Which 20 Would Portia Keep?

Hi there Crew,

Recently Undina (What Are Your Top N Perfumes?) and Tara (My Perfume Collection – Top 15) have done their “which would I keep” posts, following on from from Vanessa (‘Be more Undina’). After you’ve read this go have a squiz at theirs too. Who doesn’t love lists, right? So, I’m thinking “Damnit! I want to do this too.” It’s such a mind blowing, freak me right out, dumb assed thing to want to try because invariably my head explodes. Then the next day I instantly start second guessing my choices and that can rattle around my head for a couple of weeks before my brain lets it go. BUT! I also love doing it, just to see what my head and heart come up with this time.

Jin and I have often talked of buying a van and travelling through Europe for a couple of years. As part of that adventure my mind instantly goes to “How many perfumes would I take and which would they be?” So I’m kind of experienced at it now. Problem is some of them change, HA! Impossible, right. Usually I say 25 bottles and a bunch of samples/decants but in all honesty I think it will more likely be 10. So today I’m formalising my ideas for you all and myself. Subject to change at a moments notice.

You might want to grab a cuppa or a boozy bevy. This post is LONG! Continue reading

Perfumes of My Hawaiian Vacations

I realize that a vacation at a tropical destination is a luxury, and many people cannot afford those or even going to the seaside. But since both my vSO and I work and work hard, as a rule, we try to go to Hawaii every second year. Last year we had a business trip combined with visiting relatives back in our country of birth followed by a week in London. It wasn’t the easiest trip (if not to count the UK portion of it, which was fabulous in all respects), but it ate up most of our travel budget and time off, so I was looking forward to going to Hawaii this year.

When the pandemic started, I was still hopeful that it would get resolved in the next several months, so I even booked a plane part of the trip late in March, and as September/October (the planned time for the trip) was approaching, I was still optimistic that the 14-days quarantine mandatory in Hawaii would get eased up, and we wouldn’t have to postpone the trip (the air tickets these days are easy to be moved or canceled – no penalties or change fees). The closer we got to the time, the less likely it seemed that we would be able to go, but it wasn’t until August when our airline sent me a notification that the flights have been canceled. They offered to move our itinerary to different days… But that’s when we decided that we should move that trip to the next year.

It was a disappointment, but on the grand schema of things, it’s not the worse what could have happened or is happening to many, so I’m trying to be positive about it and hope that we’ll go there next year (and I might even be able to shed some pounds by then – well, one can dream, right?).

But one thing that struck me as something sad and depressing was that, in addition to clothes that I wear only while in Hawaii, I have a list of perfumes that I also tend to wear mostly when I’m on a tropical vacation. And not going there meant that those perfumes would be waiting one more year for the skin time.

 

Perfumes for a Tropical Vacation

 

So, I decided to do a mini-project: a week of perfumes of my Hawaiian vacations. I thought about doing this project during my staycation, but then I figured that to keep reminding myself that we had to stay at home instead of enjoying time somewhere else would be too depressing. Besides, the week of my staycation promised to be pleasantly cooler (and it was). But the week before was hot, so it was just perfect for the project.

Almost all these perfumes I wore in Hawaii before (the picture above is from one of the previous trips), and I even wrote about some of them before – so, I knew that I liked them and would enjoy wearing them again. So, I’ll share just a couple of thoughts here and there, as well as several pictures from the previous visits to Hawaii – not paring those images to perfumes, just using them to set the mood.

 

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Eau Fraiche Skinscent

Bronze Goddess is one of those perfumes that could have completely gone by me if it weren’t for Perfumeland. But thanks to a perfumista friend who shared a decant with me many years ago, this perfume became a staple of all my Hawaiian vacations. Working from home, I didn’t follow my usual vacation ritual of getting the bottle cold from the fridge and using it as a body mist, but it was extremely enjoyable still.

 

Sunset Big Island Hawaii

 

Ormonde Jayne Tiare

Two years ago, I complained that Tiare, my proven friend and companion on many tropical vacations, felt completely out of place in the office environment. This time, worn for the evening neighborhood walk on a warm evening, it was pleasant again, and we rekindled our friendship.

 

Tiare Big Island Hawaii

 

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani

Whenever I wear Frangipani, I realize how much I like it. But then I forget about it again until the next time I pack for my trip. It blooms wonderfully in hot weather, and I know that when I’m done with the last travel spray, I’ll want more.

 

Byredo Pulp

I don’t think I can wear Pulp where I live: even in hot weather these overripe fruits seem too much and almost nauseating. But I know that I feel completely differently about it when I put it on in Hawaii. Conclusion: I need to go to Hawaii.

 

Tropical Fruit

 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Traversee du Bosphore

Traversee du Bosphore works for me only when it’s hot. I checked: it doesn’t have to be Hawaii, as I proved to myself this time wearing it in hot Californian weather. But it needs heat to bloom. So, as much as I like this perfume, it’ll be a while before I finish my decant, and until then I probably do not need a bottle.

 

Kawaii Hawaii

 

Neela Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling!

As I discovered the last time when I wore Bombay Bling in Hawaii, it smells the best in A/C’d environment. This time I wore it again on a hot day in the house with working A/C, and it was beautiful. So, I think in future I’ll keep wearing it at home and let one of the two new to my collection perfumes mentioned further to take up its place in my holiday wardrobe.

 

Volcano Maui Hawaii

 

Parfums DelRae Bois de Paradise

Many years ago, one of the bloggers sent me a small sample of Bois de Paradise, and I thought it was the right choice for my vacation wardrobe. I brought that vial with me on one of my trips and used it up there. Since then I had it somewhere on the back of my mind that I wanted to buy it. But I was waiting for the brand to release it in a smaller bottle (I hoped it would be released since they were asking opinions on the size on Twitter, I think). It had never happened, and once I saw it on sale at Luckyscent last year, I immediately bought it. I was right: the brand went out of business later that year. Since then I’ve been waiting for the chance to wear Bois de Paradise in Hawaii… Since it didn’t happen, I’ll wear it at home. It’s great, and I even got a compliment from a friend (from my “extended bubble”).

 

Tropical Forest Maui Hawaii

 

Byredo Bal D’Afrique

I’ve never tried Byredo Bal D’Afrique in Hawaii, but it was very pleasant both in humid heat or New Orleans and in drier Californian heat, I suspect I will like it in tropical environment as well. If I ever get to go there again.

 

I didn’t get to wear one more of my “usual suspects” for tropical vacation – Yosh Ginger Ciao. But unlike all other perfumes in this mini-project, I wore Ginger Ciao several times this summer, so I didn’t feel like I abandoned it. But whenever I go to Hawaii the next time, this Vacation in a Bottle is coming with me.

 

Palm Trees and Moon Maui Hawaii

 

Images: my own

Portia’s Bathtime Goodies

Hi there Posse, Beauty Queens Bathe! I don’t know where I originally heard it or if it is my own invention. Either are believable. I seem to be the ONLY person on Insta who has ever used it. Thing is, it utterly describes the way I feel about baths in a tongue-in-cheek way. When you want to feel totally pampered and cleaned then full submersion with a quick rinse at the end seems perfect.

Seriously, even if it’s 1am and I’m dead tired. A good steaming hot soak in a bath full of bubbles for at least 20 minutes then sets me up to sleep deeper and wake up more refreshed, smelling gorgeous. I know it feels like a lot of work (especially at ridiculous hours) but believe me, it’s worth the effort.

Portia’s Bathtime Goodies

FRONT ROW:

Olympic Orchids Amber Labdanum Bath Oil

Want to smell and feel unbelievably gorgeous? Just a few drops in the bath. It coats my skin, and afterwards there is no need for more fragrance, especially if you are going straight to bed. You can drift off in the most delicious, lightly animal amber dreams. It also works perfectly as a fixative for and amber fragrance. I particularly love to wear Mitzah by DIOR after a bath in Olympic Orchids Amber Labdanum Bath Oil.

JOOP! Le Bain

I read a Fragrantica piece about this scent not so long ago. INSTANT lemming. So, off I went looking for some. A small bottle with shower gel was less than a regular niche 3ml decant, so I splurged. It wears like a female veering barbershop, with vanilla and flowers rather than lavender. Softly resinous and not as sweet as the base notes would suggest. I’m eeking out this shower gel because it’s so precious.

Vintage Caron Bellodgia Bath Oil

This popped up on eBay about 10 years ago, maybe more. When I bought it, I thought it was a large bottle, like 150ml. When it arrived I was totally bummed, it had been expensive and come from overseas. Then the smell hit me. O M G! One drop is all I need to put in the bath, and the whole apartment is suddenly awash in the divine smell of vintage Bellodgia. As you can see, the bottle is about halfway empty. When it’s gone, I’ll have the amazing memory of having owned such lavish luxury.

Tabu

OK, I know. This is not a big ticket item. Reminds you of great aunt Agatha who you despise. Stop your bitching a get some. FragranceNet has this regularly for under US$5 before coupon. It smells like a soft version of vintage Tabu and gives excellent bubbles. Another good base for all your ambers but also works beautifully with woods, resins and leathers.

Reem Acra

This fragrance came out to general acclaim by perfumistas in 2012. Radiant white floral with enough bells and whistles to make it interesting as well as lovely. You can buy a bottle at FragranceNet of the perfume for peanuts nowadays and stock up on Shower Gel US$4 and Body Lotion US$7 before coupon! Remember to GOOGLE FragranceNet Reem Acra 90ml and follow the link to get the 35% discount code applied. Currently you’ll get a 90ml EdP, Shower Gel and Lotion for around US$25! (Not affiliated, just LOVE DISCOUNTS!)

L’Occitane Neroli & Orchidee

The only one on my shelf I’m yet to use. It was a birthday gift, and I loved the fragrance when it came out. Will be very excited to have myself a bath in these bubbles.

BACK ROW:

Guerlain Champs Elysees Bath Balls

These are PRECIOUS! A gift from my mate Scotty a couple of years ago. I have only had two baths in them, and the smell is so damn glorious. Every time I go to use them though my TOO PRECIOUS button kicks in. Just seeing them and having them is enough.

Cuir Vetiver

Bought on one of our holidays. Can you believe Yves Rocher isn’t in Australia? I think it was a stand alone store in Budapest, and I went a bit crazy. Their product is super affordable, smells great and makes excellent gifts in a world of multinationals. One of the downside to being able to get almost everything is that it denigrates the fun of shopping overseas for friends. What’s not to love here? Leather and vetiver with a few extras for cohesion. Perfect base for Penhaligon’s Halfeti Leather, vintage Trussardi donna and YSL Jazz.

L’Artisan Premier Figuier

I seriously wish I’d bought 100 of these bottles when I saw them deep discounted as they were being phased out of Australia. I did buy about 20 with a few Chasse and Amber in the mix and then gave most of them as gifts. NOW I’m kicking myself because they are so beautiful. Fig is in a few of my favourites like Premier Figuier & Extreme, Neela Vermeire Ashoka and Mugler Womanity.

L’Artisan Caligna

I just bought a pre-loved bottle of Caligna off a friend’s FB sale doc. I’m yet to wear the fragrance over the shower gel but have high hopes for extended longevity. This is the old style bottle that I bought at the discounters a while ago. The plastic wrap had started to come apart on the box, so I took it as a sign that it wanted some use. Another fig-centric fragrance but this time with lavender and woods. This also works beautifully as a base for CHANEL Boy and Caron Pour un Homme.

LUSH Rose Jam

You all know about this ridiculously beautiful rose shower gel? It is virtually free! Of all the LUSH products Rose Jam is by far my favourite and most used. It is a rich, jammy rose and amps any rose fragrance or can be worn alone as a soft rose wash that lasts a couple of hours by itself. I’ve lost count of how many bottles of Rose Jam I’ve gone through but it must be 10 or more.

Tabac Original

This was my fathers fragrance, and this year marks 30 years since he died. When I saw this freaking enormous bottle for sale, I bought two. Of all the money spent over my life on fragrance and accoutrements Tabac Original is still one of the best scents around. Not only does it smell fantastic but nowadays it is also a rarity to smell someone wearing it. Barbershop done right.

Sea Salt Mimosa

I have a mate, Andrew, in the USA who I send stuff to, and he repacks and forwards it on. TBH I have no recollection of where I bought this and a couple of other C O Bigelow shower gels from. They do some really interesting scent combos though and give huge bubbles in the bath. This one is salty mint. YUM! The fragrance doesn’t last on skin though spa my enjoyment is bath only. This is a good thing if I don’t want my bubbles to wreck my fragrance later.

 

As you can see, I have a formidable arsenal of potions. Part of my lavish bathing adventure is picking the scent.

What do you bathe or shower with?

Portia xx

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

Continue reading

Portia in the Looking Glass

Hello! My name is Portia, and Undina has invited me to come do some guest posting at Undina’s Looking Glass.

It’s very exciting, and nerve wracking, to jump into another person’s creation. They have worked so hard to produce a brand, and I hope that it’s a good fit for Undina, you and me. We all have perfume in common, and many of you I know already from around the scentblogoshere. Up till now, I have written for a few other blogs, including Olfactoria’s Travels, Perfume Posse, A Bottled Rose and Australian Perfume Junkies. Undina was the very first person I never met to subscribe to APJ, and we have been friends ever since, she has been also brains trust, confidant, blog rescuer and aspirational icon. We also bonded over the naming of her cat Rusty: my very first cat was a gorgeous ginger and white tom called Rusty. Synchronicity! Every time I see pics of him, it brings back some happy memories.

Continue reading

A Magical Greenery Tour

Hello friends!

I have had a very exciting week: after my post, in which I talked about how green and I don’t always get along in perfume, Portia sent me 11 numbered samples of some of his favourite greens. I tested two a day and journaled my immediate feelings and impressions. When I began, I had no intention of trying to guess what they were, but the allure of numbered mystery vials was too much for my brain. Often an immediate association came to mind, whether fragrance or house. Some might find this useful, and though none of my speculations were correct, I think you could take them as “in the style of” recommendations.

And now, to the perfumes!

 

Green Samples

 

Green No. 1

A lovely melon note under fresh green spiciness. Ma Griffe? Something of that era. Very gentle, reminds me of humid spring day. And I love humidity.

Peau d’Ailleurs by Starck (2016, Annick Menardo). I had never heard of this house, but I’m looking forward to wearing my sample again, as apparently it features geosmin heavily. Perhaps that was the humidity?

Green No. 2

While it begins light and crisp, the drydown is potent and long-lasting. Quite stiff and proper though sweet. Too high pitched for me, but a crowd pleaser, I suspect. O de Lancome-esque.

Sampaquita by Ormonde Jayne (2004, Geza Schoen). Oh my! I have tried to like this so many times due to its name and being on sale rather often. I’ve always found Ormonde Jayne to be too proper for me, I like them, but I feel I cannot love them. And no, I don’t just like the wild ones, but my proper quota has been fulfilled by quite a few classics. I’d recommend Ormonde Jayne as a house to others, but it seems we are not to be.

Green No. 3

Sweet like a green apple. Fruity, galbanum on a pillow of musk. It reminds me of Fidji, or rather my image of Fidji, which I haven’t smelled in 15 years. Very charming and young, the youth of another era before the invention of fruitchoulis.

A Scent by Issey Miyake (2009, Daphne Bugey). I remember trying this when it came out as the bottle was so appealingly minimalist. I liked it, but having little interest in greens or fresh at that point (I was deep into gothic orientals) a quick spray was as far as we went. Now I’m thinking this is a fun one to keep an eye out for, if it is still around.

 

Greenery

 

Green No. 4

I feel this one is thoroughly modern and playing homage to vintage. There’s a definite touch of cumin in there under the mossy forest floor. I would like very much to wear this scent, it has many secret qualities that appeal to my imagination.

Eau de Gloire by Parfum d’Empire (2003, Marc-Antoine Corticchiato). And straight to the top of the want list this goes! I would like to carry Eau de Gloire in my purse, always at the ready to secretly bolster the day. This was one of two standout favourites during my magical greenery tour. I was so enthralled with it that I emailed Portia begging to know what it was, but he held out until I had sampled everything!

Green No. 5

Chanel No. 19?

Futur by Robert Piguet (1960, presumably reformulated since then; Aurelien Guichard). It was a little sweeter than No. 19, but if you’re a No 19 fan you might like to spend some time with this one to see if you also love it.

Green No. 6

A tart fuzzy green with a touch of heliotrope to begin with. I immediately thought “Zoologist”, though not one I’ve smelled. Strong black tea. Smoke. Absolutely charming and interesting, reminds me of a great reading experience. 6 is the stand-out for me, it’s just so drinkable and fine. It made me a little emotional, the play of tea and fruit and smoke.

Eau de Givenchy, vintage (1980, Daniel Moliere and Daniel Hoffman). This was my favourite of the whole collection. I absolutely loved it. Looking up reviews, there’s a lot of talk about “a perfect spring day” and no talk of tea and tartness. Perhaps trying things without reading about them first has a lot of merit. This one I tested for two days.

 

Greenery

 

Green No. 7

A vile and antiseptic concoction infiltrated by sweaty cumin. A sweetness develops. By the drydown, it’s quite rich and acceptable. Amouage?

#2 Spiritus/Land by Miller et Bertaux (2006). I had quite a visceral dislike for this, but by the drydown it had mellowed into a well thought out fragrance, but not something I enjoyed. I see it has teak in it, which may contribute to my antiseptic response. Amouage and I have a troubled relationship, but one factor that brought Amouage to mind with Spiritus/Land was the high quality of the ingredients.

Green No. 8

Oh my! I want to say Cristalle, or rather the fantasy of Cristalle that I had when I began my perfume journey. It’s luminous! It reminds me of a beautiful yellow wine. I’m wondering why I don’t have whatever this is in my collection!

Cœur de Vétiver Sacré by L’Artisan Parfumeur (2010, Karine Vinchon-Spehn). One of the few L’Artisans I have not tried and yet another reason to adore the early L’Artisans, full of quirky masterpieces. I will be tracking down this sadly discontinued wonder to join my L’Artisan beloveds. I am quite thrilled to have tried this beauty, since it has always been on my radar as a L’Artisan I had missed out on.

Green No. 9

Guerlain Vetiver?

Tzora by Anat Fritz (2012, Geza Schoen). Well, isn’t that interesting. I was very careful during our green tour to only test two a day and not confuse my nose. I wore nothing else. Being in lockdown helped, as there are no other scents in the air, and the mood and temperature plodded on at a steady sameness. I’ve tried Tzora before, and I own Guerlain Vetiver. I ended up testing both side by side. Other than Tzora being a little richer and missing that delicate nutmeg, they were so close I thought it was my imagination that they were even different scents.

Green No. 10

Minty. Camphor. Sugar. Heeley Esprit du Tiger? It’s lovely, I could bathe in it! It is sugared in the most delicate and lovely way.

Oriental Mint by Phaedon (2011, Pierre Guillaume). This features “resins”, which, I suspect, is where the tiger balm accord comes in. I think it’s better than the Esprit du Tiger, not as simple. A very fun scent! I could see this being a bottle I wore excessively for a summer.

Green No. 11

I have spent some hours thinking on what this reminds me of. Lovely lemon, very fresh and bright to begin with. It then magically develops into a delicious sherbet! It’s as if a gelato maker sniffed the orchard air and rushed to capture the wonderful citrus and springtime scent in a gelato. I think this is a Hermetica, it feels like Hermetica DNA.

Granville by Dior (2010, Francoise Demachy). Oh my, how fantastic this is. I hope you all are able to try Granville, especially if you love lemon. Vividly natural ingredients.

And so we end our magical greenery tour. Through the testing phase and the reveal, I’ve been inspired, besotted, perplexed and gobsmacked. It has been a very enjoyable journey during this time of no travel (one of perfume’s secret powers). Thank you, Portia, for your samples and your wonderful enthusiasm to share your loves.

 

Greenery

 

Images: samples (Narth), greenery (Undina)

Big Island Vacation, Episode I: Perfumes

Until recently I thought that Maui was my favorite island, so over the last many years that was our most frequent vacation destination. But this year we decided we wanted a change and, after a short hesitation, booked our trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. Just in case you were wondering, we hesitated because of the recent volcano eruption but then decided it would be fine. Luckily for us, many others were less adventurous, so … OK, I won’t say that we had the whole island to ourselves but it was much less crowded than it could have been.

Hawaii Big Island

We managed to pack a lot into six days we spent there, and I plan to cover some of the highlights in the next several posts. But I want to start with the most appropriate topic for this blog: perfumes.

Over years of going to Hawaii I collected a wardrobe of perfumes that I always bring with me.

The only full bottle of perfume that has ever traveled with me anywhere is Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder. I bring it with me to every tropical vacation (Big Island, Kauai and Maui). This time though I used it less often than I normally do because we shared the condo with our friends, and I couldn’t do my usual ritual of walking to the fridge (where I keep Bronze Goddess when in Hawaii), spraying it all over my body and putting on my clothes after that. But it still got several generous applications during the trip and enjoyed it every time.

Hawaii Big Island Perfumes

My “vacation in a bottle” perfume – Ginger Ciao by Yosh – was as great on actual vacation as I remembered. Tiare by Ormonde Jayne and I have rekindled our friendship after a recent cooling-off, and both Tiare and its sister Frangipani felt wonderfully appropriate for the place.

Unexpectedly, I came to the realization that I should stop bringing to Hawaii Bombay Bling! by Neela Vermeire Creations. For years I thought it was a very good fit and kept being slightly disappointed: it didn’t smell as great as I remembered and usually would disappear too quickly from my skin. This trip we stayed in for dinner more often than went out, so I got to wear Bombay Bling! in a well air-conditioned room. Under these circumstances, with little heat or humidity involved, this perfume bloomed wonderfully, and I could still smell it in my hair throughout the night. So, while I still love it, no more Hawaii vacations for Bombay Bling!

Neela Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling!

L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Traversee du Bosphore and Byredo’s Pulp both are perfumes that I wear only in hot and humid weather, and these both were predictably good though I would prefer to spray them more liberally, which I couldn’t do this time: since the Island is called “Big” not for nothing, and it takes a couple of hours one way to get almost anywhere besides the close-by beach, we often voted for going somewhere in one car. And while it allowed us to spend more time in each other’s company, I had to be mindful of having four people in closed quarters for hours – so I was very discreet with my perfume application.

One more perfume that has proved absolutely not suited for the tropical weather was Selva Do Brazil by Parfums Berdoues. I brought my ScentBird decant of it with me thinking it would be just perfect there. It smelled very nice indeed… all 15 minutes that I could smell it either on me or on my vSO. I guess, Selva Do Brazi is one of those perfumes that are great to convey the idea of tropics rather than to be used there. Though, with hindsight, maybe it wasn’t that bad considering long car rides… Nah, probably still no.

I also did some testing of new for me perfumes, but I’ll probably leave it for the next post.

Hawaii Big Island Sunset

Do you have any perfumes that you always use for something particular – an event, place or something along these lines?

Images: my own

Perfume and Colour, Perfume Lovers London – November 26th, 2015

***

Tara, previously of Olfactoria’s Travels, while being on the move to her own new virtual home, decided to visit a couple of friends’ blogs. I have the honor of hosting her first. Here’s one of her great reports on the PLL’s event.

Undina

***

I was particularly looking forward to this evening at Perfume Lovers London because firstly, it was being led by my mate Sabine of Iridescents and secondly, we were going to have fun drawing our scent impressions.

Instead of the usual rows of chairs, we were seated at tables laid out with paper and various art materials. Sabine had also provided some inspiration with print outs of various images and colour palettes.

As you can imagine, there was less talking and more colouring going on than at a normal PLL event, but here’s an idea of what was said and some of the wonderful images from Sabine’s blog.

Sabine at PLL's event    

Sabine: I went ten years without wearing perfume, then when I went back to it – wow – there had been an explosion in niche perfumery. I needed a way to organise and make sense of it.

I am a graphic designer so I tried to translate perfume into colour. There are quite a lot of similarities between the two. Both are very subjective; my rose is not your rose and my red is not your red. We can describe both as being opaque, bright, transparent and so on.

Sometimes there are not enough words. Colour is a way of creating a multi-sensory dimension which enhances your experience. You can train your perception of colour in the same as you can train your perception of smell.

This is why I started my blog, Iridescents, where I reproduce the images digitally. We can’t do that tonight but we do have paints, pencils and pastels so we can play around with how scents relate to colour.

Aedes de Venustas Eau de Parfum, Aedes de Venustas

Notes: Rhubarb, vetiver, red berries, tomato leaf, incense, green apple, hazelnut, honeysuckle

Lila: This is the first of the Aedes de Venustas fragrances and the perfumer is Bertrand Duchaufour.

Sabine: Try to think of a palette of 2 or 3 colours. What colours does it make you think of?

Audience members: “Pink”, “Green”, “The colours of a stick of rhubarb”.

Sabine: The pinks and greens come and go in my composition and the notes in the perfume do the same. I think of it as very jazzy. There is not a structured top, middle and base.

Lila: It’s very crisp and tart.

Sabine: If a perfume makes you think of yellow say, try and think which yellow.

The next one is not a perfume but a perfume ingredient. It’s vetiver oil. What colour does it make you think of?

Audience members: “Dirty brown”, “Khaki”, “The colour of mould.”

Molecule 01, Escentric Molecules

Sabine: This is a completely synthetic perfume, mostly made up of Iso E Super. So what colours do you use when you have a material not found in nature? Try and think of how much of one colour and how much of another. Think about the proportions.

Liquid Night, A Lab on Fire

Notes: Bergamot, lime, saffron, sage, lavender, Hinoki wood, incense, vanilla, musk

Sabine: Liquid Night is neither hot nor cold. It has hard shapes but it also has a softness to it. It’s very urban. It makes me think of driving in the rain and the reflection of the raindrops on the windscreen.

Liquid Night

Liquid Night ((c) Sabine)

Felanilla, Parfumerie Generale

Notes: Vanilla absolute, saffron, orris, banana wood, hay absolute, amber

Sabine: Felanilla is cosy and a little powdery from the iris. It’s also animalic but not too much.

Audience member: Do people in different countries relate to colours differently?

Sabine: Yes, for example people in warmer countries tend to wear warmer colours because their surroundings are brighter. People have different associations with colours, as they do with scents. People in cities tend to wear more muted and subdued colours.

Felanilla

Felanilla ((c) Sabine)

Sel Marin, Heeley

Notes: Lemon, Italian bergamot, beech leaf, sea salt, moss, algae, cedar, musk, leather

Sabine: If you think of Sel Marin as a scent representing the sea, which would it be in terms of colour – the Atlantic or the Med?

[Most people said the Atlantic.]

Audience member: Would you wear it?

Sabine: My husband is wearing it, and therefore it is a perfume I associate with him.

The Odd Fellow’s Bouquet, Atkinsons

Notes: Heliotrope, tobacco, ginger, pepper, benzoin, labdanum.

Lila: The Oddfellows is a club that anyone can join. It’s pretty great. They have premises all over the country. It’s not a gentlemen’s club but it might have been at some point in the past.

Sabine: The Odd Fellow’s Bouquet is one of those fragrances that doesn’t change much.

Lila: It’s a bit masculine for me.

Audience member: It’s very tobacco-y.

Odd Fellow's Bouquet

Odd Fellow’s Bouquet ((c) Sabine)

Jicky Parfum, Guerlain

Notes: Lavender, bergamot, lemon, mandarin, rose, vetiver, patchouli, vanilla, amber, musk.

We know perfumes can change as they develop and I try to put that into my images. Jicky definitely develops over time so you might want to leave room in your picture for how it smells in 10-20 minutes time.

Noir Exquis, L’Artisan Parfumeur

Notes: Chestnut, orange, orange blossom, coffee, maple syrup, ebony, heliotrope, vanilla, tonka, sandalwood.

Lila: This is the latest release from L’Artisan.

Sabine: I looked on the Basenotes database and the number of perfumes with black in the name hugely outweighs white. I haven’t done an image for Noir Exquis but I would use just a little black. I’d mostly use toffee, caramel and beige.

Salome, Papillon Artisan Perfumes

Notes: Jasmine, carnation, bitter red orange, Turkish rose, orange blossom, tobacco, hyraceum, styrax, vanilla, hay, patchouli, bergamot, oakmoss, cumin, birch tar, castoreum.

Sabine: We’ve saved the best till last.

Lila: You won’t be able to smell anything else after this!

Sabine: I used a lot of red in my image. Not a rose red but a fleshy red. It was blurred on Facebook for a while because it was thought to look like female genitalia.

Lila: We’ll put all the Salome pictures together and share with Liz Moores of Papillon as she’s a friend and supporter of PLL.

Salome collage

It was a great evening and we were all engrossed in creating our own visual interpretations of the fragrances. It was interesting to see how different our impressions were. Most people saw vetiver as green or brown while I saw it as grey. Sabine’s husband and I saw Sel Marin as the Atlantic sea under a slate sky, while two other people on our table saw it as a blue sea and bright yellow sun.

When you’re trying to visualise the scent as colour it really makes you think and analyse the aroma in a different way. I found this fascinating and it has definitely added to the way I interact with fragrances.

Tara's Perfumes Visualization

Tara’s Perfumes Visualization

Many thanks to Lila and Sabine for such a novel, interactive evening and to Roulier White for supplying a couple of the bottles.

***

Please answer the question for Undina’s Entertaining Statistics post: What perfume do you most associate with a colour/colours, which one(s) and why?

 

Images by Tara and Sabina

Tu-ti-tu-rum-tu-tu or Musical Perfume

In the comments to Tara’s recent beautifully evocative review of L’Artisan‘s Tea for Two (you have to read it if you haven’t read it yet – I promise: you’ll be charmed) several people mentioned they didn’t like the name. They didn’t explain why but it surprised me so I kept thinking about it.

L'Artisan Tea for Two

For a long time I couldn’t figure out where and when I heard Tea for Two song for the first time. Actually, I could have sworn that the first time I heard lyrics of this song in 2007 on the CD Hey Eugene! by one of my favorite group Pink Martini. They recorded this song with a guest – 81-year-old legendary jazz singer Jimmy Scott. I found an interesting small article about that version of the song on NPR website:

… singer China Forbes starts off with the seldom-heard introductory verse, which makes it clear that the whole thing is a fantasy. There is no tea, and no twosome. She’s making it all up, because her love life is a disaster. […] Their [Forbes and Scott’s] “Tea for Two” becomes the confession of a woman and her imaginary lover, their innocence shielding them from all the things that might go wrong.

Since there’s no real video for the clip below can I suggest listening to it while quickly scanning through the rest of the article?

But I had a feeling that I knew this song… well, at least a line from the song (“tea for two and two for tea”) long before then. But from where? I haven’t heard this song before – either when I still lived back in my native country or after I moved to the U.S. But somehow I knew those words and recognized the tune… When I found the explanation I was amazed.

I was right: I haven’t heard the song before. What I heard many times through my childhood was Tahiti Trot, Op. 16 (listen to 10-15 seconds starting from 44s) – Dmitri Shostakovich‘s (a prominent Russian composer and pianist) 1927 orchestration of Tea for Two:

Shostakovich wrote it in response to a challenge from conductor Nikolai Malko: after the two listened to the song on record at Malko’s house, Malko bet 100 roubles that Shostakovich could not completely re-orchestrate the song from memory in under an hour. Shostakovich took him up and won, completing the orchestration in around 45 minutes.
Tahiti Trot was first performed in Moscow on 25 November 1928, and has been a popular encore ever since.

Of course I liked and recognized the melody! Of course I thought it was a great name for perfume! And when I tried Tea for Two perfume I immediately liked it as well.

Tea for Two is the only bottle from L’Artisan Parfumeur in my collection. And it’s one of a very few that are truly shared perfumes in my collection: I enjoy both wearing it myself and smelling it on my vSO. Perfume for two.

Rusty and L'Artisan Tea for Two

I have one more “musical” association for this perfume’s name (in case you still haven’t changed your mind about it). It’s an abstract linguistic joke I heard many years ago (told in Russian). Recently I discovered that it exists in some other non-English-speaking cultures (probably in those without long and short vowels).

A tourist who doesn’t speak English well calls hotel’s front desk from his room No 22 and tries to order two cups of tea:

Concierge: (cheerfully) How can I help you?
Tourist: Tu-ti-tu-rum-tu-tu
Concierge: Pardon me?
Tourist: Tu-ti-tu-rum-tu-tu!
Concierge: (with a shrug and eye-rolling, thinking: “Those crazy foreigners!”) Purum-pum-pum-pum! (rings off)

I keep murmuring that Tu-ti-tu-rum-tu-tu for the last couple of weeks.

 

Images: my own

In the Search for the Perfect Fig, Take 2

Three years ago I published the first Single Note Exploration post about fig note in perfumes and learned from comments that it wasn’t actually fig fruit that had a scent reproduced in perfumery but fig twigs and leaves. Since then I assaulted a couple of fig trees and can confirm: those twigs are very fragrant. Did you know the source of the scent?

Fig

Recently I learned another fascinating fact about figs. It started as a chat with a co-worker about fruits. I mentioned that I liked to eat figs. She looked at me with disbelief and asked with a faint trace of repulsion:

– You do know that those crunchy things inside are wasp eggs?
– ???
– You know, those seeds inside figs are not just seeds – they are eggs that wasps lay inside figs.

I’d never heard anything about that before so I didn’t believe her and went to consult a trusted source – Internet. What I found enthralled me. If you are familiar with the subject skip a couple of paragraphs – there will be a perfume-related bit in the end. For those who – same as I – somehow missed that and doesn’t want to do a full investigation, here’s a short* version.

A mature female wasp crawls through the opening into a fig where she deposits both her eggs and pollen she picked up from her original host fig. Since on her way in, having to force her way through a very tight opening, she loses her wings and antennae, after completing the mission the wasp dies. Eggs hatch, develop into larvae and then mature. Mature male wasp, which doesn’t have wings, mates with a female wasp and then digs a tunnel out of the fig through which the females escape. Once outside a fig a male wasp dies and a female flies to another tree, where she’ll pollinate another fig on her way in. The cycle repeats.

Fig

Now, when I know all that, will I stop eating figs? Nope. The only thing that bothers me in all that is that I’ve never heard about it before. Of course, figs weren’t widely available where I grew up but neither was salmon – and still we learned at school about them moving upstream to spawn and die. And we all heard about sexual cannibalism of mantises. But nothing about fig wasps.

Even though from the set of perfumes I tested for the first post I already had two favorite fig perfumes – Fig Tree by Sonoma Scent Studio and Wild Fig & Cassis by Jo Malone, since I like the note, I kept testing fig-centric perfumes and found several worth mentioning.

There are two nice budget choices for those who would like to wear a fig scent a couple of times in summer but doesn’t want to invest much into it: Mediterranean Fig by Pacifica (read Victoria’s (Bois de Jasmin) review here) and Fig Leaf & Sage by Kiehl’s (Ayala (Smelly Blog) reviews it in the post on sage note).

I’m on the fence about Premier Figuier Extrême by L’Artisan Parfumeur. It is a very nice, and said to be the very first, fig-centric perfume. But, like many other perfumes from the brand, it’s not tenacious enough to justify a full price purchase. Luckily, it’s not that hard to find a better deal for it (~$115/100 ml) online. And it’s one of those perfumes 100 ml of which might not be too much: even though it’s marked as eau de parfum concentration it wears as eau de toilette. Since I have a soft spot for interesting bottles, I couldn’t resist a fig-shaped Special Edition bottle. For reviews read: Victoria’s (Bois de Jasmin) post and Portia’s (Australian Perfume Junkies) guest post on Perfume Posse.

L'Artisan Premier Figuier

Finally, I did get to test a perfume, lemmings for which were created by a very persuasive review from Gaia (The Non-Blonde) – Figuier Eden by Armani Privé. I like-like-like it! But I’m not paying the price: not because Figuer Eden isn’t good enough but I don’t think there can be any fig perfume that can justify that price.

– Did you know that wasps lay eggs in figs I asked my vSO when I got home the day of the conversation with my co-worker.
– ???

He didn’t believe me…

Images: my own

* The detailed picture is even more complex and covers fig trees/flowers’ gender, not pollinating wasps and much more. You can start from this Wiki page and then follow links.