Perfume True To Its Name

As I mentioned once or twice before, I love orchids. But since I had almost no encounters with fragrant orchids, my love to them lives in the universe that is parallel to my perfume love: I enjoy looking at them and keep searching for perfect jewelry pieces with the orchid theme but I do not think of them as an olfactory experience. Though, once I came across a fragrant orchid.

 

Rusty and Orchids

 

Sensual Orchid created by Jerome Epinette for Laurent Mazzone Parfums in 2012 is one of those perfumes that, very likely, I wouldn’t have ever tried if it weren’t for my (rarely visiting) guest author hajussuri. Considering her my scent twin, I decided to participate in the split she hosted, even though I haven’t tested it before then.

The first thought that popped up in my head once I applied Sensual Orchid was that the name fitted it perfectly. I cannot explain what qualities of this perfume prompted the thought (it’s an I-know-when-I-see-it-type feeling), but it was a positive thing since, in general, I do not like when brands exploit sex for marketing purposes.

I didn’t even finish my small decant before I found and bought a bottle of this wonderful perfume. My quick take on it: I enjoy wearing it, and a couple of years ago it inspired me to write a haiku for the NST haiku project (which is very telling if you consider that you can count any type of poetry I ever wrote with fingers on one hand):

Sensual Orchid –
Perfume true to its name…
His heartbeat agrees

If you haven’t tried Sensual Orchid yet and want to know more, you should read Kafka’s (Kafkaesque) review.

 

Laurent Mazzone Sensual Orchid

 

Have you tried any perfumes from this brand? What did you think? I was tempted by their Radikal collection (Radikal Iris sounds interesting, right?), but nobody I know ever mentioned trying those, none of the decanter sites here has them, and I’m not adventurous enough for a blind buy.

 

Images: my own

Portia’s Mid Season Beauties 2020

Portia’s Mid Season Beauties 2020

Hey there crew,

Mid Seasons are my favourites. I love the less extreme temperatures and the chopping and changing. Whether it’s Spring or Autumn, the days play similarly, and I find the same set of fragrances can often get some play. One day hot, next day cloudy, sunshiny days and chilly nights happen in both seasons. It does mean our easy reach fragrances need to be able to fit into more than a single weather mood. So I have a bunch of perfumes each year that are able to cross the borders comfortably. I pop them on the easy access tray with some all-year contenders. This year looks like it’s going to be fun.

 

 

Portia’s Mid Season Beauties 2020

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In the Search for the Perfect Mimosa, Take 6

Even if you were new to my blog (which not too many of my current readers are), just from the post’s title you could guess that I like mimosa in perfumes. Correction: I like mimosa. Period.

 

Mimosa

 

My perfumista friends clearly made that connection, and in the last couple of years I’ve been getting different mimosa-related gifts from them.

Previously, I wrote about the shower gel Cotton Flower & Mimosa (Yves Rocher) that my perfume twin Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) sent to me when it wasn’t yet available in the U.S. and Elizabeth Arden’s Green Tea Mimosa perfume that hajusuury, my other perfume sibling, gifted to me.

Last year in London, Tara (A Bottled Rose) gave me a beautiful Mimosa soap by Molinard that she brought back from her trip to France. It smells so wonderful that I did something I haven’t done before but remembered from decades back – a custom from my childhood to keep fragrant soaps in a drawer to scent lingerie. But I plan to start using it soon, before it loses its aroma.

 

Molinard Mimosa Soap

 

Then last Christmas I got another unexpected gift from Lucas: Mimosa perfume by Monotheme Fine Fragrnces Venezia. Before then I had never heard about that brand, though Fragrantica has 72 (!) perfumes listed for it. Even without it being a gift from a friend, Mimosa is quite nice. Simple, uncomplicated but nice and surprisingly wearable.

 

Rusty and Monotheme Mimosa

 

But this is not all the “damage” Lucas has done recently: first he shared with me a sample of Amouage Love Mimosa, and later he found a bottle at a great price, and he, hajusuri and I split it. If you haven’t tried Love Mimosa yet, read Lucas’s great review.

 

Amouage Shop in London

 

The picture above is from my last year’s trip to London. [Un]fortunately, that day the store was closed – or I could have left it with a full-price bottle of Love Mimosa. I didn’t get that cute yellow bottle, but I got more than enough perfume to wear for the next many upcoming mimosa seasons, especially considering all other great mimosa perfumes that I accumulated over the years and previous five takes on this single note exploration. I like, own and wear Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom, Givenchy Amarige Mimosa, Sonoma Scent Studio Bee’s Bliss, Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie, Atelier Cologne Mimosa Indigo and Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Mimosa. And I’m extremely close to needing a replacement for the decant of Prada Infusion de Mimosa.

 

Images: my own

Zoologist Bee

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

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

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

 

Zoologist Bee

 

Zoologist Bee (Cristiano Canali, 2019)

Top Notes: Orange, Ginger Syrup, Royal Jelly Accord

Middle Notes: Broom, Heliotrope, Mimosa, Orange Flower

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

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

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

 

Image: my own

Mancera Red Tobacco

TOBACCO. We’re not supposed to like it any more because it kills you. Perfume is one of the few places where you can say “tobacco,” and people swoon and discuss exactly what kind of tobacco it is. Pipe, cigar, a fresh rollie (that’s one for the Australian readers). I suspect that in one more generation these nuances will have to be explained as real life associations with tobacco become a thing of the past. That’s an interesting shift for perfumery. Many people are attracted to tobacco in perfume because of warm memories of a father or grandfather; the smell of their jacket, a well fed visit, a dog long passed at your feet.

The cost of cigarettes in Australia is nearly 40.00 for a pack of 30. The government raises the tax on all tobacco products 12.5% every year and the traditional “pack a day” smoker’s habit is a thing of the past. Teenagers no long stand around in clumps puffing away, their parents have long quit, and the scent of tobacco is something you will have to seek out, not have blown second hand all over you. This is, of course, a good thing. Though future perfumers may not be seeking to recreate their own memories, they will still be using tobacco in perfumery because tobacco is delicious.

I have always loved the smell. My dad had a pipe and cigar phase, and I was fascinated by both of them. Once, he let me puff his cigar. It was gross, but the blue smoke and the smell were fascinating. Pipe tobacco was even better . The enjoyment and study of tobacco in all its varying nuances and styles is a close cousin to perfume. While we may appreciate the smell of wine, it’s not designed to fill the air with its aroma the way tobacco and fragrance are. And so, in search of beauty without nicotine I’ve always put my hand up to try a fragrance with tobacco as a note. Most of the time I’ve found it elusive. Smothered by oud, reduced to being a sweet note for vetiver, serving only to brighten a leather and then fade. Shrill. An abstract painting titled Tobakkō. Nothing has ever smelled like burying your face into a fresh tobacco pouch until Mancera Red Tobacco. It has other things going on, but the tobacco note is rich and true, lasting from first spray to drydown.

 

Mancera Red Tobacco

 

Mancera Red Tobacco 2017

Top Notes: Saffron, Cinnamon, Incense, Nutmeg, White peach, Green apple, Nepalese oud

Middle Notes: Patchouli, Jasmine

Base Notes: Tobacco, Amber, Woody notes, Vetiver, Vanilla, White Musk

Red Tobacco is almost a gourmand: it’s so sweet, it makes me think “tobacco milkshake”. This may sound unappealing, but it’s an addictive scent, like tobacco itself. There is a brief fruity phase I’m not keen on, but that doesn’t last long. Saffron and patchouli are wonders here, macerated together like the filling of an exotic pastry. The cinnamon is an absolute joy paired with tobacco. I find myself fantasizing about cinnamon flavoured tobacco and tobacco flavoured spice mixes. And through it all the pungent, warm, appealing scent of a freshly opened pouch of tobacco dominates. Red Tobacco is not for the timid, it lasts all day, and I recommend you have just a wee spritz until your brain gets used to the potency. If you love it, you will love it deeply and be inhaling yourself for hours.

Oh, and yes, it goes very well with a nice whiskey!

 

Image: my own

Portia Loves: Opium by YSL

Hi there crew!

Opium by YSL! It was a game changer. This was way back in 1977, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t hit Oz stores till later. It was only the lucky few international travellers or women whose husbands travelled for business that got their mits on a bottle. It caused a sensation. The name alone was scandalous and the strength! It could dry clean your curtains if you wore a couple of spritzes too much. I remember my Mum thinking it was a ridiculous concept, and she didn’t like the smell at all. Yes, I come from a long line of snarky, judgemental bitches. It’s hereditary, and we are kinda proud of it.

I, on the other hand, thought Opium perfectly marvellous. I’m about 10 years old by now and had very definite opinions of my own about everything. Already the world was seen through the black and white lenses of divine and vile, there was no meh. Even then I would make pronouncements instead of having a conversation, and once my mind was made up, it took a truckload of evidence to the contrary for me to even think about changing it. These were trying times for all around me, and me. My poor born and raised in God-fearing country-Australia parents were manifestly unprepared for such a child. It was like two sheaves of wheat had found themselves parents to a very camp, ridiculously beautiful, passionfruit vine. Let’s not get started on the wilfulness either shall we.

Anyway, Opium. So, fast forward a few years, and it’s the late 1990s. I’m finally introduced to my BFF Kath’s Mum. She ONLY wears Opium by YSL. We are not talking a shrinking violet in its usage either. This is an above 100ml per year wearer of Opium. At that stage, it was still in the pared down variation of the original spray bottle and smelled like a hairspray version of itself. Still recognisable after a while but cheaper smelling and shorter lasting. Then it all changed – the bottle, the scent, everything. Dad bought Mum a couple of bottles that she wore but didn’t really love.

Not sure exactly what year I decided to keep her in the original, but it was 10 or more years. Every time I’d see a vintage bottle at a fairly reasonable price (and that really ain’t cheap anymore), I’d grab it. I also grabbed all the summer flankers, extraits, men’s etc. I’m nothing if not dogged and obsessive.

Meanwhile Mum’s health started to deteriorate, and she slowly went from being all gussied up and out and about every day to an invalid. Still, she would spritz herself wet with Opium each and every day. The whole house smelled of it as you walked through the front door. Wonderful.

Anyway, two years ago Mum went on to the next grand adventure. We sprayed the chapel, her casket, the flowers and the house with so much Opium it was like a fog. It was a seriously wonderful service, and I was asked to do the eulogy.

Kath took what Mum had on her bureau to wear as memory scent.

I have had the same couple of bottles out on display for wear for ages (Opium Posie de Chine and Opium Secret de Parfum). Due to the C19 Lockdown though I’ve been going through my perfumes and assessing their merits. Especially my multiples. The vintage YSL box got a going over a couple of weeks ago. I was more than slightly surprised at how much Opium has been amassed. So, I decided to sell some off. Four bottles have gone on to fresher pastures, gave one bottle to Kath as an extra backup and a pair still in the sale list. I took 20% off what I paid for them, and they’d only been spritzed to authenticate, but they were still no bargain. Quite a few bottles got binned through the purchasing process because there is a lot of fake shit floating around.

So here is my pared down collection at this moment. Yes, I know it’s still a shitload of vintage Opium. Yes, I know I’ll never use it all up. Yes, I know hoarding is an illness. No, I’m not bothered by your judgement, actually I’m so used to being judged, it feels normal and right.

Ta Daaaaaa! Here lies my shame for all to see. Isn’t it marvellous? I will also admit to doubles of Opium Secret de Parfum, Opium Posie de Chine and an extra EdT that was a chemist tester that had lost its spritzer and cap.

 

Back: all BNIC: Opium Eau d’Ete, Opium Pour Homme Eau d’Orient, Opium Orchidee de Chine
Middle: Opium EdT, Opium Secret de Parfum, Opium Posie de Chine, Opium EdT, Opium Fleur de Shanghai
Front: Opium Sparkling EdT, Opium parfum, Opium EdT

I am wearing Opium Fleur de Shanghai at the time of writing. All the glamour of Opium in a summer weight and very slightly sweeter.

 

OK, so now it’s your turn to share a vintage story or a memory in the comments please.
Portia xx

Saturday Question: What Are Your Top 3 Citrus Perfumes?

Following great tradition started by two wonderful bloggers, Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) and Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies), once a week I or one of the guest writers will keep the lights on in this virtual leaving room, but I hope that you, my friends and readers, will engage in conversation not only with me or the other host, but also with each other.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #20:

What Are Your Top 3 Citrus Perfumes?

If ever it is time to wear citrus perfumes, July is it almost anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. So, what are your best citrus perfumes? Do you wear them only in summer, or are you a year-round citrus wearer?

In the interest of the idea of engaging in conversation with others, if you see somebody mentioning perfume that you also like, reply to their comment: not only it’ll add your vote to that perfume, but also it’ll allow you to name more than three perfumes total (usually everybody has issues with naming top N of anything, whatever that N is, whatever that “anything” is).

And a bonus question: what is your favorite citrus fruit to eat?

My Answer

I’ll start with a fruit: if I had to choose just one citrus to eat, even though it would be very hard (I love many of them), my choice would be grapefruit.

When it comes to citrus perfumes, there are not that many of them in my collection: when it’s hot, I tend to wear light florals rather than citruces. But I can do top three, I think: my long-time favorite grapefruit Guerlein Pamplelune, (though, I still haven’t moved beyond the second mini bottle), Atelier Cologne Clementine California that I’ve been enjoying for a while and my most recent discovery and a new love J-Scent Yuzu.

 

 

What Are Your 3 Top Citrus Perfumes?

 

Disclaimer: this blog doesn’t use any affiliated links or benefit from any of the G-d awful ads that some of you might see inserted tastelessly by the WP engine inside the post and/or between comments. Encouraging readers to post more comments does not serve any purpose other then getting pleasure from communicating with people who share same interests.

Portia and LE LION de CHANEL

Hello Crew,

We’ve had some excitement around here in Australia. The news breaks that CHANEL is releasing a new Les Exclusif, and only the Middle East are getting it. Dubai! Not even Paris by all reports. Oh CHANEL, how well you know us. Suddenly LE LION de CHANEL is hyped beyond the stratosphere. It’s this, it’s that, just wait, you’ll die, it’s their best offering since Coromandel, when can we get it? It’s been a long time since a release garnered so much interest, excitement and speculation. I was agog with lemmings.

The fact that the world has been going through trauma, we’ve been locked down, life has become a very small circle, yet we are attached by the computer & TV to everything that’s happening worldwide 24/7. Watching POC around the world with their friends, families and supporters marching for an equality long denied. Trans people being told, again, that they are not their gender (that doctors and psychologist have agreed they are), and that they deserve to be placed in the “OTHER” category, preferable far far away. A pandemic that threatens lives and livelihoods that no one can seem to get a handle on and that has different symptoms and virility in every person it touches.

We needed a ray of sunshine. 99 years on from the launch of CHANEL No 5. The perfume world has been given something to write home about.

LE LION de CHANEL 2020 by Olivier Polge

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Lemon, Bergamot
Heart: Labdanum, Madagascan vanilla
Base: Sandalwood, Patchouli

Imagine the love child of CHANEL Coromandel, Guerlain Shalimar and DIOR Mitzah.

The first day I tried LE LION de CHANEL there were a group of about eight perfumistas having our first get together since C19 lockdown. We all had a spritz within about a minute. Every person got a different enough ride that they could have been different perfumes. On some it read crunchy toffee, others got animal resins, there was smoky incense, creamy sandalwood, citrus gelato, caramel. For everyone the timings were different, the depth, warmth, heft and also interestingly, WE ALL LOVED IT! Not one person in the room was less than spellbound.

My personal ride goes something like this. A swirl of pine lime gelato. Labdanum rich amber with a distinctly animalic bent. Creamy sandalwood tempered by a vanilla rich amber that has strong hints of the crackly toffee on the top of a creme brûlée. All day I was getting wafts of the most incredible resinously sweet fragrance out of the blue, and I’d think it was someone walking ahead, on the bus or train or in the department store. NOPE! It was me. The life of the fragrance is unbelievable. I’m still smelling a lived in vanilla and humanity over 24 hours later after running around town all day yesterday and then sleeping till 11 am.

How did I get it? One of my buddies owns a perfume chain here in Australia. His family owns department stores in Dubai, and they are selling LE LION de CHANEL. My buddy saw an opportunity and jumped on it. He brought in as much from Dubai as he could, which wasn’t very much. Last time we spoke he was waiting on a second order. I grabbed two 200ml bottles, and another buddy Matt and I hosted a split. We sold 150ml in 10ml batches at our cost price plus decant bottles and postage from each bottle and kept what was left for ourselves. The spots sold out in less than an evening. That’s why my picture is of a 3/4 empty bottle already.

Have you a lemming?
Portia xx

 

Image: My own

Portia Reconnecting with Serge Lutens

Hey crew,

Last time we chatted I told you about bringing my Serge Lutens open, now old style, 50ml export bottles out of their box and onto my easy reach tray next to my desk. It’s been spritz changing, even in these few short weeks. With them lined up before me I think about them much more often and am revisiting long languished loves again. It’s like a fragrant voyage of rediscovery. It reminds me how deeply the brand changed the way I thought about scenting myself. The possibilities, choice and intricacies of scent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fooling myself that every release or even favourite of mine is a boundary pushing masterpiece. Some are merely beautiful, easy wear interpretations of old tropes, but always with an interesting twist and/or perfectly balanced symmetry.

 

 

As luck would have it, I’ve had the opportunity to do two masterclasses in the Yellow Room upstairs in the Palais Royale store in Paris. The first was Jin and I with Elvire. Over the course of an hour or two we were introduced to the entire bell jar range, her favourite exports and the history of Féminité du Bois. It was an unbelievably jaw-dropping event. We already had some orders to fulfill from Aussies, and then I dropped a very large wad of cash on bell jars and travel sets for both Jin and myself. Jin fell madly in love with Muscs Koublaï Khän and is now on his second bell jar of it. He lovingly decants it into a beautiful black octagonal Serge Lutens travel spray and spritzes with gay abandon. I’ve never let him see how much it cost, he’d be horrified.

The second visit a couple of years ago was with a crew of perfume buddies. It was a much louder, more raucous affair and our hosts were not prepared at all to explain fragrance to frag nerds. BEDLAM! It was still fantastic though, and I was reintroduced to a couple of fragrances that I suddenly needed to own immediately. Chene and La Myrrhe. They sit in my collection, still in their cellophane. I don’t want to dab them, and I don’t want to decant them. What I do though is look at the boxes and reminisce. I wasn’t the only one to bust out the credit card and shop. I think there were 16 of us, and everyone purchased at least one bottle. Some people, who knew this might be their only visit to the grande purple emporium, splashed out on much more. While I didn’t learn much on this occasion, it is the one I smile to myself about so much more. Nothing compares to sharing the love of perfume with frag heads, made exponentially magic because we’d come from all over the world to meet in Paris.

 

 

So, I know you’re dying to know what’s been put up on the tray. I’d be chomping at the bit if I was reading your posts and it had gone this far without a list.

Arabie

I love the spicy opening that reminds me of ginger beer. When that settles down, I get a fruity, resinous melange that some days dips into apple pie territory and others into the scorch of spices sizzling in the pan in a sweet curry. Arabie lets me dream of Bedouin life from my comfortable couch.

Bas de Soie

I had been using a decant of this from Surrender To Chance, there was about 1ml left. I sprayed it all on and then wanted more. So I finally opened my bottle and gave myself a dousing. Something amazing happens to Bas de Soie at that level of heft. Suddenly it is a huge breath of spring. Even in our cold, rainy autumn here in Sydney I was transported to a springtime wonderland. Hyacinth, iris and musk blowing on a cool breeze.

Chergui

Chergui is the fragrance I most recognise as a Serge Lutens. It seems to capture and embody the spirit of the brand perfectly for me. Spicy and honeyed herbal opening, sweet tobacco and amber woods to close, and it runs the gamut of olfactory gorgeousness through its heart. It gives me visions of the legend travellers of the Middle East all the way down through Mongolia to the Far East.

Daim Blond

This was my favourite Serge for a while, but along came Bottega Veneta EdP, and I was like “Daim Blond who?” Fruity almonds and leather. It now smells dank and dated to me. Sad face. The dry down of softest, well loved leather is very nice next morning if you wear Daim Blond to bed.

Datura Noir

I wear Datura Noir quite a lot. First in decants and now in a bottle. I thought it wasn’t me. Too clean and fresh, a creamy white floral without the breath or skank seemed pointless. Yet, there I was/am, reaching and spritzing and loving it.

Féminité du Bois

My bottle has less than 10ml left. It’s got the Palais Royale logo on the label. Still smells fabulous, but I rarely wear it because I’m scared to not have it in this eras bottle. Spicy stewed fruits and woods. It’s absolutely heartbreakingly gorgeous.

Fille en Aiguilles

Also in the Palais Royale logo. More stewed fruit, but this time backed by incense and sharp pine. i love this so much for winter that I bought a few bottles and gave them out as gifts to various friends. Every one of them (non-perfumistas all) has re-bought it for themselves after using up that first bottle.

Five O’Clock au Gingembre

My favourite Serge Lutens fragrance so far. 10% into my second bottle. There is something about that opening zing of fruity ginger that I find so invigorating. You know I haven’t read the note list for years, and my nose tells me it is a ginger, tea, white flower and honey fragrance. I’m surprised to see no white flowers or tea mentioned, and find chocolate and patchouli there. WOW! My nose is clearly broken and has been for years.

L’Orpheline

The only notes given for L’Orpheline are incense and musk. To me they miss out on the smell of icy cold, snow filled winds in the monasteries of the Himalayas. Funnily, I get cold incense like you’re standing outside the temple shop, and the breeze is stealing most of the scent but it’s there.

Sa Majesté la Rose

This is not my favourite rose perfume. It does smell like you’ve stuck your nose in a particularly fragrant bloom early in the morning while it’s still got the dew on it and the scent hasn’t had time to burn off. The problem is that I find myself wanting a rose perfume to do a few more tricks than that. I need rose +++. This has rose. When the mood takes me, I look for and wear this but it’s a rare thing.

Santal Majuscule

That creamy, soapy sandalwood smell. So smooth and elegant. None of that rough, eucalyptus like opening of the Aussie stuff. This smells like the grown up, wealthy, settled down, gravitas version of Samsara. I have a really happy memory associated with Santal Majuscule. When it was first released I went in a split and bought 10ml. After wearing it twice I was about to write a review. As I reached for the decant, I knocked it over, and it smashed all over my desk. I was so upset at my clumsiness. Jin rushed in and saw the problem, after asking if I was OK and hearing the story, he said very calmly, “Well, you better buy a bottle. It smells fantastic” or some words to that effect. So I did.

Un Boise Vanille

The last of my Palais Royale label bottles. A thick, rich, crunchy vanilla that goes on strong and stays all day. Its simplicity hides depths and layers, if you bother to look, but for most non-perfumista wearers I imagine it just smells fabulous.

 

So that’s how I’ve been spending my lockdown time lately. Our restrictions ease gradually. One of my club groups got in touch, and they are hoping to reinstate trivia nights in late July. So, I’m a ways off working again. Maybe I’ll finally get to the mending pile on the floor in front of my sewing machine this week. It’s getting so big, I think it might take two full days.

 

What are your favourite Serge Lutens? Which bottles do you have open and use?
Portia xx

Does Good Packaging Make the Perfume?

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence.
Mark Twain

Ukiyo-e, shodō, ikebana, kimono, kabuki… I do not dislike culture of Japan, but I reject the awe some Europeans and Americans have towards it: yes, it is different and has interesting aspects. But by the same token as I do not think that being different means “inferior,” it doesn’t mean “superior” either. It is just different. So, usually I instinctively stay away from anything artificially Japonesque (I must admit, though, that I love California roll sushi that have nothing to do with traditional Japanese food).

Unrelated, I am usually skeptical when brands launch new sub-brands or lines under different names in parallel to their main brand: I see it as a plot to trick consumers into buying more because it’s something new and different.

So, how did it happen that I bought (!) a sample set from Floraiku – an “inspired by Japanese culture, traditions and ceremonies and named after haiku poetry” (©Fragrantica) brand created by the founders of Memo Paris?

In my defense, I can say that I was “vulnerable”: soon after my In the Search for the Perfect Magnolia post, I bought Magnolia Grandiflora Michel by Grandiflora – perfume that I found the most interesting during my magnolia note exploration quest. And, as much as I liked perfume itself, I thought that the bottle was hideous. The paper label looked extremely cheap, and today it seems to be pilling off that not even a year-old bottle. Which reminded me of new design for L’Artisan’s bottles that I saw recently at a department store: the testers were still probably half-full, but those paper labels were already in a dismal state. I have never seen anything like that happening to the original L’Artisan packaging. Greed is ugly.

So, while I was lamenting poor packaging of some nice niche brands, I read Cynthia’s (The Fragrant Journey) review of Floraiku set. I was curious about the line even before, but Cynthia’s praises for the presentation did it for me, and within days I placed my order.

 

Floraiku Sample Set

 

My impressions? Floraiku set is very beautiful, with a lot of attention to details. I’m not sure about names: I don’t like “I-s” and “My-s” in perfume names, so five out of 11 names using that form … is a little too personal. And most of the names seem not to have any connection to the notes used to compose them. I See the Clouds Go By featuring black currant leaves, cherry blossom and white musk – really? OK, maybe if I were to lay down in some garden watching the sky… though, when those cherries blossom, I would get cold quickly laying down.

I know that those note pyramids have very vague connection to what actually goes into those 15-20% of a volume of any given perfume. So I’d be fine with a brand not revealing the notes at all or giving just a general impression for the scent. But listing three notes?! Are they paying royalties to creators per an officially published note? At $350 for the set (50 ml full bottle plus 10 ml travel spray) I feel cheated.

I also do not care for pretend haiku. Actually, I’m not a big fan of haiku per se. I assume they sound better in Japanese, but English attempts usually rather perplex me: why to bother? It’s not poetry… But even more I’m annoyed by pseudo-haiku that do not even follow the formal rules of constructing those mini poems. And all that after naming the brand Floraiku!

The owl is watching
twilight
between two trees

Maybe if to think of them as of an abstract mood-setting description for these perfumes, they are not awful.

But what about the most important aspect – perfumes themselves?

You should read mentioned above Cynthia’s post for more detailed review on these perfumes. As for my impressions, Sound of a Ricochet and Cricket Song are my favorites, which isn’t surprising since they are oriental vanilla and floral (magnolia) woody musk respectively – and I usually like those. Three more – Sleeping on the Roof, Moon and I and My Shadow on the Wall I could probably wear. The remaining six – One Umbrella for Two, I Am Coming Home, I See the Clouds Go By, First Dream of the Year, My Love Has Color of the Night and Between Two Trees – are not something that I find interesting (though, none of them is unpleasant).

 

Floraiku Sample Set

 

Will any of these join my collection? Not unless I come across them at 70% off. I’m not discussing merits of selling these at $350 for 60 ml, it’s just that for me none of them is even close to be worth that price.

But I can wholeheartedly recommend getting the sample set because it is perfect for testing: it will be interesting to try the line, it’s aesthetically pleasing, none of the perfumes is challenging in any way, and, most likely, with any of them you won’t be tempted to get more than a 10 ml travel spray (which can be bought separately).

Eden Square (no affiliation, but I successfully ordered once from them – not this set though) offers the set for $25 + $5 S&H in the US (and you can get 10% off if you sign up for their newsletter).

 

Rusty and Floraiku Sample Set

Images: my own