Use it or…

This post is not about one of the favorite perfumistas’ topics of [not] hoarding perfumes we love. It’s a great topic, and I have no doubt we’ll talk about it again soon. But today I want to talk about body care products.

As much as I love good smelling products of all kinds, it might be challenging to follow a fragrant shower gel or a body lotion with perfume application. So, it’s a good idea to have products that match perfumes we love. I mean, it’s good as an idea. But with my perfume usage pattern where I wear another perfume every day, it’s not feasible to stock my bathroom with matching products.

The next seemingly good idea would be to get just those products that match one’s holy grail perfumes. It might work for some people who wear their favorites often, but since my most favorite perfumes are those that I wear only for special occasions, I would have not too many opportunities to enhance the experience by using a matching product. And yet… I couldn’t resist and got several wonderful though completely unnecessary items.

I thought about incorporating those body lotions or shower gels into my daily routine separately from matching perfumes but from the past experience I know better than to trivialize special things by relegating them to mundane use.

Last week, as I was going to put on one of my all-time favorites Ta’if by Ormonde Jayne, I thought it would be a great opportunity to use a wonderful matching bath and shower crème that I got a while ago as a gift with purchase.

 

Ormonde Jayne Taif Shower Creme

 

Several years ago Vanessa warned me what might happen, but I put those words of wisdom in the back of my mind: back then my tube was still fresh and smelled divine.

Today that at one time great bath product still has some vague pleasant aroma (unlike the one Vanessa portrayed in her post), and it still feels nice on skin. But it doesn’t smell of my beloved Ta’if, which probably isn’t such a bad thing since now I will be able to finally use it up since it doesn’t clash any more with perfumes I wear.

But you’ve been warned. And keep in mind: body creams have even worse shelf life.

 

Images: my own

A Smell of Home

I was contemplating getting back to blogging for a while now. I want to do it. I miss thinking my posts through, choosing pictures for them, waiting for and then answering your comments. I even have pages of ideas for topics in my “Next” file. But the longer you postpone that next post, the harder it is to choose the “right” topic. After a seven weeks’ silence I couldn’t return with a post about the next lipstick I picked up for the cute name or with the next episode of my “Small Things That Brighten Life” series. I mean, of course I could, but it seemed wrong with this one being a perfume blog.

I traveled half of the time I was absent, mostly for work, and while I brought many perfumes with me and wore them daily, perfumes stayed at the back of my mind. Primarily I thought about staying awake (I hate jet lag!), keeping concentration that I needed to perform my duties (sleeping aids help to sleep but totally mess up cognitive functions) and Rusty who we left with a new cat sitter for such a long time. Rusty looked somewhat sad on daily reports’ photos but at least he was taken good care of.

 

 

Going to Ukraine, I had some hopes to check out their perfume offerings since I had 3 major cities on my itinerary. But time ran away from me, and the only true olfactory experience I got there was an extremely pleasant ambient scent in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency hotel in Kiev. But everything was so hectic that I hadn’t checked if they had anything with that scent in their gift shop (or if they even had a gift shop, for that matter).

And then there was London. It was a wonderful week of vacation that started with what felt like half an hour but probably was three times longer meeting with Vanessa who, once again, arrived at the place we were staying ahead of us, though this time, unlike it happened in Paris, not only she didn’t get to talk to the owner but she couldn’t even get a confirmation from the person holding they keys whether we’d already collected them (to be fair, it wasn’t for Vanessa’s not looking trustworthy or that person being super careful – she just had no idea who I was since the key was dispatched in response to the code, no names asked).

While exchanging small gifts with Vanessa, I showed her some pictures and videos of Rusty who by that time got acclimated with his new nanny enough to enjoy staying on her lap, purring and allowing her to scratch his belly. “Aren’t you jealous?” Vanessa asked me.

 

 

By that time, I was asking myself the same. Every day, seeing the next portion of pictures and video clips, my vSO and I were, jokingly, exclaiming: “Traitor!” But while we acknowledged that we were somewhat jealous, the prevailing feeling was that we were happy that he befriended his stand-in (well, live-in) human and wasn’t lonely. For the first time in many years, while away on a long trip, I wasn’t missing Rusty so badly to want to cut the trip short. But still, I was pining for his company, his fluffy tail, his “meow” language that he trained my vSO and me to understand and the smell of his warm fur.

I rarely read reviews for perfumes that I haven’t tried because I don’t want reviews to influence my impressions of them when I finally test them. But since I usually do not care for hand-made perfumes and rarely get to try them, I read two inspiring reviews for Bengale Rouge, the latest creation by Liz Moores of Papillon Perfumes, published by my friends – Tara (A Bottled Rose) and Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume). I wasn’t paying much attention to notes but I did remember that it was “about the cat” or “Your Cat But Better.” So, when Vanessa shared her sample with me, even though normally I would have preserved “a sample in the hand” for later while fully exploring all opportunities provided by London, missing my cat, I started testing this perfume almost immediately.

I thought I was predisposed to like this perfume. I was wrong: I loved it. Since then I looked up the notes more than once (sandalwood, Turkish rose, honey, vanilla and sweet myrrh), and I still can’t really make them out. But does it really matter? Bengale Rouge is perfectly blended, elegant and complex perfume that purrs on my skin – maybe not as sweet as Rusty sitting on my lap but warm and comforting nevertheless.

When we returned home, Rusty behaved a little strange: he looked like he recognized us but still was not completely sure who we were, and he kept sniffing the air. And only after I showered, changed into clean clothes, put on Bengale Rouge and started smelling of home, Rusty conceded that he knew me.

Had Bengale Rouge been offered in smaller size, I would have bought it already. Actually, I was trying to buy a full bottle soon after coming home but, luckily, it was sold out everywhere I checked. Since the impulse has gone (and no full bottles are available yet anyway), I’ll probably try to buy a decant and then see if I need more. If I’m not the last one who tried it, I do recommend you, keeping up with a cat theme, get your paws on a sample: even if in the end you decide not to buy and wear Bengale Rouge, it’s one of the releases this year that is worth trying.

As I’m writing this, Rusty sits on my lap. And since he’s much more photogenic than an almost empty 1 ml vial of Bengale Rouge, and this post was “about the cat” at least as much as about perfume, I’ll finish this post with his picture – even though the only connection to Bengal cats he has is the animosity between him and a cute neighbor Bengal who comes to the door window from time to time to hiss at Rusty. On a couple of occasions Rusty and I formed a coalition and chased him away (well, I did while holding my indoor fluffy warrior).

 

Rusty on my lap

 

Images: my own

Summer Iris

While most of classifications, such as gender or seasonality, as well as more specific designations – genres, families and notes – are relatively abstract and often very subjective, we still use them, even when we break all the rules and wear heavily pronounced oriental perfumes in a heatwave or cheerful citrus number in the dead of winter.

In my mind iris perfumes belong to spring. It doesn’t mean that I don’t wear them all year round, especially considering our local weather, and I had a full winter month of iris perfumes (do you remember last year’s Februiris (©Lucas)?), but mentally I place my favorite Chanel No 19, Prada Infusion d’Iris or Ramon Monegal Impossible Iris somewhere in March, maybe April when their warmth and cool duality perfectly matches an early Spring weather (or, at least, my conceptual image of it).

 

Butterfly Iris

 

As it often happens in Perfumeland, I tried this perfume by chance: last year my occasional guest writer and perfume twin hajusuuri sent me Swarovski studded atomizer filled with Houbigant Iris des Champs. I do not remember the exact story of that atomizer but I think hajusuuri got it from a friendly SA with a purchase of something else, tried it and passed the remaining portion to me.

It was such a pleasant surprise! From the first time I sprayed Iris des Champs on I was charmed by it: it was a very subtle and beautiful floral composition with warm powdery iris nicely blended with Lily of the Valley, rose, jasmine and ylang-ylang (additional notes listed are bergamot, pink pepper, sandalwood, amber woody notes, vanilla and musk). I quickly finished the decant, refilled it from a bottle I bought soon after that and sent it back to the original owner.

 

Houbigant Iris des Champs

 

I do not think that Iris des Champs is not suitable for a colder weather: I wore it in December and enjoyed it very much. But either because I got my bottle in summer or it actually fits me better when it’s warm, but I consider Iris des Champs my summer iris. All those notes I listed above? I don’t know, if you tried this perfume, please tell me what you can smell besides iris. I think that a slight soapiness that I get comes from rose (and, strangely, I do not mind it here, even though usually it bothers me). And I could probably vouch for whatever could be considered very light amber. But beyond that you could take or leave any of the notes, and I’ll believe we’re still talking about the same fragrance (as I stated earlier, it’s abstract and subjective).

Iris des Champs is elegant, light and extremely office-friendly while not boring. You might not like it (I don’t think it’s everybody’s darling) but I find it original and unusual enough to have it in one’s collection if you happen to like it. Also, the packaging is nice, and price is more than reasonable if you do not mind shopping at discounter sites.

 

Rusty and Houbigant Iris des Champs

 

Images: my own

Linden Week

I planned to do this mini-project for the first week of July, a month a name of which, as we discovered, in several Slavic languages is connected to linden. But first it was my mini-vacation, then I was too busy, then something else came up. But I still did it!

I love linden, and I wouldn’t mind wearing perfumes with this prominent note for 7 days in a row or even longer but I didn’t have enough to cover the whole week.

 

Linden Blossom

 

From my two previous Single Note Exploration posts (Take 1 and Take 2) I found only three perfumes that I like, own and wear: my two absolute favorites Jo Malone French Lime Blossom and April Aromatics Under den Linden. I also wore Tauer Perfumes Zeta, which still didn’t smell like linden to my nose but since otherwise it’s a pleasant green perfume, I will finish the bottle eventually.

In addition to these three that I wore, I tested two more linden-centric perfumes.

One of the readers shared with me a sample of Frau Tonis Parfum No. 10 Linde Berlin. Until she mentioned it, I haven’t even heard of the brand. Notes for this perfume are not too complex: green notes, honey and linden. A couple of times when I tested it, it smelled a little too sweet while on other occasions I thought it was rather bitter and acidic, which I liked more. It is not my favorite linden perfume but had I traveled to Berlin, I would have picked up at least a travel bottle of it. Maybe one day I will.

Schone Linden 05 by Krigler (seriously, what is it with all these brands and numbers?!) got to me by pure chance: a friend who was shopping at the boutique managed to get this free (!) sample for me.

Do you know of this brand? I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for that friend who introduced me to the best lavender perfume I found so far – Lieber Gustav 14.

Schone Linden is a beautiful-beautiful perfume. Despite the name though, it is not a linden perfume. Rather it smells of the whole bouquet: camellia, carnation, gardenia, lilac, linden, tuberose and violet (additional two notes mentioned vanilla and musk). I would love to give it some more skin time but unfortunately my small sample is empty.

Despite my love to Lieber Gustav and some infatuation with Schone Linden, the brand irritates me: they keep spinning that BS about perfumes for royals and stars but for me it feels like they could take some lessons in sticking their pinky out (I won’t name names). Nowadays, at $365 for 100 ml and availability for online purchase, their perfumes are hardly that exclusive or special but they carry themselves as if they were. Their samples are $20-$31 for a single 2ml plastic vial (or $105-$165 for 5 x 2 ml). Not even redeemable against a full bottle purchase.

Krigler currently has 4 stores Worldwide with 2 more opening this Fall. One of them – in San Francisco, where I plan to visit it to try Schone Linden sprayed lavishly (I guess, should go for at least $5-worth spraying spree).

In my search, I discovered one more beautiful linden perfume, thanks to Asali (The Sounds of Scent). First she sent me a “blind sample” for testing. It smelled pleasant, I liked it. But what I liked about it probably even more was that not only I recognized several notes that actually were present in it – linden and mimosa, but I guessed the brand (it reminded me of Tiare Mimosa, which I didn’t know well but smelled earlier), which is not something ordinary for me and excites me every time it happens.

As it was revealed, the sample was of Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Aromaparfum Apaisant launched in 2002 but sadly discontinued long before I got to try it. Asali was very kind and shared with me a decant from her bottle. I used it up and liked so much that I kept rummaging through eBay listings until several years later I found a partial bottle.

 

Guerlaine Aromaparfum Apaisant

 

Aroma Allegoria Aromaparfum Apaisant’s notes: freesia, wormwood, linden, mimosa, chamomile ylang-ylang and vanilla. If you look at this perfume’s entry on Fragrantica you’ll notice how “yellow” the scent description in notes pictures looks – and this is exactly how it smells! It is an uncomplicated and indeed soothing spring/summer perfume with an unusual longevity: applied in the morning, it stayed noticeable on me until the end of the work day (in an AC’d office though). It is not a masterpiece the loss of which we should lament but it is very pleasant to wear, and I could think of other perfumes that should have rather been on a chopping block.

Have you come across any good linden perfumes recently?

 

Images: my own

Every White has its Noir

I do not travel much for business. So when I was delegated from my office to attend a trade show in Denver to where I’ve never been before and with co-workers from other offices, none of whom I knew in person, it was a reason for anxiety on its own. But on top of that, as I checked the forecast, I was unpleasantly surprised.

Weather in Denver (end of April 2019)

First I thought it was a fluke, a software glitch, which would be fixed soon: look at the temperature change from Sunday to Monday (the day of my arrival). It was hard to accept because at the time I checked the weather there was similar to what we had – and where I live it felt already like late spring if not summer. The picture below was taken just 2 days before I left for Denver.

 

Blossom in CA Park (April 2019)

 

But as the trip was nearing, I accepted the unpleasant reality, packed my suitcase with warmer clothes and took out of the closet a leather jacket that I had previously hidden away. One positive side, a so-called silver lining in all that, was that it was another chance to wear “winter” perfumes.

On arrival, I acknowledged that it was cold and even put on a hat while waiting for a car at the airport, but it was a bright sunny day, so my thoughts about a mistake in the forecast ran through my mind again. But a car ride to the hotel, registration there and a quick drink with a group of co-workers later (about a couple of hours in total), when I looked out of the window, the view changed dramatically. I needed a winter perfume (and it was April 29th!).

 

Snow in Denver (April 2019)

 

Nappa Noir was created for SixScents Parfums by Calice Becker in 2012 as a part of their Series 4: Characters. Notes include: Ylang Extra Moheli, Violet Leaf Absolute, Violet Flower Accord, Tobacco, Coffee Co2 Extract, Indonesian Patchouli, Florentine Iris Resinoid, Speculoos Cookie Accord, Cistus Absolute, Styrax, Leather, Birch Tar, Saffron, Vanilla Beans Resinoid, Serenolide. It is characterized as a floriental gourmand leather perfume.

I tried Nappa Noir for the first time years ago. A perfumista friend bought a sample pack of the series, liked this perfume and shared a tiny dab sample with me. Not thinking that the same perfumer created both Nappa Noir and, six years earlier, Cuir de Lancôme, from memory I thought that they had a lot in common. But as I tested them in parallel, I confirmed that while having a lot of commonality, these two were quite different: Nappa Noir was much softer and somewhat sweeter, while Cuir de Lancôme’s leather wass more pronounced.

I liked Nappa Noir but it was time when I was trying many new scents, so when my small sample was gone, I moved onto other perfumes, finding new favorites and adding them to my collection. I kept coming back to that perfume but nobody carried the brand any longer, and the only format you could buy Nappa Noir was a 50 ml bottle, which I wasn’t prepared to do without additional testing, which I couldn’t do because nobody carried the line. And then it was sold out even on the brand’s site.

Same as Rusty, who after finding once a cabinet with treats opened keeps coming back to check, even though months after that we make sure to keep it closed, I kept running Internet searches hoping that maybe Nappa Noir would re-appear. I was almost positive that it was gone for good: when was the last time you heard about SixScents Parfums, a brand that at some point was popular in the perfume Blogosphere? I don’t remember, so I thought that they’ve probably disappeared for good. But just in case…

One day my search had returned a result from the brand’s updated (so, no dead!) site. I bought a sample of Nappa Noir, confirmed that I still liked it, and was glad that the site, while still listing a full bottle as “sold out” (and I don’t think it ever comes back), offered a “Lab Sample” bottle (15 ml). Since 15 ml is more than I need of any perfume these days, I went for it. And the bottle has arrived shortly before my trip – so it went to Denver with me.

With that weather outside and inviting fireplaces burning inside the hotel, Nappa Noir felt right in place, and I loved how it developed on my skin providing so necessary comfort and support. And I know that if it weren’t for that white snow, I probably wouldn’t have got a chance to wear Nappa Noir until autumn.

 

Rusty and Nappa Noir

If you like leather perfumes and are in the US, I recommend getting a sample: $5 for 2 ml, including S&H, is not bad price to test interesting perfume. And if you like it, it’s still available in that plain 15 ml bottle (Disclaimer: No affiliation, just a grateful customer).

 

Images: my own

Second Sunday Samples: Sylvaine Delacourte Vanilla Collection

Do you feel annoyed when brands suddenly come up with a flurry of new perfumes or even complete new lines? I usually do: not only there is no real need in that many new perfumes launched at the same time adding the next wave to the already flooded market, but is it even possible to do anything worth releasing in those quantities in the time frame between previous and next releases? Theoretically – maybe, but I doubt.

But what if it’s a new brand? Well, it seems that launching a brand with just 1 perfume would be a very risky enterprise. One could do it if it were a side line, an addition to an established fashion, cosmetics or perfume reseller business. But when launching a “stand-alone” perfume brand, one has to start with at least 3 perfumes. And most small brands do exactly that. Five perfumes? Still reasonable, though already pushing my personal limits.

When Sylvaine Delacourte, a perfumer behind my favorite Cruel Gardenia, among other things (such as being a Perfume Creative Director at Guerlain for 15 years) that made me distinguish that brand from dozens of others appearing every day, came out with her first set of five – Musk Collection, I got curious, ordered a set of samples, tried, shrugged my shoulders and moved on.

Why have I decided to go for the second 5 perfume collection two years later? Three reasons: I didn’t hate the first collection just didn’t find anything to love; it wasn’t expensive; and finally, I was going to Hawaii and I thought that Vanilla Collection was a perfect companion to accompany me there.

 

Sylvaine Delacourte Vanilla Collection

 

Since all perfumes are centered on the same main ingredient – natural Madagascar vanilla beans (at least this is the claim on the website), I didn’t expect to like them all: that would have been counter-productive to simultaneously release 5 perfumes that would cater to the same taste. I was right: Vanori, Vahina (an unfortunate name for perfume for either Spanish- or Russian-speaking audience) and Vangelis were all quite nice (2.5 to 3 sea stars) but none of them called for more than a couple of lines in my perfume diary. So here I’ll share impressions of the two that worked for me.

 

Three and Half Sea Stars

Virgile, with official notes: rose, rosemary, clary sage, geranium, vanilla, leather, mandarin, cedarwood and bergamot, being the fifth (as in its position in the box) perfume, kept slipping my attention: even though I tested it several times, somehow by the time I would come to the end of the set, I’d be distracted by something and wouldn’t record my impressions. Recently I finally got to test it properly, and while I wish it was “woodier” on my skin, I liked both herbal opening and dryer vanilla drydown enough to want to wear it.

 

Four Sea Stars

Had I checked notes for Valkyrie beforehand, I would have thought that it was the least likely candidate from the bunch to attract me. But I haven’t. Valkyrie and I clicked almost immediately, and it happened thanks to a completely unexpected association.

In my childhood, as I can remember, ambient scenting wasn’t something usual or customary. Life wasn’t scentless: women wore perfumes and deodorants (if they could get them); men wore colognes and aftershave; dwellings smelled pleasantly of food, baked goods, or sometimes cut flowers or unpleasantly of mothballs and doubtful bathroom fresheners; and I’ve previously mentioned a peculiar use of nicely smelling “imported” soaps as drawer sachet. But I can’t remember any scented candles, diffusers or room sprays – it just wasn’t a part of the culture.

In my mid-teens there was a surge of exotic and unusual products from India. It doesn’t mean that they were readily available (nothing good was), but if you “knew right people” or just happen to be at a store at the right time (store employees just had to sell at least some quantity of goods to the public before they could re-sell the rest for higher prices to people they knew), you could get lucky. Somehow my grandmother (the same one who introduced me to my all-time perfume love Lancôme Climat) got several boxes of incense cones and shared them with me.

 

Insence Cones

 

Those were precious and cherished objects: none of my friends or classmates had anything like that, so I felt really special when I would burn one or two of the cones for a birthday or some other gathering at my place. I loved how those incense cones smelled but have never experienced the same scent after they were gone, even though since then I’ve tried dozens of incense sticks, cones and spirals. I put it to the normal change of perception with age… until I sprayed on Valkyrie.

I suspect that it’s some particular combination of sandalwood and vanilla that is responsible for the olfactory hologram, but sans smoke, what I smell from my wrist when I put on Valkyrie takes me back to those special moments that combined sensory joy and pride of possession.

 

Sylvaine Delacourte Vanilla Collection

 

I do not think I need a full bottle of any of these perfumes but luckily Sylvaine Delacourte offers several great options: you can buy mix/match sets of refill travel sprays 2 x 7.5 ml or 4 x 7.5 ml (this one comes with a holder). I went with travel sprays of Valkyrie and Virgile. If you haven’t tried these collections yet, currently the site offers both sets for $15, including S&H, and that price can be deducted from your future purchase. When I placed the order, I got my personal link to share with friends: LINK . It’s the same offer as you can get directly from the site plus some extra in future if you decide to buy any of perfumes after you try the samples (if you do, contact me after you buy a bottle, so I could provide information you’ll need to get your free candle).

 

Images: discovery set – my own; incense cones – from some online store that sells them

Mimosa Week

Winter was uncharacteristically cold in our area this year, so we’ve got to experience almost real spring with warm rays of sun in cool air intervened by returning rains and cold spells. And since I was reminded of springs from my childhood, I got an urge to smell mimosa – blossom that used to encapsulate that time of the year for me.

Over years (and five posts in my Single Note Exploration series devoted to that note) I accumulated enough mimosa perfumes to cover more than a week, but I decided not to overdo it.

 

Mimosa

 

Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom is still one of my most favorite mimosa perfumes, though now I think that it is rather Fall than spring perfume: it’s too warm and spicy for the “life awakening” atmosphere. But I enjoy it every time I wear it. I think Mimosa & Cardamom was one of Jo Malone’s successes.

When I was thinking about perfumes to include into this project, I struggled to remember the name for Frederic Malle’s mimosa scent despite having it in my collection. For a while I got stuck between En Passant (“No, it’s lilac not mimosa,” I kept telling myself) and Mimosa pour moi (“No-no, it’s L’Artisan, I finished that sample already”). Une Fleur de Cassie (I had to look it up) this time didn’t work for me: it was too dirty. I think I like this perfume better when it’s warmer.

Once again I had a reason to bemoan the closing of Sonoma Scent Studio: Bee’s Bliss is such a sunny and joyful perfume with a nice prominent mimosa but with a lot more going on, it’s such a pity others won’t be able to experience it.

I finished my small decant of Prada Infusion de Mimosa: it’s a light and pleasant mimosa with some undertones from my favorite original Infusion d’Iris (though, I’m not sure if they even have a single note in common… alright, I checked – “orange mandarin” whatever it means). I think that it’s time to look for a reasonably priced bottle… unless I decide to go for…

Fragonard Mimosa. A friend of mine shared with me recently a sample from her bottle. I’ve never seen or tried it before, so it was a pleasant discovery. Official notes are bergamot, violet, gardenia, mimosa, orange blossom, heliotrope and musk, but for the price it sells I don’t expect or get much of anything but mimosa, which, ironically, in drydown to my nose is a dead ringer to drydown of Infusion de Mimosa. And since I do not suspect Prada in using too many natural ingredients, even at their price, I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually was the same aroma chemical.

What does surprise me is thatt Givenchy Harvest 2007 Amarige Mimosa still impresses me every time I wear it. Unlike many other old favorites that just evoke nostalgia, Amarige Mimosa is perfume that I enjoy wearing… whenever I remember to wear it. Rusty also looks somewhat surprised.

 

Rusty and Givenchy Harvest 2007 Amarige Mimosa

 

The last perfume I wore for the project was Atelier Cologne Mimosa Indigo: it’s a nice perfume with a good name quite fitting the topic, and in the end of the Mimosa Week I especially enjoyed wearing it since, to my nose, it doesn’t smell of mimosa (or of lilac to that matter). Interestingly, saffron in this perfume doesn’t bother me and works nicely with the soft leather and not too sweet vanilla.

 

 

Images: my own