Portia’s Favourite Notes

Portia’s Favourite Notes

Hi there crew, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what notes draw me to fragrance. The ones that seem to give me a particularly swoony head rush as well as nostrilgasms. Though there is very little in the perfumed world that I actively dislike there are some favourites. Especially when they are done well or treated in a new way that piques may interest. Some of them I keep buying even though there are already three, four or ten in the collection almost exactly the same. Yes, I know, TRAGIC! I can’t help it though. If I get a super swoony rush the chances are my credit card is out and burned before I can even get my thoughts together enough to say, “Sorry, I already have five almost exactly the same.” Please tell me some of you are just as impulsive and ridiculous..

Portia’s Favourite Notes (Today!)

Amber

I think amber is the best represented not in my collection. On it’s own I already find it sensational, don’t need to add a thing. The accord is so varied and almost every iteration of it has caught me in its snare. Give it a few extra bells & whistles and take my money. So much so that I’m having to get really tough with myself. Nowadays when I smell a new amber it has to be something extremely unusual or perfectly produced for me to go bananas. NO, that was a lie. I still go for it but then I have to rein myself in.
Favourites include L’Eau d’Ambre by L’Artisan, Ambre Ceruleen by Huitieme Art, Ambre Russe by Parfum d’Empire, Ambre 114 by Histories de Parfum, Mitzah by DIOR, Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens, Tiger’s Nest Memo Paris, Oriental Lounge by The Different Company, 24-09-11 by Hilde Soliani, Rima XI by Carner Barcelona, and Ambre Narguile by Hermès. I know I’m going to be pissed at how many I left off this list but seriously, it’s ridiculous how many bottles are here that are amber rich.

Narcissus

Narcissus crept up on me. While always loving it in the garden I didn’t really think about narcissus, or its place in perfumery, till I got hold of a decant of CB I Hate Perfume’s Narcissus Absolute. Suddenly I could tell when fragrances has a bit, or a lot. most of them keep it fairly well hidden as a back up singer, hiding among the bouquet. That’s a shame because the few that go all out are freaking stunning.
A couple I love are Jardins de Bagatelle by Guerlain (wearing it to write this!), Ostara by Penhaligon’s, Le Temps d’une Fête by Parfums de Nicolai, Infini by Caron, Narcisse by Chloé, and Volupté by Oscar de la Renta. There are so many others but these are the only bottles in my collection that I can think of.

Salt

Salt is a new love but one that I’m embracing. Actually, I think that’s not exactly true. I’ve long loved salt in fragrance but didn’t really know it until lately. It adds so much, like it does in food. Salt can be seaside, sweat, food, blood, driftwood, tears, skin, and so much more.
Gucci Bloom Acqua di Fiori, Couleur Vanille (large decant) and Batucada by L’Artisan, Eden-Roc by DIOR (large decant), Greg Lauren Barneys New York (still desperately searching for a bottle of this), Vanille Marine by M. Micallef, and though they never call themselves salted I always associate the L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme fragrances with sea water.

Sandalwood

Sandalwood seems to be ubiquitous. Indian Mysore, Australian, the replicants and something else grown I can’t remember. Having been introduced to it in Samsara while squirt bitching for Guerlain in the late 1980s, that hugely dramatic diva stole my heart and I bought it for Mum who wore it so well. Then in the early 2000s in India I was taken to a famous perfume wallah in Janpath Market in New Delhi. The sandalwood in the oils blew my mind. 
My most used. Samsara, Santal Royal and Mahora by Guerlain, Santal+++ by Miller et Bertaux, Santal Majuscule and Santal Blanc by Serge Lutens, Ashoka by Neela Vermeire Creation (Yes, I know sandalwood is secondary but it’s definitely part of why it’s so beautiful), Santal Noir by Dior, Adam Levine for Women, Dama Koupa by Baruti, Babylon by Penhaligon’s (sample, WANT a bottle so badly!) and Santal Massoïa by Hermès.

Tropical Floral

OK, so I know this is a style. Yes, it’s not a note. There is something so alluring about this genre though and if it’s done even half way good I’m a sucker for it. As kids our family spent a lot of summer time on beach or island vacations, plus we had a pool.  So those creamy floral, vanilla, coconut, ozonics make my heart skip a beat and quite often my eyes roll back in my head.
Songes and Un Matin d’Orage by Annick Goutal, Un Jour d’Ete by Keiko Mecheri, Lys Soleia by Guerlain, Rahel by Neela Vermeire Creations, Dune and Grand Bal by Dior, l’esprit libre by Divine, Saskia and Queen of the Night by Grandiflora, Elle L’aime by Lolita Lempicka, Sun by Jin Sander and even on the borderline, Ysatis by Givenchy.

 

So there you have it. I have surprised myself. These were not the 5 notes I was expecting to write about when I first sat down. This article has been banging around me head for a long while. If I’d gone Top Ten then I think lavender, incense, vanilla, rose and aquatic would have been the next 5. GAH! Then I’ve left out things like cedar, patchouli, oud, jasmine, cardamom, basil, galbanum, oakmoss, aldehydes, geranium, leather, osmanthus, violet, pepper or tea.

So how about you tell me your 5 faves. Don’t worry, it’s only for today.
The ones that make you swoon and reach for the credit card every time.

Portia xx

Montana Parfum d’Elle 2

Montana Parfum d’Elle 2

Hi Crew, Claude Montana has long been known for out there, boundary pushing design. His fragrance Parfum de Peau was a blockbuster and since then has been spotty; at best. Some have been downright ghastly. Montana Parfum d’Elle 2 is not one of his worst. The bottle alone is worth having in your collection. It’s fabulous, madcap and ridiculous in equal measure.

Montana Parfum d’Elle 2 (2002/3)

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Aldehydes, Peach, Red berries
Heart: Geranium, Iris, Magnolia
Base: Amber, Musk, Tonka bean, Cedar

Soapy fruity floral in a big hair, cinched waist, shoulder pads and glittering bling kinda way. A definite hark back to the showstoppers of the late 20th century that arrived in the early 2000s, a full rejuvenation of the original, including a bottle change for ease of discernment. There’s even that hairspray and nail polish vibe of a 1980s salon, or a drag queens dressing room anytime since there’s been hairspray and nail polish. No one will tell you this is fine fragrance, it’s FUN fragrance. For those nights you want to be completely over the top. You know, a club night out, gala, prom, wandering around a coastal town in tourist season, anything that you want to radiate super feminised fragrance. Hell, wear it to the grocery shopping!

The note list seems a long way removed from the fragrance except the aldehydes and anonymous fruits. Everything else is buried in the mix.

I love this scratchy, flamboyant, magical mess and it gets a bit of wear around here, especially when I’m off to a drag gig. Montana Parfum d’Elle 2 is so fun it fits the bill perfectly. You’d have to be guy with rock solid confidence to wear this in public or just not care about peoples reactions. No, I take that back. This would be so unexpected on a guy and be a definite statement, also if you were into the opposite sex I think they’d swoon.

Could you? Would you Montana Parfum d’Elle 2?
Portia xx

Gris Dior by Dior

Hi there. Those temps should be getting high up there in the Northern Hemisphere. Sometimes in high heat I like to go super restrained with my fragrance. Luxurious but introverted. The way a sotto voce fragrance can surround you with a barely there nimbus of fragrance can be powerful in its understatement. Also, I like that a tenacious one can surprise me with little huffs of reminder through the day. Once called Gris Montaigne after the grey of the Rue de Montaigne store (I think i remember that rightly) and now called simply Gris Dior.

Gris Dior by Maison Christian Dior Collection 2018

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Calabrian bergamot, Turkish rose, Patchouli, Jasmine sambac, Amber, Oakmoss, Cedar, Sandalwood

OK, so Gris Dior is a softer, less intense version of the original Gris Montaigne. They are saying it’s the exact same thing but the big fragrance crews have often played fast and loose with the truth. Still beautiful, still luxurious and interesting but like a fraiche version of itself.

If a Middle Eastern rose/patch, hefty kinda perfume is your wish then go grab a bottle of something else. Gris Dior includes a lot of the ingredients but doesn’t do its thing flamboyantly.

The opening is rose water marmalade and a wash of cool white flowers. A light, airy fragrance that only hints at any darkness. Actually, Gris Dior is like smelling someone else’s perfume at lunch. Tangible and lovely but non intrusive.

Into the low level rose/woods heart Gris Dior continues to pump out a very low key prettiness. It’s an under the radar beauty. Until i purposely try to resmell it I’m blissfully unaware of any fragrance, unless there’s a surprise huff from my shirt.

Underwhelming sounds mean but I think that is exactly what François Demachy was aiming for here. Beautiful, poised and luxurious but barely there. A cool whisper of scent that you can wear anytime and anywhere.

Did you try Gris Dior?
Portia xx

Portia: Perfume That Got Away

Portia: Perfume That Got Away

Hi there Undina’s Looking Glassers. Do any of you share my shopping madness over the C19 period? It’s crazy! I’m earning less than the last 20+ years but it seems EVERYONE is going through their closets and selling off the unworn, unloved and unexceptional. Here’s the kicker though, some of those frags have been on my list for YEARS! They are being sold for a lot less than retail. Who cares that there are 5mls missing, or the box is dented, or there is no box? Don’t look at me, I couldn’t care less.

No, I’m not going to tell you all the things I’ve scored. Sorry. It’s too embarrassing. I will tell you though that I’m still on the lookout for a bottle of Greg Lauren for Barney’s. I had a decant which has long gone and I miss it a lot. One of my buddies was selling one on FB not so long ago but I missed out on it because she was only sending CONUS. I could easily have had it sent to mates in the US but……. NOW I’m kicking myself.

Does anyone even remember this salty vanilla beauty?

Greg Lauren for Barneys New York

Notes are extremely simple: Tonka bean, Vanilla, Marine notes. The whole is MUCH more than the sum of its parts though.

By the time I got my decant it had already been DCd and people bragged about the bargain prices they paid. As little as US$20 in its final mark downs. I would have bought 20 bottles for that and happily worn it as my signature scent.

Sadly it was not to be.

I’m sure every one of you has a similar story about a different fragrance.

What are the perfumes that got away from you?
Portia xx

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