Interlude Black Iris by Amouage. NEW! NEW! NEW!

Hey crew, It’s Portia in the Sydney spring sunshine.

What a lovely time of year down here. I was in Libertine Parfumerie (Australia’s most respected niche importer and distributor) offices the other day. It was so good to see everyone. Everything is being released by ZOOM meeting now, and we are all sent a package to sniff and join the conversation. It’s interesting but much more clinical discussion and little room for personal experiences or interaction. Got to sniff the new Amouage Renaissance Collection! Can’t wait to write about those for you. Also, I picked up my Press Bottle of today’s extravaganza, Interlude Black Iris. Yes, Amouage has released its first flanker of its most popular fragrance Interlude Man.

 

Interlude Black Iris

From Amouage:

Crafted as an overpainting, Interlude Black Iris uses a refined palette to smoothen the facets of the original creation. A complex interplay of dark stoic serenity and buried vibrant power bursting upwards, into the light…

Top: Bergamot, Rosemary, Violet Leaves
Heart: Orris, Amber, Frankincense, Cistus, Myrrh, Vanilla
Base: Leather, Agarwood Smoke, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Cedarwood

Right from open mixed with the zing of citrus and cool green of violet is the dry, dusty and earthy facet of iris. The opening is so fleeting on me I had to come back for a second and third round to really get an idea of how it flows. In the time it took me to write this paragraph we are already in the heart with all the resins surrounding and lifting the iris. At this point, the iris gets a buttery softness, and the resins start to feel very churchy. The cool heart of a busy, clean church with the memories of a thousands days of worship, incense, woods and their waxy clean/preservers.

I’m not sure if it’s the cistus, leather or oudh that brings darkness and a cold touch of otherworldliness to Interlude Black Iris. It descends like a whisper and then takes the iris to a carroty rootiness. GOSH! So interesting. It’s all this way in that I finally get a whiff of the green, herbal rosemary!

 

Amouage Interlude Black Iris Sept 2020

 

Dry down is a gentle woody melange with some patchouli and iris to give interest. Interlude Black Iris hums away quietly, nowhere near the beast mode power trip of the original Interlude. This is a refined, urbane, sophisticated journey. The word that I keep wanting to write is centered. Without being anything like it, I am reminded of the elegant aloofness and backbone inducing fortitude of CHANEL No 19. This is a much more 21st century niche offering, but the heart, the integrity of the scent seems similar to me.

I can’t wait to hear what you all think.

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

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Portia’s Gucci Timeline

Hey ULG Crew, What the hell is a Gucci timeline? I have long loved the word Gucci. Next year, 2021, Gucci is 100 years old! As I was growing up in the 1970/80s it was a fashion leader and the style magazines were full of it. Though the brand had survived to the 1980s it didn’t hold the same cachet and while I studied fashion it was held up as a “what NOT to do with your company.” They released Gucci No 3 and it never registered with me. Around 1988, my mate was working as a squirt bitch in town, putting himself through uni (University was still free in Australia at the time but he kept himself). While buying a bottle of CHANEL Antaeus from him he slipped a full tester bottle of Gucci No 3 in as a GWP! Well, my mind was officially blown. This was my first inkling that scent is totally unisex, even though I’d been nicking Mum’s Shalimar, No 5 and Samsara while living at home this felt different. A step towards something. My partner at the time and I drained that bottle. It also put Gucci back on my radar.

Through the late 1980s and early 1990s Gucci became a laughing stock. They lost their seat at the table and went into rapid decline. It seemed like they were chasing fashion, not creating it.

In the 1990s Tom Ford jumped into their womens fashion, then fashion director, then in 1994 he took over as Creative Director of Gucci. By 1994 we were already taking notice of the changes there. They still made fabulous shoes. My pair of 1995, bought in Rome, loafers are still going strong two half sole replacements later. They are comfortable, sturdy, beautiful and still hold pride of place on my shoe wall. I wore them non-stop for 15 years, they were my walking, dancing, business, travelling shoes of choice. Nothing said change like the release of Gucci Envy in 1997 and then in 1998 Gucci Envy Men. This was, and still is, one of the best ever mens fragrances. We all went absolutely apeshit for it. The clubs, malls, streets and restaurants were a coruscating mass of gorgeous people wearing this spicy woody oriental. WOW! Suddenly Kouros, Jazz, Le Male and Armani Pour Homme were so old fashioned and dated. You’ll notice I have a BNIC 100ml in the photo. I went through 100ml really quickly, then during another 50ml it got DCd. I panic bought this 100ml and haven’t had the heart to open it. I have also gone through another couple of bought from FB Sale Docs 50mls.

There were some other fine releases during this time. Who can forget the bottle and BWFness of Gucci Rush from 1999. What a perfume, so many happy memories. I also owned a bottle of Gucci Pour Homme, from 2003 with the brown juice, but it rarely got worn. I moved it on to someone who was really sad that they’d DCd it. He was grateful.

In 2007 Gucci by Gucci was released and I have loved its honeyed white floral fruitchouli wafts ever since. I went through a bottle but its replacement never got worn. In 2008 Gucci by Gucci Homme came out and flopped. I buy it for my business friends. It’s tobacco, pine and violet is unusual enough to be interesting but not overpowering or show pony-ish. It can be had for a song at the discounters nowadays and suits everyone I’ve given it to.

I have a bottle of 2010 Gucci Guilty. It was given to me by a friend who thought she was going to love it but it gave her headaches. Jasmine and lilacs set in a fruitchouli/vanillic amber diva of a fragrance. It’s a solid perfume, nothing earth shattering but pleasant and lasts all day into the night. Every time I wear it though people notice my fragrance and go out of their way to tell me how good I smell. Really good pick me up for blue days.

Gucci has been slowly diminishing again. It’s become a deplorable fashion circus and for years it released safe mainstream platitudes instead of perfume. I had given them up as an expensive, poorly timed joke and then in 2017 they release Gucci Guilty Absolute! Like, WTAF! Where did this cutting edge, niche like, behemoth of a fragrance come from. WOW! The 2018 Gucci Guilty Absolute pour Femme version is awesome too, grab some, it will blow your mind. Also in 2017, can we please have a chat about Gucci Bloom. SO GOOD! The bottle, the scent, even the flankers are clever and fun. Tuberose in myriad forms is always going to be a winner for me. Did someone at Gucci remember how to creative direct a perfume? YAY!

Now they’ve released their modern, aqueous, expensive line of cash grab elitist crap and I’m yawning. They’re not all awful but after suddenly getting back into the scent game so splendidly I was expecting a lot more. Loads of people love them, have at it I say.

You will also notice in my photo there is an Eau de Gucci Concentree from the early 1980s. I bought this not long ago from eBay. It’s an aldehydic floral leaning towards green bulbs, quite light compared to other offerings of its day but rich and tapestried like very little of today. So beautiful. WAY too precious to wear very much but I love it.

So that’s my love affair with Gucci in a rambling, ranty nutshell.
Which ones have you loved or loathed?
Portia xx

 

 

 

Portia’s Theory of Fragrant Relativity

Hi there, ULG Perfume Buddies. I have a theory. Well, I’ve called it a theory, but that’s because I suffer delusions of grandeur. It’s just a thing that’s been rattling around in my brain for a while. It didn’t really have much fom till I mentioned it to some mates, and they all piled on with thoughts and japes. It was kind of out-of control. What came out of it was a crystallising of my thoughts, and then I thought it might be fun to discuss it with you all.

In 20-40 years time, the perfumistas will be reminiscing about their love for perfumes from Juicy Couture, Jessica Simpson, Agent Provocateur, Lady Gaga and Benefit.

They will dream of fruitchoulis, calone and rose/oud combos like we do about oak moss and musks.

The prices of these scents will skyrocket on the future equivalent of eBay, and we will finally get our long lost fougere, chypre and galbanum rich beauties for next to nothing.

Now, I also have a confession.

When I heard that Agent Provocateur had gone bust, I went straight to FragranceNet and bought two 100ml of three from their range. Maitress, Lace Noir and Blue Silk. Then I went searching high and low for their original Agent Provocateur EdP, found two bottles of that for quite good prices and am awaiting their arrival. Finally, I saw Fatale Intense in my local chemist and snaffled that too.

NOW I have to find somewhere to put the damn things…

Also, have you noticed Jessica Simpson frags getting harder to find? I might have panic bought some of them too.

 

 

The only bottles already in my collection were original Agent Provocateur EdP and Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights (not pictured). They have been long standing regular use perfumes in collection, and I’ll be sad to not have them. So, buying them makes sense, right? Backing up your disappearing beauties is a perfumistas stock in trade. Everything else, though, is a freaked out blind buy. There is no rhyme or reason to this. Suddenly the urge was upon me, the hunt was on, my cart full, checked out and sent. It’s like all my impulse control goes flying out the window.

Do you ever panic buy stuff just because it’s going, going, gone? What do you think of my Theory of Fragrant Relativity? What will you want to hoard?

Portia xx

 

Image: my own

You or Someone Like You by Etat Libre d’Orange – Portia

Hey Crew, You or Someone Like You is a fragrance but it’s also the title of a 2009 semi-autobiographical novel by Chandler Burr. The fragrance was created as a matching couplet and released 2017. As so many of the Etat Libre d’Orange oeuvre does, they take an old trope and freshen it up with a new twist, ingredient, direction or emphasis. As you all up there in the Northern Hemisphere are sweltering in the summer heat, I thought you might like refreshing spritz that is a bit more interesting and longer lived than a cologne. This fragrance has a wonderful lifespan story of phases.

You or Someone Like You by Etat Libre d’Orange

 

 

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Mint, anise, bergamot, grapefruit
Heart: Cassis, green notes, hedione, rose
Base: White musk

Summer in Australia, especially as we were growing up, involved visits to the local National Parklands. Our local one was nearly 400 hectares of bushland with a river running through the middle. It had loads of grassy playing areas with little wood fired BarBQs and cement picnic tables & chairs around the outsides. We would go as a family, often with other families, and while most of the Dads would get the BarBQ going and most of the Mums would organise the tables, bread rolls, salads and condiments, the kids would be taken off for a bushwalk. It was hilly and rocky, and the cooling eucalyptus would shade and scent our walks. We would be shown native flora and fauna, given little info bites about everything and surviving in the bush. We would invariably end up at the weir where there was a large colony of ducks and geese. Everyone would get a couple of pieces of stale bread, and we’d feed them. Then we’d all head back and the meats would be sizzling on the BarBQ, all the adults would have had a couple of boozy bevies, and we kids would run off adventuring or playing cricket till it was time to eat.

You or Someone Like You is a perfect summer spritz with the cool green wash of eucalyptus from my childhood memory. Not noted but definitely smells like it should be. It smells like finding the shade after walking through the hot sunshine. Something else not noted in the list is salt water. I get loads of it as well. Not in a very aquatic style but hinting towards some of the L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme line.

On opening, a sharply sweet citrus is enlivened by mint. It’s a beautifully mentholated coolness. The heart remains quite sharp green notes but feels like it’s been scoured clean by a cool sea breeze. There’s no hint of noxious seaweed under the pier. I also get no notion of the rose, and the white musk dry down still has green hints of mint and what I read as eucalyptus. So it never veers into that safe, bland, white musk laziness we smell so often after the initial fragrance fireworks have collapsed.

Totally unisex but veering towards mid 20th century traditional masculine, longevity is excellent, and projection is moderate.

Not the strangest of the Etat Libre d’Orange’s but also not a usual or expected scent.

Have you tried You or Someone Like You? Does it sound like you’d like it?
Portia xx

 

Image: my own

Portia and LE LION de CHANEL

Hello Crew,

We’ve had some excitement around here in Australia. The news breaks that CHANEL is releasing a new Les Exclusif, and only the Middle East are getting it. Dubai! Not even Paris by all reports. Oh CHANEL, how well you know us. Suddenly LE LION de CHANEL is hyped beyond the stratosphere. It’s this, it’s that, just wait, you’ll die, it’s their best offering since Coromandel, when can we get it? It’s been a long time since a release garnered so much interest, excitement and speculation. I was agog with lemmings.

The fact that the world has been going through trauma, we’ve been locked down, life has become a very small circle, yet we are attached by the computer & TV to everything that’s happening worldwide 24/7. Watching POC around the world with their friends, families and supporters marching for an equality long denied. Trans people being told, again, that they are not their gender (that doctors and psychologist have agreed they are), and that they deserve to be placed in the “OTHER” category, preferable far far away. A pandemic that threatens lives and livelihoods that no one can seem to get a handle on and that has different symptoms and virility in every person it touches.

We needed a ray of sunshine. 99 years on from the launch of CHANEL No 5. The perfume world has been given something to write home about.

LE LION de CHANEL 2020 by Olivier Polge

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Lemon, Bergamot
Heart: Labdanum, Madagascan vanilla
Base: Sandalwood, Patchouli

Imagine the love child of CHANEL Coromandel, Guerlain Shalimar and DIOR Mitzah.

The first day I tried LE LION de CHANEL there were a group of about eight perfumistas having our first get together since C19 lockdown. We all had a spritz within about a minute. Every person got a different enough ride that they could have been different perfumes. On some it read crunchy toffee, others got animal resins, there was smoky incense, creamy sandalwood, citrus gelato, caramel. For everyone the timings were different, the depth, warmth, heft and also interestingly, WE ALL LOVED IT! Not one person in the room was less than spellbound.

My personal ride goes something like this. A swirl of pine lime gelato. Labdanum rich amber with a distinctly animalic bent. Creamy sandalwood tempered by a vanilla rich amber that has strong hints of the crackly toffee on the top of a creme brûlée. All day I was getting wafts of the most incredible resinously sweet fragrance out of the blue, and I’d think it was someone walking ahead, on the bus or train or in the department store. NOPE! It was me. The life of the fragrance is unbelievable. I’m still smelling a lived in vanilla and humanity over 24 hours later after running around town all day yesterday and then sleeping till 11 am.

How did I get it? One of my buddies owns a perfume chain here in Australia. His family owns department stores in Dubai, and they are selling LE LION de CHANEL. My buddy saw an opportunity and jumped on it. He brought in as much from Dubai as he could, which wasn’t very much. Last time we spoke he was waiting on a second order. I grabbed two 200ml bottles, and another buddy Matt and I hosted a split. We sold 150ml in 10ml batches at our cost price plus decant bottles and postage from each bottle and kept what was left for ourselves. The spots sold out in less than an evening. That’s why my picture is of a 3/4 empty bottle already.

Have you a lemming?
Portia xx

 

Image: My own

Portia Reconnecting with Serge Lutens

Hey crew,

Last time we chatted I told you about bringing my Serge Lutens open, now old style, 50ml export bottles out of their box and onto my easy reach tray next to my desk. It’s been spritz changing, even in these few short weeks. With them lined up before me I think about them much more often and am revisiting long languished loves again. It’s like a fragrant voyage of rediscovery. It reminds me how deeply the brand changed the way I thought about scenting myself. The possibilities, choice and intricacies of scent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fooling myself that every release or even favourite of mine is a boundary pushing masterpiece. Some are merely beautiful, easy wear interpretations of old tropes, but always with an interesting twist and/or perfectly balanced symmetry.

 

 

As luck would have it, I’ve had the opportunity to do two masterclasses in the Yellow Room upstairs in the Palais Royale store in Paris. The first was Jin and I with Elvire. Over the course of an hour or two we were introduced to the entire bell jar range, her favourite exports and the history of Féminité du Bois. It was an unbelievably jaw-dropping event. We already had some orders to fulfill from Aussies, and then I dropped a very large wad of cash on bell jars and travel sets for both Jin and myself. Jin fell madly in love with Muscs Koublaï Khän and is now on his second bell jar of it. He lovingly decants it into a beautiful black octagonal Serge Lutens travel spray and spritzes with gay abandon. I’ve never let him see how much it cost, he’d be horrified.

The second visit a couple of years ago was with a crew of perfume buddies. It was a much louder, more raucous affair and our hosts were not prepared at all to explain fragrance to frag nerds. BEDLAM! It was still fantastic though, and I was reintroduced to a couple of fragrances that I suddenly needed to own immediately. Chene and La Myrrhe. They sit in my collection, still in their cellophane. I don’t want to dab them, and I don’t want to decant them. What I do though is look at the boxes and reminisce. I wasn’t the only one to bust out the credit card and shop. I think there were 16 of us, and everyone purchased at least one bottle. Some people, who knew this might be their only visit to the grande purple emporium, splashed out on much more. While I didn’t learn much on this occasion, it is the one I smile to myself about so much more. Nothing compares to sharing the love of perfume with frag heads, made exponentially magic because we’d come from all over the world to meet in Paris.

 

 

So, I know you’re dying to know what’s been put up on the tray. I’d be chomping at the bit if I was reading your posts and it had gone this far without a list.

Arabie

I love the spicy opening that reminds me of ginger beer. When that settles down, I get a fruity, resinous melange that some days dips into apple pie territory and others into the scorch of spices sizzling in the pan in a sweet curry. Arabie lets me dream of Bedouin life from my comfortable couch.

Bas de Soie

I had been using a decant of this from Surrender To Chance, there was about 1ml left. I sprayed it all on and then wanted more. So I finally opened my bottle and gave myself a dousing. Something amazing happens to Bas de Soie at that level of heft. Suddenly it is a huge breath of spring. Even in our cold, rainy autumn here in Sydney I was transported to a springtime wonderland. Hyacinth, iris and musk blowing on a cool breeze.

Chergui

Chergui is the fragrance I most recognise as a Serge Lutens. It seems to capture and embody the spirit of the brand perfectly for me. Spicy and honeyed herbal opening, sweet tobacco and amber woods to close, and it runs the gamut of olfactory gorgeousness through its heart. It gives me visions of the legend travellers of the Middle East all the way down through Mongolia to the Far East.

Daim Blond

This was my favourite Serge for a while, but along came Bottega Veneta EdP, and I was like “Daim Blond who?” Fruity almonds and leather. It now smells dank and dated to me. Sad face. The dry down of softest, well loved leather is very nice next morning if you wear Daim Blond to bed.

Datura Noir

I wear Datura Noir quite a lot. First in decants and now in a bottle. I thought it wasn’t me. Too clean and fresh, a creamy white floral without the breath or skank seemed pointless. Yet, there I was/am, reaching and spritzing and loving it.

Féminité du Bois

My bottle has less than 10ml left. It’s got the Palais Royale logo on the label. Still smells fabulous, but I rarely wear it because I’m scared to not have it in this eras bottle. Spicy stewed fruits and woods. It’s absolutely heartbreakingly gorgeous.

Fille en Aiguilles

Also in the Palais Royale logo. More stewed fruit, but this time backed by incense and sharp pine. i love this so much for winter that I bought a few bottles and gave them out as gifts to various friends. Every one of them (non-perfumistas all) has re-bought it for themselves after using up that first bottle.

Five O’Clock au Gingembre

My favourite Serge Lutens fragrance so far. 10% into my second bottle. There is something about that opening zing of fruity ginger that I find so invigorating. You know I haven’t read the note list for years, and my nose tells me it is a ginger, tea, white flower and honey fragrance. I’m surprised to see no white flowers or tea mentioned, and find chocolate and patchouli there. WOW! My nose is clearly broken and has been for years.

L’Orpheline

The only notes given for L’Orpheline are incense and musk. To me they miss out on the smell of icy cold, snow filled winds in the monasteries of the Himalayas. Funnily, I get cold incense like you’re standing outside the temple shop, and the breeze is stealing most of the scent but it’s there.

Sa Majesté la Rose

This is not my favourite rose perfume. It does smell like you’ve stuck your nose in a particularly fragrant bloom early in the morning while it’s still got the dew on it and the scent hasn’t had time to burn off. The problem is that I find myself wanting a rose perfume to do a few more tricks than that. I need rose +++. This has rose. When the mood takes me, I look for and wear this but it’s a rare thing.

Santal Majuscule

That creamy, soapy sandalwood smell. So smooth and elegant. None of that rough, eucalyptus like opening of the Aussie stuff. This smells like the grown up, wealthy, settled down, gravitas version of Samsara. I have a really happy memory associated with Santal Majuscule. When it was first released I went in a split and bought 10ml. After wearing it twice I was about to write a review. As I reached for the decant, I knocked it over, and it smashed all over my desk. I was so upset at my clumsiness. Jin rushed in and saw the problem, after asking if I was OK and hearing the story, he said very calmly, “Well, you better buy a bottle. It smells fantastic” or some words to that effect. So I did.

Un Boise Vanille

The last of my Palais Royale label bottles. A thick, rich, crunchy vanilla that goes on strong and stays all day. Its simplicity hides depths and layers, if you bother to look, but for most non-perfumista wearers I imagine it just smells fabulous.

 

So that’s how I’ve been spending my lockdown time lately. Our restrictions ease gradually. One of my club groups got in touch, and they are hoping to reinstate trivia nights in late July. So, I’m a ways off working again. Maybe I’ll finally get to the mending pile on the floor in front of my sewing machine this week. It’s getting so big, I think it might take two full days.

 

What are your favourite Serge Lutens? Which bottles do you have open and use?
Portia xx

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.

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