Coco by CHANEL EdP and Extrait

Coco by CHANEL EdP and Extrait

Hi ULG, Coco is one of my long term faves. It’s also a very close friends signature. There are so many happy memories associated with this perfectly poised far east dream inspired perfume. Since the mid 1980s Coco has surrounded me. Back then it was friends Mums and sometimes an adventurous young woman. It’s the fragrance I associate with smelling a lot of in the department stores for a couple of decades. In Australia CHANEL counters are mostly at the front of the beauty section and until Coco Mademoiselle came along it was like a thick miasma around the squirt bitches (men and women). Today is Monday and I’m cleaning the house. My friend Kerri B noted on a FaceBook SOTD post that she was wearing Coco so I decided to join her in glamour. Sometimes scenting for success even makes the turbines of tedium sing a happy refrain.

Coco by CHANEL EdP and Extrait

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Mandarin orange, Pimento, Coriander, Frangipani
Heart: Jasmine, Rose, Orange blossom, Ylang-ylang, Cinnamon, Iris, Angelica
Base: Patchouli, Tonka bean, Benzoin, Frankincense, Amber, Musk, Honey, Civet

Here’s the thing with Coco. It is its very own scent. I love it too much to really parse it deeply. Somehow it feels like the magic may dissolve a little if I look too closely and work out the tricks. Coco smells like luxury, travel, wisdom and sensuality. Though it is exciting and playful I also feel remarkably calm and poised when I wear it. Almost as if the fragrance has so much drama I can let my natural penchant for it go, just a little. Enough to get a really deep breath and exhale.

Whenever I hug a friend wearing Coco it’s one pf the fragrances I can usually pick. That’s another reason I love it.

Todays wearing while doing laundry, dusting and vacuuming in the 30+C (around 100F) heat was so divine. Loads of pepper and cinnamon over a honeyed, resinous amber base. It wafted off me in great, glorious gouts and I reapplied four times throughout the day to get the thrill all over again.

Has Coco ever been your thing?
Portia xx

 

Muguet Fleuri by Oriza L. Legrand

Muguet Fleuri by Oriza L. Legrand

Hey there ULG, I know a lot of you are caught in the depths of winter so I thought we could look forward to spring through fragrance today. Muguet Fleuri is Lily of the Valley. That glorious harbinger of spring. On May 1 the whole of Paris smells of it and little bouquets and flowering pots can be bought on street corners. It’s heavenly.

In 2014 I first visited Hugo and Franck of Oriza L Legrand at their 18 Rue Saint-Augustin, Paris store. The brand is a modern resurrection of a long lost perfume house. They took us through their collection and I purchased some soaps and a bottle of Jardin d’Armide. This was the defining moment of my love affair with the brand. The space is gorgeous and chock full of soaps, candles and fine fragrance. Since then I’ve been back to the store a few times. Their affordable product and FREE postage over €100 to Australia means I often buy their soaps and fragrances for gifts.

Did you know that the original Oriza L Legrand patented the idea of solid perfume?

Muguet Fleuri by Oriza L. Legrand 2014

Muguet Fleuri by Oriza L. Legrand

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Green leaves, grass, lily-of-the-valley
Heart : Galbanum, angelica, violet leaf, lily-of-the-valley
Base: Lily-of-the-valley, oakmoss, lily

I love the calm feeling of a Lily of the Valley fragrance, dewy and air conditioned. The Muguet Fleuri opening is cool and slightly mentholated. I get nothing grassy particularly but much more like the juice of Aloe Vera (yes, got a bit sunburned helping my BFF Kath high pressure hose her dad’s driveway). Flore by Carolina Herrera has a very similar plastic Lily of the Valley note but in Muguet Fleuri I find it subtle and refreshing, helped by galbanum and angelica to keep everything super green. None of the modern cucumber/aquatic note like in Muguet Porcelain by Hermès.

It’s excellent to me how they keep the focus so firmly on Lily of the Valley in Muguet Fleuri. The scent feels luxurious and refined while creating  a very nice silage for the first hour or so. Fairly linear througfhout its life, there are slight increments of difference and a gradual earthing of the scent towards the end.

If you often, or even sometimes, wish for a fragrance as true to cut Lily of the Valley stems from the florist as possible but still interesting and beautiful then I would send you immediately to try Muguet Fleuri. Only the first two hours are fragrant, then it hums along quietly as a soft, background wash.

Muguet Fleuri by Oriza L. Legrand

Oriza L Legrand has a €30/choose your 6 x 2ml Sample Set (delivered worldwide). My review today is from an old sample I refound in my collection, looking for something cool and summery.

Are you a Lily of the Valley fan? Do you have a favourite?
Portia xx

Omnia Profumi. Three Samples.

Omnia Profumi. Three Samples.

Hi gang. Omnia Profumi is not a house I’ve taken any notice of. Their perfumes have been around since 2004 but the brand seems to have  properly launched in 2009. An Italian jewellery family capitalising on their fame and expanding their business. I’m 100% up for diversification, especially if it pays off for perfumistas.

In a recent order from Australian perfume distributors and sellers LKNU I was sent three samples of the earlier fragrances in the line. Thought you might like to joinmme on initial sniffs?

Omnia Profumi. Three Samples.

Acqua Marina

Briny spray as you skip across a sunlit sea towards  your fishing destination. Clean, fresh, free and glorious.  I can feel the wind in my hair, the anticipation of catching dinner for the crew, the fun and camaraderie of spending a day on the sea with buddies.

How are salt and water not mentioned in the notes. The opening is ALL about it. I know it’s probably the ambergris but the whole fragrance has this beautiful rich feel.

The floral heart is only a secondary player on me. It hardly registers with my nose. Maybe it is there to give lift and life rather than be the focus. I bloody love this, so beautiful.

Peridoto

This citrus opens weirdly on me. I’m not sure if it’s the perfume or me. Something a bit wonky.

After about 2 minutes Perdito settles into a pretty citrus underpinned by lightly salted vanilla woods. Think Guerlain Aqua Allegoria style and heft.

This is not my favourite.

Platino

WOW! The very first waft of Platino takes me back to the caramel coconut slice my Mum made for us. It’s uncanny. I could be anywhere school age, come home and sit at the kitchen bench, there would miraculously appear a glass or milk or juice and a snack of some kind. Usually Mum, my sister and I would have a chat about the day and give a rundown of our homework needs. In summer it would then be swim time before hitting the books before dinner. Great memories.

The heart is a floral vanilla and dry down soft focus vanilla and some smoke.

Does any one, or more, of these sound like you’d wear it?
Portia xx

My Long Road to Houbigant

We all have some brands that for whatever reason stay out of our realm of interest despite appearing on our radar one way or the other. And then one day…

* * *

Almost half a lifetime ago, my father who came from the US to visit me in my native country, brought me a present – Raffinee by Houbigant. Back then it was a very valuable gift (from the U.S.!), I didn’t have too many perfumes (two, maybe three), and all I could afford to buy was maybe one more mini bottle if that. And still, I didn’t like Raffinee to the extend that I wouldn’t want to wear it even from time to time, as a daily scent, to save my more precious perfumes for a special occasion. So, after a while, I passed that bottle onto my older friend and kind of a mentor, thanks to whom I eventually abandoned the idea of a signature scent and started exploring different perfumes. She loved Raffinee and was happy to re-home it.

I completely forgot both that perfume and the brand and have never thought about it either in my pre-perfumista years in the US or even after this hobby expanded my perfume horizons. Until one day I found myself on the sniffathon in San Francisco with a fellow-perfumista. She was extremely excited about the re-release of Quelques Fleurs l’Original by Houbigant that we could try at Nordstrom. I didn’t mind going there since that Nordstrom carried many other interesting brands and, what was even more attractive, allowed you to make samples without having to “dance” for 10-15 minutes before that with an SA. We went there, tried everything we wanted, made a dozen of samples each and went on our way. Since my partner in crime was so enamored with Quelques Fleurs, I made a sample of it as well. I tried it at home, thought it was nice, put the sample away to retry at some point… and completely forgot about it for the next three years. When I came back to it, my sample almost completely evaporated. The last half-drop that I tried was quite nice but not enough to form an opinion. So, once again, I stopped thinking about Houbigant.

And then hajusuuri sent me a decant of Iris des Champs, and I fell in love with it (I told a story of my Summer Iris here). That brought the brand to the foreground of my interest. But the only other bottle that I saw in the store – Quelques Fleurs Royale – seemed too simple for the price asked at the department store, and the counter was so uninviting… so I didn’t even test it.

And then on the next trip to the store I saw this bottle…

My cat Rusty's tail and Houbigant Quelques Fleurs Royale Collection Privee

Quelques Fleurs Royale Collection Privee (QFRCP). I tried it and immediately fell in love with it. Fragrantica’s notes don’t match those given on the brand’s site, so let’s go by what the brand has reported:
HEAD NOTES: Blackcurrant, Grapefruit.
HEART NOTES: Jasmine Absolute, Rose Absolute, Violet, Tuberose Absolute, Beeswax Absolute.
BASE NOTES: Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Musk

What can I smell in QFRCP? Probably a bright citrus-y rose (it reminds me of my favorite Rose d’Amour by Annick Goutal). Maybe, just maybe I can agree about black currant, but it’s in there not in the Enchanted Forest’s concentration, but rather as it usually smells in niche perfumery when the note is listed. That’s it. I’m not saying that it’s a simple fragrance with just a couple of notes. On the contrary, QFRCP smells quite rich and complex. But even when I’m smelling it with my wrist glued to my nose and eyes scanning the list of notes, I cannot dissect the composition. I disagree though with several reviewers on Fragrantica who smell amber in this perfume.

Cat Rusty and a bottle of Houbigant Quelques Fleurs Royale Collection Privee perfume

I bought this bottle in 2019 when Neiman Marcus had its first on my memory 20% off fragrances and cosmetics sale. I know that it’s not something unusual for my European readers since I know that large department stores in many countries used to have beauty sales periodically. But for many years here, all stores – regardless of their luxury meter readings – were selling beauty products strictly for MSRP without any discounts offered ever. The only way one could get some of those brands’ products cheaper was Duty-Free shops, brands’ outlet stores, or when they went to online discounters. There were Value Sets, Gifts With Purchase or Gift Card Events (e.g., spend $100 get a $20 GC for future use). But never %% off. I think that Sephora was the first who started their yearly Friends & Family events that allowed customers to buy high-end cosmetics and fine fragrances with 15-20% off. But in recent years, even before the pandemic, these large stores have capitulated, and I saw several sales from each of them. But that NM sale was the first one I experienced, so I just had to take an advantage of it, haven’t I? But back to perfume.

Houbigant Quelques Fleurs Royale Three Versions

I think Houbigant did something extremely strange with the marketing of this perfume. Look at the picture above: all three are 100 ml of Quelques Fleurs Royale. The first one on the left is Quelques Fleurs Royale EdP. It retails for $200 but can be found much cheaper online. The next one – Quelques Fleurs Royale Collection Prevee (or, as it’s called on some sites, Quelques Fleurs Royale Extreme), the perfume that Rusty and I welcomed to my collection, retails for $285, and I’m not sure I’d trust the site that offers it less than 50% off the price. And the last bottle is Quelques Fleurs Royale Parfum with an eye-popping price tag of $600. The notes listed for all three are identical. I don’t think I tested the first one (as I said, I didn’t like the bottle), but I got a sample of parfum from the SA who were more than happy to oblige a paying customer and wore the two – Privee/Extreme and Parfum – in parallel. I didn’t notice any significant difference in either scent or longevity of the two. So, with almost identical bottles, the same volume and a very similar scent, I’m not sure how the brand justifies more than doubled price. But as always in such cases, I assume they know something I don’t.

Meanwhile, I enjoy wearing Quelques Fleurs Royale Collection Prevee very much. It is a very beautiful and pronounced floral feminine scent. It doesn’t mean that a man cannot wear it – I’m just mentioning it as a characteristic for those who prefer their perfumes that way (as I do) or, the opposite, tries to steer clear of those. These days every perfume is an everyday scent, but I wouldn’t probably wear more than a moderate spritz or two to an office where people don’t wear masks.

Rusty and Houbigant Quelques Fleurs Royale Collection Privee

That was a long way to accepting the brand. I think I’d like to try several more perfumes from this Collection Privee whenever I’m able to go to the store again because a cursory sniff of a couple of them left good impression (and having Jean-Claude Ellena and Luca Maffei behind those newer offerings didn’t hurt either). I wonder though: would I have liked that Raffinee today?

 

Images: all but 3 bottles (compiled from the official product pictures) – my own

Centenary Perfumes

Centenary Perfumes

Hi there UGL, It’s Portia and I am looking at four things released in 1921 that are still widely available. Yep, Centenary Perfumes! My search goes only as far as Fragrantica so it’s probably not a full list. I really want to hear if you know of others in the comments. Yeah, a century of continuous production. Amazing, right? Let’s look eh?

Welcome from 1921 to 2021

Welcome from 1921 to 2021

CHANEL No 5

Most of us are well aware of CHANEL No 5. One of the most talked about and bought fragrances in the world, still. Known in the industry as “the monster”. It’s allure seems so timeless and is an easy, sensible, luxurious gift choice for flummoxed husbands and lovers the world over. The aldehydic floral that changed the game of perfumery. That it still smells pretty much like itself 100 years later is a miracle of modern technology.

Welcome from 1921 to 2021

Emeraude by Coty

I had a small bottle of vino-ish Emeraude early on in my collecting saga. My memory is that it screeched at me. Maybe it was off or fake or maybe it’s just not for me. Green is my favourite colour so you can imagine how sad I was. There are people who swear by it and that’s why it’s still in production. It’s a hard no from me.

Welcome from 1921 to 2021

Habanita by Molinard

Habanita is a weird one. I had a bottle. Loved wearing it. Somewhere along the line I sold or gifted it away. Now I have a small carded sample vial the I sniff when I need a fix. Who doesn’t love a vintage style fruity floral amber with loads of oak moss in the base?

Welcome from 1921 to 2021

Maja by Myrurgia

I’ve never owned a bottle of Maja perfume but to this very day I still have some soaps. My Mum always had Maja soaps in her knicker drawers. Me too. That spicy carnation, orange blossom and rose and amber+++ base is glorious in the soaps. They hold their scent to the very last sliver too when I finally use them.

So Happy 100th Birthday to these beauties.
Do you know of others?
Portia xx

Saturday Question: Perfume or Fragrance?

The first week back to work (even though not “back in the office”) happened to be more taxing than I expected, and because of that I haven’t finished my statistics post in time to publish it mid-week. But since I don’t want to postpone it for much longer, today’s question is a “lighter” one, and I invite you to come back tomorrow for my Year 2020 Entertaining Statistics post.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #46:

Perfume or Fragrance?

Which of the two words do you use or use more often? Is there any distinction for you when each of the two is/should be used?

My Answer

Not being a native English speaker, in many cases I follow the flow, pick up words and phrases from things I read or hear, not thinking too much on why one or the other synonym is used – I just take it as given. And then sometimes I suddenly discover that some term, phrase or idiom that I knew was more specialized than I thought or was not as widely known as I assumed. Then I start doubting myself.

Of course, I’m familiar with both words, and came across both “perfume” and “fragrance” multiple times starting from the pre-perfumista times. But both in my writing and on other blogs, forums and FB groups I see the word “perfume” used much more often than “fragrance.”

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been watching … YouTube videos. Don’t start fainting yet: I was watching make-up reviews and tutorials. Having found myself in the situation where I had to figure out without going to stores a replacement for the discontinued tinted moisturizer that I used for many years, I turned to this channel of getting some type of a guidance. While doing that, I found several “content producers” whose videos I find useful, entertaining or both. But what I noticed while watching those videos was that on those rare occasion when the product in question was mentioned (usually mainstream or luxury lines), everybody always refers to it as “fragrance.” I was surprised but didn’t pay too much attention to that (and you don’t want to know what people who are not “into perfume” are telling others while describing those “fragrances”!). But then, following a link on Instagram, I came to the YouTube channel of “one of us.” And there, again, that guy kept calling what he was reviewing “fragrances.” After that I found several random YouTube perfume reviews just to confirm that it was a common practice. It seems so.

I decided to check. Google provided me these definitions that didn’t explain my observations:

Perfume and Fragrance Definitions

Then I decided to compare numbers (you know how I like doing that; I would have done charts if it weren’t for the statistics post that I was working on). Searches that I ran in Google produced strange results. Nobody knows Google’s algorithms, so I can’t even speculate how it happens that while there are more hits for the singular form “fragrance” (593 M) vs. “perfume” (555 M), hits for the plural form “perfumes” (644 M) beats both the singular and the plural form “fragrances” (488 M).

My next experiment was with a popular hashtag generator for Instagram. Results there were much further apart, with the form that I use being much more popular: #perfume (15.14 M), #perfumes (5.13 M), #fragrance (6.36 M), #fragrances (1.4 M).

YouTube doesn’t provide count for the searches, so I can’t check it there. But all that makes me wonder: have I just managed to come across of the example of an unrepresentative sample fallacy? Or do YouTubers actually prefer “fragrance” to “perfume”? And if yes, why? What do you think?

 

Perfume or Fragrance?

Portia’s 2020 Noted Things

Portia’s 2020 Noted Things

Hey Crew, 2020 has been so unexpected. Here in Australia it started with bushfires, then we got floods. The world got C19 and we watched the USA plunge into anarchy. Brexit has been exactly the shit show that any person with an ounce of rationale could see coming. While all this was going on my business collapsed completely, leaving myself and the five drag queens who work for Turbo Trivia jobless for months. Many people whose lives were previously affluent, the world over, find themselves in dire straits and it’s terrifying to watch and live.

I’m one of the seriously lucky few. Jin continued working through the whole crisis, though only about 2/3 of his regular income. He has been incredibly generous with his money, gave me a weekly stipend and paid for all our groceries. The Australian government gave me a Job Keeper handout that kept me paying my half of the major bills. Quite a turnaround from being the major breadwinner in the house and my ego took a small battering.

For any of you doing it really hard in these times my heart goes out to you and wish you a speedy financial recovery in 2021.

Portia’s 2020 Noted Things

There were the usual squizillion launches this year and I was fortunate enough to get to smell quite a few of them. Libertine Parfumerie in Sydney is Australia’s largest niche distributor and they have kept me in the loop. PHEW! Here are a few fragrant things that I really loved.

Amouage Meander comes in a celadon green bottle and had me sold before I even smelled it. Thankfully it is as beautiful as it looks. Dark, resinous iris with interesting floral highlights. I’ll grab a bottle when I’m more flush.

Amouage Interlude Black Iris is mainly powdery iris and amber with a very generous nod to the original but nowhere near as iconic, large or as resinous. I was given a Press Bottle and am loving it.

Etat Libre d’Orange Spice Must Flow is a take on the rose/oud/incense trope. HUGE! For most perfumistas it will be an unnecessary addition to their wardrobe because it’s not a very new story. I really like it though and it smells different in village than up close. Worth a sniff.

Le Lion de CHANEL was the biggest hype train here in Sydney of the year. A Shalimar style offering with extra labdanum rich amber in the whole fragrance. Many people find it leather or incense heavy too. A different ride for every wearer. To make it less of an investment I hosted a split.

Maison Crivelli Fleur Diamantine from 2018 made it’s way to my nose. WOW! One of the most beautiful fragrances I’ve ever smelled. Sparkling white floral with rich warmth and surprising minty undertones. It’s a freaking knockout and very high son my full bottle wish list.

Miller et Bertaux Pimiento is the first cut of a capsicum/bell pepper on a summer day. This oddball design duo always manages to create beautiful, weird surprises. The base is a little generic but the opening and heart are fabulous. Libertine gave me a Press Bottle of this beauty too.

Trussardi Behind The Curtain Piazza Alla Scala is a powdery leather. Beautiful but not stunningly original. The racing green bottle with the greyhound cap had me at hello. Thankfully it smells amazing and I found it on an Australian discounters for an amazing price.

So what were the things that grabbed your attention in 2020?
Portia xx

December! WTF

December! WTF

Hey there Undina’s Looking Glassers. Portia from the sweltering heatwave that is Sydney, Australia. We have already had two 42C/110f days and today was the official start of summer. Hot is an understatement, especially coming out of nowhere like it did. How on earth have we already arrived at December 2020? WOW!

First day of December is always a little melancholy for me. It’s World AIDS Day. For anyone who lived in or around the gay community in the 1980s and 90s it is a day filled with quiet sorrow. It’s also filled with some of the most extraordinary memories of fundraising, community coming together, marching, getting our government on board (Australia was one of the first acknowledges and responders) and partying like we wouldn’t see tomorrow. For so many people that was the bleak truth. We lost nearly a whole generation and the gay community has never really recovered. Fortunately, getting HIV is now far less of a death sentence and people are being medicated into effectual remissions. Also, with the discovery of PrEP the transmission rates have slowed too.

It’s been so hot I’m having trouble trying to get my head to think of things you in the Northern Hemisphere could all be wearing to snuggle up to. Here are a few things you might want to spritz if you’d like to remember what summer feels like through scent.

 

Lys Soleia by Guerlain

The ultimate tropical white floral. Smooth, creamy and elegant. Nothing makes me feel more in tune with summer. Fruity white flowers, yang and vanilla with a bare hint of salt.

Mandragore by Annick Goutal

This is another of the weird ass Annick Goutal fragrances. Spearmint, pepper, star anise and ginger combine in the most cooling and refreshing gourmand I’ve ever met. Sweet, tart and spicy but like a cool wash.

Pichola by Neela Vermeire Creations

Another white floral, this time spicier, sparkling and backed by vetiver for depth. It may not be the most summery wear but it will always remind me of times spent staying in the Lake Palace in Undaipur, surrounded by the glittering Lake Pichola.

Pimiento by Miller et Bertaux

If you dream of that scent as you cut into a bell pepper/capsicum, then this is that make believe and magical first cut. All the reminders of summer salads, happy, healthy meals full of fun and laughter. A job I loved to do growing up.

Sakura by DIOR

OK, OK, OK! I know. Cherry blossoms are spring. Sure, but this is much more than blossom. Here we have the cherry fruit, roses, some soft woods and musk. A perfect summer spritz if ever there was one. Surprisingly long lived.

Scent by CoSTUME NATIONAL

Soft white flowers sit atop an amber and stuff base. A perfect fit for sweaty nights, trying to sleep under the ceiling fan. The base is dry and smells like a cross between electrical sparks and drilling concrete.

 

Hopefully some of these can help you get through the dark and cold of winters up north.

Do any of them sound like a good fit for you?
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

Aimez-Moi Comme Je Suis by Caron 2020

Hey Posse, Caron is owned by Cattleya Finance since 2018. It seems they have been taking stock and getting a feel for the company before launching anything new. It’s so interesting that they chose to market their first new outing to the boys. Needless to say, this is actually a unisex fragrance, it has facets from both major genders playing fields and melds them seamlessly. It could easily have been marketed to ALL genders. Interesting also that the name they chose has echoes of other Carons: N’Aimez Que Moi (1917) and Aimez-Moi (1996). The moment I read that this was coming I organised a split here in Australia and sent to Paris for two bottles. One I would keep and the other my very dear buddy Scotty would get, after we had split off the required amounts.

Aimez-Moi Comme Je Suis by Caron 2020

Continue reading