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

Advertisements

In the Search for the Perfect Berry: Raspberry

I picked up a large jar of raspberry preserves at a local ethnic food store. It has been a while since we had any so the moment we opened that jar it sent my vSO and me down memory lane.

In our childhood there were no mass-produced fruit preserves or jams. The only way to get those was to make them during summer when fruit and berries were in season. City dwellers had a limited access to any produce so each family would make just a few jars. Usually those preserves were saved for winter, when you couldn’t get almost any fresh fruit.

Raspberry

In mental hierarchy of preserves those made from raspberries were probably on the top. Not just for their taste or because raspberries were more expensive than some other berries, but also because raspberry preserves were believed to serve as a natural cold remedy. So even in winter we normally didn’t get to eat raspberry preserves “just because.” But once you got cold, the sacred jar would be summoned from the depths of the storage cabinet and you’d be treated with (and to) a cup of hot tea with several tea spoons of raspberry preserves in it. I’m not sure if it worked or not but it was the best part of being sick. Well, after not going to school, of course. And getting to finish preserves in the open jar after you got better.

I remember that distinct aroma of raspberry coming from the cup. It was so strong that it would get through the worst nasal congestion, which I cannot say about the content of the jar I bought recently. I don’t know what torture those strawberries went through but they had completely given up their identity: with my nose almost pressed against the opening of the jar all I can get is a faint smell resembling raspberry. My vSO couldn’t smell anything at all. We didn’t test it on Rusty since all he has for the point of comparison is a raw raspberry.

Rusty and Berries

I could keep looking for better preserves/jam (and I might still do it) but meanwhile I decided to concentrate on perfumes featuring raspberry note.

When I read notes for Russian Tea, created by Julien Rasquinet for Masque in 2014 (mint, black pepper, raspberry, black tea, magnolia, immortelle, leather, incense, birch and labdanum), I was excited, partially because of that association with tea and raspberry preserves. I even bought a sample! Isn’t that a recipe for a disappointment more often than not? Russian Tea starts promising: I can smell a little bit of black tea and even some mint. But that’s it. I can’t smell raspberry at all. The rest of the perfume development is mostly birch tar and smoke. Since I do not plan to do a post on this perfume, I want to use this chance to say that I find the whole story for the perfume bizarre: Russia has never been known for its tea and there is no special significance for either this product or tradition of drinking it. OK, maybe using samovars in the past can be considered a distinct and distinguishable tradition but still 5 o’clock tea it’s not. The only association I get when I hear “Russian tea” is Kustodiev‘s painting Merchant’s Wife (the original name in Russian is something like “merchant’s wife drinking tea”).

Kustodiev Merchant's Wife

In the first post of this berries series – the one about strawberries – two people mentioned Ambre a Sade by Nez a Nez and one of them – Susan from now closed FineFragrants – even sent me a sample to try. While strawberry note is the most prominent berry in that perfume, raspberry is also noticeable and, in general, it’s a very interesting and quirky perfume. Too bad it seems to be discontinued. If you haven’t tried it, you can read Suzanne’s (Eiderdown Press) post Ambre à Sade by Nez à Nez: Berry Unexpected to see what you’ve missed (and to learn what Marquis de Sade’s wife would bring him to sweeten his time in prison).

Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) attracted my attention to Parfumerie Generale‘s Brûlure de Rose almost four years ago (if you haven’t tried the perfume yet, you should read her review… on the second thought, even if you tried the perfume, read her review anyway). I got a sample, tried it several times, liked it – and completely forgot about it. I tried it again several days ago and was amazed by how much I liked it. It’s beautiful on all stages – from the lemony rose in the opening to the warm ambered drydown. I’m not sure I’d recognize raspberry in Brûlure de Rose without reading the notes (Brazilian rosewood, amber, musk, raspberry, vanilla, cacao and rose) but the berry part in this perfume is a very mature one. And since my sample is empty, I think Brûlure de Rose will be added to my “to buy” list.

My absolutely favorite raspberry perfume – the one that isn’t ashamed of its association with raspberry – is Une Rose Vermeille by Tauer Perfumes. It is so powerful that sometimes I choose to wear it from a dab vial – even though I own a bottle, which is a little ironic knowing Andy Tauer‘s views on the importance of “the flacon, the packaging, the hand written note” for the complete perfume experience (for those few who weren’t around a couple of years ago, more on the topic in my old post Perfume Bottle Splitters: Friends or Foes?). I can’t say that I love Une Rose Vermeille but I like it very much and it’s one of my mostly complimented perfumes.

Rusty and Une Rose Vermeire

I’ve tried several more perfumes that feature raspberry note. Courtesan by Worth is nice but I’m not sure I’d recognize it if I smelled it even a couple of hours after I wore it. If raspberry is in there, it contributes to the general “fruitiness” and sweetness. By Kilian‘s Back to Black definitely has raspberry but, as many other perfumes from the line, is unpleasant on my skin. And Rose Oud by Parfums De Nicolai, for my nose, doesn’t have any raspberry and is very unpleasant on my skin.

Do you have any favorite perfumes with prominent raspberry note? Do you have any favorite raspberry preserves/jam brand?

 

Images: Merchant’s Wife from Wikipedia; the rest are my own.

Entertaining Statistics: January 2014

 

I know how it sounds to the most of my readers but I have to say it: we had an unpleasantly warm January. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy the light jacket weather as much as the next freezing east coaster would but we really need at least some rain. And +22˚C (71˚F) isn’t a normal temperature for this month even in our region. So now I can’t even pretend that it’s winter and time to wear my winter perfumes.

For this month’s statistics post I asked you to name five niche brands that, in their opinion, are in the “need to know” category for anybody who’s interested in perfumes. I asked the same question in one of the perfume groups on Facebook.

29 people participated on FB and 19 in the blog. 49 brands were named, 26 of them more than once.

Since I know that some people participated both here and there I thought of splitting results by the source but it didn’t change the outcome: both groups, as well as the total, returned the same set of 5 brands, just in slightly different order (numbers in parenthesis – places FB/Blog):

Serge Lutens (1/1)

L’Artisan Parfumeur (4/2)

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle (2/3)

Amouage (3/4)

Parfumerie Générale (5/5)

Stats January 2014

The chart above shows actual number of votes for the top 10 recommended brands. From my original list only Ormonde Jayne didn’t make the cut and moved to the sixth place. I need to get more samples from Parfumerie Générale line and see why it made it to the fifth place.

Out of 52 perfumes I wore or tested in January 17 perfumes were from 5 out of these 10 brands. What was unusual: this month I tried only five perfumes for the first time. Did you come across anything interesting this year?

Rusty had nothing to do with any of the numbers but he has to requite all the compliments he got in the previous post – even without appearing in it! These are pictures of him with perfumes from the “need to know” list.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Images: my own

Entertaining Statistics: April, 2012

 

I’m so late with April’s statistics that I almost forgot what the month was like. I think it was good though.

I’m still keeping up with my New Year Resolutions but I’m one bottle closer to the self-imposed limit. I just couldn’t resist! I liked Jo Malone’s White Lilac & Rhubarb and didn’t want this limited edition bottle to slip away as those limited editions have a habit of doing. I wish I could have all three bottles from this release in 30 ml bottles but for a reason unknown Jo Malone decided to have only 100 ml bottles for this collection. So if anybody wants a small decant of White Lilac & Rhubarb at cost send me an e-mail.

This month I decided to check if my reaction to perfumes I test depends on the application method. There is nothing scientific about the results since it wasn’t my choice to spray or to dab: I used whatever sample I had. But based on this anecdotal evidence the application method doesn’t affect whether I like the perfume or not (see the chart).

Stats April 2012

Quick April stats:

Numbers in parenthesis are comparison to the previous month’s numbers.

* Different perfumes worn1: 26 (-1) from 18 (+2) brands on 30 (+1) occasions;

* Favorite perfumes worn: 21 (0) on 23 (0) occasions;

* Different perfumes tested2: 50 (+2) from 27 (-6) brands on 57 (-1) occasions;

* Perfumes I tried for the first time: 32 (+7);

* Perfume house I wore most often: Dior;

* Perfume house I tested the most: Guerlain (third month in a row: it looks like once started I cannot stop);

* Most popular notes (only from perfumes I chose to wear) are almost the same as in March: top – (not counting bergamot) lemon and pepper; middle – (not counting rose and jasmine) iris root and ylang ylang; base – vanilla, musk and sandalwood;

* Perfumes I tried for the first time and liked a lot (went to my wish list): Indochine by Parfumerie Generale, La Femme Bleue by Giorgio Armani and Dzing! by L’Artisan Parfumeur.

 

Have you found any new favorites recently? 

 

1 For the testing I apply a perfume to one area on my arms easily available for the repetitive sniffing. But, most likely, I’m the only one who can smell it. I can test two, sometimes even more perfumes at the same time.

2 When I wear a perfume I apply it to at least three-four points and usually I plan to spend at least 4-8 hours with the same scent so I’m prepared to re-apply if the original application wears off.

 

Image: my own (I wish I could draw!)