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.

Advertisements

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Almost Newcomb’s Paradox

Everybody knows that people in the Perfumeland* are wonderfully generous and kind – towards friends and oftentimes to other members of their group who they don’t know too well.

I got my first sample of Serge Lutens Chergui from Suzanne of Suzanne’s Perfume Journal(read her perfect explanation why to wear Chergui in summer).

I liked this perfume though until recently for me it was a cold weather perfume. I finished Suzanne’s sample, then one more sample and was thinking of getting a decant, when Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) sent me her partial bottle of Chergui as an unofficial present for my birthday. I was happy to get it in a bottle: even though those take more space than decants, in the last years I noticed that I tend to favor actual bottles.

Several months later, while we were discussing samples exchange, Vanessa wrote to me that she would also send a box from Chergui that she recently found… As I read that e-mail in the office, I was anxious to get home: I clearly remembered that the partial bottle had come with a box…

I got home, confirmed that I wasn’t confused and even sent Vanessa a proof of having that box.

Rusty and Serge Lutens Chergui

Vanessa had no recollection of how she came to own that second box; and since she had no use for it she used it to send samples to me, making the answer to the post office clerk’s question “Are the bottles in their original boxes?” at least partially truthful: the box was original indeed.

Chergui is one of rare perfumes honey in which does not go urinous on my skin. As I started thinking about this post, I wore Chergui a couple of times, and I have to agree with Suzanne: it wears nicely in the hot weather. Too bad I cannot use a back-up box to even better protect perfume from that heat. I’ll have to rely upon a more conventional method – an A/C. I couldn’t even interest Rusty in checking it out: he clearly didn’t think it was that interesting the first time around when I tried to make a “proof of life” picture shown above.

Serge Lutens Chergui - Two Boxes

Speaking about back-ups… Are you getting any for your Serge Lutens favorites pre-repackaging/reformulation/moving to the Exclusives Collection?

 

Images: my own

* Of course, Perfumeland isn’t unique in that respect: people inside other groups with similar interests behave that way. But I’m writing about my current interests, so forgive me this … hmm… what would be the right antonym for “generalization” in this context?

** Here’s the link to the Wikipedia article about Newcomb’s paradox

Visiting Three Monarchies, Part 4: Perfumes I bought

More than three years ago, while describing my indecisiveness when it comes to buying perfumes, I wrote:

I have that dream of going into a perfume shop while on a vacation or at a fragrance event and finding perfume, without which I wouldn’t want to leave that store.

It hasn’t happen to me since then. If anything, I became even less spontaneous, which isn’t surprising taking into the consideration my steadily expanding collection and exponentially increasing number of new releases. But the dream lived on. So going on the vacation to London, Barcelona and Stockholm, I decided not only to take with me and wear perfumes created by the brands from the respective countries but also to bring back perfumes from each of the destinations – with the same caveat of the brand’s origin.

As I’ve described in the posts about each part of my trip, in our era of globalization it wasn’t easy to find perfumes that would fit the set criteria, even though I tried to cheat a little by bringing with me samples of perfumes that I’ve previously tried and… let’s put it this way – didn’t dislike.

After all the sniffing Tara, Vanessa and I and then Vanessa and I did in London, on the last evening in the city I was still hesitant. I might have ended up not buying anything at all if it weren’t for the serendipitous circumstances.

One of the most pleasant memories from our previous visit to London was a restaurant on the corner of the same street where we happened to stay then in a tiny hot room under the roof. For the whole week in London this time we kept planning to go there but something else would come up. So finally I reserved a table there for the last evening.

When you spend the day walking the city, it’s hard to plan perfectly. We arrived to the restaurant almost an hour earlier but since we weren’t hungry yet, instead of checking with them if they could seat us immediately, we decided just to walk around and see the area where we spent time seven years ago.

We went by the B&B where we stayed – it looked the same. We checked out a bakery that seemed very appealing back then – probably not the fairest comparison with it being after 5 P.M., but the selection of baked goods didn’t impress. We walked by the private park for the residents of one of the buildings – it was still very charming and inaccessible. Then we came across the second location of Les Senteurs. Since Vanessa and I went through everything at the other location the day before, I just sprayed again Tom Daxon’s Magnolia Heights to give it one last wear before going for a bottle. And then I saw it…

Jo Loves London Boutique

Of course, later I remembered Vanessa’s suggestions to the fellow-shoppers in Ormonde Jayne store to visit this area for Les Senteurs and Jo Loves boutiques. But it completely went by me at the time. Since I still kept my grudges against this brand for offering to send me scented blotters in response to my inquiry to purchase samples when the line had been launched (six years later I think I can safely reveal the brand, about which I wrote that post), I didn’t even think of visiting that store. But there we were – so I just couldn’t pass it by.

It wasn’t the first time I smelled Jo Loves’ perfumes: a year after the launch they had some limited promotion where you could request 2 samples. My friend and I each requested two – so we got to try four perfumes. “Nice but nothing special” was a verdict for three of them, and I liked but didn’t love the forth one (Gardenia). Several months ago I got hajusuuri’s “traveling samples set” – so I was able to try 7 more of their scents and really liked one of them.

Even though I came partially prepared, it took me some time to make a decision. In the end I decided to go with perfume that I liked from the hajusuuri’s set – No. 42 The Flower Shop.

Rusty and Jo Loves The Flower Shop

Most of you who have been around for a while saw on my blog many beautiful bouquets (usually in Rusty’s company). Those we created in one of the local florist shops, which both I and my vSO like. He usually goes there on his own (to order flowers for me, not trusting online ordering) but from time to time we visit it together – not to buy anything but just to check what they’re offering. There is a cold room in the shop – a walk-in floral refrigerator for pre-made floral arrangements and buckets of different flowers. No. 42 The Flower Shop smells exactly like that room: greenery with mixed floral bouquet, light and pleasant (Notes from Fragrantica: green leaves, mandarin orange, peony, lily of the valley, freesia, jasmine, narcissus, iris, white musk, moss and patchouli). I plan to put the bottle in the fridge and use on hot summer days. The name of this perfume was inspired by the flower shop, in which Ms. Malone worked as a girl. Many years later she opened her boutique on the same street where that flower shop used to be.

Jo Loves No. 42 The Flower Shop

There was a close second contender – Mango Thai Lime. But since I’ve never tried it before on skin, the store was closing, and we were getting late for dinner, I decided to go for the safer choice, but tried to get a sample of this one – to test later and see if I would want to get a bottle. Would you care to guess what I was offered?

Rusty and Jo Loves The Flower Shop

And if you were curious, dinner at the restaurant, which happened to be just one short block away from the Jo Loves shop, was just alright: the food was edible but much simpler than 7 years ago (and as I happen to still have a menu from that first time, I was able to confirm that my memory wasn’t playing tricks on me). But those memories brought me back to that street, that boutique and to that perfume. And the picture below is what I saw first today when I went to the Jo Loves site to look-up something for this post. A magical coincidence indeed.

Jo Loves 42 The Flower Shop

The story of the next perfume will be not as poetic and a little shorter.

In Barcelona, predictably, I didn’t have any “prospects” until the last day. When I got to La Basilica Galeria (the one with 1,000+ perfume), I told myself that if anywhere, I should be able to find there something to fit the criteria I imposed on this perfume hunt. Luckily for me, local perfumes were thoughtfully marked as such, so while methodically sniffing through all the shelves, I paid additional attention to those with “Made in Spain” labels.

Rusty and Ramon Molvizar Sun Sol

No, I didn’t bring back with me a toy for Rusty instead of perfume though I came close to that. Perfumes that I liked the most were in the case before the last. Before that day I have never heard of this brand – Ramon Molvizar, though the first fragrance in the Fragrantica’s database is dated as 1999. Probably, it was for the best because had I read the brand’s claims of “exquisite luxury” and “taking the perfumer’s art to its extreme where it becomes a masterpiece,” I would have felt much more skeptical. But since I was blissfully ignorant, I approached these perfumes practically with an open mind: I almost didn’t hold against them those strange shiny fragments inside the bottles.

Ramon Molvizar Sol Sun

After trying several of Molvizar’s perfumes on paper, I pared down my choices to two. Those went on my wrists, and we went to sleep eat on it. I tried to be discreet in the café, but since I spent equal time sniffing and chewing, I suspect I didn’t fully succeed. But I made up my mind.

Rusty and Ramon Molvizar Sol Sun

Sol Sun on my skin opens with a cheerful citrus – perfect for that summer day in Barcelona. In the development I recognize lotus (not as a real flower but as a note I know from other perfumes) and some hints of wood. Those of you who have better nose would probably be able to recognize other notes from the list: lemon, ginger, bergamot, rose, orchid, jasmine, musk, wood and sugar cane. It is not one of those perfumes that everybody needs to experience: there’s nothing groundbreaking, unique or even quirky about Sol Sun. But I like this bright and sweet floral perfume with warm amber-y drydown – despite of the slightly tacky, in my opinion, 23-karat gold flakes (c’mon, for $8 you can get Beverly Hills Gold with 24 (!) kt gold flakes). And, as an additional bonus, Sol Sun comes in a beautiful wooden box, also made in Spain (which impressed my vSO in our made-in-China century). That packaging will allow me to keep this perfume on my dresser, which is valuable given the aforementioned collection proliferation. Nothing else would fit into it though besides the bottle – Rusty has checked.

Rusty and Ramon Molvizar Sol Sun

As to the last leg of the trip: I drew a blank. By that time I tried and liked so many great perfumes that it didn’t feel right to buy anything less interesting than those perfumes from the “Perfumes I didn’t buy” sections of my travel posts only because it was local. But when I finish my La Tulipe decant, I’ll buy a bottle in memory of how wonderful this perfume was on a cold summer day in Stockholm.

 

Images: all but the one from the Jo Loves site, my own

Visiting Three Monarchies, Part 3: Stockholm

“Vacation” is usually not the first association when you hear “Stockholm.” On our itinerary this city got by chance: we live so far away from Europe, that there is a limited number of direct flights between us and the Old World. Barcelona did not have any, so to get back home we’d have to do a plane change. If you were to add an extra flight and a couple of hours for transfer, the trip would easily stretch for 17+ hours – something that I try to avoid whenever possible. So while planning the vacation, we decided we’d do a couple of days’ stopover in one of the direct-flights-reach cities. Stockholm was the one with the best combination of schedules and fares. The fact that all three destinations were monarchies had dawned on us much later – at Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armory in Stockholm) as we were discussing that not a single Royalty has acknowledged our presence in any of the visited countries…

Accommodations

For a change, for that last part of the trip we went for a hotel room. It was a pleasant hotel decorated in the style of Roaring Twenties. Our room was quiet, had heavy curtains and a very comfortable bed, in which we finally had a good night sleep (the first night we slept for 12 hours straight).

Haymarket Hotel Stockholm

It was rather cold (+14C after +26C in Barcelona) and raining; we discovered that Stockholm was a very practical and minimalistic city, even its old town part; but somehow it felt very comforting and friendly. The first evening as we walking in the rain enjoying clean and orderly streets, we came across a small park inside the Art Nouveau building of Stockholm’s Central Pool (Centralbadet) built in the beginning of the previous century. It was an absolutely magical experience: beautiful lilacs and other blossoms in the drizzle of evening rain. I felt happy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Three days that we spent there was a delightful coda to our vacation.

Perfumes I took with me

Following the idea of bringing to this vacation only perfumes local to the destination, I packed a couple of decants and a sample from the only Swedish brand I had in my collection – Byredo. La Tulipe was just amazing, and I might re-consider wearing it only as a summer perfume: it was wonderful in the colder weather. Pulp was predictably good. I hope these both perfumes are still available once I finish the decants I have. Bal D’Afrique, which I brought with me for further testing, was nice but not enough for me to go for a bottle.

Perfumes I tested

After my London and Barcelona perfume escapades, I didn’t plan to do much more perfume testing but I still managed to visit a couple of perfume spots – a perfume department in the luxury department store NK and a standalone perfumery Insanto.

Both places had interesting selection of perfumes but not too many of the brands not available elsewhere, and I concentrated my testing mostly on those brands, to which I do not have an easy access.

Insanto Stockholm

Perfumes I didn’t buy

Perfume prices in Sweden do not impel spontaneous perfume purchases. Also, there weren’t that many Swedish brands – so most of the tested perfumes did not fit the original intent to get “souvenirs” from the countries I visited. But several perfumes that I liked while testing on skin are worth mentioning: were they “Made in Sweden,” I would have considered buying one of these.

I love and own two perfumes by Keiko Mecheri but because this brand is not available where I live I’m not too familiar with their line. That’s why I was interested to try at least some of the perfumes – even though I didn’t think I’d buy them there. I thought that Bois Satin smelled very nice, and I hope to be able to test it again soon.

For a long time I stayed away from Xerjoff: even though I tested occasionally some of their perfumes that came my way one way or the other, I didn’t make any conscious attempts to follow their new releases, and of those perfumes that I tried before I didn’t warm up enough to any to go even for a decant. They clearly like Xerjoff in Sweden: I saw it in both stores where I tested perfumes (and I want to remind you that one of them was a department store). So I gave up and tested some of the perfumes. I liked several on paper and then one on my skin. I don’t know why I happen to like the one that is sold out almost everywhere – XJ 1861 Naxos. Now I’ll have to locate a sample to test it again before I start scavenging eBay and FB groups for a bottle.

I’ve never heard of either the “famous Costes Hotel in Paris” (Fragrantica) or the eponymous perfume that Olivia Giacobetti created for that hotel in 2004, but when I tested Costes for the first time, I liked it. I’m not completely sure yet how I feel about perfumes that perfume shops create under their own brands – let alone perfumes for hotels, so I will try Costes again if I come across it somewhere but I won’t probably be actively looking for it.

Stockholm Blotters

Speaking of hotel perfumes, the only perfume I was seriously considering on this part of the trip was perfume sold in the hotel’s gift shop: No 1 Haymarket Eau de Parfum. The scent is described as: “Velvetly vanilla, powdery ambergris, and smoky sandalwood united with modern and surprising tones of bergamot, citrus and a hint of pepper.” For a couple of days I would be stopping by the gift shop to apply this perfume and then would keep smelling my wrist… for the next couple of hours while perfume was still discernible. I thought it was nice. It was local. And it wasn’t even expensive (less than $30 for a 30 ml bottle). Why didn’t I buy it? I realized that with all the great perfumes that I already had in my collection (and several more that I might be considering after more tests), I would just never have time for this pleasant but nondescript little number – no matter how warm I felt about that hotel that sheltered us in the final part of our turbulent vacation.

Haymarket Hotel EdP No1

Just in case you got drowned in the endless parts of my trip: it was the last one, and in the next post Rusty and I will finally reveal what perfumes I brought back with me.

 

Images: all but the last one – my own; No 1 Haymarket EdP – from the hotel site.