s favorite brands, and Tam Dao was one of the better-known perfumes from the brand. That’s why I was a little surprised with everyone’s answers to my question in the previous post (Rusty the Cat: On Favorite Note): perfume that everyone loved a decade ago, today is nobody’s favorite. So, I got curious what my readers think about Diptyque’s perfumes today.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #56:

What Is Your Favorite Diptyque Perfume?

Do you own and still wear any? Do you check their new offerings? Do you look forward to what the brand does next?

My Answer

It is a somewhat strange situation: while I have a positive opinion of Diptyque, it is not “my brand”: out of 23 perfumes that I tried, I love and own a bottle of Volutes EdT and enjoy wearing (usually while in Hawaii) Eau Duelle from a travel spray. I probably wouldn’t mind to get a travel spray of Eau de Minthe, but I’m not in a hurry to do so. And on my vSO I like Tam Dao (he still has about 1/5th of volume in the original square bottle) and 34 Boulevard Saint Germain (a travel spray). But at least 15 perfumes do not work for me at all. So, while I still check whatever new the brand comes up with, I do not have either hopes or expectations. But I will keep testing whatever they release – as long as I can get to do it for free at the local Nordstrom.

https://orpheon.diptyqueparis.com/en_us/scene

 

What Is Your Favorite Diptyque Perfume?

A Rose By Any Other Name?..

Historically, I like Tom Ford. The brand, not Tom Ford as a person. I mean, I don’t know much about the man to have any feelings about him, and I prefer it this way. Though over the years seeing some of the provocative ads for his perfumes here and there, I thought that those were rather disparaging and misogynistic. But since usually I do not see them (I’m not even sure where exactly those were published in the US other than somewhere on the Internet), I was telling myself that those weren’t the worst images anyone (who would want to) might find on the Internet and didn’t allow it to affect my attitude towards Tom Ford’s perfumes.

And then he (a person, since all that rotated about his personality, not just the brand) came out with that juvenile stunt of a perfume name…

In my native culture, the use of explicit language had been reserved for “uncultured” and “uneducated” social strata. So, it was unacceptable and not expected from people of “our circle.” And seeing it in writing or hearing on TV was completely out of the reality realm.

Times changed, and these days it’s much less strict even in the country that I left decades ago. And it has been different from the beginning of my life in the U.S. with the “TV-MA” rating being an Indulgence to use all those taboo words on cable TV shows. But somehow there still was some resemblance of propriety: words frowned upon by the FCC, clothes (or the absence thereof) not expected during the Super Bowl, etc.

I know that the language is fluid, and norms change over time. But I didn’t see a good reason for this particular change. My main objection to that name was trivializing misbehavior. And I was right: if three years ago, when perfume in question just was released, department stores would “modestly” cover the first word by rubber bands over the bottle and shorten the name online to just “Fabulous,” now, three years later, nobody gives a second thought to flaunting said bottle in all its unadulterated glory in front of family shoppers and other unsuspecting audiences.

I tried that perfume once, thought it was quite nice but decided that I didn’t want to support that type of behavior. And I voted against writing anything, even negative, about it – not to propagate even bad publicity for that perfume (yeah, I know, my blog is such a significant blip on the scale of Tom Ford/Estee Lauder’s PR machine…).

The next one had a still juvenile and cringe-worthy but less offensive, in my opinion, name. I also liked it but decided still not to buy any, even a decant.

And then came THE ONE. Not being a native English speaker, in the case of Rose Prick, which had absolutely no connotations for me, good or bad, until I read some explanations. I don’t even know how common that slang is compared to the literal meaning of the phrase or what is its degree of vulgarity. And while this name didn’t offend or bother me, I just habitually expected to dismiss it after sniffing at a store. But it smelled nice… so, I asked for a sample.

What I especially like about Rose Prick is that for me, while being nice in the opening, it smells wonderful in drydown. And probably from the first time I realized how much I liked the drydown, I wanted to get this perfume. But I disliked the 50 ml pink bottle, didn’t need 50 ml of either this or any other perfume, and wanted to get a travel bottle… that wasn’t available anywhere at the time.

In the Saturday Question for Black Friday, I shared with my readers my conundrum, and several people advised me to wait. Which I did. So, a travel spray of Rose Prick that appeared at the end of January on the Sephora site became my first fragrance purchase of the year.

Tom Ford Rose Prick

It is a very likable perfume, and I’m sure it is doing well in sales. Should you try it if you haven’t yet? If you can do it without paying – definitely: as far as sampling goes, 9 out of 10 perfumes we regularly try are worse than this one. Will you want to buy it? Most likely, no: it’s too expensive for what if offers, and there are other great rose perfumes that cost less while not making you pause before answering a co-worker’s question: “What are you wearing today?” (though, with the current state of getting back to any kind of normal, that aspect might not be an issue for many of us for a while).

 

Image: my own

Saturday Question: What Is Your Favorite Rose Perfume?

Regardless of how you feel about the upcoming Hallmark holiday, you’d agree that traditionally it is associated with roses more than with any other flower. So, I thought it was a good enough reason for this week’s question.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #51:

What Is Your Favorite Rose Perfume?

Do you like perfumes with a predominant rose note? If yes, which ones come to mind first? If no, what is the closest to the rose-centric perfume in your collection?

Do you do anything special for Valentine’s Day? Do you acknowledge it in any way or ignore completely?

My Answer

Even though Valentine’s Day came into my life just a couple of decades ago, I rather like it (though, I like most of the holidays, so it’s not representative). I like it despite the fact that it interferes with my personal celebration: even though my birthday is a couple of days before, everything gets harder because of the upcoming holiday. Everything – plane tickets, hotels, flowers – are more expensive and harder to get, restaurants are busier, and any possible activities are sold out if you didn’t think about it at least a month in advance.

Nevertheless, I’m trying to do something nice to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and not just as a romantic couples holiday, but in wider meaning. I think it comes from the fact that when I was growing up, similar holidays (one for men and another one for women, on different dates a couple of weeks apart), while having some romantic component, also incorporated what in the U.S. is celebrated as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, including future/potential mothers and fathers. And being that inclusive, while still slightly forced (though, is it really that different from celebrating veterans on the Veteran’s Day or parents on the mentioned above designated days?), were readily celebrated both at work, in schools and in private settings.

At home, we always make a nice dinner on February 14. If I have time, I might decorate our living room a little. Sometimes we exchange small presents. Usually I’m getting flowers. Nothing obligatory or too elaborate, but nice and quiet.

This year, since we’re not back to the office, I didn’t get to do anything “publicly” in RL, so I decided to do “the next best thing” – a mini-project on Instagram: Rose Countdown to Valentine’s Day.

I did Mini-Monday with a mini bottle of Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur EdP, Travel Tuesday with a travel spray of Hermes Rose Ikebana, Throwback Thursday with Lancome Mille et Une Roses and Favorite Friday with Ormonde Jayne Ta’if Elixir (and later I wore Ta’if Parfum for the birthday dinner). I skipped Wednesday – and not because I couldn’t think of any day-appropriate secondary project (which I didn’t – any ideas?), but because an unexpected plumbing emergency didn’t leave me any energy to even wear perfume – let alone stage a photo. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see what I’ll be doing for Saturday and Sunday (and if you don’t, check back here in the upcoming days to see the latest picture on the sidebar (web)/below (mobile)).

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Happy Valentine’s Day if you celebrate – either with someone or alone. Have a restful weekend if you don’t, and do something nice for yourself, because you do love yourself, right? You should.

Cat Rusty and Roses

What Is Your Favorite Rose Perfume?

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 Blog’s 10th Anniversary: Interview with the Creator of My White Rabbit

If not to count job or user interviews I conducted as a part of my job, this is my first ever interview with someone in the perfume industry. And if 10 years ago, when I started this blog, anybody would have told me that I would be in a position to interview Linda Pilkington, a creator of Ta’if, my second all-times favorite perfume, I wouldn’t have believed them.

Last November, I was offered an opportunity to participate in the series of mini-interviews Ms. Pilkington was conducting as a part of the Worldwide launch of La Route de la Soie, a new collection that was created to celebrate Ormonde Jayne 20 years of perfumery. But since by that time I’ve already bought and reviewed the collection on my blog, I asked if I could do something slightly different – 20 Questions for 20 Years interview. And Ms. Pilkington agreed.

With the end-of-the-year rush and all holidays it took me a while to transcribe the conversation we had and put it into a post format. And then I thought that it would be very fitting to publish it for my blog’s 10th anniversary, since, as I told in the story for my blog’s 3rd anniversary, Ta’if was that perfume, from which my journey down the rabbit hole of niche perfumery started.

Also, I think it is serendipitous that Narth came up with the Saturday Question: Which Perfumer Would You Like to Meet In Person? around this time because, not being a fan-girl-type, the only perfumer I’ve ever wanted to chat with was Ms. Pilkington and only because of her role in creating perfume I fell in love with and everything that followed. We didn’t physically meet but it was the next best thing that can happen these days: we talked for more than an hour in Zoom.

My Ormonde Jayne Taif Family

On the photo above please meet my Ta’if family starting from the very first decant from The Perfumed Court and including the latest addition – Ta’if Intensivo, about which I’ll probably do a separate post later.

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Since I knew that predominantly people who were already familiar with the brand would be reading this interview, I skipped the traditional “let’s educate our readers about the brand” part and asked those questions that I was curious about and answers to which I didn’t know.

 

Ormonde Jayne: 20 Questions for 20 Years

Undina (U): Do you wear perfumes daily?

Linda Pilkington (L): I do. Even through the lockdown I wore perfume every day. I decide what to wear based on the combination of “How do I feel?”, “What is my day ahead?”, “What am I going to wear?” and a little bit to do with weather. For example, if I have a day when I know that I have to be on the ball, I put on Ormonde Woman: it makes me feel powerful; it makes me feel like I’m in control; it makes me feel that I’m my own person.

U: Do you re-apply your perfume during the day?

L: Yes, I do. In my office in the boutique I have that “emergency kit” next to my computer – a hairbrush, lipstick and perfume. If I’m called downstairs to chat with somebody, it takes about 5 seconds – brush my hair, put lipstick on, apply perfume – and I’m ready.

U: I realize that it’s like asking a mother which of her children she loves more, but still – is there any one perfume in the line that is especially dear to you? It’s not necessarily perfume that you like the most, but maybe there was something significant during the creation process, or the perfume that holds strong emotional connection?

L: It’s not Ormonde Woman, even though I like it, and everyone in the industry recognizes that it’s a good perfume. Many years ago, in my travels in the Middle East, I had come across oud. I was quite intrigued by that horrible pungent scent that people actually wanted to wear. I found it disgusting but decided to investigate because nobody wore it as perfume in Europe.

I brought some oud from Laos back to my studio in London, and we tried to decide what to do with it. “Nobody will want to wear that,” I said… so we put 0.06% into Ormonde, and we decided then to make Ormonde Woman and Ormonde Man (because before it was just Ormonde). Back then in Europe nobody had put oud into a fine fragrance. A journalist from Financial Times got interested; I sent her samples, I sent her pictures, and she featured it in the How to Spend It Magazine, back in 2004. So, Ormonde Man put the company on the map. And people from the perfume industry were saying: “We’d like you to consult about it; we want to know what it is.” So, I think that was my defining moment.

Ormonde Man and Ormonde Woman Perfumes by Ormonde Jayne

U: So, you are that person who is responsible for the expansion of agarwood in European perfumery in the last 15 years!

(Linda laughs)

U: While most perfumes are “unisex” and can be worn by anybody who likes them, by traditional classification there are more feminine-leaning perfumes in your collection. If you agree with this statement, why is that? Was it an economical decision (women buy more perfumes)? Or is it more natural for you to create feminine perfumes? Or is there some other reason?

L: You’re right: there are slightly more floral, oriental perfumes – I’d say, floriental is the palette I desire. But we did that “gender-free” aspect to the company through experience. When we started, we had a masculine and feminine side. But after two bad experiences with the clients to whom we had sold perfume after they wore it on their skin and liked it, but later discovered online that perfume they bought was on the feminine side and got upset, we realized the sensitivity of this issue. So, I contacted our web designer and told him to take off the “feminine” and “masculine.” We retrained all the staff not to use these descriptions. And if you’re asking about the sales, the women/men customers’ ratio is 60/40.

U: Is there any single perfume that outperforms all others in terms of popularity/sales?

L: The number one in all countries is Montabaco Intensivo. We have good sellers in different countries. For example, in Russia, they absolutely adore Champaca: for every 100 bottles of Ormonde Woman, we sell 1000 bottles of Champaca. In America, Ormonde Woman and Frangipani. In Europe, it’s Osmanthus, Ta’if and Ormonde Woman. But Montabaco Intensivo is in the top three in every country.

Montabaco Intensivo Perfume by Ormonde Jayne

U: While creating perfumes, do you ever have to compromise between what you like and what you think will sell better?

L: I always go with my nose, with what I like… except that quite often I’m “compromised” by IFRA. The original Amber Royal was outstanding. But it failed [the standards] completely. So, the best way to deal with it is to know the quantities you will be allowed to use and work around it.

U: Are there any perfume notes that you don’t like and because of that will not use in your perfumes?

L: I can’t work with tuberose in full quantity, and I would never do a full-blown tuberose perfume.

U: A woman after my own heart! I can’t stand tuberose.

L: It’s so heady, it’s so sickly, that it makes you feel a little bit ill. I can work with it in small quantities, but… No, I can’t take tuberose.

U: Was it for the same reason that you never did lily perfume? You have lily as a candle, but not as perfume.

L: No, it’s not that. I do like lily. But it’s too standard. I’ve never managed to achieve interesting lily perfume. With lily, after the top note dries off, it automatically goes back to standard lily – which is not really Ormonde Jayne. If you’ve got your signature Osmanthus, Frangipani, Ta’if, Tolu, Sampaquita or Champaca, all very beautiful, well put together, balanced, creative, artistic, abstract perfumes with lovely names. You can’t have a lily suddenly stuck among them. It’s not the style of the house. I tried. I put it with all kinds of ingredients, but in 5 minutes it’s a standard lily.

U: Why do you release perfumes in collections instead of just one new release at a time?

L: What happens is: we have a number of territories throughout the World. And they all want exclusivity. It’s hard. So, when we do a collection, it allows us to offer them a subset of it – what will work well for their territory.

U: How do you decide what perfumes to add to the line next? Are you filling in the gaps? Or something else? What goes into that decision?

L: I get feedback from my team, they are telling me if people keep asking about an ingredient. Sometimes I realize that something’s missing from our repertoire. For example, in my Signature collection I’d like to add a good musc perfume at some point when it feels right to me. And I’d like to add good patchouli perfume. And sometimes somebody sends you an oil that is interesting. It’s not something you’ve been looking for, not what I really need, but I’m particularly taken by it.

U: When will be the next new release?

L: I’ve got a couple of oils at the moment, and I’m launching two perfumes next year – they are practically finished now. I think they are absolutely fantastic. We won’t launch them at the same time. They’ll go into the Signature Collection, and we will launch them in 2021 as soon as we can travel again. I think they are absolutely stunning. Of course, some of my partners can still say to me: “They are not for my market.” I can’t speak for everybody, though I’ll try to persuade them because I know people would love these.

U: That takes me to my next question about different markets. I can’t believe people in the US do not want candles. But your US online store doesn’t have them. Why?

L: That’s not because they don’t want them. The rules and regulations are changing all the time. We have our own candle factory, so we were putting a lot of oil in candles, because we want them to smell nice. When those were tested, we were told that there was too much oil, and we had to change something. Since I didn’t want to compromise, it took me almost 18 months to recreate my candle oils so that they are just as good. And then I had to change the wick to be compliant. We just started making them again, so at the moment they are just in the UK. Maybe in a year and a half we’ll be able to supply them again.

U: What about hair mist?

L: With hair mists it’s, again, what our partners want. They have just that much space for the brand, and they say that they can sell our perfumes much faster than our hair mists. And they have their rent to pay…

U: In the past, there were body products in coordinated scents – shower gels, bath oils, if I’m not mistaken, even body lotions. Recently, I haven’t seen them either as stand-alone products or in sets. Do you have any plans for making more body products in future?

L: Before all the rules regulations I used to do all my shower cream and body lotions in my kitchen with an electric Moulinex baking mixers, not even industrial ones. 20 years ago I could do a body lotion myself and put it in a pot. But you’re not allowed to do it any more. It is expensive to have someone else to make all of my perfumes and body lotions. And then my partners would say: “For every 50 bottles of Ta’if perfume I sell, I sell 1 bottle of the body lotion. So, instead of giving up a shelf space to body lotions, I’d rather give it to perfume.”

Ta'if Perfune by Ormonde Jayne

U: Your regular line and made-to-measure – is the difference only in concentration, or do you “tweak” the formula as well?

L: The formulation is the same, and you chose 40 or 50 percent, whatever is allowed. It’s the same formula, but it smells different because at different concentrations different nuances come through. And, of course, it’s a lot more tenacious. And, when people get their favorite perfume at higher concentration for themselves or as a gift to loved ones and have their initials engraved, it makes that perfume more special for them.

U: Is there any classic or modern perfume about which you thought: “I wish I would have created it!”?

L: Not really… When I was younger, I fell in love with Diorella. I used to wear it all the time and thought it was the most magnificent perfume. I still have a bottle of Diorella in my bathroom now because I just love the smell of it. When I was a teenager and up until probably 18-20, I wore Diorella and made sure that all my boyfriends wore Eau Sauvage, also made by Edmond Roudnitska. I thought that it was a perfect match: I wear Diorella, you wear Eau Sauvage, and together we’re gonna smell so magnificent. So, maybe I wish it had been my creation.

U: Your collection is quite extensive now. Are there any plans to discontinue any of the current scents or concentrations?

L: We’d never discontinue any perfume. First, we like all the formulations. Second, it costs too much to bring the formula to market. So, sometimes when we want to reign in, we would just put some perfumes into our library. So, they just “go to bed,” they are going to get a little bit of a sleep, and they stay there. But 2-3 years down the road we might re-introduce them, maybe with a different name if a partner wants it for their market.

U: Do you have any plans to increase your brand’s presence on IG or YouTube?

L: I’m not too technically savvy, so my goddaughter takes pictures of our perfumes and posts them on our Instagram account. I don’t have any social media myself. So, I rely on my goddaughter: she’s level-headed, and she understands the philosophy of the company. I don’t think I’ll ever become a YouTube person. If anything, maybe for Cooking with Fragrance (you know, my Gourmande Jayne). Our social media person started building up this aspect, but we’re doing it slowly. We don’t want just to be doing endless “offers” because I think it can backfire. We’re really tiny, so we do not want to go “too commercial.”

U: And the final but important question. Do you share your dwelling with any furry family members?

L: Yes! Two cats, called Teddy and Freddie. They are from the cat home. I got them when they were kittens. They are brothers, but they don’t look like each other. One is a big fat ginger cat. He looks like Garfield. And the other one is black with green eyes. They snuggle up in front of the fire, sleeping in the daytime but turn into psychotic murderers by night. They go out every night. They kill anything that comes into our garden. They are working cats.

Cats Teddie and Freddy

Teddy, the ginger one, is very greedy. As he goes along, everybody likes to stroke him, he stops and lets them do it. And then he goes to the restaurants, down the steps to the kitchen, all feed him. And he just works his way down the street getting fed.

U: My cat Rusty is really food-oriented, so if he had been permitted to do something like that, by now he probably wouldn’t have been able to walk.

L: Teddy is getting a bit big. I might have to put him on a little regime.

U: And my last question: Where do you see your brand in 5 years?

L: Hopefully, it still will be my brand. And it will be just bigger, and better, and more beautiful. It’s still privately owned today, after 20 years, and it stays that way. I enjoy what I’m doing. I feel quite lucky: I have great relationships with my partners. We meet with each other all around the world. So, it’ll be the same company as you know today but with a little bit more presence.

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U: And now, concluding my 10th Blog’s Anniversary post, I want to ask myself: Where do you see Undina’s Looking Glass, in 5 years?

U: Health and life permitting, hopefully, still here. Based on decades of experience, I don’t expect to stop loving perfumes. Will I want to write about them? Will I have any stories to tell or numbers to crunch? Will there still be anyone who prefers to read about perfumes rather than watch videos and scroll through beautiful pictures? We’ll see, won’t we?

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…

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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