Lush’s Gorilla Perfumes Tank Battle

How do we assign value to art? Is the value of a piece changed by the value of who offers an opinion on it?

Lush’s Gorilla Perfumes Tank Battle set out to tell a story of how a famous artist’s words imparted value to an outsider’s art. The art itself was the same before, during and after this event. What interested me in this story was that the perfume Tank Battle experienced the same transformation.

Tank Battle was inspired by the battle of Tachowa Covington to keep his home, a literal water tank. Mr. Covington had been living in an abandoned water tank above a Los Angeles highway for seven years, after arduously cleaning the rust inside and painting it. The exterior of the tank was an industrial piece of oversized scrap, left to crumble into the hillside. Dirty, overgrown and difficult to access, no one would have noticed it … until they went inside. Mr. Covington spent his seven years creating a lived-in art installation, packed with found objects plastered together into a bohemian masterpiece. Paintings, sketches and lyrics covered the walls. Every available space was something Mr. Covington had created. He might still be living there, but once he invited enough people and their cameras inside, the eyes of the local government fell upon him. The tank would have to go, living there violated all manner of bylaws, and Mr. Covington would have to leave. As Mr. Covington was not a man of means or influence, there seemed no way to halt the inevitable. Mr. Covington’s art was considered to have no real value and was irrelevant to those seeking the removal of the tank. And then everything changed. The famous and mysterious artist Banksy noticed the tank and decided to use the exterior as a canvas. “This looks like an elephant”, he wrote on the tank, simple words, boldly printed. Banksy’s fame and the monetary value of his works meant removing the tank needed to be discussed. There was a reprieve for a time, but eventually the tank was taken intact to be sold, valued for its exterior alone. The interior art was hauled away under duress by Mr. Covington, moved to a cave, a shed and eventually a tent to be damaged and lost by the weather.

* * *

Lush first launched their perfumes in 2003. They have their own lore and history and many devoted followers. There are perfume people who began their lifelong love of scent with Lush, moving from the soaps to the fragrances and then out into the world of perfume. But for many people Lush is a messy, adolescent looking shop and Lush’s perfumes are not on their radar. Lush, the soap people? If the perfumes smell like the shop, they must be terrible! Tank Battle was not on my radar until the eminent Luca Turin raved about it in Perfumes, The Guide, giving it 4 stars. And suddenly there it was, a remarkable scent. Mr. Turin opined over “the idea of pure brilliance” of combining geosomin and labdanum. And suddenly Tank Battle is being discussed not as a cheap indie scent you might enjoy but as an excellent fragrance.

This is a lot of waffle for a perfume review with not a single mention of what the perfume smells like. It really is quite unique. There’s a not too sweet bubblegum vapour that infuses it, incense, a bit of motor oil and fresh earth. It’s delicious and fantastical! If you were disappointed in Etat de Libre Orange‘s Encens et Bubblegum, this one might fill that need you didn’t know you had until you read the words “Encens et Bubblegum”. It’s a better blended, more vivid scent, and the drydown is very comforting. I would call it an incense gourmand, taking its place next to so many delicious vanillas that play with darker themes. If you’d like to read more about the fate of Tachowa Covington and his tank, this article will fill you in.


Lush Tank Battle


Tank Battle (2016)

Labdanum, Patchouli, Clove

These are the only notes given, I think a small sniff will show otherwise!


Image: my own (Photo taken in Hosier Lane, Melbourne, Australia, famous for its graffiti and found art. Here a googly eye discarded beer can cheer up the winter day.)

Saturday Question: What Was The Best Fireworks You’ve Ever Seen? (And Perfume To Go With It)

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 #19:

What Was The Best Fireworks You’ve Ever Seen? (And Perfume To Go With It)

For the half of my readers today is just another summer day. For me (and those who live in the U.S.) this 4th of July is going to be the strangest in … probably our lives (definitely, in all my years in the U.S.): all fireworks in the country have been canceled because of Covid-19, and the celebration will be happening mostly online.

So, since we can’t have real fireworks, I decided to dedicate this Saturday Question to your memories of fireworks. What was the best fireworks you’ve ever seen? Where was it? When? Which perfumes would you characterize as or associate with fireworks – loud, sparkling, explosive?

My Answer

I love fireworks. When I was growing up, those were rare: we had them once a year for the Victory Day (a holiday that commemorated the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945). City where I lived had those fireworks every year on the city square – the eighth biggest city square in Europe. For a child, those seemed grand and impressive. But even as I got older, I remember being completely smitten by the domes of lights falling down on us as we stood at that square.

When we moved to a quiet North California suburbs, the first year our friends took us to the 4th of July celebration fireworks over water, I was disappointed beyond belief: those limp shots happening every 10-15 seconds, one, sometimes two at a time, could barely qualify as fireworks. Over years, I learned that this was how those were done in small cities around where I live now. To this day I do not agree with a 20-minutes shooting of a single charge at a time leading to 30 seconds of something that looks like fireworks as I understand that word. I would have preferred 5 minutes of intense, big, bright and loud – real fireworks. But with crowds gathering to hold a good spot for viewing a couple of hours before the event, 5 minutes would seem like a bad bargain – so, until the last year they kept doing it in exactly that manner. And I kept watching it every year.

And then one year our friend who was into sailing invited us to join him on a boat for a water fireworks show for the KFOG radio station KaBoom concert. I didn’t know what to expect, so everything what happened was a huge surprise. I’m sure, it looked great from the shore, but from where we were on the yacht it was magnificent. Fireworks were happening just above us. Firefall streaming from the sky: just mesmerizing! It was the best fireworks I’ve ever seen.




I thought for a while about which perfume I would associate with fireworks. Surprisingly, it wasn’t easy, which is strange since I like loud and striking perfumes. But I fond one: Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle. I know that this is not an image that this perfume traditionally evokes, but it is one of the loudest perfumes I own and wear (I’m not counting Angel since I do not wear it any more – otherwise that shooting star would have been my choice).


Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

Now, it’s your turn.

What Was The Best Fireworks You’ve Ever Seen? What Perfume(s) Would You Associate With It?

Images: my own. Fireworks photo is from that KaBoom event

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.

In the Search for the Perfect Yuzu

Last year, when I published my Yuzu Overload post, in which I told my story of liking yuzu marmalade (as in “food”) but being disappointed by Demeter’s eponymous perfume, asked for recommendations on other yuzu-centric perfumes, I didn’t realize how many of those were out there.

I wasn’t sure where to start, but I got an unexpected help from a kind NST reader, Perfumelover67. As I was passing onto her a couple of samples that she wanted to try, she asked if there was anything I’d like to get in return. I mentioned that the only thing I was looking for at the time was yuzu… And she just happened to have 4 samples she could share with me.

That was how it all started. After that yuzu seemed to be jumping at me from all possible places, without me even trying. So, I decided to share with you my findings.

I will not do the usual “runner-up” sequence leading to the best. Instead, I want to start with introducing to you my perfect yuzu scent that I found. It was one of the PL67’s samples, and after testing it for a while, I decided that I wanted it in my collection.


Rusty and J-Scent Yuzu


Yuzu by J-Scent. I don’t think I should be surprised by the fact that a Japanese brand did the best job out of everything I tried so far. With notes lemon, bergamot, orange, thyme, grapefruit, lime, yuzu, rose and mandarin, it is an extremely believable yuzu scent, at least the way I know that smell from enjoying yuzu marmalade, jar after jar. If I were to smell it with my eyes closed, I’m not sure I would be able to tell whether I smell the first minute of J-Scent’s Yuzu development or an open jar of the preserve. It starts slightly sweet and very juicy, then develops into a tart scent that stays on my skin surprisingly long for that type of perfume. I have never been a big citrus perfume fan. But J-Scent’s Yuzu is just perfect for me, and I look forward to wearing it this summer.

* * *

All other perfumes that I tested for this Single Note Exploration project can be placed into one of the two categories: “I can smell yuzu note” and “If you say so…”

Most perfumes in the latter category do not deserve even a paragraph in this post – not because they are bad perfumes, but because that note is in their only nominally, they shouldn’t be considered as examples of this note in perfumery. And because of that I will just list them – so that whoever decides to run their own search for this note knows what not to test (though, otherwise than not having enough yuzu in them, these perfumes might be good on their own): Diptyque Oyedo, Gallivant Tokyo and Sylvaine Delacourte Smeraldo.

One more perfume from the same category I will single out – just because with that name I expected more.

Yuzu Rouge by Parfums 06130 – flat and slightly artificial abstract citrus in the opening, some pale rose on a good day after that. If you were to a read notes list, you’d expect this perfume to be fabulous. It’s not. For the sake of all the great ingredients listed, I hope they were either artificial or used in homeopathic doses. Sooo not interesting.

* * *

From perfumes in which I could smell yuzu I got mixed results, but they all are worth trying if you are interested in this note.

I knew nothing about this, also Japanese, brand, but I ordered a sample of Kazehikaru by Di Ser on a whim (I should have read first!). It’s all-natural perfume, astringent and slightly herbal (a very recognizable green bitterness I smelled often in all-natural perfumes). Notes: yuzu, neroli, lavender, shiso, Japanese rose and vetiver. I’ll pass, but be warned that, as a rule, I tend to dislike all-natural perfumes. If your experience is different, please give Kazehikaru a try.

* * *

Yuzu by Acqua Di Parma has a divine and very realistic yuzu opening. Unfortunately, it’s gone within seconds. I’m not exaggerating I re-tested several times because I couldn’t believe it was happening. It disappears quickly and becomes just a pleasant floral bouquet. Notes include yuzu, bergamot, Sichuan pepper, lotus, mimosa, violet leaves, jasmine, musk, liquorice and sandalwood. If you like any of AdP’s perfumes, try this one, whether you’re looking for yuzu or not. That opening!


Yuzu Perfume Samples

* * *

Tacit by Aesop is more astringent than some other scents I tested, but it’s not too bitter. Notes: Citrus, yuzu, basil, clove and vetiver (which is probably responsible for some woodiness I smell in development). I like it, and I could wear something like that if I needed more summer citruses: it is very pleasant, refreshing and not banal, even though for my taste it doesn’t have enough yuzu.

* * *

Peche au Yuzu by Kyse – mouthwatering yuzu/peach combination in the opening, but then it gets too … peach-y (?). It’s the sweetest perfume of all I tried for this post, and I think it’s quite pleasant if someone likes a peach note in perfumes. I don’t.

* * *

Note de Yuzu by Heeley – opens beautifully: juicy, sweet, slightly tart. It’s not too complex but bright and pleasant. My complaint is: it subsides too quickly on my skin. Nevertheless, I think it’s a beautiful summer perfume. I just don’t need more than 10-15 ml of it, otherwise, I wouldn’t mind adding it to my collection.

* * *

When I read it, I couldn’t believe that Jo Malone also released a yuzu-centric perfume. With quarantine going on, there was no chance I could get to try it for free, so for the first time… ever I paid for a Jo Malone sample. OK, it wasn’t exactly a sample: I got a mini bottle on eBay.

Hadn’t I found my perfect yuzu perfume, I would have been quite content with Yuja by Jo Malone this summer. A pleasant opening burst of yuzu (do you see a pattern?), and then it calms down quickly and reminds of many other Jo Malone “blossoms” from their limited editions. I will wear what I have (cute bottle, it’s very convenient for re-application), but I don’t think I’ll need more.


Rusty and Jo Malone Yuja


I found my perfect yuzu perfume (and at least one second best). Does it mean my search is over? I thought so until I read recently that Parfums de Nicolai has just released Eau de Yuzu. Of course, now I want to try it.


Images: my own

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

Saturday Question: Do You Wear Perfume to Bed?

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 #18:

Do You Wear Perfume to Bed?

We’re not talking about enjoying throughout the night (or, much more rarely, even in the morning) whatever is left of perfume you wore earlier that day. But do you intentionally apply perfume before going to bed?

I remember a couple of years ago I was impressed by Ines’s (All I am – a redhead) ritual of spraying Shalimar on her mattress when changing sheets. Do you have any rituals related to sleep and perfume?

My Answer

Many years ago I posted on the topic, but in short: while I do not mind wearing perfume to bed, I rarely do that. And when I do, I use perfumes that I do not wear otherwise. I call them “sleep scents.” Usually I apply those from a dab bottle to one or both wrists.

Some of perfumes that I wear like that: Sonoma Scent Studio To Dream, Aftelier Perfumes Honey Blossom and DSH Perfumes Lautrec. Sometimes, to help me sleep, I use lavender oil. And recently I’ve added Jo Malone‘s Lavender & Musk pillow mist to my arsenal of night scents.

I do not wear perfumes to bed too often. Mostly, because the last thing I want to do before going to bed is to think (again!) about what perfume to wear. But probably if I were to make myself a small set of sleep scents through which I could rotate and put it in the drawer of my night stand, next to my hand cream, it might be easier for me to incorporate that in my nightly routine.

How about you?


How about you?

Do You Wear Perfume to Bed?


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.

Liquides Imaginaires Desert Suave

For a long time, I had paid no attention to the brand Liquides Imaginaires. There are so many new houses and they don’t all catch my eye. But one day a friendly sales assistant pointed them out in response to my looking at “masculine” scents. I told her I was not impressed by the bottles: I found their pillar likeness oddly off-putting. She was quick to explain that the perfumer was an architect,  the shape of the bottles was representative of fundamental principles of … I’m not really sure what. I have tried to research this architect angle but came up empty-handed. Though I felt zero attraction to the brand, I went home with a handful of samples; and now I own two bottles of Liquides Imaginaires because, damn, they were all varying degrees of excellent. But let me continue with my carping…

The name Desert Suave is so terrible to me I wince at the thought of someone asking what I’m wearing. It reads like google translate had its way with an excellent name in another language. If this had been a bottle covered in graffiti and maybe an animal paste-up (that’s a graffiti term for all you cool cats), then the name would have been ironic. But no, the pillars of serious architectural posturing are not being ironic. Let me assure you though that Desert Suave does smell like the fantasy oasis of the ad copy, perhaps the one Camel cigarettes wanted you to imagine, and it IS very suave. I’m pretty sure Lawrence of Arabia’s corner shop smells exactly like this. Desert Suave is overwhelmingly dates and dried fruit soaked in syrups and orange blossom water. It’s not particularly sweet because this is a not a dessert, it’s the raw ingredients of a dessert and perhaps some truly excellent naan. Cardamom is wonderfully present, as well as wafts of saffron. Apparently, Desert Suave has a toasted sesame seed note that I almost imagine I can smell.

Liquides Imaginaires Desert Suave

This is a very rich scent. Rich is such a beautiful perfume word, don’t you think? It’s different then “dense” or “luxurious” or “multi-layered”. There is not a lot of progression in Desert Suave, but 12 hours later I’m left with a sweet balsam that is most pleasing. I enjoy how literal this scent is, though it is going for a souk vibe, it is highly focused and never becomes just another oriental. There’s no oud or patchouli, just luminous warm resins, dates and dried fruit. If they had upped the cumin, it would have been skank heaven, but I found the cumin almost undetectable. Perhaps they could release a cumin soaked flanker, Desert Siren, so I could again be traumatized by the name but love everything inside the bottle.

I’ve been very happy with this house, and I’m going to continue exploring it, bottle dorkiness be damned!

Liquides Imaginaires Desert Suave (Quentin Bisch and Nisrine Grillie, 2018)

Top Notes: Indian cardamom, Italian mandarin, clove, cumin, black pepper, saffron
Middle Notes: African orange blossom, rose, geranium, date
Base Notes: Spanish cistus, toasted sesame seed, atlas cedarwood, musk

Image: my own

Saturday Question: How Quickly Do You Open a New Bottle?

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 #17:

How Quickly Do You Open a New Bottle?

Are you someone who tears the shrink wrap off a new bottle in the car on the parking lot of a shopping mall or on your way from a post box? Do you get home and carefully unpack a new bottle, trying not to tear more than absolutely necessary from the said wrap? Or do you put a bottle aside for some time, while getting used to having it in your possession?

My Answer

I can rarely wait to finish completely a decant or even a sample of perfume I decided to add to my collection before buying a bottle. So, unless I buy perfume for a split, weeks or sometimes even months pass before I would finally open that bottle.

There is something extremely appealing to me in owning a pristine new bottle, knowing that I can take it out any time I want but postponing the moment until all other sources are either used up or passed onto one of my perfume friends.

My personal “best” is… 4 years, at least three of which I didn’t have perfume in question in any form but that “brand new” bottle. How did it happen? Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) shared with me a sample of Penhaligon’s Tralala (the link is to her post about this perfume, which not all of you have read – though, some have). I tried Tralala several times, liked it and was thinking about procuring a decant of it. And then I read that Penhaligon’s was discontinuing this perfume (that dreaded D-word!), and I came across it on their site’s sale. I bought it (it was a very good sale), put on the back of the shelf, told myself that I would do a post about it soon (I had a great idea for the story), and … I can’t say I completely forgot about it, but I kept moving out telling the story, then I wasn’t in the mood for it, then I had many other new and shiny things to be excited and write about…

When I finally opened it last week, I didn’t recognize Tralala at all. Of course, I didn’t know this perfume as well as I know perfumes I own and wear, but in my head I had some olfactory picture of it. Not even remotely close! First I thought (hoped?) that my bottle just went off – it would have been at least saving grace. But no: I tried it several times, and it doesn’t smell like spoiled perfume. But it smells neither how I remembered it nor how others describe it. So, I’m at a loss, and I’m not sure what I will do with it: I don’t like it enough to wear, but I would be hesitant to swap it (let alone sell) not being sure that it is still perfume it used to be. And because of that, I decided that since I won’t be telling any stories I planned for it, I’ll use it as a question (and a cautionary tale) for this Saturday Question post. Especially since the bottle is so cute and quirky.


Penhaligon's Tralala


How Quickly Do You Open a New Bottle?


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.

Rusty the Cat: On Comfort Temperatures

Four months ago, when I posted Rusty the Cat: On Food and Treats, I didn’t know whether it would become a series, mostly because I wasn’t sure I would be able to get good cat pictures due to the combination of my work hours and lighting conditions. Little did I know that two weeks later our entire organization of work would change completely because of the shelter-in-place and everything that came with it. So, now I constantly get opportunities to capture my cat doing… whatever cats do to amuse themselves, annoy their humans or just pass time.

* * *

I knew for a while that a normal body temperature for cats was higher than for people. So, it was logical for me that in colder season Rusty favored my or my vSO’s lap to just laying on a chair or one of his mats. What was rather unexpected, even in summer, in the middle of a very warm day, while I would be working in my second-floor office – one of the warmest places in our house, instead of staying on the cool first floor, Rusty would come up and plop himself on my lap, clearly enjoying it (and I would be dripping with sweat).

Sometimes, Rusty would place himself on a blanket next to my work laptop in such a way that one of his paws would touch or be really close to the laptop’s vent. The air that comes out of it is so hot that it is hard for me to keep my hand next to it. But Rusty doesn’t seem to mind (the highlighted text on the picture below is what actually was shown on the monitor: I was going through the security training course and had to stop to take a picture because I thought that it was a hilarious illustration).


Rusty and Laptop


But recently Rusty overdid himself: during one of the hottest days of the week (it was ~27C/81F in the house) he discovered wonders of my vSO’s laptop: being connected through the docking station to the external monitor and keyboard, it works with the closed lid, which is warm to touch. So, Rusty figured out that it was a perfect spot, from where he could hypnotize one of us while waiting to be fed after the end of the work-from-home day. Now he’s doing it almost daily.


Rusty and Laptop


We discussed with my vSO that, as Rusty gets older, at some point we’ll probably have to get him a bed with a built-in heating pad. But we’re worried a little that he’ll dump us and spend all time in bed.


Images: 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.


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 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.


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

Saturday Question: Do You Participate In Perfume Splits?

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 #16:

Do You Participate In Perfume Splits?

We all buy bottles – full priced, discounted, used or vintage. We buy samples and decants from decanter or subscription sites. And we swap perfumes with others. But do you participate in the “not for profit” perfume splits, in which somebody buys a new full bottle and shares portions of the juice “at cost” (price per ml plus decanting supplies and shipping)? Where do you find those splits? Do you ever host them? Was your experience with splits rather good or bad?

My Answer

For a while I was wary about splits. Somehow buying decants from TPC felt safe, while private sales seemed uncertain and suspicious. I had no reason for that, I just feared it as something unknown, never tried before. But once I successfully went through that process several times, I realized that in many cases getting a 5 ml decant from a friendly split costs close to buying a small sample of the same perfume from a decanter site. And if you end up not liking it, you can always swap it with or pass onto a friend.

I participated in several splits in a designated Facebook group. Then I moved to mostly doing it a couple of times a year during NST’s splitmeet episodes. And then a couple of years ago I started hosting my own splits there as well.

So far, all my splits – both as a participant and a host – were successful: I bought decants for perfumes I wore for a while and was done with them; I bought decants that lead up to a bottle purchase; and I bought and shared bottles of perfumes I wanted to have without feeling guilty because of adding another 50-100 ml of perfume to my ever growing collection.

Last week I went through all the offerings from the most recent NST splitmeet post – and didn’t find any perfume of which I’d like to have even 5 ml. It seems that with the explosion in the perfume industry perfumistas’ interests are spread wide: out of about 30 offered splits, the equal number closed and didn’t get any interest – eight each. The rest (about 50% of all) got some participants but didn’t generate as much interest as hosts planned. What is interesting: it looks like most hosts plan to go through with the purchase, even though they didn’t get “full funding.”

I was slightly disappointed: not that I had in mind any particular perfume that I was looking to buy, but I hoped to see something offered that I’d like to get. Since it didn’t happen, I had to host my own splits.


Do You Participate In Perfume Splits?


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.